Samurai Shodown Anthology
Developer: SNK
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1, 2 player wi-fi
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Samurai Shodown, was originally produced in 1993 by SNK for their Neo Geo arcade boards and home console. The game set itself apart by featuring weapon-based combat, and is set in feudal-era Japan. This anthology features the main six games from the series.

Fast-paced and responsive, the games became renowned for their excellent speed and reaction times, and the fights tend to be flurries of fast blows and slashes rather than other fighting games’ increasingly combo-based gameplay. It’s probably fair to say that without Samurai Shodown and its sequels there would probably have been no Soul Calibur. Damaging strikes are emphasized by the use of slow motion, a common-enough cinematic effect in games these days, but one I don’t think had been used before the Shodown series.

All of the Samurai Showdown games are enjoyable and accessible, with simple but satisfying strikes, so you don’t need to worry about learning a dozen different combos in order to win, just as well as the PSP’s D-Pad doesn’t make them easy or comfortable to pull off. Moves include quick slashes, strong slashes, kicks and grapples, and all of the games play with good speed and response, even by today’s standards, with only the occasional (and often inexplicable) bouts of slowdown to spoil things - most noticeable in Shodown IV. There’s a small power meter that gradually fills up, this stored power allows you to perform more potent moves to finish fights more quickly, but these need to be used at the right time, and a mistimed strong slash can easily leave you open to counter attack and cost you a fight.

There are dozens of varied characters to play as and fight against (Samurai Showdown VI alone has a whopping 41 characters!) including; Charlotte Christine Colde - a posh bird and fencer, Galford D. Weller – a jolly American sailor and dog-lover turned ninja, Earthquake – a monstrous treasure hunter, Chamcham – gorgeous green-haired boomerang-chucker, and Shiro Tokisada Amakusa – the final boss and uber-villain of the games.

The consistently colourful – gaudy even - visuals – make them appealing and SS VI in particular is an extremely pleasing game to the eye, with an early attempt at the same sort of clever mix of 2D and 3D effects that makes Capcom’s recent Street Fighter IV so stunning to play and watch.

The Samurai Shodown Anthology might not be the most varied of fighting game series, and although they’ve certainly aged, they’ve done it gracefully and they are undoubtedly classics of the period. At the asking price, Samurai Shodown VI alone is probably worthy of your cash.

Best Bits

- 6 games in one
- Dozens of characters
- Shodown 6
Worst Bits

- Not a lot of variation
- There’s some slowdown in Shodown

by: Mal Function

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