When you think of fighting games you tend to think of games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and to some extent the Tekken series. But there was a time where we were really spoilt for choice in the arcade fighting arena.
SNK developed games in the 90’s like the “King of Fighters” series but were also well known for the immortal “Samurai Shodown” series which hasn’t seen a version since it’s “Anthology” was released 10 years ago for Wii, PSP and the Playstation 2.
Now the Samurai’s are back in a reboot for a new generation of gamers on systems that are insanely more powerful that the NEO GEOs we are used to seeing them on in what could be the surprise hit of 2019 - “SAMURAI SHODOWN” (“Samurai Spirits” in Japan).
If you are into fast past fighters then this may not be for you as it’s a far more clinical game that prides itself on finding your opponent’s weaknesses in defence. The weapons you use deal a fair bit of damage (as they should) so there’s a large amount of satisfaction in completing a stand off with your enemy with a move that disarms them and leaves them open for a brutal heavy attack blow.
Although the combo moves can be spectacular the focus here isn’t on those combos but rather on technique and that’s what brings the pace down and makes each move count. Going in button mashing may work with a couple of novices but a seasoned Samurai player knows that a single well placed attack could be much more fatal.
This game has a few different modes which are standard in this genre, the classic arcade mode, a story mode to give you more insight into the world and the characters you are playing as and Online mode which can put you in a room with up to 10 players.
There are plenty of beautifully animated familiar faces from the franchise like Haohmaru, Nakoruru and Yoshitora Tokugawa, the one that stands out for me though will always be the great TAM TAM, who I always remember referring to as TIM TAM as a kid. Each character is extremely unique so it’s worth playing with as many as you can to find which is best suited to your style of play.
Three new characters also join the roster for this game in the form of Yashamaru Kurama, Darli Dagger and Wu-Ruixiang who all bring a new and unique style of fighting to the game.
Graphically this title is superb, it’s the absolute perfect blend of Japanese MANGA style animation in a 3D type environment that gets the mix just right. Some games that try this tend to look cheap and it’s certainly not the case with this game that is bright and creatively produced.
One great features for parents is that you can manipulate the gore level of the game taking away the blood and dismemberments to have a more cartoon style fighting game. The simple fact that this even exists in the game shows the developer actively thinking about making sure anyone can play Samurai Shodown safely.
Samurai Shodown is a really great addition to the fighter genre that not only gives us hours of gameplay through story and characters but also something very different in the way of style of play. This could be the best fighting game released this year, and yes I played Mortal Kombat 11.