Started on Neo Geo by SNK, Samurai Shodown (Samurai Spirits in Japan) is a series of 2D stabbing games. At the time, in the early 90s, when all the developers wanted to be as successful as Street Fighter 2 in arcade and console, SNK began to release many fighting games hoping that one of them would start to hit the box office.
This is how the King of Fighters, Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury appeared.
Samurai Shodown (2019) is the descendant of a long line of games that began in 1993. The franchise features its main episodes, spin offs and portages on various platforms, like any good franchise of fighting games.
This album is officially the Samurai Shodown VII (SSVII) and serves as a reboot for the franchise that has been forgotten for years. The sets and characters are now fully 3D made on Unreal Engine but the gameplay remains in 2D and modeled on Samurai Shodown II.
It is a series that has no equal among fighting games: instead of being based on combos, it is based on character placement, risk-taking, opportunity cost.
Each of your moves is dangerous to execute because they all take a huge time to recover, and can be punished easily by the opponent. Sometimes, compared to other fighting games, it almost feels like you’re in front of a turn-based game. To accentuate, the impact of the blows, each of them leads to micro-freezes of the action.
So it’s all about guessing what the opponent is going to do, countering it, conditioning it.
The game closest to this mindset would be Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo.
Many different characters
Each of the 16 characters in the game’s launch has a knife. They can be disarmed during combat, they have access to 3 special furies. Each with different trigger conditions:
- Disarmament Fury: Fury Barre filled
- Issen: Triggering the break of the fury bar (one per game)
- Secret Fury (one per game)
Among the 16 characters are 13 veteran characters from previous episodes and 3 new characters. 4 additional veterans have been announced for the first season pass.
Honestly, it’s a very good number to start and learn about the series. If they had recreated the astronomical numbers of 48 characters for Samurai Shodown VI, it would have frightened a lot of people, myself included, because the progression curve would have been steep.
And frankly, the game is much easier to learn than many of its competitors. If you know how to make a quarter circle, you have everything you need. If you don’t, you’ll learn. No need to memorize combos for hours. All characters use the same controller manipulations to pull out the special moves and they all follow the same rules. The furies will have very similar properties as well.
There is a tutorial that will tell you how the game works, then fighting against human opponents will teach you the rest.
In terms of game modes, there is a story mode that is a scripted arcade mode, and the usual Versus, Training, Ranking Match, Casual Match.
There are also some Time Trial, Survival which are strangely similar, Gauntlet to face all the characters and options and galleries with the scenes of story mode to unlock by finishing with each character.
There’s also a Ghost mode: an AI that’s supposed to learn from your parts, but it seems to behave no matter what its level.
In short, nothing special level game modes, the base, but it works well.
Warrior of the world
I was worried about online, I was pleasantly surprised, the matches are fluid, and I was not a problem. It works a lot better than King of Fighters XIII fortunately. The interfaces are very confusing though, and do not allow to do a rematch with his friends for example. You have to go through the lobby every game.
You can activate the Fight Request, it allows you to get interrupted in a game mode when an online partner has been found, as in any good modern combat game.
On the other hand, when you agree to play the game that found via it, and you finish it, you end up in the matchmaking lobby, and you lost all the progression, for example, that we made in the story mode or the configuration in the training.
A big flow error that completely spoils the appeal of the feature.
Another mistake, in my opinion, is the lack of cross-play, if you want to unite the players on a game, you allow them to play together. However, by dividing the user base into 2 for now and then 4 when the game comes out on the other 2 platforms, we lose a lot of users who could have found opponents at their level.
Japan the game
The game is beautiful, we see that SNK has learned the lesson since King of Fighters XIV, which had a really different look and that the fans sulked. Here the graphics are resplendent, the animations very detailed and the whole interface is in the colors of Japan. The characters are all samurais, ninjas or musketeers and speak Japanese as well as the voiceover that announce the fights and the chosen menus.
In the end, the game is a good surprise. I was worried about the previous big SNK productions, but you have fun if you try the adventure.
The thing that bothers me the most is its price: $80 plus launch taxes, it’s quite dangerous to invest in such a game if we’re not sure we like it. No doubt, it will decrease soon in price, and that future releases on Switch and PC will make it more popular and affordable.