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Samurai Shodown
Samurai Shodown II

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Samurai Shodown III
Samurai Shodown IV

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Samurai Shodown V
Samurai Shodown VI

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Samurai Shodown 64
Warriors Rage (Arcade)

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Warriors Rage (PSX)
Neo Geo Pocket

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Samurai Spirits RPG
Samurai Shodown Sen

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Anime
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Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood / Samurai Spirits: Zankuro Musōken (サムライスピリッツ 斬紅郎無双剣) / Fighters Swords - Arcade, Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, Game Boy, PlayStation, Saturn, PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, PSP, PSVita (1995)

Japanese PlayStation Cover

Japanese Saturn Cover

Japanese Game Boy Cover

Japanese Arcade Flyer

Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood (known as Samurai Spirits Zankurou Musouken, or "Samurai Spirits: Zankurou's Peerless Blade" in Japan and "Fighters Swords" in Korea) reached arcades in 1995. The result is a solid game, but with a rushed feel and less polish than its predecessor.

The story of Samurai Shodown III does not correlate chronologically to its place in the series. The game's events occur in the early fall of 1788, after the first Samurai Shodown but before the second. The story describes the rampages of a legendary swordsman named Zankuro Minazuki, who is named "The Demon" for his fearsome abilities. Four new characters are introduced: Rimururu, Nakoruru's younger sister; Basara, a vengeful ghost with a chained blade; Shizumaru Hisame, a survivor of one of Zankuro's raids who wields an umbrella; and Gaira Caffeine, the massive grandson of Nicotine Caffeine. Amakusa Shiro Tokisada has also been made a playable character, and his new sprite looks great. Unfortunately, many older characters have been omitted, including Cham Cham, Caffeine, Sieger, Wan-Fu, Gen-An, Earthquake, Jubei and Charlotte. In other words, all of the new characters from Samurai Shodown II save for Genjuro are gone, not to return for quite a while. Additionally, many of the story scenes have been cut back, and the win quotes are all pretty brief.

Samurai Shodown III has completely redrawn graphics that are a bit more detailed - and darker - than the previous installments. It also marks the beginning of a new control scheme and a more aggressive system for the series. At the start of each match, characters are permitted freedom of movement before the battle begins. The previous twin button slash/kick input system has been abandoned in favor of a triple button slash and single kick button scheme. The trio of slash buttons are graded weak, medium and strong; pressing two buttons simultaneously to execute the powerful version is no longer a requirement. The throw command has also been transformed into a new "push-away" maneuver that disorients the enemy, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. The new ability to block while jumping ensures that anti-air attacks will no longer be absolute deterrents against airborne opponents.

Samurai Shodown III (Neo Geo)

When a character is selected, Samurai Shodown III allows the player to select one of three "grades." Similar to the "Easy" and "Normal" modes seen in the Capcom Vs. series, these enable or disable various facets to make the game easier or harder. The Novice grade reduces the damage of attacks and enables auto-blocking. Intermediate grade is more or less a basic "normal" mode, while Advanced keeps the Rage Gauge at max while completely eliminating the ability to block. There's also a sidestepping maneuver that allows the player to dodge an attack by briefly moving into the background, but this is abused and relied upon a little too much for comfort. Finally, gameplay tweaks such as high-level unblockable attacks and the ability to charge the Rage/POW meter manually permit more diversity than ever. Samurai Shodown III is also the first in the series to introduce the Bust and Slash system (known in Japanese as "Shura" and "Rasetsu," or "Chivalry" and "Treachery"). This provides two different versions of a single character; Slash (Chivalry) represents "good" and bust (Treachery) represents "evil." Each version possesses a different move set, although the distinction between the two is still very minor.

Home ports were released for the PlayStation and Saturn in 1996, although only the PlayStation version came to North America. The Sega Saturn version requires the 1MB RAM cart and is a reasonably decent conversion with only minor animation cuts, although it still suffers from some load times. The PlayStation version is awful - the speed is out of whack, the sound effects are less clear than the Saturn version, and the color palette is noticably darker. There's no training mode, the load times are unacceptable, the sprites are even more jittery than before, and the character select screen is devoid of animation. The downgraded animations, paired with a dumbed-down difficulty level, make battles much less than impressive. The Neo Geo CD version, like most of the Neo CD ports, is nearly arcade perfect except for the load times, but also includes a few extra voice tracks on the CD with Nakoruru and Rimururu discussing the upcoming Samurai Shodown RPG. In Korea, the game is known as Fighters Swords, and renames Gaira Kafuin to Kim Ung Che. Most of the Japanese speech has been removed as well. The Wii and PlayStation 2 ports as part of the Anthology are nearly perfect, but contain brief load times before fights.

Much like the original game, Samurai Shodown III was ported and downsized to the Game Boy and retitled Netto Samurai Spirits: Zankurou Musouken. The gameplay still isn't great, but at least all of the characters made the cut this time.

Quick Info:

Developer:

SNK

Publisher:

SNK

Genre:

Fighting

Themes:

Fantasy Setting: Far East
Gore
Period: Feudal Japan


Samurai Shodown III (Neo Geo)

Samurai Shodown III (Neo Geo)

Samurai Shodown III (Neo Geo)

Samurai Shodown III (Neo Geo)

Samurai Shodown III (Neo Geo)


Additional Screenshots


Super Game Boy Screenshots


Samurai Shodown IV / Shin Samurai Spirits: Amakusa Kōrin (サムライスピリッツ天草降臨) - Arcade, Neo Geo, Neo Geo CD, PlayStation, Saturn, PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3, PSP, PSVita (1996)

Japanese Neo Geo Cover

Japanese PlayStation Cover

Japanese Saturn Cover

Samurai Shodown IV's story takes place in the early winter of 1789, a year after Samurai Shodown III, but still prior to the events of Samurai Shodown II. Zankuro is once again the game's antagonist, having been revived after his death in the last game, and the plot still revolves around his persecution. When you begin the game, you'll see a timer set at eight minutes. This means you're under pressure to reach Amakusa's castle. If you reach the final stage in time, you'll fight Amakusa and Zankuro and get the real ending. If you exceed the time limit, you fight an alternate character and recieve a bad ending. The roster from Samurai Shodown III remains intact, with two new characters added: the ninja brothers Kazuki and Sogetsu Kazama, who wield the respective powers of fire and water. Charolotte, Tam Tam and Jubei Yagyu are also back, adding another three faces to the roster.

Mindful of the qualms many gamers had with the third installment, SNK sought to amend them in the fourth. Samurai Shodown IV is largely identical to the precursor, although the team has modified various functions and added in more tweaks, resulting in an overall more polished experience. Air blocking has been removed, and the "Rage Explosion" maneuver has been introduced: pressing A, B and C together will completely change the background (usually to something darker), and your character sacrifices their POW meter for an entire match in exchange for a massive power upgrade and an opportunity to unleash a special technique. Samurai Shodown IV is also the only title to have a clearly defined combo system: by pressing the C and D buttons followed by a series of commands, the player begins an auto combo that maximizes at fourteen hits. These combos, while cool-looking, do little damage, but automatically max out the POW meter. The final system addition is the "Fatal Slash" technique that allows the player to execute character specific fatality attacks, reducing the opponent to an even bloodier end. You can even commit seppuku if you want to deny your opponent the glory of a win.

Samurai Shodown IV's system and characters are more balanced than its predecessor, resulting in not only a much more playable title, but one of the best in the series. It's little wonder SNK used this system for its next ventures, Samurai Shodown 64 and Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage. It's also probably the most violent game in the series until then, to be surpassed only by Samurai Shodown Zero Special. Additionally, it features the absolute best Engrish of any SNK title, which is remarkable achievement: whenever you win a match, the text will declare "VICTOLY!"

The home ports of Samurai Shodown IV were released in 1997. The Saturn version once again uses the RAM cart and maintains most of the animation with minimal load times, although unfortunately there's a bit of slowdown with some of the bigger sprites. The PlayStation version, given the dubious "Special" subtitle, suffers from even worse animation and load times, although it's not nearly as bad as the Samurai Shodown III port. At least the dull loading screens have been replaced with attractive art. Cham Cham has also been added to the playable character roster in this version, although she has no story mode. The Wii and PlayStation 2 ports as part of the Anthology are nearly perfect, but contain brief load times before fights.

Quick Info:

Developer:

SNK

Publisher:

SNK

Genre:

Fighting

Themes:

Fantasy Setting: Far East
Gore
Period: Feudal Japan


Samurai Shodown IV (Neo Geo)

Samurai Shodown IV (Neo Geo)


Additional Screenshots


Quotes


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Intro
Characters

Page 2:
Samurai Shodown
Samurai Shodown II

Page 3:
Samurai Shodown III
Samurai Shodown IV

Page 4:
Samurai Shodown V
Samurai Shodown VI

Page 5:
Samurai Shodown 64
Warriors Rage (Arcade)

Page 6:
Warriors Rage (PSX)
Neo Geo Pocket

Page 7:
Samurai Spirits RPG
Samurai Shodown Sen

Page 8:
Anime
Other

Back to the Index