This artice is about the 2019 video game. For the 1993 video game, check Samurai Shodown.
Samurai Shodown, known as Samurai Spirits (侍魂) in Japan, is a weapon-based fighting game by SNK released in June 2019. It's the 12th "mainline" installment of the Samurai Shodown series and the first "mainline" game since 2008's Samurai Shodown Sen, marking an 11 year gap between the releases themselves. It is the prequel of the first Samurai Shodown and the second of the official chronology, succeeding Samurai Shodown V. This is also the first SNK game that utilizes Unreal Engine graphics (in this case, Unreal Engine 4). The illustrations, in-game artwork and background were mostly done by Yumi Saji while covers were done by Eisuke Ogura.
The game was first released in June 2019 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and later ported to the Nintendo Switch and Stadia. An arcade version (running on Taito Type X3 hardware with the NESICAxLive2 digital distribution platform) was playable in August at EVO 2019 in Las Vegas and was released in October 2019 in Japan. A PC version has been released in June 11, 2020 via the Epic Games Store, and the Xbox Series version will be released at March 16, 2021.
The new director of the game, Hayato Konya, announced a new mechanic called Guard Crush, along with a new rebalancing, whose main objective is adding measures to prevent weapons from disappearing off the stages. Both changes will be slated on March 16, 2021, along with Cham Cham's inclusion and the release for Xbox Series.
It is 1787, the 7th year of the Tenmei era. Tanuma Okitsugu, counsel to the Shogun, loses his grip on power amidst the turmoil with Hinowa. Meanwhile, the newly appointed 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.
This section needs expansion.
Like in KOF XIV, the voice cast changes considerably, with new voice actors, including those who have been voiced by the same actors since their debut or for several years. The exceptions include Haohmaru, Genjuro and Kyoshiro. Seira Ryu (Ruixiang's voice) and Masaki Masaki (Kazuki's voice) and Mai Nakahara (Nakoruru's voice) have already worked on the KOF series, being the voice actors of Meitenkun, Billy Kane and Nakoruru in her appearance on the fourteenth KOF mainline game, respectively. Mai also voiced Nakoruru in SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy, a game released in 2018.
The starting roster features a total of 16 characters, with 13 returning veterans from the past Samurai Shodown games, along with three newcomers and a new final boss to the series. For now, 10 additional characters (divided in two seasons) are slated to appear as DLC, between veterans of the series and guest characters. The new characters added to the cast are:
- Yashamaru Kurama, a young man of Tengu lineage, who lost his father at the hands of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and seeks revenge for his death;
- Darli Dagger, a shipwright, who travels the world in search of a masked man who destroyed one of her ships;
- Wu-Ruixiang, a wanderer and descendant of an ancient and honorable Feng Shui clan, she travels the world in the service of the Emperor of the Qing Dynasty;
- Shizuka Gozen, the final boss of the game, was a young woman who died some time before the game's events. However, her bitterness and grief over her own death and that of her beloved made her soul unable to move to the afterlife. As a result, she ends corrupted by an evil influence and opens the gate to the Underworld, returning as a vengeful demonic force which spreads chaos and destruction throughout Japan.
- Shizuka Gozen (non-playable)
- Note 1: In Story Mode, the following characters doesn't have an associated stage, fighting in the featured places:
- Earthquake: Gairyu Isle (Nighttime), Green Hell & Kumano Kodo;
- Shiki: Mikatagahara & Kumano Kodo;
- Yoshitora: Rakucyu Sanmonmae, Uduki & Gairyu Isle (Nighttime) [only in Hanzo's Story Mode];
- Darli: Gairyu Isle (Daytime), Mikatagahara, Kumano Kodo & Uduki (only in Shizumaru's Story Mode);
- Ruixiang: Uduki, Green Hell, Kumano Kodo (only in her Fateful Battle vs. Shiki) & Kamui Kotan;
- Basara & Mina: Rakucyu Sanmonmae;
- Wan-Fu & Iroha: Kamui Kotan (Late Winter);
- Sogetsu: Sumidagawa;
- Warden & Hibiki: Nikko;
- Gongsun Li: Kamui Kotan (Late Autumn);
- Cham Cham: Green Hell.
- Note 2: Unlike the regular characters without a fixed stage, who fight in different places, depending on the character chosen by the player, the DLC characters always fight in the same scenarios, despite not having one associated with them.
- Note 3: In Battle Mode, the Boss Stage (Sakura of Shizuka) is available only in the first version. In addition, the Dojo stage is only available in the Battle and Dojo Modes.
- Note 4: In Story Mode, the following characters fights in the respective stages (and always as Fateful Rivals):
- Nakoruru: Uduki, Mitakagahara and Kumano Kodo (in Rimururu, Mina and Gongsun Li's Stories, respectively);
- Mina: Nikko (in Iroha's Story).
- Note 5: In Story Mode, the DLC characters are always faced before the first two cutscenes.
- Gairyu Isle: Daytime (A.K.A. Gairyujima) — Haohmaru: The new version of the famous stage, showing the Mount Fuji and the Miyajima Shrine. Bonsais, lamps, a boat, a lighthouse and sharp stones are featured. Stage reminiscent of Samurai Shodown I, Samurai Shodown II and Samurai Shodown V Special.
- Kamui Kotan, Late Autumn — Nakoruru: A forest on an autumn day. Various animals, a waterfall, trees, a bamboo bridge and the village can be seen in the background. Similar to the stage of Samurai Shodown II.
- Note: in the update 1.60, the deer present in the stage, which was crouching before, stands.
- Mikatagahara (A.K.A. Mikatagahara Field) — Genjuro: The new version of the famous dandelion field on a full moon night with a red sky. Features mountains and dead trees in the background, besides pathways through the field. Stage reminiscent of Samurai Shodown II.
- Minerva no Ma (A.K.A. Hall of Minerva) — Charlotte: The new version of the salon of the de Colde family. Features a new portrait showing all the original cast in the game (the same showed in the first promotional trailer and except the DLC characters), a red carpet, chandeliers and vases with red roses. Stage reminiscent of the two games of the series.
- Galleon Senjyo (A.K.A. Pirate Galleon or On The Galleon) — Galford: The deck of a pirate ship. Other ships appear in the background and the crew can be seen (which reacts when certain fighters win or lose fights, no matter the position, and especially when Galford win or lose fights in this stage), as well as barrels, cannons, woman statues and ropes. Similar to the stages of Samurai Shodown I and II.
- Note: When the fight's time is almost over (starting from 10 seconds), the ocean water rises high, scaring the crew.
- Uduki (A.K.A. Early Summer) — Jubei: The new version of the open bamboo forest. Features shacks, stones (some with Buddha face) and lamps. Also can be seen a gate in the background and the sun. Stage reminiscent of Samurai Shodown I and II.
- Note: in the Nintendo Switch version, the bamboo trees are static.
- Gairyu Isle: Nighttime — Ukyo: In this version, the shrine and lamps are multiplied and a shack can be seen. The boat and the lighthouse disappear, and in the left side, can be seen a full moon. Stage reminiscent of Samurai Shodown I, Samurai Shodown II and Samurai Shodown V Special.
- Kumano Kodo — Hanzo: The famous pilgrimage route forest next to the Nachi Falls and the Tsugizakura-oji, Chikatsuyu-oji and Hosshinmon-oji shrines, in a cloudy and misty day. The stage is raining lightly. Similar to the stage of Samurai Shodown I.
- Note: in the Nintendo Switch version, the rain doesn't fall in this stage, and the mist disappears.
- Shibaigoya (A.K.A. The Kabuki Stage) — Kyoshiro: The new version of the famous stage which the Kabuki dancer performs his act. Features wooden sakura trees, Kanji signs, painted walls, black flags with horses and an audience watching the fight. Stage reminiscent of the three first games of the series.
- Note: the crowd reacts with screams when certain fighters win or lose fights in this stage (and especially when Kyoshiro win or lose fights in this stage).
- Green Hell — Tam Tam: The new version of the birthplace of the Mayan sacred warrior. The fight takes place on a stone bridge next to the muddy ruins of the Mayan city, with a waterfall in the background, small waterfalls and native vegetation.
- Note: in the Nintendo Switch version, a fine mist can be seen in the stage.
- Rakucyu Sanmonmae (A.K.A. Before The Temple Gate) — Yashamaru: The main gate of the Ninna-ji Temple, in Kyoto. Features trees, lamps, mountains, flags, flying birds and the pagoda of the temple, in the background. A small rain of snow falls slowly on the stage, and can be seen an amount in the right side.
- Note: in the Nintendo Switch version, there are fewer birds flying in the background.
- Sakura of Shizuka: A courtyard of a temple. In the first version, a sakura tree, multiple stairs, corridors and lanterns can be seen. In the second version of the stage, only the sakura tree and the lanterns are featured. Associated with Shizuka.
- Dojo: A empty dojo with small windows and a samurai sword in the background. Kuroko can be seen judging the matches.
- Note: This stage is the only one in which Kuroko appears.
- Kamui Kotan, Late Winter — Rimururu: The same stage as Nakoruru, but in the depths of winter. Leafless trees, snow-covered ground and forest animals can be seen, besides snow falling on the stage. Similar to the stage of Samurai Shodown III.
- Note: in the Nintendo Switch version, a mist can be seen in the stage.
- Nikko — Shizumaru: The Toshogu Shrine, next to the Yomeimon Gate, in the background. Redwood trees feature prominently and dead leaves are strewn about the arena, besides lion statues and some trees in the background. Pigeons flock about the stage floor, which divides into a tiled walkway and dead ground.
- Note: This stage is the final resting place of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder
of the shogunate that bears his surname.
- Note: This stage is the final resting place of Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder
- Sumidagawa (A.K.A. Sumida River) — Kazuki: A wooden boat next to the Edo Bay and the Shin-Ohashi bridge, during the annual fireworks celebrations in Edo. Features a rope, lamps and multiple boats, besides fireworks fill the sky.
- Note 1: The bridge of the stage also appears in a woodblock print called Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi bridge and Atake.
- Note 2: In the Story Mode, the people in the boats react differently when the Kazama brothers fight in the stage: vibrates when Kazuki wins and regrets when he loses, and the contrary occurs when Sogetsu wins (regrets) or loses (vibrates).
Samurai Shodown was unveiled at the SNK Investor Relations 2018 IPO conference, being developed by SNK. The twelfth main game in the Samurai Shodown series, it is the first mainline entry since 2008's Samurai Shodown Sen.
The development team consists of members who worked on The King of Fighters XIV and SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy. Nobuyuki Kuroki is the director and one of the artists, while Yasuyuki Oda serves as producer. Kuroki has been previously involved with the series through the Samurai Shodown 64 titles. The internal staff at SNK who worked on the game consisted of 50 to 60 employees, as well as outsourcing some art assets, to form a total of an estimated 200 employees who worked on the game. Some of the reasons for making a new title were the recent focus on the esports community and the many fan requests. The team considered using a realistic art style for the graphics but decided against it because too many fighting games were using it already. Oda has expressed interest in adding guest characters from other video game franchises.
Due to outdated graphics involving the releases of The King of Fighters XIV and SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy, SNK chairman Zhihui GE had stated that the future SNK fighting games will use Unreal Engine 4 graphics in order to give a better graphical presentation.
The returning characters Wan-Fu and Shiki were originally meant to be part of initial roster and DLC Season 1 Pass respectively, until the developer decide to switch their roster places in final release, whereas Shiki being put in initial roster and Wan-Fu being put in DLC Season 1 Pass character list.
Samurai Shodown (2019) received mostly positive reviews. About this:
- Review aggregator website Metacritic provided an average score of 81/100 based on 34 reviews;
- Otherwise, Game Rankings provided a score of 80,71% based on 17 reviews, all of this is indicating a “favorable” critical reception for the game. Reviewers praised graphics, artistic direction, and classic deep weapon-fighting action, while game modes, character number, online, load times, and Story Mode were the most criticized points.
- Ian Walker of Kotaku called Samurai Shodown “slow and deliberate in the best way possible”, feeling that the game’s defensive techniques is where really shines. About the experience: “can be exhausting, even frustrating at times but it’s a truly one-of-a-kind”. Ian notes that the tutorial “leaves a lot to be desired; it teaches the basics, sure, but lacks a real demonstration as to when and where Samurai Shodown’s complicated techniques are best utilized.”
- Mitchell Saltzman from IGN put Samurai Shodown in “a good balance between approachability and deeper mechanics that helps separate those who just mash special and heavy attacks from those who take the time to learn”, concluding his analysis commenting that Samurai Shodown succeeds as “a fundamentals-driven 2D fighting game”, with a score of 8.2. He claimed that rewards and punishments for battle reads and big mistakes are on another level, adding “there's an extraordinarily tense style of fighting that is unlike just about anything else in the genre”. Mitchell praise the character roster for its wildly differences, each one brimming with personality and ton of interesting small details, but noticing the Story/Arcade Mode as below today’s standards and outdated, also criticizes the long and boring loading screens. Regarding the Dojo Mode Mitchell qualifies it as “not very impressive” because every ghost he played against “essentially just jumped up and down, never approached, and utilized special moves seemingly at random”.
- About the battle pacing Suriel Vazquez from Game Informer called it “interesting”, writing “it’s often best to wait for your opponent to commit to an unsafe bet and punish them rather than start on offense yourself. But you eventually have to take risks to win”. Describing Online mode “works well for the most part, but has a few weak spots” as 10-player lobbies, no option to invite friends into a lobby, and the online connection as “decent overall, but unreliable”. Suriel also did not like the Dojo Mode because “doesn’t really work”. Like other analysts he felt the one player modes as “serviceable, but uninspired” because “they feel dated compared to just about every other fighting game series’ attempt to keep lone players invested”, advising that Samurai Shodown is better enjoyable with other human players. Game concept, painterly art style graphics, classic Japanese sound, and playability were praised.
- Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson gave the game a very positive score 4/5 and praising SNK for his return to form into the fighting games. He showed appreciation for the art direction, details, graphics that feels much more coherent and stylish than SNK’s previous effort The King of Fighters XIV, and the combat system where he says “it's the fighting where really shines, delivering a spin on the series that's approachable, deep and full of flair”. Martin thinks Dojo Mode “seem to be capable of putting up a decent approximation of an online fight”. His negative points where the effective but standard Tutorial, skinny Online, and overall scarcity of features, while thinks that roster number “is not as generous with its feature set as it is with its style but they're a distinct bunch complete with some delicious flavors”.
- From Destructoid Peter Glagowski describes the experience as “very classic arcade”, and notices the not much number of fighters, limited and not very diverse content, and is critical about the launch price of $60 against the overall game content, but he recognizes the game as an “impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash”. Peter highlights Samurai Shodown as a mental game where gamers play with each other’s minds instead of characters: “That back and forth where two minds meld and get into the zone, putting their worries aside and building their friendship over a shared experience. That's exactly what the arcade scene was and Samurai Shodown captures that well. Above all, Samurai Shodown proves that SNK still has its fighting spirit.”
Original SNK Character (Season 3)
- Although it's advertised as a reboot, this is very unlikely, since the game apparently happens after Samurai Shodown V (the first in the chronology) but before the first Samurai Shodown.
- Of all the DLC characters, the existence of Sogetsu Kazama being a DLC character was accidentally discovered in the release of arcade version of the game, with his graphical assets already officially created ahead of the eventual reveal. Sogetsu's existence was also speculated by fans due to the fact his brother Kazuki has been released as a DLC character in Season 1, before the aforementioned leak, culminating finally with the official announcement at EVO Japan 2020.
- Starting with Season 2, the original cast and Season 1 DLC characters have no special victory quotes against characters introduced in this reffered season and beyond, instead using generic randomized win quotes. However, the newcomers do have quotes for both the newcomers and the old timers. The only exception is Sogetsu, who has quotes against all the original cast and the Season 1 DLC characters and, like them, doesn't have any victory quotes against the rest of his source season.
- https://www.destructoid.com/samurai-shodown-is-reportedly-coming-early-2019-for-ps4-pc-xbox-one-and-nintendo-switch-533846.phtml Destructoid: Samurai Shodown is reportedly coming early 2019 for PS4, PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
- http://shoryuken.com/2018/09/13/nobuyuki-kuroki-confirms-that-new-samurai-shodown-is-being-made-by-the-same-team-as-the-king-of-fighters-xiv-and-snk-heroines-tag-team-frenzy/ Shoryuken: Nobuyuki Kuroki confirms that new Samurai Shodown is being made by the same team as The King of Fighters XIV and SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy
- https://gematsu.com/2019/03/samurai-shodown-launches-for-ps4-and-xbox-one-in-june-switch-in-q4-2019-and-pc-later-44-minutes-of-gameplay-and-staff-interview/ Gematsu: Samurai Shodown launches for PS4 and Xbox One in June, Switch in Q4 2019 and PC later; 44 minutes of gameplay and staff interview
- https://twinfinite.net/2019/03/samurai-shodown-darli-dagger/ Twinfinite: New Samurai Shodown Character Revealed: Darli Dagger; Neogeo Collection Announced
- http://gamefocus.co.kr/detail.php?number=88950 SNK 갈지휘 회장 겸 개발총괄 "언리얼 엔진 사용 확대, KOF15도 언리얼로 개발중"
- Official Website
- NESiCA Page
- Press Release
- Nintendo Switch Special Page
- Samurai Shodown (2019) on Epic Games