Samurai Shodown III / Samurai Spirits: Zankurou Musoken

:  One man became known as the "Oni" (demon). The man's name was Zankuro. He would attack many villages and would leave none alive. But one night, he left one child alive in a village. He couldn't kill that one child. No one knew why. Ever since that night, Zankuro would only attack those who challenge him. And many years later, twelve warriors set out to kill Zankuro.


Samurai Shodown III character selection screen.

REVIEWThe third installment to SNK's hit Samurai Shodown series made a statement by being considerably darker than the first two games. To the dismay of some fans, old favorites like Charlotte, Cham Cham, Earthquake, and Gen-an were removed from the roster and replaced with newcomers like Shizumaru, Rimururu, Basara, and Gaira. The newcomers add an all new charisma to the series, along with brand new fighting styles. The character sprites have been completely redrawn in a new style, and all of the backgrounds, animations, music, and voice-overs are brand new as well!.

The new alt. colors help set the SSIII's darker tone. . .

With this installment, Samurai Shodown's gameplay and "pace" has changed quite a bit from the first two games and almost feels completely original. One of the most notable gameplay changes is the ability to "charge up" your character's POW gauge (not unlike the super meter in AOF). The other new addition to the gameplay is the fact that there are now two "versions" of each fighter: Slash and Bust, each mode offering a slightly different move set per character. Air blocking was also added to the gameplay for the first time ever.

another step forward graphically. . . a BIG step!

Many priority attacks can now be cancelled into special moves, unlike the prequel which only feature a few cancelable moves. Most of SS2's movement options were removed, in favor of Dodge Attacks which are done by pressing the A & B buttons simultaneously.  When close, a character whom performs a Dodge Attack will quickly move around the opponent, allowing them to attack from behind. Like in the prequels, items were thrown onto the battlefield but this time coming from off-screen instead of from a character in the background.

Page Updated: July 13th, 2022
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Artwork by: Eiji Shiroi              Promo Art
Shirou Ohno
        Character Portraits
Platform(s): Neo Geo, Playstation, Sega Saturn, PSN, PS2, PSP, Wii Virtual Console, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date(s): Nov. 27th, 1995                Arcade
Dec. 1st, 1995
Aug. 30th, 1996                PS1
Nov. 8th, 1996                   Saturn
Nov. 30th, 1996                PS1
June 27th, 2007                PSN
Apr. 27th, 2010                 Wii VC
Sept. 6th, 2010                  Wii VC
Sept. 3rd, 2010                  Wii VC
Apr. 19th, 2018                 PS4
Characters Haohmaru, Ukyo, Hanzo, Galford, Nakoruru, Genjuro, Kyoshiro, Shizumaru, Gaira, Rimururu, Basara, Kuroko, Amakusa, Zankuro

Featured Video:

Related Games: Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Samurai Shodown V, Samurai Shodown V Special, SSV Perfect, Samurai Shodown 5 Perfect, Samurai Shodown 6, Samurai Shodown (2019), Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64 - Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown Pocket, Samurai Shodown 2 Pocket, Samurai Shodown Warrior's Rage, Samurai Shodown Sen, Samurai Shodown Anthology, Art of Fighting, King of Fighters '95, Darkstalkers 2, Fatal Fury 3, Street Fighter Alpha, Marvel Super Heroes, Mortal Kombat 3, Killer Instinct 2, Kizuna Encounter, Golden Axe: The Duel, Soul Edge

Gameplay Engine  8.0 / 10
Story / Theme  9.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.5 / 10
Animation  10 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  9.0 / 10
Innovation  8.0 / 10
Art Direction  9.5 / 10
Customization  9.0 / 10
Options / Extras  9.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.0 / 10
Characters  8.5 / 10

 8.7 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version    


Final Words:

Samurai Shodown III's gameplay system was a dramatic departure from Samurai Shodown II (and SS1), forcing fans to pretty much "relearn" the dynamics of the game completely. While some returning fans might've been disappointed by the removal of several fan-favorite characters, the characters who did return in SS3 look absolutely stunning with crispy new 2D sprites and the most dynamic animations to date. Furthermore, the character art and overall art-style of the game was simple off-the-charts!

SamSho III was an intriguing change of pace for Samurai Shodown. While many other recent titles were "bright and cheery", SSIII's "darker" vibe defined the new direction of the series and showed what SNK was capable of in 1995-1996. That said, Samurai Shodown III was definitely ahead of its time, visually at least. The gameplay was still good, though it needed a few refinements (which came later in SSIV).

Samurai Shodown III made a strong statement in 1995 and was easily one of the best-looking 2D sprite-based fighting games to date. In some ways, Samurai Shodown 3 didn't feel "complete" (in my opinion)... thus, about 1 year later, Samurai Shodown 4 was released, offering a more refined gameplay experience and much-improved character roster - bringing back many returning fan-favorites who went missing in this installment.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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