Samurai Shodown V Special, known as Samurai Spirits Zero Special (サムライスピリッツ零 SPECIAL, Samurai Supirittsu Zero Supesharu) in Japan, is the ninth game in SNK's Samurai Shodown/Samurai Spirits series and the eighth game in the official chronology (if considered the non-canonical games). This game is an upgraded version of the game titled Samurai Shodown V, and is the last official game for the Neo Geo platform. Extensive location testing was done to fix the balancing issues that plagued its predecessor.
The illustrations in this game were mainly done by Satoshi Itoh.
The official story, as given by SNK, is as follows:
It is the way that requires one to become a demon:
To slash at God and raise a weapon toward Buddha, to turn one's back to Heaven and carve your own destiny.
To sever all ties to virtue and embrace destruction. To cut off all obligations and plunge into mayhem.
When the ordained meeting of 28 fierce warriors begins, all that will ensue are a series of duels to the death. These individuals entrust their fates to their skill and their weapons.
For those who cannot gain mastery over technique, death is the only just desert. For those not up to the task of seizing destiny by the throat, a cherished end in battle is their only hope.
There is no need to pontificate over such a merciless existence. Sacrificing your life on the path to mastery itself, this is the only way of death honored by those of all ages.
En garde! Your destiny is now to be decided!
Twenty-eight Samurai characters-including a full line-up of the boss characters Shiro Tokisada Amakusa, Mizuki Rashojin, Zankuro Minazuki & Gaoh Kyougoku Hinowanokami-clash in one epic title! The Sword Gauge, Rage Explosion, and Concentration One systems are also back and better than ever. This final SAMURAI SHODOWN title for the NEOGEO and its dream team cast of characters will slice your socks off!
Unlike Samurai Shodown V, this upgraded version had little in the way of actual storyline other than win quotes, and confronting bosses as you approach and beat them in arcade mode. There was one stream of dialogue exclusive to the Japanese market, which was when your character performed their Zetsumei Ougi. The English version just uses their normal win quote depending on how much life they had remaining.
The gameplay remained relatively the same from Samurai Shodown V, but there were all new graphics, including portraits done by artist Satoshi Ito, which conveys a dark atmosphere similar to that of Samurai Shodown III.
A significant amount of changes were made between Samurai Shodown V and Samurai Shodown V Special. Among them, the midboss characters Sankuro and Yumeji were taken out and replaced with Samurai Shodown boss Shiro Tokisada Amakusa and Samurai Shodown III boss Zankuro Minazuki. The hidden character Poppy was replaced with Samurai Shodown II boss Mizuki Rashoujin, and playable without needing a hidden code.
In addition to the roster change, many graphical and sound changes were done to give the game a fresh feel, even though most of the returning characters used their old voices dating all the way back to Samurai Shodown IV. Existing Samurai Shodown V character stages were modified in one way or another, and new stages were presented for the arrival of Amakusa, Zankuro, and Mizuki. Mizuki's stage was all new.
This game also has many gameplay tweaks, making this version much more balanced than its predecessor. The biggest gameplay change, however, was the introduction of the Zetsumei Ougi, or the Overkill move for English speaking areas. If this move was performed properly, it would instantly end the match for its victim, regardless of how much life he or she had remaining. This is a similar concept from the Guilty Gear series, except the conditions to execute the move were stricter. Your character had to be in a rage explosion while the opponent's life is below the point they could enter Concentration One. This concentration state was introduced in Samurai Shodown V as a special slow motion mode where they could power up by meditating. (Holding D while standing still). The start up motion is the same for each character when you attempt it, but if it were to hit, the attacking character would finish off their victim in their own unique fashion.
In addition to the overkill moves, generic fatality effects from Samurai Shodown IV were brought back for this game, such as being slashed in half in a horizontal fashion and the victim gushing blood on the executor. New fatality effects were also introduced, such as being split in half vertically, an effect previously limited to certain command fatality moves in Samurai Shodown IV. In addition, Nakoruru and Rimururu, who both were made "immune" to fatality effects in Samurai Shodown III and IV, were able to experience these fatality effects at the end of a match as well, and in some situations lead to them screaming violently.
This combination of violent acts represented in Samurai Shodown V Special generated a lot of controversy. This led to SNK Playmore censoring the AES cartridge shortly after the Sasebo slashing, which inadvertently introduced game bugs and undesirable ingame effects.
As the AES version of the game was approaching its release date on July 8th 2004, it was mysteriously delayed a week, moving its release date to the 15th. When it came out, players were shocked to see that not only were generic fatalities removed, but the Zetsumei Ougi was watered down. As a first, this act of censorship affected the entire worldwide release. Not only did these modifications censor the game, but the censorship also created bugs, such as that of the AES's exclusive training mode.
Upon hearing fan outcry, SNK did a cart recall shortly after which fixed the bugs brought about by the censoring acts. The character specific Zetsumei Ougi were restored, but only partially as acts of body decapitations were still excluded. Some of the more violent material still remained, such as character death cries and the act of being smashed into a wall.
The only way for players outside of an arcade to experience the Zetsumei Ougi was through illegal emulators or to get an unfixed version of the game and apply Razoola's Universe Bios to it. This patch allows access to the uncensored versions of the moves and fixes the bugs that the modifications created.
- Yoshitora Tokugawa
- Genjuro Kibagami
- Charlotte Christine Colde
- Hanzo Hattori
- Galford D. Weller
- Jubei Yagyu
- Ukyo Tachibana
- Kyoshiro Senryo
- Tam Tam
- Shizumaru Hisame
- Gaira Caffeine
- Kazuki Kazama
- Sogetsu Kazama
- Mina Majikina
- Liu Yunfei
- Youkai Kusaregedo
- Shiro Tokisada Amakusa (1st Boss)
- Zankuro Minazuki (2nd Boss)
- Gaoh (3rd Boss)
- Mizuki Rashojin (Final Boss)
- Like in The King of Fighters '94, it used full width text, the same type used in Japanese text, resulting in lesser text real estate and shorter words for quotes.
- One of Gaira's winquote consisted of actual cussing, perhaps the only time it was done in all of SNK's games.
- This is the first game in the series where the actual English title was also spoken by the announcer. Previously, the announcer spoke the Japanese title of the game exclusively regardless of region.
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