Samurai Shodown III

Neo Geo

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


samuraishodown3geo1.png (25944 bytes)The only possible way to describe Samurai Shodown III is to call it the bastard child of the series. Moving away from what many consider one of the greatest fighting games ever made in Samurai Shodown II, this third edition is a radical departure. It's the one no one will admit they like; yet it's still a decent fighting game, unfortunately caught in the aura of the first sequel.

Everything has changed when it comes right down to it. This is a faster paced title (and that's an understatement), losing the leisurely pace the series is known for. The zoom when two fighters part is smoother, and so is the rest of the game. The new graphics engine is refined to showcase beautiful sprites as always, and the fine grasp this new development team had with the hardware shows.

Changing the button configuration is a love/hate affair. There's only one kick button, and the three slashes fill the rest. It fixes the ever so slight occasion where a fierce slash wouldn't come off (this was done with a dual-button press), but also lets players become lax and overuse the more powerful moves in the game.

samuraishodown3geo2.png (34258 bytes)New attacks are of course prevalent, and the wild nature of the game shows through. Air projectiles are allowed, taking away the brilliance and simplicity of previous games. It opens the game up to revamped offensive tactics, just none that fit in with what the previous editions of the series offered.

Even if it's not fair to make the comparisons, the roster here is wild. There are so many new faces, on a small roster of 12, there's little familiar ground to work with. Additional fighters like Basara show that this entry let everything go in an attempt to change. It's wonderful character design, his new attacks changing the way you think when brawling.

The slash/bust system is a unique feature, and it would follow with the next entry. This system allows for two versions of the same character, effectively doubling the roster. It's not just for looks as move sets change, and depending on the character, even standard moves are swapped out. It would have added some strategy to the proceedings if you could choose before each match which side to take. As it is, it relies on the initial decision, and the way it affects the gameplay, it remains a welcome addition.

Defense has been toned down, the duck completely removed, possibly for the better. Countering is now a matter of luck, hoping for animation to cycle through before the spot-on collision can detect it. This is the type of thing that ruins this entry for purists.

samuraishodwongeo3.png (19897 bytes)While it is hard to deal with at times, given the track record of SNK and their minimal ideas with yearly entries, there is some credit due here. It's obvious this is someone else's game, and if the new developers weren't following up an unquestionable classic, it might have earned more respect. In the end, the radical changes move the series too far from its core, and while enjoyable, can't come together to make it feel like an official Samurai Shodown title.


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Last updated: Friday, September 23, 2005 04:06 PM