Samurai Shodown! 2: A Switch Review

Everyone has seen the SNK/Neo Geo machines. Whether it was at your local bowling alley, an arcade, or even just an old school pizza place. One of the games you would often find there was Samurai Shodown, a fighting game with what appeared to be graphics ahead of it’s time and (for some) hours and hours of entertainment. Samurai Shodown was different than most fighting games at the time, as it was one of the first where strategy was a key component. A match could end in moments if you were careful, and it still makes it a blast to this day. It’s no surprise that Samurai Shodown! 2 (“Shodown 2”) follows right in the same footsteps. Along with other titles like King of Fighters R-2 and Metal Slug, Shodown 2 was first released on Neo Geo Pocket Color (“NGPC”) many years ago. Many of these games have been ported for the Switch recently and this is one of 2 to land on my desk (see my review on King of Fighters R-2).

Shodown 2 was originally included as a pre-order bonus for Samurai Shodown when it released for the Switch in June of 2019, but it found enough demand that it is not a standalone game in Nintendo’s EShop. Shodown 2 includes all characters that were featured in the arcade game, including a lot of characters that have been missing over the years, which grants a total of 17 different fighters to choose from. Each character also has 2 different modes, slash and burst, which completely changes the characters movesets as you move between them, thereby doubling your arsenal between characters.

Being ported from a handheld that couldn’t even keep up with their own arcade cabinets, as with most games on the NGPC, the presentment here is a bit cartoonish, almost “chibi” style if you are familiar. However, this doesn’t stop the game from looking great, in a much different nostalgic way than even King of Fighters R-2. There’s a ton of detail in the background, character animations are great, and they just look better in the “virtualized NGPC” provided so as not to try to expand the picture of a game designed to be on a small screen.

The core game is solid, but Shodwon 2 also has a nice allotment of other features, not the least of which is a nifty table top mode to play multiplayer with a friend, as compared to the old school method of needing to NGPCs in order to play multiplayer. Other extras include an unlockable, tradeable set of art cards, with 8 cards per fighter. The full original manual released with the NGPC has been scanned and included for your nostalgic/time capsule needs of “flipping” though the pages of your brand new game manual of the late eighties and early nineties, including the butchered name translations that were included way back then. Kudos for that.

Ultimately, Samurai Shodown!2 is another one of the games that is easy to pick up and play when you have a limited amount of time to play. Whether you admit it or not, SNK and Neo Geo played an important part of most people’s childhood gaming experiences, and what some considered to be a part of our industry that doesn’t get enough recognition. Seeing the games from SNK modernized has been nothing short of joy-inducing for me knowing that new generations may get to experience the magic I had felt when catching the bus down to the nickel arcade as I was growing up in Southern California. I really hope to see SNK continue to bring more and more games to modern consoles, especially with the current price point of this game, and several others, at $7.99. It’s not perfect by any means, but it will definitely make that inner child giggle with delight.

4 out of 5 stars.