Ganryu 2 is an often brutally tough side-scrolling action title — the kind of game that harkens back to a simpler time when we'd be willing to smash our head off the hardest of challenges over and over again because we didn't know any better. And in that sense, this is a truly faithful sequel to the original Ganryu, which released for the Neo Geo all the way back in 1999. Simply put, they rarely make 'em like this anymore.
Ganryu 2's commitment to its retro roots is both refreshing and frustrating. Players who relish mastery through repetition will no doubt love what the game has to offer, as you're pretty much forced to memorise the ebb and flow of each level before finally claiming victory. But there's also no getting away from the fact that Ganryu 2 is stuffed with cheap deaths. From enemies that appear with no warning to platforming sections that are almost pure trial and error, this sequel is sure to test your patience every now and then.
Fortunately, the controls are tight and slashing baddies feels great in that old school button-mashing kind of way. The level design is largely enjoyable as well, offering hidden paths, secrets, and a good amount of variety in both visuals and gameplay. Meanwhile, the boss battles are consistently intense and require some serious precision later on — a dangerous mix if you're already struggling with Ganryu 2's stiff challenge, but rewarding to overcome all the same.