Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage, known as Samurai Spirits 2: Tale of the Murderous Demon Asura (SAMURAI SPIRITS 2 ～アスラ斬魔伝～ Samurai Supirittsu Tsū: Asura Zanmaden ) in Japan, is a 3D fighting game produced by SNK for its Hyper Neogeo 64 system. It is the followup to the original Samurai Shodown 64 on the same platform, and like its predecessor, it received relatively no distribution outside of Japan.
The storyline is described officially by SNK as follows:
In an unknown land an eerie disturbance disrupts the sky, leading a dark mass to the land.
It is the ultimate evil-it is the reincarnation of Yuga the Destroyer.
The objective of this being who once more alights to earth is the unification of this world and the Netherworld using the hermaphrodite male and female-that is, the construction of a utopia to become the foundation for the resurrection of the Dark God.
As he resumes his search for the hermaphrodites, those turned into puppets by Yuga's magic unleash their carnage to gather the sacrifices necessary for the ritual of utopian construction.
These puppets then employ various means to increase the dead and provide sacrifices. Some, for example, become leaders of the Shogunate to carry out ruthless policies, some became common murderers, and still others deliberately incite revolt against the government.
Through the influence of the devilish reincarnation, outbreaks of famine and plagues further increase the dead, providing the evil with yet more strength and delight.
The mountain of dead gathered by these means is subsequently heaped up on the altar of the Netherworld and fashioned into two pillars in which the hermaphroditic male and female are to be subsequently imprisoned.
At this time one man returns to the Netherworld. The name of this warrior who stands directly before these literal pillars of the dead in the darkness is Asura. Master of magic, he is the dark swordsman appearing in this realm to wreak his revenge on Yuga.
Regardless, his enemy steadily proceeds with the construction of his utopia. The curtain now rises on this drama of revenge that will engulf both our world and the land of the dead.
After the lukewarm critical and fan reception of the previous Samurai Shodown game, SNK listened to customer comments and complaints, and set about trying to restore more of a two-dimensional feel to the gameplay, in order to draw fans who enjoyed the earlier iterations of the series.
The most obvious difference is the lack of full 3D movement, which was replaced by a more standard dodge into the foreground or background. Controls were more standardized, with multiple strengths of special moves, and the near-total removal of short chain combos. Also, when a character's "rage gauge" was fully charged, it was possible to power up certain moves, in a fashion similar to that of ES Specials in DarkStalkers. To help promote aggressive play, a "stumbling" system was introduced, wherein a character would stumble and fall backwards if trying to hop backwards twice in a row. The system continued the use of the Slash/Bust system, in which there were two alternate versions of each character, with different movesets. This game also further differentiated the two by making the two versions also look dramatically different from one another, in most cases. Only two new characters are introduced to the series in this installment:
- Asura, a revived warrior with the power to summon seven weapons, who wants to destroy his old opponent, Yuga.
- Taizan Morozumi, a warrior who wants to avenge the death of his wife and son, both killed by Yuga.
In spite of all the positive changes, the game still met with average reviews, not helped by the platform's meager graphical capabilities when compared to other contemporary arcade hardware, such as the Sega Model 3.
The game experienced a minor revival in the form of a scaled-down 2D "port" for the Neo-Geo Pocket Color, entitled Samurai Shodown! 2. It included the entire cast except for Hanma Yagyu, and re-added Charlotte and Jubei.
- Samurai Spirits 2: Asura Zanmaden at NBC Museum of SNK Playmore
- Official Samurai Shodown Website
- Samurai Shodown Forever fan site