It might seem like the fighting game market of the current day is crowded with games looking to stand out, but it’s nothing compared to the early ’90s. While Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat ruled the roost, everyone was trying to find a way to set their game apart.
Among the competition was SNK’s Samurai Shodown, a weapons-based fighting game that emphasized careful movement, high damage, and rewarding patient, careful reading and reacting to your foe’s attacks–along with some fountains of blood from downed opponents for good measure. Over 25 years later, history is repeating itself as a new Samurai Shodown draws its blade, offering many of the same things that made it great all those years ago–only now it feels even fresher.
The Samurai Shodown series is one of SNK’s most beloved properties, but also among its most inconsistent; the series has had some very high highs (Samurai Shodown II, Samurai Shodown V Special) and extremely low lows (Samurai Shodown III, Samurai Shodown Sen).
Thankfully, the developers at SNK have understood the franchise’s mixed legacy, and worked to really focus on what makes Samurai Shodown special in the world of fighting games: the thrill of being in a high-stakes, life-or-death struggle where one wrong step could take you from a comfortable lead to lying on the ground with a sword in your gut.