Samurai Shodown / Samurai Spirits (2019)
 


 

STORYIt is 1787, the 7th year of the Tenmei era. A newly appointed counsel to the Shogun, Matsudaira Sadanobu, has been chosen to usher in a new age of reform with the Kansei era. However, the land remains beset by fire, ruin, and famine, all while a sinister cloud darkens the air with a foreboding sense of dread.
 

A true reboot to one of the true OGs... Samurai Shodown is legendary.

 
ABOUTOn September 10th, 2018, SNK announced a new installment to one of their most cherished and classic fighting game franchises, one that longtime SNK fans have been waiting a very long time for. The long-awaited "reboot" of Samurai Spirits (or Samurai Shodown as we know it in the West) released in June 2019 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A PC version and Nintendo Switch port is planned for release in Q3/Q4 2019.
 

Classic match-ups reimagined in the new 2.5D graphics engine.

 
The initial roster of 16 characters will include 13 veterans and 3 newcomers. Additional characters will be added to the game via DLC character packs. The Season 1 DLC roster includes Rimururu, Basara Kubigiri, Kazuki Kazama and Wan-Fu! If the game sells well and has continued support by players, SNK will release additional DLC character packs and future seasons.

Samurai Shodown (2019) modes include: Battle, Online, Story, Practice, Database, Gallery & Dojo (featuring a new Ghost AI system). The Ghost AI system will learn from each player's in-game habits, combos, and strategies. Other players will be able to fight against your Ghost. More details on the Ghost system coming soon. All 16 characters will have a story mode playthrough featuring several cutscenes.
 

Like the old time...

 

Samurai Shodown (2019)
features a brand new style of 3D graphics using Unreal Engine 4. Visually, the characters and backgrounds retain the classic look and feel of the original 2D installments of the series. The "pace" and flow of the gameplay also looks very familiar to the first 2 games of the series... with slowed-down attacks (after impact), exaggerated special move animations, large characters who fill the screen, and colorful, vibrant backgrounds. Interestingly, Haohmaru's in-game face render even favors early Shinkiro art - an early throwback for old school SNK artwork appreciators. 
 

Updated environments based on the classic stages look sharp as ever!

  

Samurai Shodown (2019)
features a brand new style of 3D graphics using Unreal Engine 4. Visually, the game resembles the look and feel of the original 2D series. The "pace" and flow of the gameplay also looks very familiar to the first 2 games of the series... with slowed-down attacks (after impact), exaggerated special move animations, large characters who fill the screen, and colorful, vibrant backgrounds. Interestingly, Haohmaru's in-game face render even favors early Shinkiro art - an early throwback for old school SNK artwork appreciators. 

 

Everyone's favorite American ninja is back! ...no Galford, not you... EARTHQUAKE!

 

In the visuals department, SNK seems to have "upped their game" since 2016's King of Fighters XIV, showing much more impressive 3D graphics and animation capabilities - even at this early stage of the game's development. The 3D characters onscreen appear to utilize a variety of "filters" or graphical effects, featuring black outlines, unique textures and shaders, and blood-spatter effects. The overall animation, Ink-blot effects, particle-effects somewhat give off that "Street Fighter 4" vibe, but the vibrancy of SamSho's characters and the attention to detail regarding these classic character designs (and moves) strongly sets it apart from anything Street Fighter.
  

Page Updated: August 16th, 2019
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Designer(s): Nobuyuki Kuroki     (Director / Art Director)
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date(s): June 25th, 2019      (/ PS4, XB1)
June 27th, 2019
      ( PS4, XB1)
Q4 2019
                      (PC, Switch)
Characters Haohmaru, Galford, Hanzo Hattori, Earthquake, Nakoruru, Jubei Yagyu, Genjuro Kibagami, Charlotte Colde, Kyoshiro Senryo, Shiki, Ukyo Tachibana, Tam Tam, Yoshitora Tokugawa, Darli Dagger, Wu-Ruixiang, Yashamaru Kurama, Shizuka, Rimururu, Basara Kubigiri, Kazuki Kazama (DLC), Wan-Fu (DLC), Shizumaru (DLC), Mina Majikina (DLC)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Samurai Shodown 3, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown 5, SS5 Special, Samurai Shodown 6, Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64 - Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown Pocket, SS2 Pocket, Samurai Shodown Warrior's Rage, Samurai Shodown Sen, Samurai Shodown Anthology, Street Fighter 4, Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition, The King of Fighters XIV, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, Soul Calibur 6, Granblue Fantasy Versus
Early Review:

No, Samurai Shodown 2019 isn't as pretty as Samurai Shodown 2. In fairness, there's no fighting game in existence as pretty as Samurai Shodown 2. As a reboot of more than one of the best 2D fighters known to man, Samurai Shodown 2019 has massive Ninja Tabi Boots to fill. {{Earthquake size}}. Even so, this game is the closest thing to a "new SS2" that we're likely ever to get. Longtime SNK fans, now reformed from their "pirating lives," better buy this game and appreciate the awesome fan service going on.

Samurai Shodown
is one of the unsung heroes of the rise of the fighting genre. No doubt old school fans who played SamSho in the arcade days have fond memories. The franchise was always an underrated, yet major part of the genre's evolution, artistically and technically. Seeing the series finally return to the spotlight in 2019 is another indication that we live in the best time period ever to be a fighting game player (whether you're taking full advantage of it or not). Old school and new school players, welcome back to Japan... it's time to get reacquainted with the Samurai Spirits.

While the series had a strong start in the mid 90's (with at least 3 amazing sequels after the first game)... the franchise struggled to stay relevant into the 2000s, with lackluster 2D and 3D iterations. It's been 10+ years since the last proper installment, Samurai Shodown Sen, which was disappointingly a mess in terms of gameplay, visuals, and other reasons I'd like to forget. That said, no other 2D fighting game series is more deserving of a true reboot right now as much as Samurai Shodown. (No, not even our beloved Garou: Mark of the Wolves. That game is perfectly fine staying 2D. SNK need not mess with it right now.)

It's been a decade since the rejuvenation of 2D fighters with 2009's Street Fighter 4. On that note, Samurai Shodown never tried its hand at 2.5D "SF4-style" visuals and gameplay. While SS2019's visuals might seem "dated" in obvious areas, and not nearly as flawless or charismatic as the original 2D spritework, SNK fans can still find a lot to love about the new installment. The PS4 Pro version on a 1080p monitor looks like a early PS3 game; but on a 4K TV, it looks much sharper! Even so, if you told me this game was actually made in 2008-2009... I'd believe you. The good news is, it still looks and feels like a true 2D Samurai Shodown game... and it's fun. While imperfect, the 2.5D graphics do retain the overall style of the original titles.

I'm having fun with the game, but some gameplay elements lack depth and haven't "evolved" the forward direction of the first 4 installments. (I could easily go back to SS2 or SS4 and have the exact same - arguably more dynamic - matches). Yeah, Samurai Shodown was always heavily based on strong 2D fundamentals and neutral game. The combo system in 2019 is particularly minimal (similar to SS2), so it's all about single powerful strikes, smart movement and well-timed trickery. It's fun... but it shows its age. I hope SNK decides to refine / develop the combo system further by giving characters more options and "freedom"... because currently, the severely constrictive combo system will hinder the game's fun and longevity. You don't really want to be doing the same 3-hit combos 2 years from now, do you?

"Whatever bro, I like to play neutral game all day." Cool... but I mostly got that out of my system in 1994-1995. I like to see evolution - even from a reboot. In 1996, Samurai Shodown 4 reinvented and evolved the "classic" gameplay I just described by adding a variety of new maneuvers, attack angles, and longer, deadly combos. Sadly, Samurai Shodown 2019 is a step backwards technically (and some 2D purists would also say visually) from the likes of, my beloved, SS4.

Truth be told, SS2019 has a low skill-ceiling. Fighting game "fans" who aren't patient enough to le
arn actual combos in more technical games will really love this game. Analogy: Not everyone should be able to pick up a real samurai sword and instantly become an expert with it... months/years of martial arts training should reward those who put the time in. It's basic principles of martial arts and life, bro. (That's what combo engines are for.) That's why fighting games with the most refined/fun combo engines last competitively for years, and others don't. Personally, I like fighting games where you can discover new tech & new combos years and years after playing. I shouldn't be able to master a character's full combo potential in under 30 mins (and I did in this game). SNK can easily tweak the mechanics and add more options, and I hope they do for the sake of this game's lifespan. Also, I very much miss the Slash/Bust options from SS4... and I think most old school players would agree. Less options = less fun.

SNK put some nice polish into Story Mode - including some pretty incredible cutscenes. Online seems to have average at best (but playable) netcode... but I'm still testing it out. Other modes like Dojo, Survival, and Ghost seem decent (although, the Ghost AI system seems broken and not functioning as advertised). So far, SS2019 is still a pretty respectable game at launch... If SNK makes the right choices with future updates, this game could evolve into something special. With a solid Season 1 & 2 DLC character roster lined up, the future looks promising. The fact that SNK announced a Season 2 before Season 1 is finished is unorthodox, but also a pretty good sign. TFG's full review is still in progress.
 
~TFG Webmaster
 

  
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Click Here for all character art!

 

    
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Click Here for all poster art!

 


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