Developer: SNK Corporation | Publisher: Athlon Games | Release Date: June 25, 2019 | Genre: Fighting | Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
SNK has just made a lot of people very happy. It has been a very long time since a new Samurai Shodown has been released and after grinding my way through Mortal Kombat 11, this game could not have come at a better time.
Samurai Shodown takes you to 18th century Japan and delivers a great roster of fighters from the history of the franchise. The base game delivers 26 characters with 13 returning and 3 new recruits. There are 4 more characters that will be released via the game’s season pass (which is free for the first week) bringing the confirmed total of fighters to 20. The roster features:
Samurai Shodown (2019) Characters
- Darli Dagger (New)
- Genjuro Kibagami
- Hanzo Hattori
- Jubei Yagyu
- Kyoshiro Senryo
- Tam Tam
- Ukyo Tachibana
- Yashamaru Kurama (New)
- Yoshitora Tokugawa
- Wu-Ruixiang (New)
Confirmed DLC Fighters
- Kazuki Kazama
SNK decided on a more stylized look for this entry and it sort of resembles the art style used in Street Fighter 4 & 5. The characters and stages have a painted look that reminds me of the Ukiyo-e style of Japanese art. It is really cool to see some of the classic stages from previous games recreated using this new style that is powered by Unreal Engine 4. If you leave the violence settings on default, you will even see blood splatter the ground and even the characters themselves. It’s gruesome sure but a nice touch considering how some weapons-based fighters gloss over how brutal being slashed with a sword is in favor of a Teen ESRB rating.
Samurai Shodown plays a lot slower and deliberate than say the recently released Mortal Kombat 11. There are no 13+ hit juggle combos and rushing your opponent can see you decimated in just a few quick moves. I love it. The control layout is standard for fans of the series. Basic attacks are handled by the square, triangle and circle buttons which assume the functions of light, medium and heavy attacks respectively. The X button is for your kicks. Countering a missed enemy attack with a heavy slash can have devastating and satisfying results as in previous entries. Performing special moves is done in a similar fashion as most fighting games. If you have played any off them since 1991, it won’t be much of an issue for you.
While your basic arsenal is quite deadly, it is the super moves that will have you on edge if you’re taking the fight online. The first type of super is the Weapon-Flipping move. This mini-super when connected deals a great amount of damage and disarms your opponent. This can be pulled off anytime your meter (Rage Gauge) is full but there is a brief cinematic just before the move executes that will give your opponent or yourself a split second to avoid it. Then there is the Super Special Move that can cut your life bar in half if it lands. Even if you are on the receiving end of one of these attacks, they are so cool to look at that you will at least have the satisfaction of going out in style. Keep in mind it can only be performed once per battle so don’t whiff it. The final move that you need to be aware of is the Rage Explosion. During the Rage Explosion, your attack damage is increased but you also know have access to the Lightning Blade attack. The Lightning Blade is similar to the Fatal Blow in Mortal Kombat 11 as it deals a lot of damage and can only be used once per fight. Did I say a lot? I meant it deals massive damage. It can be blocked or avoided and once Rage Explosion is activated then the gauge is gone for the rest of the fight. It is probably best to save it for the final round.
Once you have tackled the Story mode (more like the Arcade mode actually) there are still things to experience in Samurai Shodown besides online and training although training is something that I highly recommend. There’s Battle Mode which features Time Trial, Survival and Gauntlet (take on every fighter in the game). Then there is Dojo which sounds like where you would find the training modes but nope. This is where you battle against ghost data of other fighters. There is even an Ironman Challenge that pits you against 100 ghosts in a row. Good luck with that.
A Samurai Shodown game on PS4 with current-gen technology is something I have wanted for years. For it to finally be a reality and pulled off so well is a dream come true from an old arcade vet like myself. It doesn’t have a plethora of unlockable goods like MK11 does but what is there can be obtained through naturally enjoying the game and not grinding for weeks on end only to unlock something you don’t want for a character you don’t use. Mix that with the fact that the season pass is free until June 30 and I see that at least one company knows how to get additional monetization for their game without bleeding the consumer dry (the game just launched so fingers crossed they don’t switch it up on us). Samurai Shodown is a fantastic addition to the PS4 fighting game library and I have not been able to put it down since I got my hands on it.
Final Score: 9.5/10