Second Samurai logo Gamer Gold

Let's trek to the land of the rising sun and take a look at Psygnosis' action adventure extravaganza!

Quick question! How many of you lot bought First Samurai? Not many I can bet. First Samurai was perhaps one of the most under-rated arcade games of all time. Published by Image Works, a sub-divsion of the Mirror group, First Samurai went downhill when Mr Maxwell went deep-sea diving.

The distribution of the game suffered badly and it was very hard to find a copy to buy. The only instance when you could obtain it was when it was bundled with Sensible Software's Mega-Lo-Mania a year or so ago.

It really was a crying shame that gamers couldn't play Vivid Image's First Samurai because it was the ultimate Amiga arcade action game of that era. Psygnosis, clever people that they are, have signed up the sequel, so Vivid Image have returned with Second Samurai (nice original title).

The story is very similar to the original. The Demon King is once more rampaging through time and you as the Samurai Ninja-type bloke must chase after him. Various adversaries stand in your way coupled with an abundance of puzzles to solve.

Second Smurai is a fairly good name, but it has a double meaning. Not only is it the sequel, but you can now connect up with a chum and enjoy a simultaneous two-player game. There is a big of a snag though. The two-player option is a bit duff.

You have the choice of competing against your mate or befriending him/her and working together to defeat the evil Demon King. The choice is, as they say, yours, but they are still both fairly useless.

You see, the screen isn't split into two, so both players cannot move independently around the level. This causes all manner of problems. You can fight for the weapons and power-ups, but it's unfortunately all rather pointless.

This sounds like bad news, but it's not really because if you lock yourself away you can enjoy a damn fine action adventure game via the one-player mode. Apart from the two-player mistake, everything else has been made bigger and better. The gameplay has been left alone, but that's only because it was so good first time around that it didn't need to be changed.

The graphics have caused a bit of an argument in the office. Some people said that they look rather dated and very '80s, but I disagree with this. Some of the backdrops are really nice and the sub and end-of-level monsters are so spectacular they almost take your breath away.

If there was an award for biggest game sprites then Second Samurai would walk away with it unchallenged. If you don't believe me just look at screenshots!

The sound effects in the original were one of the high points and luckily the sequel has kept most of the samples. When you kill something you're treated with an orchestral stab and by killing loads of enemies you literally create your own atmosphere. There are also screams, yells, hallelujahs, err the bit of the Old Spice advert and also the infamous 'Oh no! My sword!' sample. The kicks, punches, thwacks and smacks seem to have been lifted from beat-'em-up favourite International Karate Plus, but hey that's no bad thing!

I can't really put my finger on what it is, but I really do love Second Samurai. It's one of those games that you try to play and play until your complete it. The difficulty level is just about right and you seem to progress that little bit further every time you have a go.

OK, it's maybe not the most original game of all time and the two-player mode is, as I mentioned before, not very good, but there are no outstanding faults with the game.

I would heartily recommend Second Samurai to anyone. If you're looking for a well-programmed, wonderfully playable, graphically brilliant, awesome sounding, highly addictive piece of software you have to look no further than Vivid Image's Second Samurai.

Second Samurai logo Amiga Format Gold

Welcome to Gameblaster, and on the show tonight, we will be finding out who is going to host the next series. Will it be veteran presenter Domingo Diamante, or the pretender to the crown, Flexter Deckchair?

Our two contestants will be wearing oriental garments and doing battle in a fabulous new game, Second Samurai, to decide who take (that is Japanese, that is) top spot. A cunning mixture of puzzle, platform, beat-em-up and shoot-em-up, Second Samurai makes The Crystal Maze look like Andy Pandy - you know, a sort of cute boy-doll in a funny strip outfit.

And without further ado it is on with the show. The object is to battle your way through 10 levels of sword-waving, fist-crunching, knife-throwing fun. Collect the weapons, pick up the points, solve the puzzles and slay the beasties. The guy with the most points gets to host the new series of Gameblaster. Is it worth it? Of course it is.

Join us after the break
Oh dear, young Flexter looks a bit ropey early doors. A snake caught him in possession there - slight pause - of a large sword. Boom boom. That is it chaps, collect the books - they give you extra power. Veteran broadcaster Domingo is having to show all his Gameblaster expertise, defelcting the huge dragon's attention to his 'friend' Flexter. We will leave it there for a few minutes folks. Back after this short intermission.

"Do you have an Amiga? Do you like computer games? If the answer is yes then have we got an offer for you!

Vivid Image and Psygnosis have teamed up to produce a fantastic new computer game for your Amiga".

Part two
And you join us at a critical moment in the proceedings - Flexter has just asked if he can go to the toilet, but the adjudicator has said that all he can do is hack and slash. Our man with the mike, Mike, is down on the ground talking to Domingo.

"Domingo, how is it going?"
"Mike, it is bonkers out here. I got myself a sword early on by collecting a yellow book..."

"Domingo, I will have to stop you there. I am hearing that we have to go back to Steve at the reviews desk because he has got to do a review of Second Samurai. This version works on all Amigas, but a special enhanced A1200 version is on the way. Over to you Steve".

So it is finally here. And after two years in development, Second Samurai does not disappoint. Fabulous graphics and sound, huge worlds to explore, frightening end of level bosses to overcome and puzzles galore to solve make this an addictive experience. And it has become popular in the office with people milling around my desk muttering: "Me, I want to hack and slash, me, me".

The two-player option offers three play modes - Friendly, Stun and kill. In the Friendly option, you and a pal go on a joint venture and boy, do you get to case some wild joints. The Stun and Kill modes enable you to damage your opponent, but you would not want to do that, would you?

Weapons include swords, daggers, bombs and seeker skulls which follow the enemy, and there is also a nifty jetpack to strap on your back followed by a fantastic shoot-em-up sequence.

One of the many pleasing aspects of Second Samurai is that it is not just a case of frantic joystick waggling. The fighting moves take a while to learn but once perfected, you will be ruthlessly efficient. There is also an impressive end of game sequence which depicts the tale of the Samurai in story form. The amount you see depends on how many experience points you collect.

Second Samurai is good; very good. So put on those red pyjamas, boil some saki, change your name to Harry Kari and shout: "My sword".

Second Samurai logo A1200 untauglich

Vor rund zwei Jahren stürmte der "First Samurai" den Amiga, damals im Auftrag des zwischenzeitlich verschiedenen Mirrorsoft-Ablegers Imageworks. Ersatzweise läßt nun Psygnosis den zweiten Fernost-Raufbold von der Leine.

Frei nach der Divise "Never change a winning team" hat die Crew um den in 8-Bit-Zeiten so rührigen Programmierer Raffaele Cecco (er hat u.a. die C64-Kultknallerei "Io" mitentwickelt) zwar Detailverbesserungen am zweiten Samurai vorgenommen, doch im großen und ganzen sieht er seinem Vorgänger verblüffend ähnlich. Aber das ist ja nicht unbedingt eine Schande...

Keine Überraschung also, daß auch der Dämonenkönig aus Teil eins wieder seinen Auftritt in der Vorgeschichte hat, diesmal dürfte er ganz Japan in Schutt und Asche legen. Und weil das traditionell nur Godzilla darf, reist der rächende Held dem Bösewicht nun durch drei Zeitzonen nach, wo er sich mit dessen Stachelwürmern, Flugechsen und Robotern herumschlägt.

Abgesehen von den teilweise sehr originellen Endgegnern ist die Innovation hier zwar irgendwo unterwegs verlorengegangen, doch alle für Action-Plattformen unerläßlichen Zutaten sind vorhanden: Während man sich zunächst nur mit Handkante und Fußritten zur Wehr setzt, sammelt sich im Spielverlauf ein schöner Vorrat an jederzeit individuell abrufbaren Extrawaffen (Schwert, Wurfmesser, Smartbombs, etc) an, Zusatzleben oder frische Energie liegen häufig zum Aufklauben bereit, und wer suchet, der findet auch Bonuskammern etwa oder sogar komplette Subgames wie z.B. "Asteroids"-Variante.

Wer das alles schon aus dem Vorgänger zu kennen glaubt, dem sei der ebenso neue wie launige Duo-Modus ans fernöstliche Herz gelegt, denn hier ist Teamarbeit genauso möglich wie ein heißes Duell um begehrte Extraboni.

Soweit wäre ja alles in Butter, doch leider ist der Levelaufbau nicht besonders abwechslungsreich; zudem können geübte Zocker ihren Samurai binnen weniger Stunden bis zur Finalen Auseinandersetzung führen.

Außerdem hat man sich ein paar technische Schnitzer geleistet; Um z.B. den Optionsscreen störungsfrei bearbeiten zu können, muß die üblicherweise an Port I angeschlossene Maus abgeklemmt werden, da sonst der Cursor willkürlich auf und ab rast. Systemabstürze waren beim Test ebenfalls zu vermelden, Festplatten und Zweitlaufwerke werden nicht unterstützt, und am A1200er bekamen wir seit langer Zeit mal wieder Grafikfehler zu sehen - tröstlicherweise soll die 32-Bit Schleuder aber demnächst mit einer 256farbigen Spezialversion bedacht werden.

Doch auch in der Normal-Fassung agieren schon hübsch animierte Sprites vor bunten und ebenfalls animierten Berg-, Wald- und Wiesenszenarien, das Parallax-Scrolling kann überzeugen, die Musikstücke sind prima und die Sound-FX geradezu orchestral.

Einen Hit kann sich der Second Samurai aufgrund des mangelnden Feintuning und der wenigen neuen Einfälle somit nicht an den Kimono heften, ein würdiger und unterhaltsamer Nachfolger ist er aber allemal - besonders für Kämpfer mit Begleitung. (rl)

Second Samurai logo

Samurai or ninja? It is hard to tell with these 'modern' haircuts.

One thing that has plagued the computer industry since its inception is petty machine rivalry. The early days saw the world gripped by pointless and depressing arguments along the lines of "My X I better than your Y", where X and Y were variables dictated by current computer trends.

It is a little know fact that the major computer manufacturers got together in 1986 in order to bring the so-called Tedious Put-Down Wars. Sadly, the talks fell apart when Clive Sinclair proposed that while, yes, every computer had its classic games and hence none could be regarded as actually being worse than any other, you really had to admit that those on the Speccy were, in a non-tedious put-downish way, far superior to those on all other formats. The representative from Commodore argued "Yeah, baldy? Come over here and say that," and things got unsalvageably out of hand when Alan Sugar started putting the boot in (Allegedly - Ed..

Things have never been pretty much the same ever since, and the whole thing has been given a ghastly new leash of life with the relatively recent popularity of consoles. Hopefully AMIGA POWER readers are far too mature to engage in such feeble drivel and will not, for example, guffaw disdainfully at anybody who happens to own a SNES when I reveal that the long-awaited SNES conversion of the excellent Amiga platformer First Samurai was absolute crap.

Second Samurai, the polite-ripple-of-applausingly-named sequel, treads much the same path as the original. Yon Demon King is again legging it through the time lanes with you in hot pursuit and again the soundtrack is replete with groovy orchestral samples and feudal Japanesey groans and yells, including everyone's favourite, 'Oh no! My Sword!'.

The big difference this time round is that Vivid Image have cleverly exploited the dual meaning of the title and introduced a second samurai: it is our old friend Simultaneous Two-Player Game once more. So, naturally, Second Samurai is at least twice as good as the original. Or is it? Hmmm? Well, actually, no it isn't. The best two-player games are based on conflict, with the two of you locked in mortal combat over the racing track or the fighting ring or whatever.

Even with the archetypical co-operative two-player game - Gauntlet 2 there was an element of landing your friend in it by nipping round a corner and leaving him to face the opposition alone, or letting the 'it' monster get him then screaming with laughter as the monsters were drawn towards him. (Naturally, he'd be doing his best to pass on 'it' curse to you while all this was happening). Due to the nature of Second Samurai - big graphics, platform gameplay - the only real sense of interpersonal conflict comes when you both rush for the bonus weapons.

You cannot split up, you cannot trick the other player into wandering into an ambush (because the monsters will go for you as well) and even the sword-conserving magic force from the first game is a shared commodity. There is an option whereby your blows hurt the other player, but this is far more frustrating than fun as you end up getting in a terrible mess trying to stay out of each other's way. I dunno.

Obviously, the two-player mode adds that 'human element' to the game, and there is no denying it is a bit of a laugh, but, well, it is old-fashioned. Instead of adding massively to the gameplay, it just feels tacked onto the one-player game. Most dammingly, when I was playing on my own, I did not miss the second player at all.

So it is lucky the one player game is so darn funky then, isn't it?

It is our old friend, Simultaneous Two-Player Game

One of the criticisms you could aim at dear old First Samurai without fear of being trampled underfoot by its legions of fans was that the puzzles were terrible. You came to an apparently impassable bit, you rang a handy magic bell and some wizened old bloke appeared and solved the thing for you.

At least in the sequel you get to work it out for yourself, which typically involves thinking about the mechanics of the puzzle for one-sixth of a second and then walking back three screens to pick up that funny object you saw lying around in a suspicious fashion.

A-ha, but then you have to carry it to the scene of the puzzle, threading carefully because you cannot fight with your hands full. And every now and again there will be a very neat problem to take you by surprise. An example. At one point, the floor is littered with deadly revolving spikes. If you are quick and you are lucky, you can probably get through.

But wait! What about the sentient stone clock (don't ask) guarding that prize in the screen above? Jump up, kick away that up-to-now inexplicably collapsible floor, and before you can lay butter the block has crushed the spikes into the ground. Hurrah.

The basic platform gameplay has been wisely left alone. Lashings of punching and kicking cruelly-spiked minions, then getting hold of your famous sword and having a go with that as well. And bosses? This game has bosses to spare, two or three sprinkled around each level in a Turrican sort of way, and all of them cheerfully grotesque.

The levels themselves deserve a special mention, packed with secret bonus rooms, atmospherically decked out in glorious competent-artist-o-vision, sufficiently differing from their fellows to raise excited questions in the House, and each featuring a unique and terrible death trap, from leaping fireballs to razor-edged mechanical crusher. Ah, it fair does you good to get away from jumping on cute nasties' heads in order to knock them off pleasantly rural landscapes.

The difficulty curve is also pitched just right. You find yourself really wanting to see the next level, you will get that vitally important bit further each time, and the size of the game (three worlds of four huge levels) guarantees a fair bit of playing time before the Demon King is finally defeated in an undoubtedly ludicrously protracted climax.

(Such is the absurdly large talent of the programmers that the game comes on a single disk, with a second providing an entirely wonderful piece of introductory musik. Disk access is kept to a minimum - only new worlds, not levels, need to be loaded - and overall the game does as much as possible to keep you enfolded in its atmospheric embrace. What a delicious change).

Oh look, I will put it to you straight. Second Samurai is a brilliantly programmed, terrifically playable, spectacularly addictive, graphically excellent and sonically boffo game with a hugely average two-player mode.

I cannot wait for Third Samurai, where no doubt we will discover the Demon King managed to escape into another dimension or had a twin brother called Bernard or something.


Second Samurai
Step One: Dash clench-jawed to the chasm of doom and pick up the obvious idol.

Second Samurai
Step Two: Fight the huffy guardian.

Second Samurai
Step Three: Take the idol to the unsubtle temple.

Second Samurai
Step Four: Swap the idols and rake in pots of cash.

Second Samurai logo


Second Samurai picks up where First Samurai left off. Our lone Samurai is continuing his pursuit through time, of a demon that killed his master. After vanquishing the horny beast at the end of the first game, Sam took a bit too long finishing him off. Tricky things these demons, more lives than a cat and with a habit of turning up when you least expect them. Anyway, this one has fled back to Ancient Japan so Sam has got to follow him back there to wreak his revenge. The problem is that demon has left 10 levels of henchmen-invested platforms behind to slow old Sam down.

To make matters worse, he starts the game with nothing more than his hands and feet to defend himself with. Luckily, some careless geezer has left various weapons scattered around, like a huge sword, throwing daggers and even a special magical bomb. Sam will need all the help he can get 'cos the demon's henchmen are a tough bunch. There are snakes, beetles, robots, ninjas and other samurai to contend with.

One major fault in First Samurai's game design was the vastness of the levels. Players often ended up wandering around searching aimlessly for the exit. That error has been ably corrected here, though, with each level split up into small manageable chunks; the ends of which are punctuated by a tough mini-boss creature. In addition, the more of every level you explore, the more of the end of game sequence you see and boy is there a lot to it!

This element is only of many that give Second Samurai a console feel. With three-layer parallax scrolling, bags of colour and unique graphic sets for each of the three worlds you feel you are playing a 16Mb console cartridge.

So much has been stuffed into Second Samurai that it would be hard to do it real justice in any review. Vivid Image have clearly thought long and hard about all the little things that make players warm to a product. For instance, you can alter the sound level of the in-game tune whilst playing without affecting the spot effects!

There is plenty of sub-games, with many pastiches on old classics like Asteroids. There is even a section where Sam straps on a rocket pack and the game turns into a shoot 'em up. The icing on the cake is that it all hangs together so cleanly with only a few slight flaws showing through.

Second Samurai is an Amiga games classic. Do yourself a favour and rush out and buy a copy now.

Second Samurai AGA logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

Psygnosis 051-709 5755 * £29.99 * Reviewed in non-AGA form AF53 91%

Punch, kick and slash your way through 10 levels of platform, cum puzzle, cum beat-em-up action in this excellent sequel to the, erm, first one that came sometime before. The graphics have been suitably enhanced though it remains much the same as the original release and the samples are harikarimungous.

In simultaneous two-player mode, Second Samurai excels and you can play as both friends and enemies. There are end of level baddies to tackle and check out the shoot-em-up section where you fly along a road powered by jetpack. Furious fun, yet plenty of head-scratching puzzles to solve make Second Samurai one to play for weeks to come.

Second Samurai AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Vor zwei Monaten eroberte der Plattform-Samurai den Amiga in der Standardversion, allerdings nicht ganz ohne Macken. Waren acht Wochen gunug, um die Mängel in der Spezialfassung für den 1200er auszumerzen?

Im Vertrauen auf Euer Gedächtnis schenken wir uns die dämonische Vorgeschichte diesmal und stürzen uns gleich auf das opulente Optionsmenü:

Zur Auswahl stehen vier Schwierigkeitsgrade, die Anzahl der Kriegerleben (3, 5 oder 7) sowie Ein- und Zwei-Spielermodus, wobei das menschliche Duo sowohl mit- als auch gegeneinander kämpfen, sprich, um die Extras streiten kann. Nach dem Abschluß dieser Vorarbeiten darf man seine Samuraikünste in drei verschiedenen Welten à zehn Levels unter Beweis stellen.

Auch die gängigen Extras für mehr Energie oder Leben sind vorhanden - und dazu gelegentliche Bonusrunden, in denen man z.B. auch mal ein bißchen ballern kann. Auf Überraschungen stößt man hingegen kaum, dafür ist das Leveldesign einfach zu konventionell.

Scrolling. Mehr als ärgerlich ist, daß eine angeschlossene Maus nach wie vor den Optionsscreen stört und daß immer noch keine Festplatten oder Zweitfloppies unterstützt werden. Wenn sich ein Hersteller so wenig um die Interessen der Spieler schert, ist das schon zwei Prozent Abzug wert! (ms)

Second Samurai AGA logo AGA

First there was a samurai, then there was another one of it and now...

When the standard version of Second Samurai was reviewed back in AP 32, Jonathan Nash gave it a whopping 90%, and I remember thinking that this time he must have flipped for good. I'd played the game a few times and thought that, apart from the gorgeous graphics and interesting-but-naff two player mode, that it was pretty much a standard platform affair, and in no way worthy of such a hefty score.

Well anyway, months have gone by and I've now spent ages playing the A1200 version, and I'm convinced that he was spot-on with his review. Almost.

The standard thing for A1200 versions is for the programmers to shoehorn in an extra layer of parallax scrolling, making the back-tint a lot smoother and change the colour of the main character's pant, but with Second Samurai, there was a more prssing reason to bring out an A1200 specific version, namely the original game wouldn't run on the A1200 without messing up horribly.

Hardly surprising, there's nothing very much different about this version, and the first few times I played it, I was so hard pushed to find any differences at all that I phoned up Psygnosis. "What Do you mean it looks the same?" they screamed down the phone, "It's got new colourful backgrounds and it's massively enhanced. What are you, stupid or something?"

Feeling suitably chastised, I loaded up the A500 version next to the A1200, and was forced to agree that the backgrounds were more colourful and detailed. But so what? The standard version had wonderful silhouettes and this version has coloured lava flows and parallax backgrounds floating past windows, but the net effect isn't that different. It looks great either way.

A veritably fizzing cocktail of puzzles

As far as gameplay goes, all the bits I played seemed exactly the same as the standard one, but it was at this point that I warned to the game. Okay, so most of the game involves leaping around and hitting things but there's also masses of different things to do.

One of the secret rooms has an asteroids game, the later levels let your guy grab a jetpack and whoosh into a horizontally-scrolling shoot 'em up section, and your progress throughout the game's interrupted by a veritably fuzzing cocktail of puzzles and people trying to kill you.

So onto conclusion time. Although I'm not naturally predisposed to platform games, the sheer all-round brilliance of this forces me to admit that you'd have to search long and hard to find a similar game that comes up to the lofty standard of Second Samurai.

The variety of game styles keeps you enthralled, but the free-flowing way you move from one style to another doesn't leave you scrabbling to work out a new set of control elements. This version's no worse than the A600 one, in fact it seemed exactly the same to me, it's just that I've yet to play a platform game (even as good as this) that deserves a mark in the 90s.