Samurai Shodown V / Samurai Spirits Zero
REVIEW: The groundbreaking Samurai Shodown series has always been what you'd call a "sleeper" hit... It's not usually found in the headlines, but people who can actually say they play it are most likely fans for life. The long awaited Samurai Shodown 5 doesn't look entirely different from it's predecessors, but it does boast the highest number of warriors in the series to date.
Unlike the "serious" tone that the last two installments had, Samurai Shodown 5 seems to be set in the "fantasy" realm, as some of the characters aren't exactly what you'd call "samurai-ish." In my opinion, a fan of every installment since the first Samurai Shodown, some of the new characters pollute the roots of the series and just don't seem to fit in... but I can keep an open mind.
Welcome back to the old school.
Samurai Shodown 5 looks and plays very similar to SS3 and SS4... which isn't a bad thing, but does it earn the right to be called Samurai Shodown 5 for only a few gameplay tweaks and a few new characters? (This is starting to feel like KOF, or dare I say it: the old SF2 days). It really is more of the same, and in some cases feels on the rushed side as well. The presentation also doesn't match up to that of the earlier incarnations, such as the epic Samurai Shodown 2. The original Japanese version of the game features a substantial amount of dialogue in single-player mode, but all of which is emitted when the game's language is set to English. Disappointing indeed. The good news is that the Xbox version restores these scenes and translates them into English (which I haven't actually played).
The fact that the English American version has no story and no intermissions severely diminishes the spirits of long time fans (and doesn't explain Haohmaru's evil twin, Rasetsumaru). Some of the new characters are well designed, but a few of them just don't seem to fit in, namely the huge (and visually disturbing) pot-bellied demon, Kusaregedo. There are also far too many "alternate versions" of characters. In a nutshell, there are 2 Nakorurus, 2 Haohmarus, 2 Kazukis, 2 Sogetsus, (And 2 Ukyos and 2 Genjuros if you count the sub-boss sprite edits)... damn lazy Capcom designers, you must've influenced the SNK designers!
Mina is pretty cool... but pretty cheap.
Overall, SS5 is still Samurai Shodown at it's core, and it's still pretty fun. Unfortunately, the "Slash" and "Bust" options from the prequels (two versions / move-sets for each character), were taken out.... Boooooo... However, the worst thing is that "Deaths" were taken out of the game entirely. The stylish ending of a bloody duel that the Samurai Shodown series was known for, was taken out. Unforgivable... SNK seldom dissapoints me, but they did this time.
Graphically, SS5 looks good but dated since all of the same sprites and animations are back from SS3 and SS4. The backgrounds are completely new at least, colorful and nicely done for the most part (just scroll down to see some of them). The animation is smooth as a whole, and all characters look great in motion (except for that fat, stupid Kusaregedo). One of the best things about this game is probably the soundtrack, which is all ear candy. All in all, not a complete disappointment, but a disappointment none the less to us long-time fans.
If you like Kusaregedo, you officially have problems.
Last Updated: 6/16/2011 Developer(s): Yuki Enterprise Publisher(s): SNK Playmore Platform(s): Neo Geo, PS2, PSP, Wii, Xbox Release Date(s): December 11th, 2003 (Neo Geo) Characters: Haohmaru, Ukyo, Hanzo, Nakoruru, Genjuro, Kyoshiro, Shizumaru, Gaira, Rimururu, Basara, Sogetsu, Kazuki, Tam Tam, Charlotte, Galford, Poppie, Jubei, Rera, Rasetsumaru, Suija, Enja, Yoshitora Tokugawa, Kusaregedo, Mina Majikina, Yumeji, Sankuro, Yunfei, Gaoh
Related Games: Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Samurai Shodown 3, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown 5 Special, Samurai Shodown 6, Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown Pocket, Samurai Shodown 2 Pocket, Samurai Shodown Warrior's Rage, Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny, Samurai Shodown Anthology
Gameplay Engine 7.5 / 10 Story / Theme 7.5 / 10 Overall Graphics 8 / 10 Animation 7.5 / 10 Music / Sound Effects 8.5 / 10 Innovation 5.5 / 10 Art Direction 7.5 / 10 Customization 7 / 10 Options / Extras 6 / 10 Intro / Presentation 5.5 / 10 Replayability / Fun 6.5 / 10 "Ouch" Factor 7.5 / 10 Characters 8 / 10 BOTTOM LINE
7.5 / 10
Review based on Arcade version Final Words:
Samurai Shodown 5 isn't a terrible game, but it's a disappointment considering the series. If there's one thing I like about the game, it's the backgrounds; which are quite nicely designed. ~TFG Webmaster