Samurai Shodown V, known as Samurai Spirits Zero (サムライスピリッツ零, Samurai Supirittsu Zero) in Japan, is the eighth game in SNK's Samurai Shodown/Samurai Spirits series of fighting games. It was one of the last ever games to be released on the Neo Geo and the first game of the official chronology of the series. The original Japanese version of the game also has a great deal of dialogue in single-player mode, but all of those scenes are simply left out when the game's language is set to English. Unsurprisingly, this upset most English-speaking fans. The domestic Xbox version of that release restores these scenes and translates them into English. The game was also released on the PlayStation 2, but that version was only made available in Japan and Europe due to SCEA not approving the game.
Following the revitalization of SNK after its collapse in 2001, the company decided that it would be worthwhile to create another game in the largely-defunct Samurai Shodown series. As part of their reorganization, development duties were given over to the relatively-unknown Yuki Enterprise, which had mainly only created simulation and board games for the Simple 2000 series of PlayStation 2 games in Japan, and had no experience in developing fighting games. This announcement caused considerable unease among series fans.
In spite of this, SNK managed to raise excitement by announcing that Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator and author of the Rurouni Kenshin manga and anime series, was hired to design some of the new characters, and they were gradually revealed by way of silhouettes on the official website, and slowly showing the official artwork. Word finally got out that the game was to be a true prequel to the rest of the series, taking place two years before Samurai Shodown. This created its own issues with the series timeline.
The gameplay was sped up slightly from Samurai Shodown IV, and the button layout was changed again.
The Slash/Bust system of the last few games was done away with, and each character now only had one version, though in several cases, the Bust mode was replaced by a new character of very similar setup.
Critical and Fan Reception
SS5 was a modest success, though not a smash hit. Though fans were glad to see a new installment, the gameplay failed to excite players as much as had been hoped. Common complaints usually revolved around the poor animation on the new characters, and the removal of the Slash/Bust system. Those who were familiar with Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage also noted that the new, alternate characters tended to be heavily watered-down versions of Bust characters in that game (Enja and Suija in particular). The newer characters were considered overpowered, leading to an unbalanced cast. It is more or less commonly regarded as a competent, if unexceptional, fighting game.
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