had returned once again from the dead. Planning to create his ideal world,
he summons Zankuro from the dead
and kidnaps Hazuki to regain his powers once more. Sensing Amakusa's evil,
the warriors stand up once again. (this takes place after SS3
and before SS2).
A plainly designed
selection screen... but there are cool sounds and animations, at least.
fourth installment to the Samurai Shodown series feels (and looks) very much like
the prequel, though the overall appearance of the game is notably
"brighter" than SS3. In addition to some gameplay and character
tweaks, a new Super Gauge based on the original style from SS1/SS2,
and an all new combo system make it a huge improvement over SS3.
Along with two newcomers, the ninja brothers known as Kazuki & Sogetsu
Kazama, several old favorites like Charlotte, Jubei, & Tam Tam make their
epic return (redrawn in the new style), offering a more
diverse and well rounded cast than the prequel. Like in Samurai Shodown 3,
players can still select between 2 different versions of
each character (Slash & Bust), which means that there are not 17 fighting
styles, but actually 34. And in case you were wondering, yes, the characters play very differently
depending on which version you select, which means it's more than likely you'll
find a character (or two) who suits your style perfectly!
Welcome back to the old
Simply put, Samurai Shodown 4's gameplay is
deeper & more fun than SS3's... and it actually plays closer to the
earlier installments than it does to the prequel. Air blocking (which was first
featured in SS3) was removed along with the "Dodge" maneuver
which enabled fighters to quickly shift behind their opponent. Charging of the
POW gauge and power-ups during gameplay were also omitted from the gameplay
entirely. The most notable addition to the gameplay is the "CD
Combo," a command combo which can be triggered by pressing the C and D
Like in the prequels, a connected super move will force your opponent to drop their weapon, although
their weapon will not "break" like in SS2. A new feature
introduced in SS4 is the ability to cause your POW meter to
in a desperation maneuver, giving fighters a limited amount of time to launch a
devastating combo or a "Fatal Flash;" a single strike that
can only be used once during a match and if connected, will take a rather large
chunk of your opponents life bar. The lower your life bar is, the more damage
that the "fatal flash" will do to your opponent... it's a strategic and downright
attack (since it can be done right after a throw) but overall I think it's a
solid addition to the overall gameplay.
Another new gameplay element introduced in SS4 are "Command
Fatalities" which can be initiated at the end of a battle, most of which
leaving the opponent in several pieces.
Traditional "random" fatalities are still in the game as well, and
there are quite a few variations! Also introduced were Hara-kiri's or
"Honorable Deaths"... yes, fighters can kill themselves.
And why would one want to commit suicide, you ask? Well, let's say you're getting
your ass kicked pretty bad in the first round... and your opponent has close to full heath
and you're in the red zone.... Well, if you kill yourself, you'll have a
completely full "POW" meter in the next round!
Tam Tam's taunts cannot be
Visually, SS4 is a gorgeous 2D fighting game... hands down. The presentation of each
hand-drawn background is beautifully done,
and unlike most fighting games, SS4 has a noticeably defined setting and atmosphere.
To further elaborate, there's a huge castle
that can be seen in the background of every stage... at a different distance. Unlike in most fighting games, where you
like you just "teleported" to another continent, every stage in SS4
feels "connected". After being awed by SS4's atmospheric
backgrounds, I'm definitely surprised no other fighting game in history ever
attempted something similar. In continuation, the soundtracks fit the setting perfectly, and the character intros and overall animations are
superb. The single-player mode also features a timer, and players can only see
the character's ending by reaching the final boss within the specified time
SS4 isn't without flaws. To nitpick, a few frames of animation (and moves) from the prequel were mysteriously taken out, which causes the game
to lose a bit of it's "fluidity".... Example: Haohmaru's & Genjuro's walking forward and walking
backward animation, as well as Genjuro's stance.
They probably did this to make SS4's animation more orthodox-looking,
that way all characters
have a similar frame count and no particular characters "stand out".
The slight drop in animation quality won't be noticed by casual players, but
definitely a bit disappointing to fans who greatly admired the animation in SS3. One of the only other gripes I have about the visual presentation is the somewhat
uninspired character selection screen. Besides those flaws, everything else about the
package is nothing short of epic.
SNK remedied most of Samurai Shodown 3's
quirks with SS4, and thankfully brought back some of the classic Samurai Shodown characters that were sadly missing
from the prequel. SS4 is a game very ahead of its time, and perhaps very
underrated as well.
SS4 is a badass game all around and in my experience is a rewarding
fighting game to
become skilled at, especially if you ever meet another player.
Samurai Shodown 4 is my favorite installment in the series, besides Samurai Shodown
2 of course... and yes, I say this long after playing Samurai Shodown 5,
Samurai Shodown 5 Special, and Samurai Shodown 6.
On a side note, some of the
translation is just plain hilarious (bad). Possibly the most notable is "VICTOLY"
after every round, which is possibly the most blatant "Engrish" ever seen in a video game. The win quotes and mid-game dialogue is also
quite terrible at times, but even so... it never fails to entertain.