Samurai Shodown

Samurai Shodown

It’s not much of an overstatement to say that I despise traditional fighting games, but I’m slightly more amenable to Samurai Shodown. Part of it is that 1993 was before the genre became totally stagnant, so the first title in particular introduced a number of innovative features including blade locks, disarming, and the “Rage” comeback mechanic. The other part is that the things I can’t stand about the genre – combos, convoluted and inconsistent special moves, etc. – are either absent or downplayed. I can absolutely get on board with its more conservative, opportunistic brand of combat, even though I’m still pretty bad at it.

My goodwill only extends so far, however. SNK’s notorious inability to program AI as anything other than hypercompetent makes the single-player nearly unplayable on all but the lowest difficulties. Competitive multiplayer is obviously the heart of the genre, but it’s obvious that weapon-based fighting games were in their infancy here, because the hitboxes are, to use the technical term, completely fucked. I enjoy the game’s presentation, however. It’s oddly cohesive in its pulpy, anachronistic style. In fact, the poor translation actually improves the sense of authenticity, although the repeated voice clips get annoying quickly.

5.5/10
5.5/10

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