A clash of steel!

Title: Samurai Shodown
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Google Stadia, and Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Developer: SNK Corporation
Publisher: Athalon Games, Solutions 2 Go, Safari Games
Release date: Out now.
Tl;dr: The 1993 classic rebooted with a fresh yet familiar look with the same blood-soaked battles you’d expect.
Price: £40/$50
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Samurai Shodown is a series from long ago, an arcade franchise from SNK that you probably never heard of here in the west due to being overshadowed by the likes of Street Fighter, or you live in England like myself and arcades weren’t exactly great. However, some 20-odd years later, SNK decided to reboot the franchise and bring Samurai Shodown into the modern era.

The reboot of Samurai Shodown loosely follows the story from the original game. It, however, stars a new protagonist, Yashamaru whilst the classic characters do return such as; Haohmaru, Ukyo (my main) and Nakoruru. There is a total of sixteen fighters without counting the DLC roster, so you have thirteen returning characters and three newcomers in the base set roster. Each character has the own unique play style and awesome design that pays homage to the original design whilst being unique in its own right.

Samurai Shodown isn’t your modern-day beat ’em up with swift and intricate combos and flashy super attacks. No, Samurai Shodown makes you feel like a samurai fighting with his life on the line. Enemies standing opposite each other waiting for the opportune moment to attack whilst beads of sweat creep from your forehead, hand tightly gripped around the hilt of your blade and then wham! You unsheathe your blade seizing that opening and land a few slashes before waiting for the next opening to make sure you finish them off.

This style of combat was very new to me when I first started as I mostly play Arc System fighters such as Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and the more recent Dragon Ball FighterZ, where the battle is decided by who is faster and who can string together that perfect that leaves your opponent speechless as you take a majority of their health in a single combo string. In fact, Samurai Shodown feels much like Street Fighter minus the Hadoukens in that it’s much slower-paced, in fact even the design is much like Street Fighter with the thick outlines and the brush strokes left trailing behind attacks.

Samurai Shodown has a story mode that is very much your typical arcade story mode. You begin with a brief that goes over the motivation of your character alongside the narrative that is playing out. Then it’s your typical affair of fighting random characters from the roster until you reach the rival of your chosen character and then the final boss that is a hardcore piece of shit! I haven’t got that stressed at a fighting game since score attack in the original Blazblue against Ragna the Bloodedge.

Aside from the story mode, you have a few other offline modes to explore like Gauntlet mode, where you can test your mettle against each character in a series of round matches, winner takes all. Plus there is a survival mode to test your endurance or a time attack where you can test just how fast you can take down those who stand in your way. You can also mess around in the Dojo where you can download other players’ fighting data to practise against, however, if you want to fight actual people you will need to jump online and test your skill either in the casual or ranked arenas.

Overall, Samurai Shodown is a fun experience for both old and new fans with a great cast of characters and a bunch of content to keep you occupied. However, I would recommend playing the game with a fight stick or at best a Pro Controller as Samurai Shodown requires precision, something the joy-cons can’t provide.

The Good

  • Amazing art direction and graphics makes the characters and background pop.
  • A variety of modes to sink your teeth into.
  • A nice steady frame rate.

The Bad

  • Load times break up the fun a bit.
  • Joy-Cons aren’t designed for this game.

Family Focus

Samurai Shodown is rated PEGI 16 and M for Mature by the ESRB. Definitely not suited for children in the slightest as you can literally cut your opponents in half with the swing your blade and with enough blood to fill a child-size paddling pool, I don’t think little Jimmy will be playing this anytime soon.

This review is based on a code provided by PR for the purposes of this review.