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‘Sengoku 2 ACA NEOGEO’ Review – Ninja Dave and Cowboy Kev Return – TouchArcade

Time travel. Certainly a risky device for telling stories. It can solve problems. It can cause problems. Usually he does both. Nevertheless, it is a crowd-pleasing plot device that can spice up a story in many ways. The original Sengoku ($3.99) already had a bit of a time shampoo with its tale of an evil feudal warlord who appeared in modern times and unleashed an army of undead Japanese warriors in an attempt to take over the world. With the warlord defeated by the samurai descendants Ninja Dave and Cowboy Kev, it seemed that peace had returned. Unfortunately for the world, Sengoku was a hit. Sengoku 2 ($3.99) was inevitable.

Of all SNK’s NEOGEO beat-em-up attempts, Sengoku was the one that had the biggest reception with arcade goers around the world dropping coins. Despite the controls being somewhat stiff, the compelling premise, character switching mechanics, and excellent presentation attracted many players in the early era of the NEOGEO. Critical reviews were less kind, but that didn’t seem to hinder the game in the slightest. With the development team getting the nod to make a sequel, one could only imagine how the ante would be upped.

Time travel. Unlike other forms of media, time travel in video games rarely goes wrong. We love that stuff. Chrono trigger. Turtles in time. Ocarina of Time. Day of the Tentacle. Blinx the time sweeper. Nothing but legends there. Add to that the fact that beat-em-ups lean more heavily than most genres on a flashy, eye-catching premise, and time travel is a wholly winning piece. So when the feudal warlord returns Sengoku 2, he’s not just going to attack modern Washington again. No, this time he’s going to attack and take over several key moments in history. Ninja Dave and Cowboy Kev, with the help of a priestess, will travel through time to fight the warlord’s forces wherever they appear.

The gameplay doesn’t have many changes from the first one. The multiple weapons from the original game are gone, which is a bit of a shame. Instead, you start with a sword that you will always wield. You can make high and low attacks with your weapon, and pressing both at the same time blocks you. Orbs can be picked up just like before, but this time they will only upgrade your attacks. The character transformations return, but this time you start the game with all three available. Choices include a doggo, a tengu with a long bar weapon and the world’s worst dressed ninja. You can temporarily transform into it, and the tengu especially very useful. It’s just as fun a gimmick as in the first, if just as pointless at times.

It’s still fairly stiff compared to offerings from Capcom, Konami, and even Jaleco, lacking fun combos and chain moves. That said, it’s a faster and smoother game than its predecessor, making for an overall more enjoyable experience. There are also some horseback riding parts in the game that add a bit of spice to the often repetitive cut and dice of the standard gameplay. It’s also been improved from a presentation point of view, with better animations, more intimidating enemies, and some wild stage backdrops as you’re thrown around in time. There is no doubt which of the two games is superior; Sengoku 2 handily beats the original game.

However, I won’t beat around the bush for too long. Sengoku 2 isn’t a great beat-em-up. It’s hardly a good one. I wouldn’t say this series had a really outstanding episode until its third and final appearance. But Sengoku 2 is good enough. A nice little diversion to go through on your mobile device with the amount of credits you want to use. The game is more fun with a friend, but as is the norm with this one ACA NEOGEO mobile releases, you probably don’t have everything you need to make that happen.

On that note, let’s talk about the usual stuff. You can use an external controller if you have one, which is a nice way to play. If you’re stuck with touch controls, you’ll still have a decent time with them. Beat em ups generally seem to work well enough with touch controls and this one is no exception. You get the same extra modes we’ve seen in others ACA NEOGEO releases and the same robust range of options to choose from. Online leaderboards give you an extra incentive to keep coming back and are a very welcome feature.

If you liked to continue playing Sengoku on iOS, this is an easy recommendation. Sengoku 2 is a better game than the first and the conversion for mobile has been handled in an equally competent manner. I still wouldn’t call it a particularly great title, but working your way through the bizarre and beautiful locations is an enjoyable enough use of your time and virtual coins. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another year for the great successor to make its appearance in the ACA NEOGEO line.

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