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Samurai Shodown
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Japanese サムライスピリッツ - Samurai Supirittsu
Developer SNK
Publisher SNK
Platform Neo Geo
Ports 3DO, Game Gear, Game Boy, Master System, Genesis, Neo Geo CD, Sega CD, Super Nintendo, PlayStation 2, Wii, PSN, Virtual Console
Release dates July 7, 1993 (MVS)
August 11, 1993 (AVS)
September 9, 1994 (NGCD)
Genre Fighting
Modes Single player
2 VS players
Ratings ESRB: T for Teen - animated blood, crude humor, violence.
Display 304 x 224 pixels (horizontal)
Rom size 118 Megs

Samurai Shodown, known as Samurai Spirits in Japan, is a 1993 arcade fighting game developed and published by SNK for the Neo Geo AVS and MVS platforms. Its the first title in the Samurai Shodown series.

This game was notable for the use of a weapon-based combat system in a 18th-century feudal japanese setting, unlike the most other games of the genre like Street Fighter II or Fatal Fury with modern-era stories and hand-to-hand battles with special moves. These and other innovations were well received by critics and fans, making Samurai Shodown the third mayor SNK release for the Neo Geo systems after Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. The following year, SNK releases the sequel Samurai Shodown II and other related media.

Overview Edit

Concept Edit

After the release of the highly Street Fighter II, many companies tried to capitalize the uprising of the fighting genre in the videogame industry, like Midway's Mortal Kombat or SNK's Fatal Fury. Each game introduced new ideas, concepts and mechanics, like finisher moves, super special moves and more. There was a 1992 arcade video game called Shogun Warriors by Kaneko, being one of the first fighting games featuring traditional japanese warriors like samurais, swordsmen and ninjas.

SNK's Samurai Shodown was the first recognized videogame featuring this kind of warriors, many based on real people of japanese folklore like Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), Sasaki Kojiro Genryu (1572-1612, Musashi's rival), The Yagyus (a famous line of samurai family), Hattori Hanzo (1541-1596), and classic fictional characters like Oscar Francois de Jarjayes ("The Rose of Versailles" by mangaka artist Riyoko Ikeda), Nemuri Kyoshiro ("Sleepy-Eyed Kyoshiro, Notes on Villany" by Shibata Tosaburo) and many others.

Because the storyline is set during the XVIII century, the music make use of mostly traditional japanese instruments like shakuhachi and shamisen; a few songs are composed with contemporary instrumentation. The stages presents environments and buildings alluding to the time, besides presenting interactive destructible objects during battle.

Gameplay Edit

Samurai Shodown is a fighting game set in 2D sidescroll perspective, like Street Fighter II or Art of Fighting and many others, but features a new kind of combats with weapons (high amounts of blood included), focused in high-damage quick atacks and timing. Features a zoom in/out camera system that increases the size of the stages first found in the aforementioned Art of Fighting. The game features a roster of 12 selectable characters, each one with special moves, strengths and weaknesses, plus one final boss and an exclusive character for the Game Boy version.

Samurai Shodown uses the Neo Geo MVS layout: eight directions provided by an arcade joystick to move characters and 4 buttons: Light Slash, Medium Slash, Light Kick, and Medium Kick. Strong Slash can be done by pressing Light Slash + Medium Slash simultaneously, and Strong Kick pressing Light Kick + Medium Kick at the same time. When these strong atacks inflicts damage successfully, the game enters in a short time slow-motion, emphasizing the attack power. Innovative features was the abilities to run/dash pressing forward twice, and jump back, double tapping backward. As usual in the genre, when a player is closer to the opponent, he can perform a Body Toss, while certain characters can slowly Crawl, or do a Double/triangle jump.

Another new feature during the battle is the Locking Swords system, when both characters come into close power combat using their weapons. The screen displays a quick-time event and both players must quickly tap Light Slash button; the faster player to press the button is the winner of the lock; the player who loses is disarmed and the weapon falls on the stage floor. A draw, double disarmed can be possible. When disarmed, all weapon-based attacks are changed to simple barehanded attacks, obviously less powerful. A barehanded player can pick-up his/her weapon only pressing Medium Slash at the weapon's location. The game features the Barehanded Sword Snag move to stop enemy's weapon attacks without taking any damage, but only is effective with the correct timing.

During the battles a referee held flags representing each player (player 1 is red; player 2 is white). When a player landed a successful hit, the referee would lift the corresponding flag, letting everyone watching who dealt the attack. Sporadically the "Edo Express Delivery Man" appears during battles and drops items to the battlefield like money (added to the player score), meat (restores life energy by an amount proportionate to its size) and bombs (explodes when certain time elapses after they're dropped, may cause damage to one closer character, both or none).

Rage Gauge Edit

Finally, Samurai Shodown was one of the first titles in the gaming history to feature a special kind of gauge/bar/metter that give advantages to the players. The contribution of this game is the Rage Gauge system, also known as POW Gauge. This gauge increases as the player is hit by enemy attacks or blocking. When it reaches MAX, the Rage Explosion occurs, and characters in this state turns red, increasing the strength of all attacks. The duration of Rage Explosion is momentary, after that, the gauge returns to its initial state.

Plot Edit

Intro Edit

A samurai fears not death.
Struggles to triumph over evil.
And lives for one purpose:
TO DESTROY ALL ENEMIES!

Story Edit

Year 1788, early summer. Plagues of unknown origin, strange phenomena, repeated outbreaks of war: these were enough to cause panic and plunge people into despair. But one smiled as he surveyed the unfolding chaos rending the world asunder. For this "man", once slain by the forces of the Tokugawa Shogunate, hate for the Shogunate is all he possesses along with newly acquired dark powers to bring it down. This "man", Shiro Tokisada Amakusa, unleashes his unworldly forces and spreads his false creed in an attempt to lead the world to ruin. But in the midst of such calamities, there were still warriors who put their beliefs to the test. These warriors spurred by different motives and beliefs converge as if drawn together, battle, and make their way to the source of the chaos.

Characters Edit

Playable characters Edit

  • Charlotte Christine Colde - A noblewoman fencer from Versailles who comes to Japan to find the source of the disasters.
  • Earthquake - American ninja flunkie turned bandit, he wants to steal all the world's treasure during the disasters.
  • Galford D. Weller - American surfer turned ninja who fights in the name of justice. Looks for any kind of evil to find and destroy.
  • Genan Shiranui - An eccentric member of the Shiranui clan, he strives to make himself more evil to become the demon king.
  • Hanzo Hattori - He searches for Amakusa who took over his son's body.
  • Haohmaru - The main hero; a ronin who travels to sharpen his swordsmanship and his sense of bushido.
  • Jubei Yagyu - Looking for strong opponents to battle. He is a ronin hired by the Shogonate to execute a demon.
  • Kyoshiro Senryo - Famed kabuki performer who wishes to strengthen his dances through swordplay. Fights to show off himself.
  • Nakoruru - Searches for the cause of the plagues and disasters that disrupt Mother Nature.
  • Tam Tam - Renowned hero from the southamerican city Green Hell; he fights to retrieve the sacred artifact, the Palenke Stone.
  • Ukyo Tachibana - An ailing swordsman who searches for the perfect flower for his loved one, Kei.
  • Wan-Fu - A general from the Qing dynasty seeking to recruit powerful warriors for the unification of China.

Boss Edit

  • Shiro Tokisada Amakusa - He is resurrected years after his death by the demon, Ambrosia. Due to a pact made with the demon, he wants to revive Ambrosia into the mortal realm, thus destroying the world.

Game Boy exclusive playable characters Edit

  • Hikyaku - He is the "Edo Express Delivery Man" running in the background of stages, who is forced to disrupt fights by Amakusa.
  • Kuroko - He is the background referee who acknowledge the winner of the match. In the GB game he wield two flag blades as his weapon. He did not get a console debut until Samurai Shodown II which he imitate moves of all the other fighters. The Game Boy port is the only game where he had his own original moves and weapons unlike his console counterpart.

Stages Edit

Stage Character
Gairyu Isle (morning) Haohmaru
Gairyu Isle (night) Ukyo
Green Hell Tam Tam
Hokkaido Nakoruru
Kochi Jubei
Onigami Isle Genan
San Francisco Galford
Seian Wan-Fu
Shimabara Amakusa
Texas Earthquake
Tokyo Kyoshiro
Versailles Charlotte
Yamagata Hanzo

Ports Edit

In addition to the Neo Geo home system, the AES, Samurai Shodown was ported to multiple other platforms, including the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, 3DO, FM Towns, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PSP and Wii. All of the cartridge versions were handled by Takara, while Crystal Dynamics ported the 3DO version, and Funcom handled the Sega CD port.

Due to the negative publicity surrounding the use of violence in video games, the game was edited when it was first released for the AES as it featured blood and graphic fatal attacks that kill opponents by slicing them in half. As a result, it was decided to censor the game for most platforms by changing the blood from red to white and disabling the fatal attack animations. The win quotes were also censored, and references to death or blood were altered.

  • Game Gear (1994) - features full color graphics but only 9 playable characters (Earthquake, Tam Tam and Wan-Fu dropped).
  • Genesis / Mega Drive (1994) - Earthquake and his stage were out. Lacks the camera zoom, and the camera is locked in a close zoom. This gives better detail to the characters, but the fighting area is smaller. In addition, some attacks were altered or removed entirely from the Genesis/Mega Drive version of the game. The final boss is playable in two-player mode without the use of a code. The Genesis/Mega Drive version lacks the arcade introduction, instead displaying the arcade version's text with no background graphics or speech. Also, the character artwork shown after beating an opponent is missing, and portions of some characters' endings are missing. The announcer no longer says the names of the characters before a fight or after winning a fight.
  • Sega CD / Mega CD (1994) - As the Genesis version, omits Earthquake, and lack of the camera zoom feature. Portions of some characters' endings are missing. The Sega CD version also includes the attacks that were removed or altered in the Mega Drive/Genesis version, and the music is the same as the MVS version.
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1994) - The SNES version has the character line-up intact, but has the game zoomed-out, which makes the character sprites smaller compared to the other ports. This version has all of the stages from the arcade version, and they are less restricted compared to the Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega CD ports. This version also supports Dolby Surround sound. The SNES version includes the arcade intro sequence, although the voice accompanying the text is missing, the character artwork shown after beating an opponent is present, as are the arcade endings. The announcer, like the Sega CD version, says the names of the characters before a fight and after winning a fight. An exclusive mode, count down, is included in this port. Players can also use Amakusa in two-player mode with a secret code. Blood was recolored orange and the fatal attacks were removed.
  • Game Boy (1994) - The Game Boy version includes all the characters (two exclusives), stages, and most of the special moves, but has no combos, fatalities, or voices. All the music tracks are included, albeit in 8-bit chiptune form. The in-game sprites and oficial game art features the popular "Super Deformed" style.
  • 3DO (1994) - This was, alongside the Neo-Geo CD port, one of the most accurated adaptations from the arcade to the home systems. The 3DO version includes the camera zoom system, as well as all the characters, special moves, and fatalities. As a result, some retailers didn't carry this edition of the game.
  • Neo-Geo CD (1994) - All arcade features, with high quality arranged soudtrack.

Other releases Edit

Samurai Shodown has been present in many compilations, as Samurai Spirits Kenkaku Shinan Pack (alongside Samurai Shodown II) for the japanese PlayStation, as part of SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1, and the Samurai Shodown Anthology for PS2, PSP and Wii. The game was release as digital download for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, Wii's Virtual Console.

Gallery Edit

Main article: Samurai Shodown/Gallery