Samurai Shodown / Samurai Spirits (2019)

STORYIt is 1787, the 7th year of the Tenmei era. A newly appointed counsel to the Shogun, Matsudaira Sadanobu, has been chosen to usher in a new age of reform with the Kansei era. However, the land remains beset by fire, ruin, and famine, all while a sinister cloud darkens the air with a foreboding sense of dread.

A true reboot to one of the true OGs... Samurai Shodown is legendary.

ABOUTSNK first announced this reboot of Samurai Shodown on September 10th, 2018. The latest 2D installment to one of SNK's most cherished and classic fighting game franchises brings back the entire playable roster from the first game, reimagined in a new 2.5D graphics using the Unreal engine. In addition the the original cast, newcomers like Darli Dagger and fan-favorites like Shiki also join the fray. After 10+ years of not being in the spotlight, this long-awaited "reboot" of Samurai Spirits (or Samurai Shodown as we know it in the West) released in June 2019 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A PC version and Nintendo Switch port is planned for release in Q3/Q4 2019.

Classic match-ups reimagined in the new 2.5D graphics engine.


The initial launch roster included 16 characters: 13 veterans and 3 newcomers. New characters will be added to the game via DLC character packs. The Season 1 DLC roster includes Rimururu, Basara Kubigiri, Kazuki Kazama and Wan-Fu. Season 2 has also been announced, with SSV's Mina Majikina being the first Season 2 DLC fighter. If the game sells well and sees continued support by players, SNK stated they will continue to release additional DLC character packs and seasons.

Samurai Shodown (2019) modes include: Battle, Online, Story, Practice, Database, Gallery & Dojo (featuring a new Ghost AI system). The Ghost AI system supposedly learns from each player's in-game habits, combos, and strategies. Other players can download and fight against the ghosts of their friends and online players. All 16 characters have a story mode playthrough featuring several cutscenes and unique endings!


Like the old time...


Samurai Shodown (2019)
features a brand new style of 3D graphics using Unreal Engine 4. Visually, the characters and backgrounds retain the classic look and feel of the original 2D installments of the series. The "pace" and flow of the gameplay also looks very familiar to the first 2 games of the series... with slowed-down attacks (after impact), exaggerated special move animations, large characters who fill the screen, and colorful, vibrant backgrounds. Interestingly, Haohmaru's in-game face render even favors early Shinkiro artwork - definitely a throwback for old school SNK fans. 

Updated environments based on the classic stages look sharp as ever!


In the visuals department, SNK seems to have "upped their game" since 2016's King of Fighters XIV, showing much more impressive 3D graphics and animation capabilities - even at this early stage of the game's development. The 3D characters onscreen appear to utilize a variety of "filters" or graphical effects, featuring black outlines, unique textures and shaders, and blood-spatter effects. The overall animation, Ink-blot effects, particle-effects somewhat give off that "Street Fighter 4" vibe, but the vibrancy of SamSho's characters and the attention to detail regarding these classic character designs (and moves) strongly sets it apart from anything Street Fighter.

Everyone's favorite American ninja is back! Galford, not you... EARTHQUAKE!


Online Mode seems to have average-at-best, but playable netcode. The online interface and features could use more polish and additions, but practice mode and the staple options are there. Other modes like Dojo, Survival, and Ghost seem decent (although, the Ghost AI system seems broken and not functioning quite as advertised). TFG's full review is still in progress.

Page Updated: November 20th, 2019
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Designer(s): Nobuyuki Kuroki          Director / Art Director
Platform(s): PlayStation 4,  Xbox One, Arcade, Nintendo Switch,  PC
Release Date(s): June 25th, 2019            /   PS4, XB1
June 27th, 2019
              PS4, XB1
Oct. 24th, 2019               Arcade
Dec. 12th, 2019
Q4 2019                            PC
Q1 2020                            /   Switch
Characters Haohmaru, Galford, Hanzo Hattori, Earthquake, Nakoruru, Jubei Yagyu, Genjuro Kibagami, Charlotte Colde, Kyoshiro Senryo, Shiki, Ukyo Tachibana, Tam Tam, Yoshitora Tokugawa, Darli Dagger, Wu-Ruixiang, Yashamaru Kurama, Shizuka, Rimururu, Basara Kubigiri, Kazuki (DLC), Wan-Fu (DLC), Shizumaru (DLC), Mina Majikina (DLC), Sogetsu (DLC)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Samurai Shodown 3, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown 5, SS5 Special, Samurai Shodown 6, Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64 - Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown Pocket, SS2 Pocket, Samurai Shodown Warrior's Rage, Samurai Shodown Sen, Samurai Shodown Anthology, Street Fighter 4, Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition, The King of Fighters XIV, SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, Soul Calibur 6, Granblue Fantasy Versus, Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[c-lr]
Early Review:

Even as a Samurai Shodown fan since 1993... I had to be skeptical of this new installment and not give it an "insta-like" just because it has a new coat of paint. I have my qualms about the new 3D appearance... but when all is said and done, this is still very much Samurai Shodown. An expandable engine with tons of potential? Check. This is a great time to be a fighting game player, even one who prefers traditional 2D standards. Is this Samurai Shodown at its very best? I'd have to say no, currently... but it's still very good. No, SamSho2019 isn't as pretty as Samurai Shodown II. (In fairness, there's no fighting game in existence as pretty as Samurai Shodown 2.) As a reboot of more than one of the most beloved 2D fighters known to man, SS2019 has massive Ninja Tabi Boots to fill. {{Earthquake size}}.

Samurai Shodown
is definitely one of the unsung heroes of the rise of the fighting genre in the 90's. No doubt old school fans who played back in the arcade days have fond memories. The franchise was always an underrated, yet major part of the genre's evolution, artistically and technically. Seeing the series finally return to the spotlight in 2019 is another indication that we live in the best time period ever to be a fighting game player (whether you're taking full advantage of it or not). Old school and new school players, welcome back to Japan... it's time to get reacquainted with the Samurai Spirits.

While the series had a strong start in the mid 90's (with at least 3 amazing sequels after the first game)... the franchise struggled to stay relevant into the 2000s, with lackluster 2D and 3D iterations. It's been 10+ years since the last proper installment, Samurai Shodown Sen, which was disappointingly a mess in terms of gameplay, visuals, and other reasons I'd like to forget. That said, no other 2D fighting game series is more deserving of a true reboot right now as much as Samurai Shodown. (No, not even our beloved Garou: Mark of the Wolves. That game is perfectly fine staying fully 2D.)

It's been a decade since the rejuvenation of 2D fighters with 2009's runaway hit, Street Fighter 4. Interestingly enough, Samurai Shodown as a series never experienced a true 2.5D "SF4-style" makeover. It's about time! While SS2019's visuals might seem "dated" in some areas; and not nearly as flawless or charismatic as the original 2D spritework, SNK fans can still find much to love about the look of this new installment. The PS4 Pro version on a 1080p monitor looks like a early PS3 game; but on a 4K TV, it's razor sharp! But if you told me this game was actually made in 2008-2009... I'd believe you. The good news is, it still looks and feels like a true 2D Samurai Shodown game... and it's fun. While the character proportions and overall graphics are a bit quirky, the 2.5D makeover does retain the nostalgic style of the originals.

Even though I'm having fun with the game... from a technical standpoint, SS2019 lacks depth and hasn't "evolved" the forward direction of the first 4 installments, particularly. (I could go back to SS2 or SS4 and have the exact same, arguably more dynamic matches). Yes, the series always revolved around strong 2D fundamentals and neutral game. The combo system in SS2019 is particularly minimal (similar to SS2), so it's all about single powerful strikes, smart movement and well-timed trickery. It's fun... but it still shows its age in today's era. I hope SNK decides to refine / develop the combo system further by giving characters more options & freedom... because currently, the constrictive combo system hinders the game's fun (and longevity) in my eyes. Do you really want to be doing the same "3-hit combos" 2 years from now?

"Whatever bro, I just like to push buttons and play neutral game all day." Cool... but I mostly got that out of my system in 1994-1995. I play very technical fighting games with life or death relying on just frames and backdash canceling...   I like to see evolution - even from a classic reboot. For example, in 1996, Samurai Shodown 4 reinvented and evolved the "classic" gameplay formula I just described by adding a variety of new maneuvers, attack angles, and longer, deadlier combos. Alas, Samurai Shodown 2019 is a step backwards technically (and some 2D purists would also say visually, as well). I also miss the additional diversity of the Slash/Bust options of SS4.

For better or worse, SS019 has a low skill-ceiling. Players who aren't patient enough to le
arn combos in more technical fighters will probably claim to love this game. (But will they even play it? lol.) If you catch my drift, there are tons of long-term benefits for a game with a deeper combo engine - making some fighting games fun for years upon years. I personally don't think I should be able to master a character's full combo potential in under 30 mins, but that's just me. While the mechanics are easy-peasy, the higher skill-level elements of the game are all about reads, calculated decisions, and risk-taking... like the old games. Fair enough.

What I do like the most about the new Samurai Shodown? A lot. For one, SNK put very impressive polish into Story Mode... with beautifully presented hand-drawn character endings & some pretty incredible cutscenes. The boss battle with Shizuka is amazing, and it seems like SNK intends to add boss battles to the game (which would be sick!) In closing... a respectable game at launch and a ton of potential? Great job SNK. Season 1 & 2 DLC characters are high quality additions so far, and I can't wait to see more! The fact that SNK announced a Season 2 before Season 1 is finished is definitely unorthodox, but also a pretty good sign of things to come. I'd love to see SNK updating this game for 2 - 3 years even. 
~TFG Webmaster

rimururu-samuraishodown2019-render.jpg (368647 bytes)         wanfu-samuraishodown2019-render.jpg (872845 bytes)         basara-samuraishodown2019-render.jpg (503652 bytes)         kazuki-samuraishodown2019-render.jpg (387690 bytes)

Click Here for all character artwork!