Samurai Shodown Anthology — 2Q2015 issue

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.

2UP EVALUATION

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.