It’s been over 10 long years since the Samurai last picked up weapons and took to the arena. SNK have finally brought the original weapon based fighter back but lets see if it still has the weight to throwdown or if it’s just a check throw back.
As mentioned it’s been a while since the last Samurai Shodown, that one was a disappointing 3D fighter with little charm, Samurai Shodown 2019 goes back to series roots with 2D fighting and everything that gave this series it’s cult status.
The game has a roster of 16 fighters, 3 of which are newcomers such as Darli Dagger the pirate & the mystic Wu-Ruixiang. The iconic characters are all here too from Haohmaru, Hanzo Hattori, Earthquake and current crossover darling Nakoruru.
Visually Samurai Shodown is a treat, long gone are the stiff and basic visuals that KoF XIV originally launched with, Samurai Shodown has the Street Fighter 4 aesthetic dialed up to 11. Everything has a brilliant “hand drawn” look to them and it really drives home the feeling of feudal Japan, colours are vibrant and pop, characters are cleanly animated, the cast have never looked better and some of the backgrounds just ooze classic SNK.
The music is very suiting for it’s time period and the voice acting is good for the little it’s used. The characters speak the language from where they are from which is a fantastic nod and the SFX are outstanding, blades clashing and blood gushing has never sounded so good!.
The game features several game modes such as Story, Versus, Online, Dojo and Network. Story is your basic arcade mode with intro, 10 fights and ending, it’s a standard affair. The Dojo allows you to practise, run the tutorial and face off against the cast in a survival setting OR against A.I that copies your play style and that of others. It’s a nice addition for the offline play but in terms of content it’s a little barren outside of unlocking everything in the Gallery. Online is reportedly a mixed bag, I personally haven’t had any issues online against random people or people off of my friends list. The lobby system is a little confusing and a step back from KoF XIV which is it’s closest kin.
The gameplay in Samurai Shodown is very close to the originals and in today’s fighting game climate seems incredibly slow. Much like the recently released Mortal Kombat 11 which slowed it’s gameplay down, this is a totally different kettle of fish compared to Street Fighter & King of Fighters. It relies much less on combo strings and more on it’s neutral footsie game, if you try to play this as fast as something like Blazblue you’ll end up embracing death much quicker than you would like!.
There are several defensive options from standard block to weapon grabbing if you have your weapon taken off you, on the offensive side you have disarming moves, ultra specials and Issin which removes your rage bar but offers a nearly instant kill attack with it’s own flashy cutscene.
All the characters offer something interesting and it’s worth trying out the whole roster to see who captures your Samurai Spirit, I personally enjoy playing Earthquake and Charlotte but the newcomers all seem quite interesting too.
Despite it’s single offerings being a little bare bones unlike others in it’s genre such as MK, there is still a whole lot here to enjoy for fans of the genre. I hope the game is supported further than the season pass and people really “embrace death” with this title, it’s the alternative the genre needed again and one that will whittle your hours down during the night with it’s addictive multiplayer.