687537_largerIn 1991, a game named Street Fighter II came along and it started off a whole new genre. Okay, the one-on-one fighting game had already been around for a fair while but with its multiple punch and kick buttons, super moves and large range of characters, Capcom's flagship arcade game redefined the genre and spawned a relentless swarm of clones. Arguably the largest contributor to the "Street Fighter clone" market was SNK.

Via their Neo-Geo MVS arcade system (and AES home console), SNK jumped on Street Fighter's coat-tails with World Heroes, which, to be honest, is almost a direct ripoff - even the two main characters Hanzo and Fuuma controlled in an identical way to Ryu and Ken of Street Fighter fame. Despite being an obvious clone, World Heroes was actually a really good game in its own right and SNK wasn't stopping there. Soon there was a whole range of SNK fighting games that were in direct competition to Capcom's Street Fighter series, and one such offering was Samurai Shodown, which took the tried and true one-on-one fighting system and threw in weapons and full screen scaling (also used in Art of Fighting).

Samurai Shodown II [$2.99] is revered amongst 2D fighting fans as the best in the series and also one of the best SNK fighting titles ever. Step forward nearly twenty years and now you can play this epic bloodfest on your phone. But the question is, do you really want to?


Firstly, let's kick off with the good points. The emulation is spot on. The vibrant, chunky character sprites and animated backgrounds have never looked better than on an iPad Retina display. The music and sound effects are all arcade perfect and the clashes of the swords and tearing flesh effects are suitable meaty. Everything moves along at lightning speed and is absolutely gorgeous.

Samurai Shodown II is a direct translation, and as such, is a simple affair, pick a character and play through the handful of CPU characters, or you can play against a friend via Bluetooth. As a game that has remained untouched for the last two decades, the price tag is a bit of a shock, and that's where the bad stuff begins.

mzl.jeqvnrleIf you haven't played a Street Fighter style game before, you'll want to steer well clear if you're after a bit of "pick up and play". These kinds of games are demanding and require a lot of patience and studying of sometimes extremely complex joystick and button combinations. The moves can be incredibly tough to pull off, in fact, even the most basic "special" moves take a bit of skill to be able to master and that's when you have a decent physical controller.

Now, I am a huge fighting game fan. I have practically every version of Street Fighter II on various machines from Genesis to Xbox 360 and I also love the SNK range of fighters, so I am no stranger to Samurai Shodown II. I'm also not a stranger to trying to play these types of games on a touch screen and I never seem to learn my lesson. Every version of Street Fighter that is released, I pick up on iOS, despite how horrible it really is trying to use an onscreen joystick.

For example, the most basic special move; down, down/right, right, followed by punch, is an absolute chore and ninety percent of the time just doesn't work. Don't even get me started on the "dragon punch" style moves, or god-forbid, the much more complicated "super" moves. Add to that the fact that the joystick is way too big when played on the iPad, and you have one helluva cluster of crap. To be fair, SNK have included the full "command" list for you to study but it's just not easy enough to put into practice.

mzl.kkdgumldLuckily, SNK has seen to include an optional special move button, which allows you to pull off the moves without any joystick input but this takes away the skill needed and also, doesn't actually work very well. I found that sometimes a certain move would be executed, but press the button again and a completely different move would be unleashed, often putting my character in harm's way, as if the game wasn't hard enough.

As a button basher, it's okay. If you forget about trying to pull off the special moves and just want to beat someone about the head, there is a bit of fun to be had with the two punch and two kick buttons but that's really not respecting the brilliant fighting system that lies at the heart of this title.

Content wise, Samurai Shodown II is what you'd expect for a nineteen year old arcade conversion. There are fifteen playable characters out of the box, each with their own back story and fighting location. The characters all range in fighting styles from samurai and ninja through to knights and that weird goblin creature, Gen-An. You certainly won't be left wanting for variety but you will be left wanting for a decent controller.

Considering that Samurai Shodown II is easy enough to find and play via other means, and the god-awful controls and steep price of the iOS offering, I couldn't recommend this to anyone other than the most hardcore SNK fan. A simple fix would be a control system that worked in a similar way to SNK vs Capcom 2 EO for Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube, which allowed the use of the right analog stick to pull off the special moves without the use of complicated D-pad input. It was a fantastic option for novices and allowed for fair fights between experts and noobs alike.

Until that system or something else suitable is incorporated in Samurai Shodown II though, you have a very pretty piece of videogame history that is probably best left to one of its re-releases on a console with physical controls, or if you have the cash, a real Neo Geo console.

TouchArcade Rating

  • handycapman

    You can tell by the way I use my walk,

  • Blodia

    "Via their Neo-Geo MVS arcade system (and AES home console), SNK jumped on Street Fighter's coat-tails with World Heroes,"

    World Heroes was created by ADK for the Neo Geo console. Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown and their many sequels were by SNK itself. And if you really want a SF clone, try Fighters History Dynamite, the sequel to a game Capcom sued Data East for because of its similarities to SF2.

    • http://www.polygame.co.nz/ Karl Burnett

      Yup, ADK but SNK were also involved in the game's development. I guess I was trying to get the point across that SNK was really into pushing the genre... But yeah, I totally shouldn't have left that out. Bad Karl!

  • whitestatic

    Wish I had waited for the review before purchasing. I was blinded by the ability to finally have this on mobile and jumped the gun.

  • ikari_paul

    why didnt they include icade support. useless dev's!

    also, this is too expensive. $9 for a friggin rom???? what were they thinking, that this is the Nintendo eShop, with their overpriced games!?

    • slamraman

      It does support iCade.

      • http://www.polygame.co.nz/ Karl Burnett

        Does it? I couldn't find any info on that. If it does, that fixes the control issues... But only for a few people. Lol.

    • DotEmu retrogaming

      There IS iCade support, at least ingame...

  • dejavu2222

    Some errors on SNK and games from that era in general, and how are the controls awful? Maybe you are just awful at playing games. What can you expect from control schemes with NO BUTTONS anyway?

  • CecilMcW00t

    Classic SNK games have stricter inputs for special move commands. It's not the controller, it's your execution.

  • operaguy2112

    I have no problem nailing Shoryukens and Hadoukens on my iPod touch. How do these controls compare to SFIV or KoF on mobile?

    • http://www.polygame.co.nz/ Karl Burnett

      Haven't played KoF but SFIV is much easier, though still a far cry from an actual controller. The iPad doesn't help much, either, as the throw of the stick is too long for normal, human length thumbs. Lol.

  • Nycteris

    See everyone? They do have reviews of games under 3 stars!

  • Protoman

    I play this game nearly everyday on my Neo Geo CD to this day. I am not the best gamer by far, however this game is my jam. You would be hard pressed to find someone better than me and I say that in all modesty. The controls suck on iOS, I'm sorry to say. It is not due to the author's lack of skills. Perhaps though, playing an arcade game, with an arcade controller all these years has sullied my hands to the somewhat backwards nature of touch controlled arcade fighters.

  • CecilMcW00t

    That is really unfortunate. 🙁

    hopefully they release a patch for the controls. I have played some games with some wonderful virtual dpads that would feel great on a fighter like this. Sorry, if my comment came off hostile, I didn't mean to imply that you sucked at it.

  • Earth Vs. Me

    I think this review was far too harsh. Personally, I think this is a great port that's worth the high price point. Touch controls and price aside, let's talk about all the pros this game has going for it: this is an arcade perfect port of one of the greatest 2D fighters of all time. There are no framerate issues or slowdown of any kind (at least none that wasn't already present in the arcade version), and the game performs perfectly on iOS. Every animation and sound effect has been faithfully recreated for mobile.

    Obviously a phone is far from an ideal platform for a game like this, but SNK took every effort to compensate for the absense of physical controls: there are multiple button configurations, including mobile-centric one-touch special move options, and multiple difficulty settings to make playing on a touch screen more managable. In all honesty I think the virtual controls are as precise and responsive as they could possibly be.

    The problem is that this game demands such complex inputs to pull off special moves, no matter how great the virtual controls are, they wouldn't be good enough. At the end of the day, you're sliding your thumb around glass, which is a far cry from a physical D pad. Still, I don't think it's fair to criticize SNK for trying, and I'm psyched to have this game on my phone.

    As for the complaints about there being no iCade support...if you want to play Samurai Showdown II with physical controls, it makes me wonder why you'd buy it on iOS to begin with instead of on Virtual Console, XBLA, or Playstation Network.

    • http://www.polygame.co.nz/ Karl Burnett

      Unfortunately, controls are the most important part of a game like this... Or any game, really... If you can't play it properly, it's not much fun, is it?

  • ratsinheat

    Crap controls? I thought TA previously reported this as being "masterfully ported".

    • http://www.polygame.co.nz/ Karl Burnett

      "Samurai Shodown II is Masterfully Ported but Still Suffers from Virtual Control Issues" was the title of that post 🙂

  • http://www.kizi10.info/ Kizi 10

    I can only say that it is truly great.

  • thisisraf

    For those who have a jailbroken phone, use blutrol and the control issue fade away. I played this with a friend (both of us using ps3 controllers) and noticed very little issues. There were some frame rate issues present but the same can be seen with the original arcade and the neo geo AES console. Touch screen controls by themselves are useable, but for solid controls, either jailbreak your device and use blutrol + controller of your choice, or download a console version, I recommend either the ps3 or Neo Geo AES versions.

  • flashbackflip

    Not another crappy pixelated nonsense....

    • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

      Y'know what's worse? I'll give you a clue. It comes in text form and is commonly found on the internet.

  • Adams Immersive

    Supposedly this game DOES support physical controllers (iCade compatible) although I cannot verify personally.

  • Caccia

    The controls are kind of bothering me throughout. There’s no option to manually alter the opacity of those virtual buttons. AppsGoer’s review is awesome.

  • http://www.yepi10.net/ yepi 10

    game, game..................i like play game

  • Out5poken

    Look, can we be done with all these old ports now... I want to see our devices pushed further with newer games, not going down memory lane.
    I'd be more excited if SNK were to release a completely new Samurai Shodown for iOS.

  • http://www.yepi2.co/ yepi

    thank articles for me more information

SAMURAI SHODOWN II Reviewed by Karl Burnett on . Rating: 2.5