It feels like same-screen arena fighters — those local multiplayer “party game” staples — have slowly faded into the mist. They had their time in the mid 2010s with bangers like Towerfall, Duck Game, and the original Samurai Gunn. Since then there hasn’t been a tight space battler focused on high-speed reactions that really demanded my attention. That is until Samurai Gunn 2 recently went into early access.
The first Samurai Gunn was a slick, minimalist game where players picked small, palette-swapped warriors to duel on a map using swords, jumps, and just three bullets per life. It worked so well because of how easy the game was to understand, in combination with the weird ways a “mini-metagame” spawned across recurring fights. With one weapon and a few bullets in your arsenal, you’re forced to get creative with how you approach and stand your ground.
On last week’s Fanbyte Fight Night, I booted up the game and played a bunch of matches with Community Lead Taylor Hicklen and Podcast Czar merritt k. From that sparring session, it’s already clear that Samurai Gunn 2 builds on top of the original in subtle ways that enhance matches without straying too far from the simple roots. There’s now button combinations to change how bullets move through the air; some turn invisible or into pillars of fire that linger on the map. Original and crossover characters all feel distinct, harboring traits like Slug’s ability to stick to walls or Minit’s quirky trait of dying after an in-game minute passes. Scrolling through the surprisingly compact manual reveals that this game has a lot of cool, creative mechanics operating under its minimalist veneer.
Samurai Gunn 2 holds matches that are incredibly quick and satisfying. They throw me back to skipping classes and playing Flash games in the computer lab I wasn’t allowed in. If you’re looking for some rapid, sword-based fun with friends, you should definitely give Samurai Gunn 2 a spin.