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Samurai Shodown

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Released: 1993

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Neo Geo

Publisher: SNK

Developer: SNK

Submitted by: Tim Arnold

In the age of 2D beat em ups, one series stands out for me. And that is Samurai Shodown.

In an age of Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown dared to be different.

Featuring 12 selectable characters + 1 unlockable, Samurai Shodown wasn't about punching the crap out of your opponent, it was about using your weapon and slicing and dicing them to a better place!!!

Yes folks, prior to Soul Edge, there was a weapons based fighter. 

Relying on timing and skill, as opposed to unrelenting combos, to overcome your foe, was a masterstroke by SNK. Giving the game a very balanced feel.

Fatalities, where the fighter would slice the opponent in half (that was the in thing at the time folks, Mortal Kombat eh? eh?) were a little too gruesome for some and were removed from some ports, but thankfully later re-issues would include them.

Amazingly detailed backgrounds and using traditional japanese instruments for the soundtrack, Samurai Showdown made you feel like you were in ancient Japan. One standout level for me is the oceanfront, pure silence bar the crashing waves, the glimmer of forged steel and the battle cries that break the serene silence. (Sorry having a Musashi moment there….)

Spawning several sequels, which became more refined with each release, Samurai Showdown showed the gaming world you didn't need Hadukens or Dragon punches to break into the beat em up market, just pure class.

Non owners of the elusive Neo Geo AES can relax, it was ported to numerous consoles, Genesis and SNES amongst others and an anthology is on the way. (Fingers crossed)

Favourite character you ask? Ukyo, why? Play it and you'll see!