Samurai Shodown III
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Japanese サムライスピリッツ 斬紅郎無双剣 - Samurai Supirittsu: Zankurō Musōken
Developer SNK
Publisher SNK
Platform Neo Geo
Ports Neo Geo CD, Game Boy, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, Wii, PSN, Virtual Console
Release dates November 15, 1995 (MVS)
December 1, 1995 (AVS)
December 29, 1995 (NGCD)
Genre Fighting
Modes Single player
2 VS players
Rating ESRB: T for Teen - animated blood, crude humor, violence.
Display 304 x 224 pixels (horizontal, 4,096 colors)
ROM size 282 Megs

Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood, known in Japan and roughly translated as Samurai Spirits: Peerless Blade of Zankuro, and Fighters Swords in Korea, is the third title in the SNK's Samurai Shodown series of weapon-based competitive fighting games, follows the release of Samurai Shodown II, and was succeeded by Samurai Shodown IV in 1996. Later it was ported to other systems like Sony's PlayStation and Sega Saturn.

Although it is the third release in the series, Blades of Blood chronologically is the first of a two-chapter interlude between the original Samurai Shodown and Samurai Shodown II. This game features a new protagonist who seeks revenge for the murder of his family from an insane, demonic swordsman.

Overview Edit

Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood was the starting point for a series of changes in aesthetics and gameplay that defined the next releases of the franchise. The first notable change was the re-drawned pixel sprites for each returning character (Kyoshiro Senryo even received a new look, more muscular and serious than flamboyant and theatrical), as well new and more detailed smooth frame animations. The second fact is that the overall game, in both characters and backgrounds, now have a darker feeling than the two previous games. A feature that helped make this possible are the background changes during the climax of the battle: if a player is on the third round of a stage, and both characters have flashing red Life Gauges, the music will stop and the background will change. This is a reminder that both characters are close to death, and they better start playing carefully if they want to win. This also occurs if you're on your final round, in which case both characters start with full POW Gauges and have the normal amount of time on the clock.

Gameplay Edit

For the first time in the series, the button layout was changed: now the game presents three Slash buttons and a Kick button. Press two buttons to perform a Strong Slash/Kick is no longer necessary. The three Slash buttons are divided in Light, Medium and Strong Slash, and there is only one level of Kicks that can be combined while press certain direction in the Joystick/Directional Pad.

Returning basic commands are: Dash/Bakufu Blitz, Flying Retreat, the Locking Swords system (press any button quickly to unlock and disarm the opponent), Sword Stun, and the Barehanded Sword Grab move. While some special moves and features had changes, the most of the moves introduced in Samurai Shodown II where completely removed from this game, like the two types of Rolls and Ducks. Weapons can not be destroyed anymore. Kuroko sactioning the battles and Hikyaku the "Edo Express Delivery Man" no longer appears; now the items (meat and bombs) are dropped occasionally from the screen.

The Rage Gauge continues to fulfill its traditional role: when a character take damage, the gauge increases. When it reaches MAX, the player enters in Rage Explosion mode, increasing their attack power during a certain amount of time, after that, the gauge returns to its initial state.

The Weapon-Breaking Super Special Moves have been replaced by the Knocking on the Sword Super Special Moves. When this move hits the opponent successfully, inflicts high level of damage and let the adversary unarmed. Only can be performed during Rage Explosion mode. The command for this move appears in-screen above Rage Gauge.

New to the series Edit

The new moves introduced in Samurai Shodown III turned the battles more fast-paced, with more offensive and defensive diversity.

  • Evasion - A dodge move to avoid attacks at distance.
  • Back Attack - Sidestep to switch back of the opponent.
  • Feet moves - "Below-the-Belt Boot" (press Forward + Kick to break standing guards), "Off-Balance Swipe" (press Down-Forward + Kick), "Mid-Section Mash" (Down-Backward + Kick) and "Jaw-Smasher Stomp" (Backward + Kick).
  • Sudden Slash - press Medium Slash + Strong Slash; attack with a small jump that breaks crouch guards.
  • Defense Breakers - these moves replaces the previous Body Tosses.
  • Rage Build - in a similar fashion like SNK's The King of Fighters '94 and KOF'95, the player can press Light Slash + Medium Slash + Strong Slash at the same time to charge and fill the Rage Gauge.
  • A new but small detail is that the characters can be moved before the battle begins (same as Capcom's Versus series).
  • This is the first game in the series to formalize the Counter-Attack rule: if a character first executes an Slash, Kick or Special Move and the opponent do another Slash, Kick or Special Move but hits first, the first attacking character will be countered and will receive double damage.
  • During a Bakufu Blitz, press Strong Slash to perform an unblockable attack, but this requires the character can not move for an instant. This cannot be canceled with other move.
  • Characters now can block when are in the air.

Character mode Edit

The biggest innovation of this game is the possibility to select one of two alignment/personality/technique modes for each character (also known as Sword Types). For each version, there are a different set of moves. Some moves are found in both versions, and others only in one version. This significantly doubles the amount of character choices in the game. These modes are:

  • SLASH / Chivalry / Shura (修羅) - Implies a regular fighter that represents the good. This version tended to be the closest in style and moves to the Samurai Shodown II version of the character.
  • BUST / Treachery / Rasetsu (羅刹) - Implying a rulebreaking evil version of the character. This version typically differed considerably from its SLASH counterpart in gameplay, though it visually did not look different beyond its color palette.

Level select Edit

Main article: Level Selection

After a character and Sword Type are selected, the player can choice one of three levels that determines the combat conditions for the rest of the game:

  • Begginers Class - automatically guards agains enemy attacks for only a certain number of attacks for each match. Also, attacks are less-damaging.
  • Medium Grade - normal, unchaged gameplay.
  • Upper Grade - for advanced players. The Rage Gauge always remains at MAX, but guards are totally disabled.

Plot Edit

Intro Edit

Wester version


Japanese version

The way of the sword is ineluctably that of death.
Building a mound of corpses, letting rivers of blood
Invincibility is but succeeding at survival.

Story Edit

1788, summer through early autumn.
They called him "The Demon." His real name, Zankuro Minazuki. From time immemorial he had indiscriminately attacked villages, slaughtering all who stood in his way.
Those who faced him shrieked their final gasps and sank into eternity, enveloped by a sea of blood.
No one alive could stop his evil deeds.
And then one day, it happened...
In a certain village, Zankuro failed to kill a single infant.
Some insist the evil one was unable to kill him, but why?
The truth remains a mystery.
But from then on, Zankuro marked all those who carried a sword for slaughter.

Several years later....
Twelve samurai and swordsmen are spurred to action by their own hopes and aspirations.
But all have a single objective: the head of the dreaded "Demon." The head of Zankuro Minazuki.


As part of the changes, most of the characters introduced in the original Samurai Shodown and Samurai Shodown II were removed, they include Charlotte, Earthquake, Wan-Fu, Jubei, Genan, Tam Tam, Cham Cham, Sieger and Nicotine. There are only 4 new faces, among classic, returning characters. In total there are 12 playable characters, 1 hidden middle boss, and a final boss. The Game Boy port of this game features an additional character.

Introduced characters Edit

  • Shizumaru Hisame - the main protagonist of Samurai Shodown III. As survivor of one of Zankuro's assaults and trained by Haohmaru, he is a young boy who suffers amnesia with only the knowledge of his mother's dying scream... and a thirst for revenge...
  • Gaira Caffeine - he had a big argument with his uncle and master Nicotine Caffeine, and was kicked out of the Buddhist Temple for his blasphemy. Wandering the streets with nothing to do, Gaira witnessed "the demon" killing civilians. Still a religious man at heart, Gaira knew he must stop Zankuro and let the cowardice behind.
  • Rimururu - Nakoruru's younger sister. She believes that the cause of the troubles stems from Shiro Tokisada Amakusa (the original villain of Samurai Shodown). Rimururu is the ice-cold snow maiden who uses the ice spirit known as "Konril" in battle.
  • Basara Kubikiri (The Executioner) - time ago he was killed by Zankuro, along with his lover. The hatred of this reborn ghoul for the demon was so powerful, he rose from the dead to destroy that which Zankuro took away.

Returning characters Edit

  • Galford D. Weller - always fighting against evil, Galford found a refugee from the demon's massacre and promised him justice. With his dog Poppy, Galford prepares to bring peace to the world one more time.
  • Genjuro Kibagami - "a problem can be solved with the slash of a sword!"  That's Genjuro's motto in life, and this whole demon business certainly is no exception. Though feigning interest in the matter, Genjuro's only goal is to slay his long-time rival Haohmaru. The demon is one thing, but personal glory is entirely another. Thus Genjuro's journey to kill Haohmaru continues...
  • Hanzo Hattori - tortured by the darkside, and living with evil, Hanzo searches for death itself. He comes across the death of innocents by the hand of Zankurou. He must prevent further innocent deaths, for the death that has been dealt is only for those who are guilty and deserving of punishment.
  • Haohmaru - as he continued his everlasting search for new opponents, he came upon the remains of what was once a flourishing town. There he met a child to whom he swore vengeance against the demon who crushed his town and killed his family. Not knowing that the child was actually who stopped the demon from its killing race, Haohmaru embarked on a new mission which he felt was more vital yet.
  • Kyoshiro Senryo - observing the demon mercilessly fell its prey, Kyoshiro found the killing to be the best piece of artwork he ever witnessed. Silently swearing to perfect such a dance, Kyoshiro declared to fight the demon in an effort to bring his Kabuki skills to an ever higher level of supremacy.
  • Nakoruru - like her sister, Nakoruru also felt the change in Mother Nature, though she gleaned the presence of the demon and not of Amakusa. So as Rimururu ran off to find the wizard, Nakoruru searched for the demon together with her falcon, Mamahaha and wolf, Silkou.
  • Shiro Tokisada Amakusa - in order to attain enlightenment, Amakusa sees fit to go around killing everyone as a religious sacrifice. Seeing the Demon as a source of ultimate power, Amakusa singles him out as the next target. This is the first time Amakusa is a regular playable character without any code or cheat.
  • Ukyo Tachibana - upon returning to his sensei's dojo, Ukyo was greeted by rotting corpses instead of his teacher and students. Later, learning that this was the work of the demon swordsman, the enraged Ukyo whisks away to kill Zankuro.

Boss Edit

  • Zankuro Minazuki - the Demon... a brutal killing machine has been seen and heard travelling amongst the villages of ancient Japan, slaughtering and leaving trails of innocent blood in his wake. One day, amongst the destruction and death he laid down under his hands, a fallen mother clutched an innocent baby crying for his lost gift of life. Zankuro heard these cries, and it struck within him a fear and a knowledge...that he would cease that very day, to strike down the innocent. For the realization came to him...that it was the competent and the strong that would be his greatest test...and proudest defeat...

Hidden characters Edit

  • Kuroko - he no longer appears during the battles, but still can be fought always during the sixth match in Arcade Mode. Only this time, before the fight Kuroko morphs into the same character the player controls, usually using the opposite Sword Type of the player, making this a mirror match.
  • Jubei Yagyu (Game Boy only)

Stages Edit

Name Character
Bamboo Forest, day Shizumaru
Waterfall Bridge Galford
Cherry Blossom Forest, night Haohmaru
Death Swamp, evening Ukyo
The Kabuki stage Kyoshiro
Mountain Dojo, Himalayas Kuroko
Mountainside Pool, autumn Nakoruru
Mountainside Pool, spring Nakoruru
Norther Country, winter Rimururu
Ritual Monument, night Amakusa
Shrine, sunset Basara
Temple, sunset Gaira
Temple of War, final battle Zankuro
Village Street, daytime Genjuro
Volcanic Battlefield Hanzo

Ports Edit

In contrast of Samurai Shodown II, this third game in the series received adaptations to the most popular home systems of the fifth generation of consoles and one portable version. The MVS version of Samurai Shodown III is included in the Samurai Shodown Anthology for Wii, PS2 and PSP systems.

  • Neo Geo CD (1995) - a nearly arcade perfect port, with all features and replacing the MVS music with the arranged soundtrack. As bonus, includes extra voice tracks with Nakoruru (voiced by Harumi Ikoma) and Rimururu (voiced by Tomo Sakurai) discussing Samurai Shodown RPG.
  • Sega Saturn (1996) - an almost excelent arcade port, uses the arranged soundtrack and presents minor animation cuts and load times. Requires the 1MB cartridge. Was released in two versions: stand-alone standart edition and bundle edition with the RAM cartridge included. This Saturn port was never released in Europe or America. This version was re-issued in bundle with Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's Revenge for Saturn in 1998.
  • PlayStation (1996) - this was the most criticized version because presents poor and cut animations, very long load times and bad collision boxes. The arranged soundtrack was used in this version. The PlayStation version was published by SCE in America. The japanese PS version was re-issued two times: as "PlayStation the Best" edition in 1997, and "PSOne Books" edition in 2003 (published by Playmore).
  • Game Boy (1996) - released as 熱闘 サムライスピリッツ 斬紅郎無双剣 - Nettō Samurai Spirits Zankuro Musōken, is a downsized version of Samurai Shodown III published by Takara. Features SD (Super Deformed) art and 8 bit graphics, Super Game Boy capabilities with 3 exclusive borders. All arcade features are nearly retain, like the blood (but only in black dripping color), SLASH/BUST modes for all characters, new victory phrases, cutscenes between matches, and the Kuroko mirror match. This version lacks Kyoshiro Senryo and Gaira Caffeine bud adds Jubei Yagyu as new hidden boss only for Game Boy. Finally, the game supports 2-player versus mode via Game Link Cable or Super Game Boy. This version was not localized in european or american territories.


Main article: Samurai Shodown III/Gallery