By Steve Baltimore / August 26th, 2020
|Title||King of Fighters R-2 and Samurai Shodown 2|
|Release Date||August 7th, 2020|
After SNK released the Neo Geo Pocket classic SNK Gal Fighters’ for the Switch, I was interested in their other classic offerings. It made me very excited when they announced that both King of Fighters R-2 and Samurai Shodown 2 would be hitting the Switch! I’ve had a chance to take a look at both games, but this review will focus on King of Fighters R-2. Let’s see if our teams of mini fighters are as bad ass as their bigger counterparts.
King of Fighters R-2 features a few different modes. K.O.F. mode is basically a story mode. There isn’t much story here to speak of, though. This mode is the one most series fans will be familiar with, since it has you picking teams of three and pummeling your opponents into the ground. You will start out with a good selection of characters, but more can be unlocked. I had a blast mixing and matching teams. The dialogue before and after each match is quirky and adds a little spice to the mix here. You can also play through the story in Single mode. This makes matches a one versus one affair.
The next mode I would like to cover is the Making Mode. Here you will be able to choose an existing character, name them and change out a couple of skills to keep fights fresh. You will unlock these skills by simply completing battles in this mode. Just keep in mind each of the two skills you equip will have both a positive and negative effect. For example, if a skill buffs your strength, it will likely cost you some of your defense. You can store up to 20 skills at one time to swap in and out of your maker build. If you obtain more than this you will have to remove an old one to take on the new one. I had quite a bit of fun in this mode just seeing all the different kinds of builds you can make. When you combine this with the team making aspect of the K.O.F. mode and the Versus modes it’s easy to see the ton of replay value this title has.
The gameplay here is pretty much what you would expect. Each character has a set of special moves that you can pull off with the D-pad and buttons. There is a special meter at the bottom of the screen that fills up as you damage your opponent. You can also charge this meter if you hold down on the D-pad and press both attack buttons. When this meter is full it will give a temporary stat boost and access to super special moves. This meter works a bit different if you chose the advanced mode at the start of combat, but the end result is basically the same. You can check out the in-game manual for more details on the differences.
Just like in the previous release the graphics and sprite work in King of Fighters R-2 is amazing. Each character has a shocking amount of detail, and the animations are smooth as silk. I’m actually amazed and how well these titles still hold up in this department. The music is equally impressive. These are some of the best chiptunes that will ever bless your ears. SNK should release soundtracks of these games.
King of Fighters R-2 is another fantastic entry in the growing Neo Geo Pocket lineup. It has fantastic gameplay, lots of replay values and some great sprite work. I don’t think I had quite as much fun with this one as SNK Gal Fighters‘, but there is plenty enough quality here to warrant the small $7.99 price tag. I mean, sure, you could by one of the arcade versions on eShop for that amount, but we’ve played those for years and honestly this game just has more charm.
Now that We’ve had a look at King of Fighters R-2, let’s dig into Samurai Shodown 2. The game originally released as a pre-order bonus for the new Samurai Shodown reboot when it launched on the Switch, but now you can snag it up as a standalone title. I’m a big Samurai Shodown fan, so I was eager to see how its 8 bit transition went.
The graphics here are very much on par with the other Neo Geo Pocket classics. The sprite work is top notch and each stage looks amazing. The artwork for each background is very detailed for a game like this. These are by far the best looking stages in any of the Neo Geo Pocket fighters released so far. The animations are smooth, making the game a joy to pick up and play. My only real complaint is the lack of blood letting here. I don’t have to have blood in a fighting game, but that’s kind of a staple of Samurai Shodown and its absence is very noticeable.
The gameplay modes here are pretty much what you would expect. There is story mode, versus and survival. As you complete the story mode you will unlock cards with artwork for the various characters. You can equip these cards for various perks at the beginning of story mode, and these cards can be viewed via the collection option in the main menu. These are pretty fun to collect, and will keep players busy for many hours trying to get them all.
Combat here is a mixed bag. Samurai Shodown’s combat is always a bit weighted, but here it almost feels sluggish at times. You would think this would make the special moves hard to pull off, but it doesn’t. It’s really like they just put too much weight in the attacks and it causes a slight delay. Each character has a Burst and Slash mode you can choose from. Each one had its own special moves giving characters two different styles to master.
While I think I liked Samurai Shodown 2 a bit less than the other two Neo Geo Pocket fighters I’ve looked at, I like there is a wide range of characters with two different styles and collecting the cards adds a good amount of replay value here. I don’t think it controls quite as well as the other title, and the fight against Gandara is just plain annoying. It’s very difficult until you unlock a few cards to get an advantage. There is a rewind feature thankfully and you will be using it a lot here, I assure you. This one will set you back $7.99 as well. While I don’t think this is a bad game, I would have to recommend the other two titles over this one, since it just doesn’t have the polish of those. If you are a hardcore Samurai Shodown fan, you will still find a lot to love here.
Games were provided by the publisher.
King of FightersNeoGeosamurai shodownSNKSwitch