unknown origin, strange phenomena, repeated outbreaks of war: these were
enough to cause panic and plunge people into despair. But one smiled as
he surveyed the unfolding chaos rending the world asunder. For this
"man," once slain by the forces of the Tokugawa Shogunate, hate for the
Shogunate is all he possesses along with newly acquired dark powers to
bring it down.
This "man," Amakusa
Shirou Tokisada, unleashes his unworldly forces and spreads his false
creed in an attempt to lead the world to ruin. But in the midst of such
calamities, there were still warriors who put their beliefs to the test.
These warriors spurred by different motives and beliefs converge as if
drawn together, battle, and make their way to the source of the chaos.
Shodown (known as Samurai Spirits in
Japan) is a 2D fighting game released in late 1993, rivaling the likes of Capcom's long-running fighting
series, Street Fighter 2. Instead of fighting
with fists, each of the characters of Samurai Shodown fight with a unique
weapon. Each fighter utilizes their own distinguishable play style, some of which comparable to other fighting game
characters we've seen, but the designs of Samurai Shodown are truly
unique (and overflowing with personality). Many of the characters are
also based on real-life historical figures such as Miyamoto Musashi
Shirou Tokisada and Hanzo Hattori.
Jin Jou ni... Ippon ne, Shoubu!
The characters of
Samurai Shodown are colorful, intricately designed, and play their part very
well in this epic little title. The whole roster really comes together as
"one" and is very balanced from a design standpoint. Some fighters
also have animals that tag along
with them, such as Nakoruru's hawk and Galford's dog. Their animal friends can even be used
to attack their opponent in the midst of battle... yet another innovative gameplay element to the fighting genre.
is responsible for introducing the "Rage" gauge (or "POW" gauge) to the fighting
game genre (which ended up appearing in several other fighting games, years
later). Basically, the more damage your character takes, the more damage
they can deal out (for a limited time). The Rage system is a strategic element of the
gameplay that can really turn the tide of a battle.
I miss old school 2D blood...
Another unique element that stands out in Samurai Shodown are the
characters featured in the
background who interact with the gameplay. Firstly, Kuroko
(the ump) attentively watches the duel from the sidelines. Kuroko doesn't
actually play a part in the gameplay besides starting the fight, but he does add to the mood and setting of
every stage. However, there is a character from the background
(unnamed) who runs across the stage and tosses an item into the battleground. This item
ranges from food
(to increase a players health) to money or items (for ' useless' points).
As colorful and "cartoony" as
Samurai Shodown may look, this isn't really a game for kids. Samurai Shodown
proudly features "deaths" at the end of duels (if that
last move hits just right). Deaths seem random and don't happen every time, but
if you win with the right "style," your
opponent will be cut in half, or have a fatal wound and drop to the ground
after a large amount of blood sprays into the air. In any case, the fatalities
at the end of the match are stylish, are done tastefully, and add that
extra touch that makes victory even sweeter.
Geo, Neo Geo CD, Super Nintendo, 3DO, Game Gear, Game Boy, Wii, PS2, PSP, XBL,
Samurai Shodown really stood out among other fighters at the arcades (even
years after its release), which was no easy feat, considering some of the
competition. The game's
exceptional art style, great music, and mood and make Samurai Shodown unlike
any other fighting game out there.
The original Samurai Shodown was one of the most innovative titles to come from SNK
in the early days and paved the way for some great sequels to come. Samurai
Shodown 2 built upon everything that was great about the first game and
actually updated the character sprites (unlike Capcom's SF2 series)!