Monday 9 May 2022

Ganryu 2 Review (Switch)

The Switch continues to be a sort of Ark for retro games and systems with the online pass and the the Neo Geo Pocket having a high-profile presence on the system. Arcade and Neo Geo games are also prevalent and there’s even been Saturn and Amiga titles beginning to come through. Alongside this several ‘new’ retro games have started to appear. Ganryu 2 falls somewhere between the two categories as a technically new game, but one that is a direct sequel to a slightly obscure Neo Geo title.

It all starts well enough with big bold graphics that invoke the arcade sprites of old. The characters and environments are beautiful as well and invoke the spirit of ancient Japan well. The problem comes with regards to how the game plays. The first issue is with the control layout. There is a lot you can do with your character but the controls just never feel comfortable. The attack button is clearly in the wrong place and the jump and dash dynamic seems very awkward. There are no button configuration options either which is a real shame.  

Once you have wrestled the buttons under control your next obstacle is the flow of the game. It seems to skip frames at times which means your character is never quite where you think they are and the same goes for enemies. Again, this can be overcome but when you have a game this quick and so reliant on twitch reflexes it is a noticeable issue. Add in memory test enemies and obstacles you have no way of avoiding without prior knowledge and the cracks really start to show. ** (A patch has now been issued to address the frame rate - see paragraph at the end of the review). 

All of this would be forgivable if the game didn’t abide by a crazy approach to progress. You do have a healthy number of lives but when you must reach for a continue it takes you all the way back to the first part of the chapter. We fought through to the end of stage 1-2 only to die at the boss. Naturally we expected the continue to start us back at the beginning of stage 1-2 but no. Right back to the start of 1-1 we went. In a lot of ways, it would be better just to not have continues for all the use they are. There are no other ways to continue progress either.

Overall, the shine on Ganryu 2 rubs off very quickly. It’s a real shame as with a changed continue system the game would actually be a lot of fun - even with the control and frame rate issues. As it is though it’s just too much to deal with and not enjoyable enough to be worth the perseverance. In the end there’s just too many flaws to be able to recommend this to all but the most hardcore of Neo Geo fans.

** Since this review was written a patch has been released for the game. This has changed the frame rate issue dramatically and the game now plays incredibly smoothly. While other issues remain the flow of the game has been dramatically improved and as a result it is much more fun. A future patch is also in the pipeline which adds buttons config options and changes the prevalence of healing items. The overall score has been changed to reflect the current patch.

Overall 6/10

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