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In the end it only seems fair to rate it the same as the Virtual Console version - as a solid fighting game in its own right - and leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide if the online play and minor technical compromises improve or tarnish an enjoyable core experience.
Fanboys stop typing your missives right now. It’s the truth; you either love this game because it reminds you of Slurpee-fueled afternoons at the 7-11 near school, or you’re an incredibly knowledgeable fan of fighting games who wrote your 500 page dissertation on the subtle differences between SNK and Capcom games. You guys are cool, you’ll love it. But to the entry level fighting gamer, I can’t fully recommend it.
Samurai Shodown II is a great nostalgic release for Xbox Live Arcade. Diehard fans will appreciate the ability to take the game online and do battle against the masses, while others will just enjoy the ability to play a classic fighter on the 360, despite the terrible D-pad. If you can overcome the frustrating controls then there’s plenty to enjoy.
Samurai Shodown is a great series, and as far as I'm concerned, SS2 is the best installment of the bunch. Between that and the game's online support, I'm well satisfied with this release. If you have fond memories of '90s arcades, I'd guess that you'll be satisfied, as well.
This version of Samurai Shodown II doesn't bring much new to the mix, but that won't matter for fans of the original. The classic's here in all its glory and occasional goofiness -- if you're outfitted for the experience, slice away.
This is a problem that many retro releases face; how do you attract people to purchase the game outside of the group who played it when it was originally released? Generally most games that are released to services like Xbox Live Arcade will have some sort of upgrade done be it to graphics, gameplay or adding new features to the title. The only thing really added here is the ability to play on Xbox Live and that’s just not enough. There are other, better, games out there to play now and unless you’re that obsessed reliving the once great games of the past there’s no reason to look back.