Review by Shirow

""The Future Is Now" - SNK"

Last Blade 2 is the sequel to the already stunning Last Blade and comes with new features and a lot of new characters. And if you have played Last Blade and already know how good that game is, be prepared because the sequel is even better. And it might even be one of the best beat-em-ups EVER.

Yet again, this masterpiece is signed SNK and yet again, everything about it is awesome. After the Garou Dentetsu, Samurai Shodown, Art of Fighting and The King of Fighters series, there’s also the Last Blade series as from now although that’s just 2 titles compared to the huge number of games that make up those series (3 for Art of Fighting, 7 for King of Fighters, and I won’t even try to count for Garou Dentetsu and Samurai Shodown…). But that doesn’t prevent it from being the best despite only 2 games having come out to make this mind-blowing series.

Just like in Samurai Shodown, each character wields a weapon although some may seem to fight bare-handed but just don’t rely too much on what you see. You never know what they have got up their sleeves. Of course, there’s the ever popular sword and who other than Kaede would be better here (makes me think a lot of the little guy from Yu Yu Hakuusho too…). Jozuh is very cheap with his baseball bat (where the hell did he get that !?) and will surprise you with his speed, something which you wouldn’t expect considering that he looks like he must eat ten boxes of cereal each day. And there are lots of other new characters to make the game even better. My favourites are Kaede, of course, Mukoro (makes me think of Freeman – same stance, same attitude !), Kojiroh and the frightening Setsuna (but then, really, really frightening !!). But none of those can top Zantetsu who’s just too cool (had I played this game before joining GameFAQs, that would most certainly have been my username…) and who will set your eyes drooling with his outfit and his moves. By the way, did you know that this guy is Eiji Kisaragi’s ancestor…? Huh, you’re already agreeing with me that he must indeed be cool…How weird…

Last Blade 2 will see you choosing between 2 modes – and a third one, a mix between those 2, which I haven’t tried out yet because the code is damn too hard to input – namely the Power and Speed mode.
Each has its pros (and cons) and you must be wise in making your choice. Obviously, some characters are much better with a mode and I don’t really see you assigning Speed mode to Jozuh unless, for some weird reason, you wish to lose rather quickly. But some are good at both modes, like Kaede and Zantetsu, although you must still keep certain things in mind depending on which move you used. Most importantly, your character has new moves depending on which mode you are using and super moves which really take a big chunk of your enemies life. The third hidden move, EX, is a blend between these you but you need to be a master at the game to be able to play with it according to what I’ve heard.

GRAPHICS : 10
Last Blade 2 has clear and very detailed graphics although they’re not as good as the latest Garou (but then, we all know that Garou rules in this field so it’d be better if I just didn’t compare these 2). Anyway, that doesn’t prevent it from being of the best designed games on Neo-Geo. See the power of the cartridge now !!? Even the characters’ outfits are well-drawn and each character just has that outfit which really suits him and which makes him look awesome. A truly spledid work ! The game is very quick and requires you to be alert at all times (no checking by the window to see if your girlfriend is coming – I did that and was severely beaten by Shigen !) but still, the animation remains smooth and never slows down. Visuals in this game are simply too good to be true. The backgrounds are awesome and yet appear so simple. SNK have really surpassed themselves by making such backgrounds with crisp details. A quick glance at Hibiki’s stage will just show you how good graphics this game support. WOW, this game must simply push the Neo-Geo to its maximum.

SOUND : 10
Talking about music and sound effects, huh ? Here’s what, once you buy this game – which you must do if you own a Neo-Geo and don’t want to die stupid – put the cartridge (which you’ll cherish soon enough !) in and for your first game, choose Kaede. You’ll most certainly meet Hibiki and get your ears prepared for one of the finest themes ever. Her theme is awesome and just has to be one of SNK’s best work in terms of audio. Even Tears (Kyo’s theme in ’99), which everybody knows really kicks ass, come nowhere close to it and I’ll admit that it beats the hell out of World War III. And it’s like this throughout the game. Each theme has been made so as to suit the character’s personality and this works out just fine. Some characters don’t even have music and thus let you know the feelings of that particular character. Thus, Shigen has no music ; yet, he is one of the character whom I enjoy meeting even though I always end up havin a difficult time containing his attacks. But most likely, you won’t have to do as I told you because you’ll start wondering yourself after hearing the themes at the character selection screen and that wonderful tune when the character pics show up before the fight (which I adore !). Sound effects couldn’t possibly get better in any other beat-em-up. The sound of two swords clashing as you desperately try to repel an aggressive opponent’s attacks, Setsuna mumbling as he unleashes his final move, Kaede performing his special move, Hibiki taunting you…These are just a few small examples among hundreds from the game that has the best sound effects on Neo-Geo. The wind passing through the leaves, numerous little animals bustling with life…just honor this game in the best possible way. The voice actors are remarkable and hats off to the presentator who gives you the adrenaline boost to fight before each round. Voice-acting has reached perfection with every single character !!

CONTROL : 10
Let’s do a simple Mathematics equation, will you ? (Somebody get YSF in here !).
SNK + Neo-Geo Pad = ?. I will tell you although I probably don’t need to. The answer to this simple equation is : PERFECTION. The response is even quicker than Lucky Luke and the controls are very easy. Combos and specials will be coming out in no time with the wonderful joypad that the Neo-Geo has and you can absolutely not say that you lost due to the control because, in that case, you’re just a liar. Why ? Last Blade 2 has the best controls you could ask for although it must be said that the Neo-Geo pad rules here.

GAMEPLAY : 10
A multitude of characters and no 2 characters fight alike, playable bosses, hidden characters which are really painful to unlock…Oh boy, this is a dream game !! The presence of the 3 modes even add to the fun-factor as you spend hours seeing which mode is most appropriate for each character and as you seek the best way to abuse each mode’s features. And do not think that the game is easy to beat like most SNK games where bosses have easy patterns or you will feel sorry soon. The game is difficult even at Level 4 – normal level - and you’ll have a tough time dealing with some characters like Jozuh who just never give up. This is too good to be true !
I forbid you to pinch me !

OVERALL SCORE : 11
GAMEFAQS SCORE : 10

Last Blade 2 is, simply put, the best 2D fighter ever created and the title all beat-em-up fans must own. This is also the best title available on Neo-Geo and if you own the system but do not have this game, I feel sorry for you because you don’t know what you are missing. I still remember how I played this game for more than 3 hours the first day I got it and wouldn’t stop for anything (ate at 10 pm too), being so much engrossed in the game as I was. The game is pretty difficult to find though (in my country, I can’t tell for yours but Neo-Geo titles aren’t usually available in handfuls) and of course, its price. But should you see this a store, just buy it ! You have my word you won’t regret it !


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/01, Updated 11/09/02


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