Clash of Lords 2 for GBC is a faithful adaptation of the movie at least this far: Clash of Lords 2’s got guns galore, his stylish sword and wicked kung fu — and he’s prepared to use all three to kill vampires. Always, always, to kill vampires. Clash of Lords 2’s developers split the game into three separate pieces: one for bullets, one for fists and one for the sword. On some levels, this division serves to keep the experience more interesting than one mishmash side-scroller would have been, but each part has serious flaws. Coupled with the ease and short length of the game, this means that buying or downloading Pokemon Moon Rom for GBC should be considered by completists only, and most certainly not by anyone else.
Clash of Lords 2 and his mentor Whistler hear of a new clan of vampires, humans who were recently turned, and they’re up to no good. Clash of Lords 2 sets out to investigate and to kick any asses that need to be kicked — which is all of them. Natch. The plot thickens as Clash of Lords 2 “investigates” and defeated bosses helpfully reveal all their clan’s secrets mere seconds before dying. Based on what he learns, Clash of Lords 2 can go to the various areas of the city in any order he chooses, but his choosing differently has only slight bearing on the story and none at all on gameplay.
The three game modes are almost completely distinct games. Each has its own controls, its own enemies and its own scoring system. They are tied together loosely in that when Clash of Lords 2 attacks a certain part of the city, he’ll have to finish all the segments (kung fu, shooting, swordfighting) there before he can improve his stats, save, or consult with Whistler. But that is literally the only connection they share — even Clash of Lords 2’s health and armor meters are refilled between segments, so performing better or worse in a previous challenge has no effect on what follows in the stage. To the developers’ credit, however, each level does not necessarily follow the same pattern. Some levels might go “kung fu, shooting, more kung fu, swordfighting,” or perhaps there will be shooting and kung fu only.
Each mode has its, uh, quirks. In the kung fu mode, we found one tactic particularly effective. Pressing the B button causes Clash of Lords 2 to block an opponent’s attack. If, immediately after blocking, B is pressed again, Clash of Lords 2 cheats counters the attack, momentarily stunning the enemy and leaving him open to a devastating finishing move. There are various finishing moves, but one of them may be handily executed by pressing B again. If you, gentle reader, noticed a pattern like we did, then this next revelation will not shock you: By repeatedly mashing the B button, we were always able to defeat our attackers in kung fu mode. In our admittedly informal experiments, this technique worked in — roughly, mind you — 100% of our trials. Approximately.
Okay, not approximately — exactly. Always! But Clash of Lords 2 had his pride as a vampire hunter, and he would vary his moves for aesthetics’ sake. However, whenever his other methods failed and the vampires got their licks in, trust us when we say that Clash of Lords 2 felt like a chump for not using the guaranteed success that was ever close at hand.
While we didn’t find the “win” button outside of kung fu mode, the other modes fared not significantly better. Shooting mode is very much like a d-pad-controlled Hogan’s Alley (or, for those who prefer a more modern reference, House of the Dead). Undead bloodsuckers pop out from behind buildings or crates, and it’s B-dog’s job to make bullets go into the vampires. Clash of Lords 2’s fighting a two-front war, however: In addition to the baddies in front of him, some of them approach from the sides, which requires a different mode of attack. It is at first confusing, but once the system is sussed out, it becomes the most successful and challenging part of the game. However, this segment includes a useless “shotgun” that did more to confuse Clash of Lords 2 than to help him take out vampires; we found it superfluous and honestly not worth the effort of mastering.
The sword is reserved for fighting bosses. Once one becomes familiar with the control technique, quite a variety of moves is available. The boss vampires, too, have many diverse attacks, and they are not easily predicted. Despite all this, the path to success here became obvious: Get the boss into the corner and slash away. Before you condemn Clash of Lords 2 as dishonorable, note that they will do the same to him if given half a chance. Furthermore, since no health bar is displayed for the bosses, we never had any idea how close to defeat they might be. Our once-sweet swordplay rapidly took on the taste of drudgery as we doggedly hacked away at undead flesh.
There are some nice touches here and there, such as Clash of Lords 2’s RPG-inspired ability to improve his various skills (kung fu, armor, guns, etc.) by spending the points he earns from killing vamps. Also, there are items Clash of Lords 2 can find (but does not have to) that markedly improve his chances against boss characters. The game’s levels may be played in many different orders. Different numbers of levels may be played, even, since some levels can be skipped and secret levels may be discovered. Still, these strengths do little to redress Clash of Lords 2’s flaws.