The Last Blade 2, originally released in Japan as Bakumatsu Rouman Dai Ni Maku: Gekka no Kenshi - Tsuki ni Saku Hana, Chiri Yuku Hana (幕末浪漫第二幕 月華の剣士 ～月に咲く華、散りゆく花～), is the second entry to The Last Blade series. It was first released in arcades in November 25, 1998. This game is also considered be the last title to the series though SNK mentioned their interests in continuing where they left off.
It has several home console versions, including Neo Geo and Neo Geo CD versions, a Dreamcast port, and a Neo Geo Pocket Color conversion. The Neo Geo CD version includes an extra quiz mode, voiced cutscenes, and a gallery section from both titles. Most of these features and the Neo Geo additions were combined for the Dreamcast port. Both games were released for a PS2 compilation on January 12, 2006. A PS4, PS Vita and PC port handled by Code Mystics adds trophies.
A drama CD was also made available for purchase on January 1, 1999. It follows Hibiki's reluctant journey as a warrior.
The official story given by SNK is as follows:
Long before humanity existed, in a far off time of myth, death was an unknown, equally distant concept, but when death first came to the world, the "Messenger from Afar" was born.
With time, the Sealing Rite was held in order to seal Death behind Hell's Gate. At that time, two worlds, one near and one far, were born. Thus the history of life and death began.
Half a year has passed since Suzaku's madness, and the underworld is still linked by a great portal. Kagami's great sin is still heard as if ringing from the heavens. Our world has been called upon. Legends of long ago told of the sealing of the boundary between the two worlds. The Sealing Rite would be necessary to hold back the spirits of that far away world.
However, the Sealing Rite brings together the power of the Four Gods and Sealing Maiden, for the first time properly completing the ritual.
To find the Sealing Maiden, Genbu began searching in the center of the world, from which all things begin. At the same time in the underworld, in the depths of darkness, many spirits conspired, plotting to hinder the Sealing Rite. They had but one wish, to be reborn into our world.
The setting is set one year after the events of the first game. Gameplay elements remain the same as the first title with some minor adjustments. Power mode now allows the player to use an unblockable guard break (known as the Bōgyo Fukagiri/Defense Failing Slash in Japanese), where using B + C (strong slash + kick) allows for a delayed strike. Speed mode instead allows for an overhead launcher (Uchiage Giri/Launching Slash in Japanese) with the same command, which if blocked low causes a stagger instead of a launch. The Ranbu Ōgi now allows for the command 22A or B, which respectively is an overhead and a low for the starting attack.
One more mode called "EX" (Extreme/Kyoku in Japanese) was added to play, which is a combination of "Speed" and "Power", only the character has lowered defense by x2 and decreased Super Meter gain while being unable to use the guard break (instead using the overhead launch with BC). All modes now aesthetically possess their own color schemes different from each other, with Power mode having the default color palette available for selection.
The grim mood of the series was stressed more than its predecessor through various ways: both introductions to the game hint to the end of an age, characters are colored to be slightly darker, and the game's cutscenes are made lengthier to emphasize the importance of the plot. This grim mood is subverted by the storylines of Akari, Hyo, Juzoh and Lee, where their endings, in the case of Hyo and Lee, can take a comical or bright turn if certain conditions are met.
The ability to lose hold of weapons has been totally removed in the game.
The new characters introducted in this game are:
- Hibiki Takane, the daughter of Genzō Takane, a renowned swordsmith known throughout Japan during the Bakumatsu era. She is searching for the silver-haired man that requested the final blade her father made and protect her family's legacy;
- Setsuna, a being believed to be the "Messenger from Afar", he requested a blade to be forged from Hibiki's father. He is out to stop Hell's Gate from ever closing, and seeks to kill the sealing maiden, Yuki. He was a spirit in the Makai filled with an insatiable need to kill, unknowingly released by Kagami through the Hell's Gate;
- Kaori Sanada, sister of the late Kojiroh Sanada, who disguises herself as him, using his identity in order to investigate the evils within, as well as to restore the faith in the Shinsengumi. She seeks to finish off the zombie form of former Shinsengumi, Mukuro, who killed her brother;
- Mukuro, the zombie version of Shikyoh, wanders the land in his undead form, continuing to kill innocents;
- Original Kaede, the normal version of Kaede, before his transformation;
- Hagure Hitogata, the Shikigami summoned by Akari Ichijou in battle and fights by imitating the enemy;
- Kotetsu Naoe, daughter of Shigen Naoe;
- Kouryu, the final boss of the game and the resurrected version of Gaisei, adoptive father of Kaede, Moriya and Yuki. He has the power of the Four Gods, through the gem that he wields. He was originally killed by Shinnosuke Kagami in battle and was resurrected by unknown means into this form.
Neo Geo CD & Dreamcast Exclusive Character
- Kouryu - (also hidden playable)
- Note: This is the only game in the series with an exclusive stage, the Graveyard, only accessible in Versus Mode in the console version.
Shimiji Mountain Pass: A cliff near a Japanese beach, in a sunny day. Features trees, people, horses, a stone ladder and a wooden cabin, besides ships in the ocean.
- Intro: people walking, a ship sailing and the sun.
Village of Twilight: A field next to a plantation, in a sunset. Features trees, shrubs, Kanji stones, tree stumps, a water well and dandelions, besides a forest.
- Intro: a ladder, the stones, a Buddhist statue and a dragonfly perched in a bush, with the sun in the background.
Port City Building Nº 13: A street, during the celebrations of the Christening Festival. Features a crowd, a elephant with people surrounding and a woman riding him, lamps, sales points, flags, a cloth door and a bucket, besides some paintings, one with Akari and Juzoh.
- Intro: a couple of children laughing until were surprised by the elephant.
Last Night of Yuki-Machi: A street next to a river, in the night. Features a boat, some people, a red bridge, sakura trees, a pagoda, a wall and some houses, besides the full moon, some clouds and a small tent.
- Intro: A woman looking at a hand mirror, and after looking at the moon, with some sakura petals falling.
Large Fire at Wadamoya: An attic of an hut, in flames. The fight takes next to a ladder. Features wooden piece over all the stage and a wooden clock.
- Intro: the stage on fire, with flashes of Washizuka fighting with a man.
Forgotten Forest: A forest next to a waterfall. Features beams of sunlight, stones and a small turtle.
- Intro: the waterfalls illuminated by a beam of sunlight.
Cloudy Battlefield: A ship port destroyed, next to a war trench. Features some ships, cannons, rocks, hays, ripped flags, destroyed fences, wooden wheels, smoke and dogs eating leftover food, besides the moutains.
- Intro: A sword stuck in the rocks.
Shrine of the Sealing:
- Along with the general motif and theme of the game, a curious text line is inscribed in the GUI of the game. This was the translated prologue text from the first game, The Last Blade, which was originally left untranslated and is read as follows:
- For ages, the barrier remained.
- "Earth" and "Heaven" were kept separate.
- "Hade's Gate"
- Genbu, Byakko, Suzaku, Seiryu
- In History's shadow, this barrier was kept secure
- Protected by the Four Gods, all remained safe.
- But this would change.
- Unlike the first game, the prologue of the game is properly translated. The ending credits however, was left untranslated, in comparison to the first game.