Ganryu 2 review

by on April 28, 2022
Reviewed On
Release Date

April 21, 2022.


As an old school Neo Geo fan, its nice to see Pixelheart ensuring that Visco’s name still rings out in them streets. Andro Dunos II was a recent corker that improved on their 1992 shooter and delivered us the fab sequel you didn’t even think you needed. Ganryu is another little-known title for the beloved SNK hardware getting the follow up treatment.

The slight difference from the aforementioned shmup franchise is that the OG Ganryu was, well, a bit crap. A generic blend of Shinobi, Ninja Spirit and Strider set against a background of a semi-fictionalised Japanese swords and samurai fracas between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro, it was only originally released for the Neo Geo MVS in 1999.

Ganryu 2 review

Despite eventual indie ports to the AES and even the Dreamcast, the complete original arcade cart of this one will cost you an arm and a leg. Rather than paying the price of a second-hand motor for that, I can confirm that the sequel is a monster improvement, and available for the fraction of the cost.

Ganryu 2 may be a modern title, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still hewn from the same tough as teak arcade material as its forebears. This is a serious challenge, with some harsh checkpoints, long and arduous levels, and continues that send you back to the start of the level once you are out of lives. Oh, and unlike Dunos II, you don’t get to keep your power ups and enhancements every time you croak. You will die loads. Your kids probably won’t last five minutes with this one unless you have been training them properly in the MAME dojo.

Ganryu 2 review

So we have established it is nails, but at the same time this is a great, fluid actioner with an intuitive control scheme. One attack throws out your Hiryu-esque saber, another allows you to dash horizontally, and you can also fling deadly – but limited – kunai. Like SEGA’s fantastic Shinobi series you also get to wield arcane magical attacks which can really level the playing field during some of the intense – and seriously impressive boss battles.

Even when you are getting sliced from neck to nuts by the latest olden-days Japanese beast, this is fun. All the ninja game tropes are there, from the annoying enemies who parry your attacks forward and need to be hit in the head, to the dreaded pointy bamboo pits that blokes my age have been vicariously merked by since we were barely off our mother’s teat.

Ganryu 2 review

Despite their merciless nature, the levels are varied and packed full of secrets and collectibles in their nooks and crannies. There is an element of having to memorise where some of the traps and pitfalls are – much the same as you would for a classic Ghosts & Goblins title, with a particular level involving minecarts that will make you curse the ninjitsu gods for their cruelty.

There is even the surprising inclusion of a flying horizontal shooter section which I was not expecting from a game of this ilk. And despite some occasional slowdown and framerate shenanigans the sprites are all beautifully animated and move around at a fair old lick, and the whole package is just a gorgeous neo-retro arcade treat.


Looks great
Hard, but fair


Short, few modes.
Too hard for some

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Despite some occasional slowdown and framerate shenanigans Ganryu 2 is beautifully animated and moves around at a fair old lick, and the whole package is just a gorgeous neo-retro arcade treat.