Samurai Shodown (2019) Review – Written by Jose Vega
Purchased product for this review.
It was the 1990s. A little game called Street Fighter II would take the world by storm in more ways than one. It’s success would have many companies try their luck on getting a piece of the pie. SNK would be one of them. They would release many fighting games such as Fatal Fury & Art of Fighting. But then they would bring a game that would put them on the map: Samurai Shodown or Samurai Spirits in Japan. It was a huge hit for them. With its success, SNK would follow it up with many sequels. After the release of Samurai Shodown VI in 2005, the series would go into hibernation. Many of the game’s characters would make appearances in other SNK games. But after the success of King of Fighters XIV, SNK decided to give another franchise a second chance. In 2018, they announced that Samurai Shodown would make a return. One year later, in June 2019, SNK released Samurai Shodown 2019. Considered as a reboot of the series, did SNK made the right call in bringing this series back?
Fighting games aren’t known for it’s story but this game does provide a tale of what it’s about. Set between the events of the original Samurai Shodown and SamSho V, it takes place in the year 1787 during the Tenmei Era. Japan is plagued by a terrible evil and as its suffering, a young woman’s deceased spirit threatens the world. With the world in danger, many warriors travel to Japan in the hopes of stopping this evil before it’s too late. Each character in the roster has their reasons and motivations for wanting to stop this evil. You get story at the beginning after picking a character and you can also see their ending once you beat it. It’s pretty straight forward though seeing the same beginning over and over with some changes can get repetitive at times.
But now let’s get to the good stuff, the meat and potatoes, the gameplay. Samurai Shodown, being a 2.5d fighting game, plays similarly to previous entries. It’s a 4-button fighting game. Three buttons are for different slash variations and the fourth being the kick. Not to mention there are additional methods that can help players in the heat of battles such as throws, parries, wake ups, etc. It’s simple but the game can be really technical and I admire SNK for providing a lot of polish to an amazing game like this. The roster is familiar to those who have played any of the Samurai Shodown games. In addition to familiar staples such as Haohmaru, Nakoruru and Galford, there are new characters such as Darli Dagger, Yashamaru and Rui-Xiang. All of them offer something different and unique. They are easy to learn but difficult to master, especially in a game like this. Players will have much fun finding a character they want to devote time towards. Heck. It’s easy to pick up and play. It has enough for new people to get into and veterans to devote once more towards.
Samurai Shodown 2019 has plenty for players to enjoy. You have the traditional modes like arcade, versus and training. The game also has a great tutorial that teaches people the ins and outs of this. Perfect for beginners. There’s also an online mode and from personal experience, I haven’t had many issues. The online is enjoyable but I recommend that you get a strong, wired connection if you want to put the time towards it. There’s also a Gallery mode where you can take a look at artwork, rewatch cutscenes or even listen to the game’s music. Speaking of which, the music is fantastic. SNK really hit it home in the music department. There are many good tracks and each character has a theme that tells you what they are.
Plus the presentation is truly phenomenal. The game is 2.5D and they delivered on it. Character models are very faithful, expressive and so good too. Backgrounds are vibrant and colorful. Not to mention they also carry a sense of atmosphere. Coupled with the music it hits on all cylinders. The game runs amazing in 60 fps at 1080p. SNK nails it in more ways than one that I can’t stress it enough. SNK even did DLC right. Yes. There is DLC in the form of additional characters but what I really liked was that for the first season, they made the season pass free for about a week. This was not only a smart move but it also helped attract people that want to try the game. Sadly they didn’t do it for Season Pass 2 but at least it’s at an affordable price for those that want to give it a chance. If I were to point out any negatives, it’d be the AI especially when you face the final boss. It can be unfair but not entirely. It shouldn’t hinder anyone from enjoying a game like this.
In conclusion, Samurai Shodown 2019 brings a rebirth to one of SNK’s many franchises. The gameplay is familiar and refined. The presentation is incredible and the many modes of play offer players anything and everything they ever wanted and then some. SNK has been on fire and I hope the momentum doesn’t sputter out. This is how you do a fighting game in the 21st century and SNK hits it on all cylinders. If you haven’t given this game a chance, what are you waiting for? Play Samurai Shodown though if I were to recommend, it would be on PlayStation 4. It’s also on Steam, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. PS4 I feel is the definite experience but I could be wrong. It’s worth your money, I guarantee it.
I give Samurai Shodown 2019 a 9.5 out of 10. An immediate recommendation & it’s worthy my personal seal of approval.