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Samurai Shodown

Posted by GG Goblin On March - 17 - 2020

A fighting game with added pointy things.

Back in the day, when everyone else was beating each other down with fists, feet and the occasional fireball, SNK had the brilliant idea of giving our fighters weapons. This lead to the launch of Samurai Shodown, which proved to be an instant hit amongst the fighting game community. However, being that this was back in 1993, time moves on and game series sometimes fall by the wayside. That’s not to say that there were no more games in the series, as there have been plenty, but for one reason or another, Samurai Shodown’s particular flavour of 2D fighter seemed to fade away. With fighting games still proving to be hugely popular though, it was only going to be a matter of time before Samurai Shodown picked up its sword and set out to do battle again, and so last year gamers were treated to a reboot of the series on modern platforms. Except for the Nintendo Switch, which SNK have made us wait for. Now though, thanks to Safari Games, Samurai Shodown is available for Switch, putting a weapons into the hands of Nintendo fighting fans.


While the idea of a fighting game featuring weapons may not come as anything particularly ground-breaking to modern gamers, Samurai Shodown was were it all really started, and many veterans would say the series that did it best. While anyone who has played a fighting game before will recognise many of the mechanics used here, there are some distinct differences that make Samurai Shodown a very different beast. For starters, the fighters have weapons, and weapons will always do way more damage than a simple fist. This means that players who have yet to master the defensive moves are likely to see their match over in only a couple of successful hits. Samurai Shodown can be brutal and, as the game is designed mostly for playing against other real life players, could well be off-putting for the uninitiated.

Due to the high risk of damage from a weapon, the fights are much more considered, with each player watching for their opening while always being ready to defend if necessary. This doesn’t mean that the game is slow, and there are the usual different types of attacks and counters to learn, with many of the more special moves being especially flashy and looking good on the Switch. Match up two players of equal skill and Samurai Shodown becomes quite the spectacle.

Throw in a Rage Gauge that fills during battle and can then be used to enter a short time of enhanced damage, and a selection of super special moves that can only be used once per match, and there is plenty for the new player to learn. There is a tutorial mode which, while short, will give new players at least a fighting chance. What makes Samurai Shodown even more interesting, is that a warrior can be disarmed, putting them at a massive disadvantage as they struggle to fend off weapon strikes with their bare hands. Of course, there are ways to even the odds, such as getting their weapon back or even disarming the opponent, but it is still a pretty disastrous situation to be in.


Samurai Shodown ships with only 16 fighters, which may seem small compared to other fighting games. However, they are a great selection of varied fighters for players to get to grips with, mostly made up of returning warriors, but also including three brand new for the game. There are also a number of additional fighters available through DLC, but as these will cost the player real world money, their value in the game will come down to individual preference.

When it comes to the different game modes available, the game is obviously at its best when being played against another living opponent. With that said, there is a single player story mode to work through, although it doesn’t present the player with much beyond the actual fighting. There are other things for the lone player to do, such as being able to create Ghost fighters that will then learn the fighting style of the player and presumably evolve. It is questionable as to how well this works, but at least it provides another distraction. In reality though, Samurai Shodown needs multiple players.

The game has had some obvious visual upgrades in the many years since the first Samurai Shodown game, and really does look nice in its modern incarnation. Thankfully, the move to the Switch has not harmed the game too much, with fighting on the big screen while the Switch is docked looking as good as on any other platform. The only real problem comes when the game is played in handheld mode, and then players will see some visual downgrading. However, none of this stops the game from being incredibly playable.


Fighting games are plentiful, even on the newest Nintendo console, and so fight fans will never be short of a game to play. SNK’s Samurai Shodown offers players something a little different though, keeping with the same feeling as the original games while bringing the series to modern platforms. The single player game is nothing to get excited about. Multiplayer though really shines, thanks to the more careful and considered nature of fighting with weapons. Any fighting fan who owns a Switch should add this great fighting game to their library.




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