Sword & Poker 2 in Review – A sequel sticking to a winning formula

Sword & Poker 2 is a fun and engaging sequel that stays true to its roots. Quite simply, grab it if you liked the first (our review).

…The above should really be all there is to this review. Sword & Poker 2 is indeed worth your time and money…but only barely.


You see, S&P2 is the latest in a long and distinguished line of sequels that refuse to innovate. Little else can be said of a game where the most exciting new feature is the ability to play songs from your library. While a lack of innovation is not in itself enough to condemn a game, it certainly doesn’t make a compelling argument for purchase. Sometimes, the formula works well enough on its own to justify sequels (think Super Mario Bros., Pokemon, Mega Man, most shmups, every fighting game ever made, etc.)…at other times, there’s little to no point in acquisition (Tetris DX, anyone?).

So does S&P2 make the cut? Barely. It was NOT the game engine that made Sword & Poker popular (and even if it was, you can technically play the first game and multiplayer infinitely). It was the STUFF. The gameplay was merely the vehicle by which you reached the cool stuff. This is why Mega Man has a zillion sequels – the “STUFF,” in that case, is the bosses and weapons. In Pokemon, the “stuff” is the Pokemon and their abilities, not the game engine (which remains unchanged throughout how many best-selling sequels?). In fighting games, it’s the selectable characters, with special attacks perhaps factoring in.

As an enormous fan of the original Sword & Poker, the sheer lack of “stuff” in this game was quite disappointing. The original was fun precisely because of the unique take on the genre, combined with a gradual layering of diverse elements with a pacing that never became either too overwhelming or too stingy.

Sword & Poker 2, meanwhile, is only barely more than a straight-up clone. There is no point in rating the music, controls, or graphics, seeing as they almost perfectly mirror the original. There are “rare” creatures which force you to incorporate a “rush down” play style, but they are few and far between. The addition of two additional debuffs – poison and an “amnesia” move that disables your opponent’s debuffs – has little effect, seeing as the poison is useless until the end of the round (making it an inferior choice to either the thievery, life-stealing or paralyzing options) and negating your opponents special attacks is only worthwhile if you are taking special attacks constantly…or, in other words, getting stomped. A clutch paralyze could turn that around…denying them from gaining 12 health doesn’t.

It seems that they shut off the creative tap for this game, adding new portraits and two new abilities, but nothing truly unique or surprising.

That said, no one can argue that it’s not a winning formula. Gaia studios certainly won’t be making the mistake of new coke. For better or worse, the S&P2 motto is “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.”

Verdict: Flaws aside, Sword & Poker 2’s still a great game. Grab it. Just don’t expect a long honeymoon.


App Summary
Title: Sword & Poker 2(WW) Developer: GAIA CO.,LTD.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Price: $3.99 App Size: 37.5 MB
  • Very similar to the first game
  • Can now play music from iPod library
  • New abilities
  • New enemies and weapons
  • VERY similar to the first game (yes, it’s a con, too!)
  • Too few new abilities to justify sequel
  • Recolors of a recolor the first game recolored.


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