|System: Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Terminal Reality / SNK||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SNK Playmore||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 24, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
With the Neo-Geo now long extinct, its unique catalog of games bears a special kind of nostalgia in the hearts of many gamers. The appeal of its titles has become multi-generational, with SNK re-releases popping up regularly including Fatal Fury: Battle Archives and the recent SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 compilation. Gamers old enough to remember the original releases as well as younger game fans seem to appreciate the reminiscent qualities of these re-releases when they work out, though they can sometimes feel flawed when transitioned onto newer consoles.
Those who have long been searching through bins and store shelves to complete their Samurai Shodown collection need to look no further. As a refresher, the long-running Samurai Shodown franchise got its humble beginnings on the Neo-Geo arcade and home console in 1993. With its success, many sequels and spin-offs spawned including the Samurai Spirits collection as new gaming platforms have come and gone, and 2005 saw the final sixth installment of the Shodown series on the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii. Compiling all six games into one package, Samurai Shodown Anthology marks the 15 year anniversary since the series' debut, which is most recognized for its characteristic, two-dimensional artwork and for becoming one of the first weapons-based fighting games in the early 1990's.
Ensuring the appeal hasn't been lost, SNK has done its best to keep each of the six installments in Anthology true to the originals with a couple of small extras to boot. The Anthology also includes an Arcade mode and Practice mode as well as photo galleries featuring all characters throughout the six-game series to browse through. Showcasing the beautiful art that makes this and other SNK titles so appealing, fans of the series will enjoy looking at the designs and variations of its characters.
Players begin by playing the original Samurai Shodown and progress their way through each installment of the series, progressively becoming more difficult. Fans of the old series will have no trouble adapting to the controls, especially if you have played any Samurai Shodown title on the Wii or PS2 before, with the basic strong slash, quick slash, and kick attack setup, grapple moves and the devastating, life-draining use of the power bar. Those who have played the game will find playing it on the Wii or PS2 an easy transition. Those new to the series may have more trouble adapting. The timing of the controls can be hard to grasp, and those unfamiliar with the characters and storylines of the original series may not understand the appeal or enjoy a game well over a decade old.
The first installment of Samurai Showdown is as you would expect, with all the original characters from the classic debut including the now-iconic protagonist Haohmaru, the green demon Ge-An, and the beloved flatulent Earthquake. The second game of the series stays true to the original with all characters including Nicotine Caffeine from the original SSII, and the use of the power meter now used to finish off opponents to end the match.
The third Samurai Shodown is a completely redesigned, with darker-looking environments and characters, removing Haohmaru from the cast and adding several new ones including Shizumaru Hisame as the story's protagonist. Gameplay also changes in SSIII, and it's not a simple game by any means. Players must choose either a Slash or Burst version of each character, the former being closest to their original fighting style, and attack buttons are changed to three slashes (Weak, Medium, and Strong), and one kick attack. With the difficulty presented in SSIII, players are also given the option to adjust the setting to Beginner, Medium, and Upper before starting the game.