Savage Reign Review

SRSavage Reign (Available exclusively on Neo Geo MVS, AES, and CD)
ESRB Rating: NA
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: SNK
Developer: SNK
Release Date: May 25th, 1995

Every once and a while a sequel comes out that is just so much better than the original that everyone forgets there even was an original.  Case in point, Street Fighter II.  When I was going to the arcades and SF II hit the scene, I thought I was crazy as I had never even heard of Street Fighter before, and clearly that must have been one awesome game to spawn such an incredible sequel.  Many years later when I finally had the chance to check out the TurboGrafx-16 port, I learned why no one had ever heard of Street Fighter before, because it was just awful.  Here we have Savage Reign, a game that time has forgotten.  It’s not horrible, but it’s just nothing special, a clear unoriginal product of its time.

In 1995 the world had already seen some truly amazing fighters, such as Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Samurai Shodown, and The King of Fighters.  Savage Reign simply didn’t have enough originality to make it stand out.  Its sequel, Kizuna Encounter on the other hand, was one of the first tag-team fighters and leagues better than its predecessor in every way imaginable.

I have the power!!!
I have the power!!!

The Good:

+ Simple gameplay and controls.  Tapping A or B initiates a quick jab or kick, whereas holding either button results in a heavy attack.  C activates your weapon attack, D allows you to jump to the next plain, and B and C together throws your weapon.  Mix and match these basic and familiar (Real Bout Fatal Fury) inputs with traditional special moves and you have a fairly easy to understand combat system.

+ 10 playable characters is a plus…right?

Attacking from one plain to the next.
Attacking from one plain to the next.

The So-So:

+/- The two line battle system, which allows you to leap from one plain to the next works well, but is anything but original.  1991’s Fatal Fury introduced the two-line system and by 1995 it already had stayed its welcome.  The difference this time around is there was a nice blur effect used whenever you jumped from one plain to the next, but that hardly grants any extra points.

+/- The visuals would have been extremely impressive in 1992, but by 1995 other games on the Neo Geo hardware were smoother, crisper, and all around nicer looking.  While the sprites are nice and large, the scaling is not as smooth as it should be.  The same can be said for the animation.  Characters frequently transition from one move to the next with obvious missing frames, so movement appears choppy.  Thankfully the characters are varied and colorful, but that hardly does anything to make the package more inviting.

Nice ball.
Nice ball.

The Bad:

– Sounds effect and music are nothing special.  They feel like a low budget release, which is what I assume this game to be.  Most voice samples are not clear, and the music is usually tinny and garbled.

Talk about goofy character designs.
Talk about goofy character designs.

The Lowdown:

Savage Reign is mediocrity at its best.  Even when it was brand new it was largely forgettable, and now many years later it’s a relic time forgot.  It isn’t awful, but it isn’t anything special either.  This is one of those games you pick up for an hour or two with a friend, and almost immediately move on.  When you discover its sequel, suddenly the original has a little more relevance, but only barely.

Final Score: 4/10

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