A complete classic collection
The fighting game industry has always thrived on the very concept that makes a title in the genre: competition. There have been fabled rivals throughout the entire lifespan of the genre, with quite a few pretenders to throne. However, SNK Playmore was one of the originators and the package of games within Samurai Shodown Anthology shows they weren’t playing around in the ’90s in the slightest.
It’s pretty safe to say that Samurai Shodown was never a pretender. It’s got all the markings of a marquee series, something that could carry a company far in the worst of times and keep eyes on the product. At its core, it’s a game about samurai and other warriors fighting to the death. What sets it apart from the competition — even from within its own stable with brethren King of Fighters — is its production values. The games have always been gorgeous and there’s a level of detail that hasn’t been seen in other series except for the likes of Tekken. Within the collection of that is Anthology, all of the naturally gorgeous artwork and level of detail is on display. It’s important that this be emphasized because that’s what Samurai Shodown is about at the end of the day: Samurai fighting to the death while looking fantastic.
The level of detail extends to the soundtrack as well. In all games in the package, the soundtrack is an excellent concerto of Japanese bamboo flute and shamisen. This may not float your boat, but for a package that focuses on samurai, this is an excellent choice to make up the backing soundtrack.
Samurai Shodown Anthology is perfect collection of fighting games, mostly because it’s good to have the entire set of games on one disc without having to own inferior versions of notoriously arcade-perfect games. These are exactly what you fell in love with in the arcade and they’re all in one place, lovingly included at the original definition. If you’ve never experienced the hype that was Samurai Shodown, now’s an excellent chance to do so. Prepared to be wowed.
Finally, a classic game that started the weapon-based fighting genre is back on the PlayStation 2. For decades, SNK Playmore continued this series with not one but six titles, emphasizing Japan’s adaption of duels. Utilizing various characters and locales, Samurai Shodown gives gamers a break from the Tekken/Street Fighter clones on the market, and shows a brief slice of life in medieval Japan during which samurai fought under the code of Bushido.
I was allowed for a brief moment to not only act out a samurai fantasy, but also to release any anger in a healthy way. While the mechanics take some practice to become familiar with, the music, characters and graphics are top-notch and the story is simple. My only complaint is that there’s one cheap-shot character that loves to pounce. For all of the SoulCalibur clones flooding the market these days, I proudly say Samurai Shodown Anthology has great replay value, and it DEMANDS a space in any gamer’s library. I’m glad that SNK Playmore had the wisdom to keep this series alive from the beginning, instead of a company that relies on milking their cash cow to the bone. Well done, SNK Playmore. Well done.