|System: PS2, Wii, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SNK Playmore||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: Mar. 10, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
February 4, 2008 Sure, Samurai Shodown Anthology is just a repackaging of games that already exist and many have played, but if thats not enough to make this an irresistible acquisition, then the extra features and bonus content is guaranteed to seal the deal.
Samurai Shodown Anthology features seven complete arcade games. These games are reported to be virtually arcade perfect, from the graphics to the gameplay mechanics. The games included in the anthology include Samurai Shodown I, II, III, IV, V, V Special, and VI. Fans of the series take note that for the first time ever, the 6th installment of the series will be available for play on North American consoles. This anthology will span the classic epoch of the series in chronological order a must for any fan and certainly a great introduction for beginners.
The Shodown series is a different beast from fighters such as Mortal Kombat of Street Fighter. Its fast-paced and bloody, but its not a nervous, reactionary button-masher. It was one of the first arcade games to feature weapons in favor of hand-to-hand combat. Set in feudal Japan, the music, scenery, characters, and weapons are specific to that era. The gameplay employs strategic elements of combat, where a few well-placed blows can disable an opponent. Relying less on stringing combos and unleashing ridiculously-powerful attacks, Shodown incorporates the philosophy of quality over quantity. Its easy for beginners to get started.
So popular was the series in arcades that it became somewhat of a spectator sport. Slow-motion animation was used to highlight extremely powerful hits. Using a series of flags, an onscreen referee indicates which opponent received a blow and which one landed it. One of the games most popular and controversial features was the graphic violence. Finishing moves with bladed weapons would render the opponent in slices, accompanied by a sea of blood. In some arcade versions as well as home console versions for the North American market, the blood was reduced and made to appear white. Some of the finishing moves were also eliminated.
Moves can be easily mapped to any of the buttons on the controller. Old-school enthusiasts may require such options in order to compensate for the lack of the arcade joystick. Strikes come in weak and medium flavors, but you can combine them to make a more powerful attack. Players will have a lot of moves at their disposal that make the combat more realistic. Players can roll, jump, parry attacks, and perform cancels and fake-outs. Defensive moves are just as important as attacks in Samurai Shodown.
Fighting styles, or Spirits, can be customized. You are no longer stuck with the same set of abilities that your chosen character displays at the start. By earning experience points, you can add new skills and abilities as well as change some of the requirements to obtain or unleash specific moves. A color-edit mode is also included. Youll be able to experiment with the cosmetic colorings of your characters costume, accessories, and weapons.
Bonus unlockable content will also be featured. After unlocking a particular character, you will be able to access the music, endings, and artwork related to him or her. Youll encounter hundreds of characters throughout the series. A two-player mode lets you do battle with another human, a refreshing change of pace from A.I.-controlled characters.
Graphically, the game was ahead of its time, at least for the first few versions. For home use it was available on the notoriously expensive but powerful Neo Geo. It may have done the game justice, but the console was not a consumer favorite. Now you can catch up on everything that you might have missed regarding the series with this action-packed anthology.
CCC Senior Writer