Samurai Shodown II (真 SAMURAI SPIRITS 覇王丸地獄変, Shin Samurai Spirits Haōmaru Jigokuhen , lit. "True Samurai Spirits - Haohmaru's Portrait of Hell"), is the second game in SNK's popular Samurai Shodown series of versus fighting games. This game has been released on the Wii's Virtual Console in Europe on August 8, 2008 and in North America on August 25, 2008 at a cost of 900 Wii Points. It also been released on Xbox 360 for Xbox Live Arcade on September 10, 2008.
Following up on the extremely-enthusiastic fan reception of the first SS game, SNK rebuilt the sequel from the ground up, including almost all of its predecessor's cast, adding several new characters, and refining the overall gameplay with more responsive control, more moves (particularly the use of the POW meter as a finishing-move meter), and a substantial number of Easter eggs.
The cast of characters was expanded to include the following new additions:
- Genjuro Kibagami, who was to become Haohmaru's greatest rival.
- Cham Cham, a young, catlike girl who was the younger sister of Tam Tam (who was excluded from the game).
- Neinhalt Sieger, a knight from Prussia, who fights with a giant, gun-containing gauntlet.
- Nicotine Caffeine, an old, diminutive monk, and master of Haohmaru and Genjuro both.
- Kuroko, the hidden boss of the game, is playable for the first time. Kuroko's movelist is interesting as he uses moves that are used by some of the characters in the game as well as characters from other SNK fighters such as Ryo Sakazaki. His super move in the game is a comical version of Ryo's Ryuko Ranbu.
- Rashojin Mizuki, the first female final boss in the series and the only boss to have assistance from an animal.
The overall gameplay was expanded to include several movement options, such as being able to roll forward and backward, ducking to avoid high attacks, or doing small hops to avoid low strikes. This game was also the first game to incorporate an offensive blocking technique or "parry", via a command issued at the last second, a player would be able to deflect the incoming attack and leave their adversary open to attack by a split second. Such a technique would not be incorporated into other fighting games for several years, until the advent of Capcom's Street Fighter III. There are also cameo appearances from other SNK characters, a hidden boss who would occasionally come out to challenge players, and several other treats for fans to uncover.
Samurai Shodown II was even better-received than the original (though it did not sell as well in its home version), and is commonly regarded as one of SNK's finest games ever produced. At the height of its popularity, strategies, tricks and tactics were discussed and debated, and it is arguably one of the most heavily dissected fighting games ever made, with sizable documents being written to support or refute claims of one character's dominance over another's. It also made GameSpot's list of The Greatest Games of All Time and EGM's List of Top Ten Cult Classics. At Game Rankings, it holds the overall rating at 92.50%.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) its considerable popularity, the game went for several years without being released on any other system. When it did happen, it was a port of the Neo*Geo CD version for Windows-based PCs. This version did actually get a release in the United States, and can still be found in some game stores. The only other port was for the Sony PlayStation, in the form of the Samurai Spirits Kenkaku Shinan Pack (サムライスピリッツ剣客指南パック), which combined the first two games into one package, and was only released in Japan. However, at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show on September 21, 2007, a Xbox Live Arcade port and a Playstation 2/Wii anthology containing every Samurai Shodown game were announced.
The game is renowned for having some of the most hilarious bits of Engrish in the history of video games, even considering SNK's history of questionable translation. Chad Okada (the Game Lord) has stated that efforts to localize the text were stunted as the time and money needed to fix it would have been more expensive than releasing the title in its original state.