Samurai Shodown Sen / Samurai Spirits Sen


REVIEWSamurai Shodown Sen is a 3D incarnation of SNK's famed Samurai Shodown series released exclusively in arcades and on Xbox 360. The game features 11 completely new fighters and 13 fan-favorite returning veterans. Sen takes the series away from its 2D roots as SNK tries its hand at the 3D fighting game once again... *sigh* ...can't blame them for trying again, but you've gotta wonder why they don't stick to what has worked in the past? The first time the Samurai Shodown series went 3D (with SS64 & SS64: Warriors Rage) it received mixed reviews (mostly bad), and Sen has indeed brought a similar result.


Samurai Shodown Sen character select screen.


To state the obvious, the new 3D gameplay system is vastly different from what players of the classic Samurai Shodown games know and love. Air combos & sidestepping have been introduced, along with horizontal & vertical slashing techniques... sound familiar? To be honest, Sen seems to want to play more like Soul Calibur or Tekken than the likes of Samurai Shodown. Even from a design standpoint, the new characters introduced in Sen seem to fill in the missing (and painfully cliché) archetypes of the Samurai Shodown series... making it seem eerily familiar to Soul Calibur. As far as the newcomers go, a few are pretty cool, but most are sickeningly generic and just don't have the excitement and "swag" of the original cast.

The control scheme remains a 4-button setup, with the ability perform special commands by pressing two or three buttons at once, like in the prequels. The Rage Explosion & Fatal Flash techniques have also returned, but don't seem to mesh all that well with the new gameplay engine. A new "deflect" system is also in place which similar to parrying to Soul Calibur, offering a good defensive mechanic to the gameplay engine. The downside? It's a very far cry from that of Soul Calibur's. The POW Meter also returns and builds up after your character takes damage, as usual. The 24-character-strong roster is fairly impressive at a glance, but most character movesets definitely lack depth. The way the movesets are laid out also demands a lot of experimenting on the player's part, and there's no in-game tutorial or mission mode of any sort to help players through the learning curve.


Sen's newcomers are somewhere between interesting and generic.


Sadly, the disappointments continue. Samurai Shodown Sen suffers from some horribly stiff animations and rather unresponsive/slow controls. Moving along, there are no fireballs in the game and moves that used to travel across the whole screen are now short ranged attacks. While I can respect drastic "change" from an artistic perspective in some instances, certain changes just don't work out in the end. (Samurai Shodown not having projectiles is one of them). Furthermore, characters that were always well-known for their animal sidekicks fighting by their side (like Galford & Nakoruru), now fight alone.... WTF? Really?

No Poppie? ... No buy.

's graphics are also slacking and to make matters worse, they're over 2 years old (at the time of the Xbox version's release). Character models are very averagely detailed and there are also the "dark, dim, and/or hazy" stages fail to impress for the most part. On that note, the weird "dark" shadowing and lighting in the graphics engine seem to be an attempt at intentionally masking the insufficiently rendered character models, poor character anatomy and polygonal clipping. In a nutshell, Sen can't complete with the current 3D fighters in terms of graphics, nor does it hold a candle to the classic 2D Samurai Shodown games.


Sidestep... should work better in this game.


Fatalities have returned in Sen and are the most graphic & gruesome the series has ever seen, warranting an "M" rating for the title. Heads and limbs will fly off at the end of the battle if a perfect is scored, leaving your character a bloody mess and/or groveling in pain. Personally, I feel the new "style" of deaths are done in poor taste. Listen SNK, fans of the series don't want to see their beloved Samurai Shodown characters in pain & agony, writhing on the ground after being chopped up by some generic cliché design. Yay for "shock value" I guess... taking a page out of the ole' Mortal Kombat book, SNK?  It might've taken some more work, but I think the fatalities could've been done in a "classier" more artistic way (like the early games). 

The home version of Sen, includes: Arcade, Versus, Survival, Practice, and Online battle. Overall, the game is a bit short on features and modes. Story Mode is short on depth and production value, for one. Online play is fairly smooth and also allows for replay saves... but I wonder, with all the great 2D & 3D games out right now, who's really playing this game? Indeed, the inactive online community speaks for itself. To sum up the home version: Bare bones and rushed. 3D Samurai Shodown could've been so much better.


Page Updated: April 19th, 2023
Developer(s): K2 LLC
Publisher(s): SNK Playmore, Rising Star , Ignition
Platform(s): Arcade , Xbox 360
Release Date(s): April 2008                      Arcade
Mar. 31st, 2010
        /   360
Characters Haohmaru, Ukyo, Hanzo, Nakoruru, Genjuro, Jubei, Kyoshiro, Sogetsu, Kazuki, Gen-An, Charlotte, Galford, Wan Fu, Garros, Kim Hae-Ryeong, J., Kirian, Angelica, Walter, Black Hawk, Claude, Jinbei, Takechiyo, Suzuhime, Draco, Golba

sen-s4.jpg (223121 bytes)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64 - Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown (2019), Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Samurai Shodown 3, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown 5, Samurai Shodown 5 Special, Samurai Shodown 6, Samurai Shodown Pocket, Samurai Shodown 2! Pocket, Samurai Shodown Anthology, Soul Calibur, Sengoku Basara X

Gameplay Engine  5.5 / 10
Story / Theme  7.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  5.5 / 10
Animation  5.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  6.5 / 10
Innovation  4.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.0 / 10
Customization  3.0 / 10
Options / Extras  4.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  6.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  4.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  5.5 / 10
Characters  7.0 / 10

 5.5 / 10

 Review based on Xbox 360 version    


Final Words:

When you think Samurai Shodown, you don't think 3D fighting game... and you definitely don't think Soul Calibur rip-off either (until now), especially since Samurai Shodown came first. Why SNK insisted on remaking this series into a 3D game yet again, I have no clue. Sure, 3D Samurai Shodown could've worked... perhaps much better if Namco was in the drivers seat. 

As a Samurai Shodown fan since I played the very first installment (and every installment after), it's hard not to be disappointed after playing Sen... and I'm pretty sure 98% of Samurai Shodown fans would rather play any of the classic 2D games. I for one have no desire to learn the game, and that's unfortunate since I love many of the characters.

It's pretty cool seeing our favorite characters re-done in 3D and given a more "realistic" makeover, but unfortunately the clunky gameplay & choppy animation is all that Samurai Shodown Sen will be remembered by. Well, at least the artwork turned out good... but sadly, the artwork is the best part of the game.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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