GAME OF THE MONTH COLLECTION! SAMURAI SHODOWN
(SNK/Crystal Dynamics, 1993)
Fighting games have always been a great escape for gamers to let out their
aggressions and so for this month's GOTM, I decided to give the attention
one of SNK's better brawlers. For many, Samurai Shodown for the 3DO was the
best way for gamers to play the popular hack n slash arcade fighter at home.
Just like the awesome arcade version, you get the choice of 12 highly skilled
fighters (and yes, everybody is here unlike in some other versions), each
character not only had their own unique look and style to them but they also
had a unique weapon as well. Samurai Shodown became popular back in
it day for it's impressive graphics, awesome music, and more unique game play
helped to set this game apart from most one on one fighting titles out there.
The game was easily one of more impressive games for the then troubled 32-bit
CD-Rom game system.
Samurai Shodown takes place in the 17th century during the feudal Japan era,
you get to select from of one of 12 fighters on a quest to fight one on one
battles all over the world to become the best. The weapon based fighter was
innovative when compared to others of its kind because the fighters can fight
with or without their weapons. Some characters like Haohmaru, Wan Fu, and
Charlotte can only do their special moves with their respective sword too
so it's a good idea to pick up your weapon in case you get disarmed. Thankfully
SNK didn't change too much from the Japanese Samurai Spirits game because
many of the samurai's keep their long original names, I would have hated if
the game was Americanize and Haohmaru was renamed Rick or something.
You also have to watch the gauge at the bottom of the screen, if you get a
full POW meter than your warrior becomes blood shot and their strikes become
more powerful which can turn the tides of battles. There is also a guy that
runs in the backgrounds from time to time, he may throw gold, food, or bombs
at the players to mix things up, and some stages like Wan Fu's level, the
guy mostly throws bombs at the field. Like I said before each character is
unique and has there own set of features, here is all the selectable fighters:
The first fighter in the line up is Haohmaru, a cocky 25 year old samurai
with long spiky hair and he carries his trusty samurai sword where ever he
goes. Haohmaru only has two special moves but he still as a lot of power especially
in his combos. He is a solid first choice for beginners and experts alike.
Ukyo Tachibana is Haohmaru arch rival and he wishes to win the heart of a
young Japanese girl who loves Haohmaru. Ukyo uses a long samurai sword and
his attacks are quite different than most samurai's. His fear of being cut
in the face means that he has his back turned to his opponent most of the
Tam Tam is a giant 8 ft Masked warrior from the African island of Green Hell.
Tam Tam looks like no fighter I ever seen in game before, his stance is weird
and his moves are easy to tell but he has 4 different special moves with great
range. Tam Tam is searching for a Parenke Stone stolen from his village, if
it isn't returns to his homeland than the stone may destroy the world. Tam
Tam was also the only character not to make it to Samurai Shodown II
which kind of disappointed me but at least he's here in this game.
Kyoshiro Senryo is a Kubuki actor who holds a bladed Bo to give him better
reach that most warriors. Kyoshiro has four great defensive special moves
but he lacks speed.
Wan Fu is a Chinese Warlord looking for warriors to defend his homeland. He's
a bulky 250 pound man with a giant sword plus he is the only character who
could throw his weapon in an awesome air attack but his sword is lost in the
process which weakens his defence.
Genan Shiranui is a weird looking little green creature that has a nasty claw
grove for his weapon. He can also use his special moves after he's been disarmed
too which can help in his fighting strategy.
Earthquake is one of my favourite characters! This guy is an absolutely HUGE
10 foot 700 pound American Ninja from Texas who leads a gang of ruthless thieves.
If that wasn't bad enough for his opponents, his weapon is a scary chain and
sickle. He's easily the most powerful character in the game and his weapon
reach is excellent, sure he's really slow but Earthquake is so strong and
big that he easily makes up for poor speed and you can't throw him either.
"Yes, he is 10 foot tall!"
Jubei Yagyu is a one eye Imperial guard skilled in the way of Bushido and
unlike the others; he uses two samurai swords at once. He's great on defence
with some very fast rapid attacks. He still loses both swords if he's disarmed
Nakoruru is a young 17 year old girl that's a mission to save the planet after
she notices the unrest of the environment. Nakoruru is the smallest fighter
in the game and even her sword is fairly short but she has a huge list of
moves at her disposal and even has an eagle named Mamahaha by her side that
can remove her from dangerous situations or can be used to attack as well.
Galford, like Earthquake, is an American ninja but he's only 5'11ft 180 pounds.
He is one of the quicker fighters with tons of tricky moves like teleports
and projectiles to throw players off their game. Galford even has a husky
named Poppy by his side so he can use the wild dog on his enemies if he wants.
Hanzo Hattori is the Japanese alter ego of Galford but he has no dog and he
wishes to hind his face. Just because Galford and Hanzo look similar doesn't
mean that they both have all the same moves. Hanzo has lots of defence and
powerful strikes including a bouncing flame and some counter attacks. Hanzo
fights to save his son from a mysterious illness.
Finally there is Charlotte, a skilled fencer woman from France who's fighting
in the revolution. She only has two special moves that are easy to learn but
are fairly limited. Charlotte is fairly powerful especially on the ground.
The graphics and music are right on and if you're familiar with the Neo Geo
game then you should be right at home here. Although this is a traditional
2D fighting game like most Neo Geo games, this also game includes some 3D
scaling so not only can you can see all the action from far away but the camera
also zooms in when the fighters get close just like in other games like Super
Smash Bros. Melee. I also found that the animation was way better than
the choppy movements of the questionable Samurai Shodown 3 for the
Playstation which many consider the disappointment of the series (come
on, who likes that stupid kid with the umbrella, uh?).
Like the grphics I really enjoyed the sound tracks in this game too. Each
stage has its own background music fitting for its area like Galford has a
cool rock/samurai mix or the bouncy Kubuki music of Kyoshiro's level. Each
stage sounds great and it belongs on a CD. If you're Japanese then you should
be right at home here because most of the fighters and even the announcer
speak Japanese which was a nice change of pace when compared to the average
beat them up out there.
Although Samurai Shodown for 3DO is a good translation, it does have its share
of problems like the action is a bit slower game than the arcade game plus
because this is on CD, there is an annoying 10 second load time before each
opening bout that does hurt the game's speed a bit. Also some of the Amakusa
(the evil end boss) cut scenes are missing so you do miss some of the story
This version though does have some exclusive bonus features like the ability
to save three different files to the system so you can turn off the 3DO power
and resume your old game for later and you have to love that, eh? The system
even saves your High Scores too which really increases the replay value. It
should also be noted that Samurai Shodown on 3DO is uncensored, all the blood
is here right down to the massive spray of red stuff coming from a beaten
opponent to the Mortal Kombat like cutting the loser in half after a random
strong strike and not even the US Neo Geo home cartridge version has
that. If you don't want to see the Blood and Violence in the game then you
can easily shut it off in the options menu plus you can turn off other thing
like too like the weapons and the time limit.
This is definitely the best version of the SNK classic here outside of the
original Neo Geo edition and it easily puts the 16-bit versions to shame!
Samurai Shodown even surpasses all the other 3DO fighters like Way of the
Warrior (good but low budget looking), Shadow (pure gaming crap),
Primal Rage (solid but limited action with only 7 dinosaurs), Rise
of the Robots (even worse than the Super Nintendo game with unresponsive
controls), and even Super Street Fighter II Turbo (a great translation
but I still liked the swordplay in SS better). You get 12 different samurai's
and other warriors with vicious weapons and furious arcade action with great
graphics and awesome music that's overall sure rare for a 3DO game. What more
could you want?
overall score: 85/100
For 1 or 2 players