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Samurai Shodown IV
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Japanese サムライスピリッツ天草降臨 - Samurai Supirittsu: Amakusa Kōrin
Developer SNK
Publisher SNK
Platform Neo Geo
Ports Neo Geo CD, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, Wii, PSN, Virtual Console
Release dates October 25, 1996 (MVS)
November 29, 1996 (AVS)
December 27, 1996 (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 378 Megs

Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's Revenge, know in Japan as Samurai Spirits - Amakusa's Descent, is a weapon-based fighting game produced by SNK in 1996 for the Neo Geo arcade, home and CD systems, with ports to other home consoles. It's the fourth overall game in the Samurai Shodown series after the release of Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood.

This is the second and last game in the 2-chapter storyline between the original Samurai Shodown and Samurai Shodown IIShiro Tokisada Amakusa returns as the titular antagonist time after his defeat in the first Samurai Shodown videogame. Due to mixed reception of Blades of Blood, SNK removed most of its new game mechanics, revamped others and add some new moves.

This would be the last Samurai Shodown game of the main series released in 7 years. In 1997, SNK launch the company's first 3D game: Samurai Shodown 64 for the Hyper Neo-Geo 64 arcade board. Also in 1997 releases The Last Blade for the rest of Neo Geo systems, a new fighting series also featured weapon-based combats but with a diferent plot, characters, and concept direction than Samurai Shodown. It was not until 2003 when the main 2D series gets its fifth game: Samurai Shodown V.

Overview Edit

Amakusa's Revenge retains most of the new aesthetics and look, but the dark, serious feeling was toned up; sprites of the characters and backgrounds are brighter and have more vivid colors, making a little return to the cartoonish style from the first two games of the series. All stages are new, but this is the first time that those not belong to each character present in the game, focusing more in the game plot. The stages share a common element: the "Amakusa Castle" can be seen in each stage background from different angles and distances, this is also related to the plot. The Life Gauge is now split into two halves in response to the high imbalance of Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood, now giving the feeling of high power in each slashing and strong attacks, abolishing the quick rounds using few attacks. The change of stage background during the last moments of the match or when a character is close to being defeated is retain in this game. Music keeps the traditional Japanese instrumentation, but some songs are rock-oriented and orchestrated music.

Basic gameplay Edit

The four button layout introduced in Blades of Blood continues: Light Slash, Medium Slash, Strong Slash and Kick. Traditional gameplay elements like Dash/Bakufu Blitz, Flying Retreat, Locking Swords, and the Barehanded Sword Grab move remain present.

While commands and moves like Rage Build, the dash/Strong Slash attack, and air blocking were removed, the new basic commands from Samurai Shodown III like Evasion, Back Attack, Sudden Slash (Medium Slash + Strong Slash, an attack with a small jump that breaks crouch guards), Defense Breakers, the Moving Rise recovery move (use forward or backward when the character is knocked down), and the Sword Stun move (this and Barehanded Sword Grab now uses the command quarter circle back, forward + Kick button).

The two main addictions of the previous game, the selection of character mode/technique/identity (SLASH / Chivalry / 修羅 - Shura, and BUST / Treachery / 羅刹 - Rasetsu), and level (Beginners Class, Medium Grade, and Upper Grade) are present here in Samurai Shodown IV with nearly same characteristics. Hovewer, in Upper Grade level, unlike Samurai Shodown III now the Rage Gauge is not always full, but the character is faster.

New to the series Edit

  • Life Restoration - when the character is knocked-down, the player can hold down on the Joystick/Directional pad and press all buttons quickly to gain some portion of life. This command replaces the fact that meat is no longer dropped to the battlefield.
  • Quick Rise - a new recovery move using any up direction in the joystick/directional pad.
  • Weapon-Toss Provocation - a new kind of provocation by push Start button three times. The character will drop his/her own weapon to fight with the bare hands.
  • Pounce Jabs - represents additional hits when an opponent is knocked-down. When the enemy is near, the player can execute the command forward-down + any Slash button; when the opponent is far, the player can do up + any Slash button.
  • Honorable Death - the command is back, forward, down + Start button. This makes the character automatically kill himself/herself, awarding the round to the enemy. The advantage of performing this action is that during the next round the player will start with the POW/Rage Gauge full. For obvious reasons, this move is only practical during the round one, or on round two, assuming that the player won the round one first.

New gameplay featuresEdit

Combo SlashEdit

Main article: Combo Slash

This is the first Samurai Shodown game with a true chain combo system, leaving the classic juggle combos as an alternative for expert players. Combo Slash consist in press Strong Slash + Kick buttons at the same time as the first hit in the chain, then, push the different slash buttons in sequence, similar to other sequence combo system of games like Mortal Kombat or Tekken.

Rage Explosion Edit

The Rage Gauge staple is present here in Samurai Shodown IV. As usual, when the player receives damage, the meter will start to fill (it can be full charged if the 14-hit Combo Slash is performed successfully). When it reaches MAX, the character skin will turn red and he/she will be able to deal more damage to the opponent with some special moves. In this mode, the player is able to perform the Knocking on the Sword Super Special Move, which now present the same command input for all characters: backward, forward, down + Light Slash and Medium Slash pushed at the same time (press all buttons at the same time only in Beginners Class level).

A new feature using the Rage Gauge its a reworked concept of the Rage Explosion. When a player press Light Slash, Medium Slash, and Strong Slash together, the character enters in Rage Explosion state, which changes the stage background, and the Rage Gauge is replaced by a new temporal meter called Explosion Gauge, which is drained automatically. Only during the explosion, the character will be invincible and knocks the opponents back for an instant. The less Life Gauge have the character, the longer the Explosion Gauge. Only while the Explosion Gauge is active, the player can perform any of the next special moves:

  • Knocking on the Sword Super Special Moves, many times as the Explosion Gauge remains active.
  • Link Slashes - automatic 4-hit combos pressing Light Slash, Medium Slash, and Strong Slash at the same time. When it's used, some portion of Explosion Gauge is removed, and its chainable in combination with other special moves.
  • Fatal Flash - a new super-powerful slash attack which can deal very high amount of damage. The damage level is inversely proportional to how much life have the character; less life near KO will result in lethal damage, while nearly full Life Gauge the damage will be minimal. This move can only be used once per match.

After a Fatal Flash is performed, or if the Rage Gauge is over, the player will have no Rage Gauge for the rest of the match.

No Contest Edit

Main article: No Contest

These are special finisher moves to kill the opponent's character only if the player knockout the opponent during the second round (no works against Nakoruru, Rimururu, and the last 3 CPU opponents of the Arcade Mode). To make No Contest finisher available, the enemy must be on the ground at the final blow, and the hit must make him/her lean forward (as opposed to knocking down or leaning back). Then, the command will be show onscreen with a brief countdown: down, down, up, forward, forward, Strong Slash. This move must be performed within the time limit. This move, alongside Honorable Death (this one resembles the harakiri), inspired by the true bloody life and nature of ancient samurai warriors and swordsmen, and for games like Mortal Kombat, take the Samurai Shodown series to a new level of violence. This will only be exceeded with Samurai Shodown V Special.

Time limit and Rival Edit

The traditional score has been replaced for a time limit system, where each character is given a specific time limit to reach Amakusa's Castle. This generates two endings (good and bad): when the player arrives at the castle within the time limit, there will be two boss fights, and a final rival match; if the player reach the castle after the time limit, there will be only a final match with the rival.

Each character have pre-determined CPU Opponents: depending on the character choose, the player will face a specific list of computer opponents. Each character has a short conversation with a certain other character at the beginning of the game which is considered the character's rival, and will meet up again with that rival character at the end.

PlotEdit

Intro Edit

1789.
As the Kaisei Reformation overwhelmed the general populance, one devilish soul returned from the Netherworld, bringing forth a grand conflagration of disaster, destruction, and death. The castle that appeared, shaking the earth with its emergence, wreaked havoc with the innocent inhabitants of Shimabara.
As if beckoned into action, there were those who readied themselves for battle, those who materialized from their respective lands to contend with destiny.

Story Edit

Early 1789... the disaster which had happened all over the world was over. "He" had been ruined by a samurai. But people still suffered from various disasters like damage from cold weather, floods, fires, famines, and so on.

Then, in autumn in Tenmei 8 (1789)...

Shimabara in Hizen was struck by a lightning storm. Shimabara and the surrounding area were totally changed since the day when the roaring sounds of the thunderbolt shook the sky. Then the castle Shimabara, which lay in the center of the area, was becoming more and more sinister day by day and the tragic changes and disasters continued to spread.

A rumour spread among the people that "his" gospel had responded to the curses of vengeful ghosts, and so they called this castle "Amakusa-Jo" and prayed for relief from their fears.

It was "he," Shiro Tokisada Amakusa, who was the owner of the evil castle. He had been killed by the army of the government and rose from the evil world after 150 years, filled with hatred and lust for conquest. His aim was to conquer the world and build his Utopia.

Amakusa resurrected the soul of Zankuro Minazuki, which had lain in the evil world. His reason for this was to acquire more power for the sake of building the professed Utopia, but he was unable to control Zankuro, who reawoke with far more power than anticipated. Amakusa was forced to contain Zankuro in the evil world with magical wards temporarily.

Amakusa consumed the souls of the people to control the power possessed by Zankuro in order to reclaim the power he once held. This act caused a wave of evil to emanate from the castle, which would cover not only Shimabara, but the entire world.

And the world would soon be plunged into chaos once more...

CharactersEdit

All roster from Samurai Shodown III is retained here, while classic characters from the first game makes a return, each one with new re-drawn pixel sprites and animations. There are only two brand new characters.

New charactersEdit

  • Kazuki Kazama - his sister is in great danger, and he senses that the cause is the evil castle in Shimabara.  So, he breaks his ninja clan's law and leaves, in order to find and destroy the source of the evil, and in so doing, becomes Nukenin (a fugitive, renegade ninja).
  • Sogetsu Kazama - after his brother's defection from the clan, Sogetsu is given the duty of Oinin (ninja with the specific task to assassinate Nukenin), and must journey out to slay Kazuki.

Returning charactersEdit

  • Basara Kubikiri - with the resurrection of Zankuro, Basara's rest is rudely interrupted, and he must destroy both the summoner and the summoned in order to finally achieve eternal peace.
  • Charlotte Christine Colde - many disasters plague her homeland of France, and she feels that the evil energy emanates from Japan, so she heads off to stop it once more.
  • Gaira Caffeine - he suspects that the "Demon's Mound" he had created for Zankuro's corpse has been destroyed. Suddenly, he feels the presence of Zankuro in the evil castle, and heads off to investigate. 
  • Galford D. Weller - for no other reason than his overriding sense of justice, he goes to Shimabara to destroy the evil which has been unleashed. 
  • Genjuro Kibagami - he has no interest in the Shimabara crisis, but simply seeks Haohmaru, and will kill any and all who stand in his way... Amakusa included. 
  • Hanzo Hattori - Hanzo is ordered by the Shogunate to destroy the evil castle, and is as yet unaware that his mortal enemy, Amakusa, has returned... 
  • Haohmaru - on hearing of the restoration of the evil castle, he senses the presence of Amakusa. He journeys to Shimabara to conclude his battle with the sorcerer once and for all. 
  • Jubei Yagyu - he is ordered by his lord to search Shimabara Castle, and defeat the master of the evil scheme. 
  • Kyoshiro Senryo - while travelling, Kyoshiro hears a rumour that demons have been unleashed in Hizen, so he wanders off to verify the rumour. 
  • Nakoruru - she comes to Shimabara to save Mother Nature, which is being gradually destroyed by the evil coming from the castle. 
  • Rimururu - with the same mission as her older sister, Rimururu travels to Shimabara to neutralize the root of all evil and chaos. 
  • Shiro Tokisada Amakusa - he goes to Shimabara to find his "other half," his darker side, and destroy him in order to become one again. 
  • Shizumaru Hisame - he once again feels the presence of the "demon" which he thought he slay, and is confused, uncertain how it could still live. So he goes to the source of the feeling, to Shimabara, in order to satisfy his conscience. 
  • Tam Tam - he is told by his chief that the evil god has been resurrected. He once again takes the "Mask," and travels to Japan to do battle once more. 
  • Ukyo Tachibana - Ukyo and his fiancee, Odagiri Kei, are living happily, but when disaster strikes in Shimabara, he decides to journey there to put a halt to it, before it can harm the woman he loves.

BossesEdit

  • Aku Shiro Tokisada Amakusa - Amakusa had returned once again from the dead. Planning to create his ideal world, he summons Zankuro from the dead and kidnaps Hazuki Kamaza (Kazuki's sister) to regain his powers once more.
  • Zankuro Minazuki - finding himself in the Netherword after Shizumaru slay him, the "demon" suddenly returns to life thanks to the efforts of Amakusa.

PlayStation exclusive Edit

The next is a table with a list of which character are designated as rivals.

Controlled character Rival to be found
Amakusa Hanzo
Basara Gaira
Charlotte Haohmaru
Gaira Basara
Galford Tam Tam
Genjuro Haohmaru
Hanzo Jubei
Haohmaru Genjuro
Jubei Hanzo
Kazuki Sogetsu
Kyoshiro Ukyo
Nakoruru Genjuro
Rimururu Genjuro
Shizumaru Haohmaru
Sogetsu Kazuki
Tam Tam Galford
Ukyo Kyoshiro

Stages Edit

This is the first Samurai Shodown game to feature non character-specific stages. This is because the plot unfolds in one single place instead of around the world. Amakusa's Revenge story is set on Shimabara Peninsula (島原半島 Shimabara-hantō), today part of Nagasaki Prefecture (長崎県 Nagasaki-ken), region of Kyūshū (九州 Kyūshū, lit. "Nine Provinces"). On its north-eastern tip stands Shimabara City (島原市 Shimabara-shi), which is a "castle town" that houses the famous Shimabara Castle (島原城 Shimabara-jō). Amakusa Castle is strongly inspired in Shimabara Castle.

Ports Edit

Samurai Shodown IV was ported to 32-bit systems of the fifth generation of consoles during 1997. This time, there was portable adaptation for the SNK's Neo Geo Pocket. The MVS version of Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's Revenge is included in the Samurai Shodown Anthology for Wii, PS2 and PSP systems.

  • Neo Geo CD - a nearly arcade perfect port, with all features and replacing the MVS music with the arranged soundtrack. Game modes includes VS, Options, and Practice.
  • Sega Saturn * once again, the Saturn console port proved to be very good, thanks to the 1MB Expansion Cartridge required to play. Presents minimal load times, but also there's is a bit of slowdown with some of the bigger sprites. Not released in America or Europe.
  • PlayStation - renamed as サムライスピリッツ 天草降臨スペシャル (Samurai Spirits Amakusa Kōrin Special), this port is somewhat lower than the Saturn port, but features art pieces during the load times, and adds Cham Cham as new exclusive playable character, though lacks story mode. Not released in America or Europe.
  • Neo Geo Pocket - released in 1998, Samurai Shodown! is a port for SNK's first portable console.

Gallery Edit

Main article: Samurai Shodown IV/Gallery