Samurai Shodown V
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Japanese サムライスピリッツ零 - Samurai Supirittsu Zero
Developer Yuki Enterprise
Publisher SNK Playmore
Platform Neo Geo
Ports Xbox, PlayStation 2, Wii
Release dates October 10, 2003 (MVS)
December 11, 2003 (AVS)
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 708 Megs

Samurai Shodown V, known as Samurai Spirits Zero in Japan, is the fifth game of the main 2D series and eighth overall game in the Samurai Shodown series of weapon-based competitive fighting games of the then defunct SNK (already know as SNK Playmore), released for Neo Geo in 2003, and later for home video game consoles.

Seven years after the release of Amakusa's Revenge, the storyline of this game is a prequel for the rest of the series, two years after the events of the original Samurai Shodown, focusing in a new protagonist called Yoshitora Tokugawa that, besides other warriors, must face the rebellion of his former mentor Gaoh. This prequel created little conflicts with the argument of previous games.

As part of the SNK Playmore reorganization, development of this game came from an unknow studio: Yuki Enterprise. There was some dissent from fans, but the "hype" increases when SNK Playmore announces that renowned manga artist Nobuhiro Watsuki (best known as the Rurouni Kenshin author) would design new characters and official artwork.

In a similar fashion of releases like Fatal Fury Special, one year later SNK Playmore releases an update called Samurai Shodown V Special, becoming the last Neo Geo game released in its life time.

Overview Edit

Following the release of the three games with 3D graphics in the series (Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage, and the PS1 exclusive Warriors Rage), the franchise return to the long-lived Neo-Geo. Despite the changes and new gameplay elements, the game retains most of the feeling of the previous 2D game, Amakusa’s Revenge, while at the same time some basic moves returns from early installments. Samurai Shodown V is the first game in the series in recycle stage backgrounds and music themes from Samurai Shodown III and IV, but also there are new musical pieces and stages.

In previous games the player character struck-up little conversations with the opponents before the match. The original Japanese Samurai Shodown V version (ergo, Samurai Spirits Zero) has expanded story-line sequences and dialogues between characters, before and after battles, which reflect their place in the game’s plot. Unfortunately dialogues where removed in western localizations of arcade version, leaving only simple win quotes. The home ports (PlayStation 2 and Xbox) released in Europe and America restores the dialogues.

The violence level was tuned down. Movements like No Contest and classic generic fatalities (horizontal cuts and blood eruptions) were missed.

Gameplay Edit

After a seven-year hiatus, it was natural that Samurai Shodown V had many changes. First, the button layout was changed once again: there are Light Slash, Medium Slash, Kick, and Special. There is no dedicated Strong Slash button anymore, but now can be executed pushing Light Slash and Medium Slash at the same time, in the same fashion as first two games in the series. The Special button (D button in the Neo-Geo) now works for evasive maneuvers in conjunction with some directions in the Joystick/Directional Pad, marking the return of moves dating from Samurai Shodown II like Forward Roll, Backward Roll, and Duck, as well small and quick forward and backward jumps. Also Special button works to do Meditation.

Traditional basic moves that return are Bakufu Blitz, Flying Retreat, Locking Swords, parries (Sword Stun and Barehanded Sword Grab), Defense Breakers (now pushing any Slash button after makes an automatic, unblockeable attack), Sudden Slash, Moving Rise/Quick recovery moves, Counter Hits, and Pounce Jabs (additional attacks when opponent lies on the ground). Honorable Death (suicide move to start next round with Rage Gauge full, if is able another round), Weapon-Toss Provocation, and Rage Explosion also returns. Some of these moves and commands retain the same input, while others have changed slightly.

Movements, commands, and gameplay elements that have been discarded from Samurai Shodown III & IV are:

Rage Gauge Edit

The Rage Gauge continues to fulfill its basic functions. When the player receives damage, the meter fills gradually. Only when it’s full, the character skin turns red, and is able to deal major damage. With Rage Gauge at MAX the player can perform the Knocking on the Sword Super Special move (same command for all characters). If the super special move hits the opponent or after certain time passes, the gauge returns to its initial state. Now certain characters can full the Rage Gauge more quickly than others, but the Rage Gauge is retained by a very short time, while those who take longer to full the gauge, retain it for long time.

During any moment of the match, the player can activate the Rage Explosion, which when worn changes the stage background (same as occurred since Samurai Shodown III) and replaces the Rage Gauge with the Explosion Gauge. During this state the player can do even more powerful attacks and Knocking on the Sword Super Special move; even the round time remain stopped. Immediately the Rage Explosion begins, the Explosion Gauge begins to drain. Only if a Knocking of the Sword hits the opponent or the gauge is completely empty, the Rage Explosion concludes. After that, Rage Gauge is canceled for the rest of the match.

Sword Gauge Edit

A gameplay system that debuts in the 2D games of the series is the Sword Gauge, which was featured first in Samurai Shodown 64. When the player make a Slash attack (hit of missed), hits with kicks and unarmed attacks, or perform a special attack that hits or is blocked, the gauge decreases. If the player does nothing, the gauge increases automatically. A full gauge means normal potential damage, but if the gauge gets lower, the damage too. When the Rage Gauge is at MAX, the length of Sword Gauge increases, but returns to normal size when Rage Gauge becomes empty. During the time that Explosion Gauge remains active, the Sword Gauge grows even more. Only in the case of the Knocking on the Sword Super Special move, the damage will be the same as a standard-length full Sword Gauge.

New features Edit

Meditation Edit

Main article: Meditation

Near the end of the Life Gauge there are a small white marker above. When there is any amount of energy in the Rage Gauge, the player can press and hold the Special button while standing to meditate, draining such portion of Rage Gauge; this makes the aforementioned white marker begins to move left (right in the second player side). Meditation cannot be used when the Rage Gauge is already full, or when Explosion Gauge is active.

Concentration One Edit

Main article: Concentration One

After losing a round (this could be during Round 2 or 3), and if the Life Gauge is lower than the white marker of Meditation (Life Gauge turns blue), the player can perform the Concentration One command, where the Rage Gauge is replaced by a blue Concentration Gauge that begins to drain. During this state the opponent move very slowly, which leaves him exposed for many attacks. When is hit, the opponent remains in hit stun for a longer period of time, allowing massive combo chains. Just like Explosion Gauge, when Concentration Gauge empties, the Concentration One ends and the Rage Gauge is canceled for the rest of the match. The amount of Concentration Gauge is determined by how much the Meditation marker was moved.

Only during this state the player can perform the Fatal Flash, whose inflicted damage is determined by how much the Sword Gauge is full.

Plot Edit

Intro Edit

English version

The code of the samurai is death before dishonor.
I have realized the way of Asura.
In these troubled times, I have chosen to become Rasetsu...
... destined to kill all who come before me!

Story Edit

Blacker than pitch, a deep darkness of boundless nothingness. It begins within this vortex. A sinister presence quickens within its womb. Its pulsing beat becomes an invisible, intangible wave drifting in the darkness, and at the end of its roaming it reaches Japan....

The year is 1786.
A time known to subsequent generations as the great famine of Tenmei. Its vestiges still remain and the starving regions show no sign of relief. In every region insurrection and destruction break out, spurring increasing ruin. The people tormented by unprecedented misfortune scrape by, knowing not when it will all end. Today? Tomorrow?

The Shogunate's response to this crisis was nowhere near effective. Before his country, buried in heaps of corpses and slowly dying away, a noted general turns toward the heavens and roars:

"Oh, listen to my country's lamentations...You!
You Tokugawa trolls, enemies of my land - your folly ends here!
The time for action has come!
I, as a patriot, will reduce all you Tokugawa traitors to ash!"

This general assuming this fated role is named Gaoh Kyogoku Hinowanokami.

"Oh, brave warriors!
Follow your patriotic souls, you true soldiers of courage!
From the North's Ezo to the South's Ryukyu, come to me! Reveal your true mettle!"

Was it the result of Gaoh's aspirations, or mere coincidence? Entrusting their souls to their sword, devoting their lives to the way of the warrior, 24 warriors simultaneously clash in the turmoil of battle.

What will they finally master in the end? The code of the samurai? Or the way of Asura?

Characters Edit

Except by Shiro Tokisada Amakusa, all cast from Samurai Shodown IV returns for this prequel. Because the Identity System (SLASH, BUST) was removed, the development team includes independent characters that resembles BUST identities from others. Examples: Rasetsumaru - Haohmaru, Suija - Sogetsu, or Rera - Nakoruru.

New characters Edit

  • Yoshitora Tokugawa - He is the main protagonist of Samurai Shodown V. As member of the Tokugawa clan and sole heir to the shogunate, Yoshitora is a carefree boy who only thinks in girls and parties, although he is a very smart, skilled swordsman (Gaoh and Jubei were his teachers). He does not want to be the next Shogun, so his former mentor Gaoh starts a rebellion against the Tokugawa clan, pretending to change his mind.
  • Enja - He is an ancient and powerful fire demon, to whom shinobis of the Kazama clan attempt to seal, but they failed. Now Enja wants to meet his old friend Suija to steal a mysterious spell from Kuraki-Sumeragi.
  • Kusaregedo Youkai – After a good meal, Kusaregedo yet still hungry, then Rimururu appears in his lair searching for her older sister, Nakoruru. Kusaragedo looks her very appetizing and starts to track her.
  • Mina Majikina – She meets with Champuru after her hometown was destroyed by a demon while she was away. Mina needs the help of Champuru to take revenge of this tragedy, so they go to the distant land of Hinowa, where she feels an evil energy.
  • Rasetsumaru – While he is traveling, Rasetsumaru find a thug and asks if has seen a guy that looks similar to him. The thug tells him that he meets Haohmaru few days ago and he goes to Hinowa seeking strong opponents. Then Rasetsumaru slay the thug and get excited to finally find and kill Haohmaru.
  • Rera – She is a villager of the Ainu tribe and Nakoruru’s evil doppelganger. She confronts and berates her for not being able to find father, protect Mother Nature, and leave Rimururu alone. Rera takes determination to save father with the help of Shikuru.
  • Suija - He is an ancient and powerful water demon, who takes the body of a shinobi of the Kazama clan as host near the lake where he remained sealed. Now Suija wants to meet his old friend Enja to steal a mysterious spell from Kuraki-Sumeragi.
  • Liu Yunfei – Feeling the presence of evil everywhere, Yunfei is hunting for an entity known as Kuraki-Sumeragi, which has remained asleep for a thousand years. To redeem his sins, Yunfei must destroy Kuraki-Sumeragi, even if it means sacrificing his life and soul.

Returning characters Edit

  • Basara Kubikiri – He want to reach where his deceased beloved is, but she ask him to stay in the living world, because he needs to do one more thing: to hunt a demon. Kagaribi guides him to the land of Hinowa.
  • Charlotte Christine Colde – While she is traveling near Japan, Michel tells her about Gaoh’s Rebellion and asked her to return France, but with her sense of justice for the people, Charlotte ordered to disembark quickly.
  • Gaira Caffeine – He continues wandering, this time to an unknown land where he can look at himself over again and becomes a better monk, so the villagers can stop being afraid of him. This will be his training.
  • Galford D. Weller – He knows that Japan is in serious danger because Gaoh’s war plans against the shogun. Accompanied by his faithful friend Puppy, Galford starts his journey to crush evil.
  • Genjuro Kibagami – A hooded man asks Genjuro to kill Gaoh, the lord of Hinowa land, in exchange for a sum of money. Kibagami accepts, taking it as a “kill time”, and threatens the man with no attempt to betray him.
  • Hanzo Hattori – He suddenly meets Jubei, who informs him about the rebellion plotting by the leader of the Hinowa country, and send him to find the truth behind this.
  • Haohmaru – After he defeats a common thug, Haohmaru meets Yoshitora and quickly challenges his to a fight, but Yoshitora rejects the challenge for another time because he is on hurry. Then Haohmaru tells him that he is heading to Hinowa looking for strong warriors to test his skills.
  • Jubei Yagyu – Hanzo appears suddenly in his presence, and later explains him about the rumors of Gaoh’s Rebellion. Instructs Hanzo go investigate. For his part, he must stop any attempt of war against the Shogunate.
  • Kazuki Kazama – While he and his sister Hazuki are training, Sogetsu arrives and tell that the Geshinsai is waiting for them. The Geshinsai assigns them the mission of find and seal an evil demon that headed towards the land of Hinowa. Hazuki must accompany them because her hidden powers are needed for the mission. Kazuki promises to protect his sister.
  • Kyoshiro Senryo – Thinking about world’s negative things, Kyoshiro knows that thought Kabuki he can bring joy to the people. So, he begins a journey to nowhere to learn more about Kabuki dances and broaden his view.
  • Nakoruru – Mamahaha arrives and gives her father’s sword. Nakoruru realizes that father is in danger, and request Mamahaha guide her to find him.
  • Rimururu – Grandmother has prepared some food, and Rimururu goes for his sister to eat together, but cannot find her. Believing that Nakoruru is hiding, Rimururu leaves the village looking for her.
  • Shizumaru Hisame – Since he lost his family when was a small child and cannot remember anything, Shizumaru has lived with a family that has cared for him. One day both Hakana and her husband leave home, and Shizumaru decides to go to Hinowa, hoping to do something good for that persons.
  • Sogetsu Kazama – The Geshinsai tell him that “they” have started to move, and orders the presence of Kazuki. The Geshinsai assigns them the mission of find and seal an evil demon that headed towards the land of Hinowa. Finally, the Geshinsai tells them that do not get consume by the “fate” they carry on.
  • Tam Tam – He is traveling in the same ship as Charlotte. When hears about the Hinowa revolt, he achieved quickly to feel the evil, and he must save the day!
  • Ukyo Tachibana – It’s been three days since Yumeji Kurokouchi left the dojo. He/she is Ukyo’s classmate and son/daughter of his former sensei. A woman in the dojo is worried about what could he/she be doing. Then, Ukyo goes in search for Yumeji.

Bosses Edit

  • Sankuro Yorozu (middle boss) - He is one of Gaoh's most powerful minions, and during battles is helped by his personal gang trio: Gosichi, Fuyo, and Ippachi. Sankuro hides filthy ambitions.
  • Yumeji Kurokouchi (sub-boss) - A non-specific genre warrior, Yumeji is the son/daughter of Sakon Kurokouchi, a respectable sensei of iaijutsu, and former teacher of Ukyo Tachibana. One day he/she is expelled from his father's house and dojo. Noticing his exceptional skills, Gaoh recluits him/her, and with a new reason to live, Yumeji swears loyalty to his new master.
  • Gaoh Kyougoku Hinowanokami (final boss) - Unable to stand the chaos and famine that his people bore, Gaoh, the hero of all heroes, sets his sights on the Shogun. Gaoh was once a loyal general to the Tokugawa clan and lord to the land of Hinowa. He is one of the previous mentors to the clan's heir, Yoshitora. However, Yoshitora and his father became indifferent to the land during the Tenmei famine and the country was thrown into more chaos as a result. Concerned about the well being of his countrymen, he decides to rebel against his lord with an army of powerful warriors.

Stages Edit

Samurai Shodown V features 6 brand-new stages, while the rest are remakes of previous stages found in Blades of Blood and Amakusa's Revenge, where the main changes are: greater size, new colors, change/lack of animations or sprites. Some stages have two or three forms, giving a total of 24 stages.

Ports Edit

Home ports were released for video game systems of the sixth generation of consoles. This time there was no portable adaptation.

  • PlayStation 2 - Released both in Japan and Europe. The gameplay is faithful to the Neo Geo version, and features an arranged soundtrack (although no Arrange Soundtrack was released at the time). During the load times are showed character art portraits. The european version translates the dialogues before and after each match in arcade mode, and a new English announcer was added to this version. An american version was planned but Sony Computer Entertainment of America don't gave license.
  • Xbox - The american home port was released exclusively for Microsoft's Xbox. The load times are shorter than PS2 version. This port was compatible with Xbox Live service to play online. The arranged soundtrack, tranlated dialogues, and the new English announcer from the european PS2 version were retained; if the player set the Xbox in Japanese language, texts and voice announcer will be in japanese. Minor flaws are the censored Rasetsumaru ending, no original Soundtrack option (game booklet mentions that soundtrack can be adjusted between Original and Arranged), and updated balance, moves, and bosses from Samurai Shodown V Special were scrapped.

Gallery Edit

Main article: Samurai Shodown V/Gallery