Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage

It is a time of sustained peace, and the age of the sword was drawing to a close. But an increasing number could not adapt to the flow of history and became trouble before long. So the shogunate created a "colony of prisoners" on a small island in sea nearby Edo as a place to rehabilitate the outlaws. But, there were those who exploited this prison island and tried to create a "new world exclusively for the chosen ones" after destroying the shogunate. The group they formed was called the "League of the Three Blades of Domination" and each member had their own mighty strength. Using their might, they subjugated the outlaws and begin their plans to overthrow the shogunate. And in no time the "town of outlaws" came to be called "Ritenkyo" - the seat of opposition.

Under these figures Ritenkyo unexpectedly changed from a "place of rehabilitation for returning to society" to a "lawless zone in which only the strong survive." The inhabitants engaged in vendettas, skirmishes, and death battles to survive from day to day. And the "Three Blades of Domination" steadily consolidated their power to its utmost, absorbing strength from the hate surrounding them. On a still, pitch-black night of the new moon. Flicker-Flicker-Flicker-Flicker. The glow of a candle grows and a single shadow emerges from the darkness. It is an elderly gentleman with a beard and tranquil visage. "Have they arrived?" "Yes, Lord Oboro. The red-eyed boy and girl have come." Only a voice comes from the darkness. Without making a noise, the old man rises and speaks: "At last, the time has come.... Time to make their acquaintance." The man's closed eyelids pop open. His red eyes glow with the light of the candle. Whooooosh! A burst of wind slices the calm, and darkness once again dominates the world.

A few years later, three people look down at the world below from a tall tower. One is a tall man armed with a sword; the other, a bewitching, alabaster-skinned woman. The two share a pair of red eyes. And standing behind them awaits a fine-looking elderly man who appears somewhat out of place. The sunlight reflects off their red eyes, making them glow eerily. The woman mutters, "A few people we have some things to settle with appear to have entered Ritenkyo. Word has it that they are major obstacles to the realization of our intentions." The man speaks as he continues to survey the world below. "All we need to do is wait here. The rats will come even if we do nothing." The Three Blades of Domination are about to bring an end to the era of peace in this world. And the warriors who battle for their own reasons converge on "Ritenkyo" as our story begins.

Haohmaru is an old man now!

REVIEWContinuing the storyline of the two Hyper NeoGeo 64 games in the series (which very few people of the world ever got the chance to play), Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage takes place "20 years later". A PlayStation 1 exclusive, SNK's 2.5D spin-off presents a dramatically revamped cast featuring mostly brand new characters. Chronologically, it's still the last game in the series. It's also the only game in the series not to see a release in arcades. In short, this game was destined to be mostly a failure from the start. It never had a chance, which is sad... since the character designs are actually pretty solid.

Presentation-wise, Warriors Rage isn't a terrible looking game (especially considering other blocky-ass PS1 games)... but for a "third gen" PS1 game, it's severely lacking. The characters appear pretty crisp onscreen, but suffer from poor rendering and less than mediocre animation. The game's intro movie isn't terrible, but once gameplay starts... you'll see where this game went very, very wrong.


Mikoto versus Garyo The Whirlwind.


Although Warriors Rage features 3D graphics, SNK managed to keep the gameplay 2D... outside of a new "3D Dodge" technique. Two buttons are used for weak and Strong Slashes, a third button controls Kick attacks, and the fourth button is used for dodging. Also new is the Life Bar system... To sum it up: The first round lasts until one player's life is drained of all 3 sections. When one section of the bar disappears, the remaining two refill. Once those two are drained, the second section is dropped, and the last one refills. This actually causes the fight to pause, as the victor performs a taunt animation. The match is over when one player looses the final section of life.


Sakaki Jushiro versus Mugenji.


Disappointingly, the gameplay is painfully slow. In its best light, Warriors Rage might have its moments of being almost-fun, but technically, it's by far the clunkiest (and slowest) installment to date. From a competitive standpoint, the game is barely playable. The terrible jumping system and other askew fundamentals hold the game from being fun for any extended period of time. I'll say this more than once: It's a shame tWhile many of the characters seem have fun movesets and pretty cool animations... basic things like "falling" animations and other wonky movements really downgrade the playability and presentation.

The character artwork of Warriors Rage is easily where the game shines the most... and it's a sin that the artwork isn't shown off more in the actual game. However, the character designs in this game definitely worth checking out. The in-game character storylines within Story Mode are mostly told with text... but there are halfway-entertaining cut scenes and dialogue exchanges to flesh them out a bit.

Page Updated: September 22nd, 2023
Developer(s): SNK
Publisher(s): SNK
Platform(s): PlayStation
Artwork By: Kita Senri
Release Date(s): December 22nd, 1999
Characters Haohmaru, Hanzo, Nakoruru, Rimururu, Garyo, Jushiro, Jin-Emon, Oboro, Ran Po, Saya, Rinka, Seishiro, Tohma, Haito, Tashon Mao, Mikoto, Mugenji, Minto, Daruma, Yaci, Brute, Samurai, Oboro Amazon, Iga Ninja, Yuda

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Related Games: Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage, Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown Sen, Samurai Shodown (2019), Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown 2, Samurai Shodown 3, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown 5, Samurai Shodown 5 Special, Samurai Shodown 6, Samurai Shodown Pocket, Samurai Shodown 2 Pocket, Samurai Shodown Anthology , Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, Final Fight: Revenge, Street Fighter EX2, Mace: The Dark Age, Soul Blade, Soul Calibur

Gameplay Engine  3.0 / 10
Story / Theme  7.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  5.5 / 10
Animation  4.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.0 / 10
Innovation  6.0 / 10
Art Direction  9.5 / 10
Customization  4.0 / 10
Options / Extras  4.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  6.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  5.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  7.0 / 10
Characters  8.5 / 10

 6.3 / 10



Final Words:

Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage was a sleeper PS1 game (especially in 1999). The game didn't deliver impressive gameplay or graphics (or come even close), so the title was easily overlooked and overshadowed. On that note, it's a real shame that the technical aspect of the game and graphical limitations couldn't live up to the brilliant Art Direction. Such a missed opportunity!

In retrospect, the characters designs of Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage - and the effort that the developers put into these new characters is off the charts good. The roster of Warriors Rage (not to be confused with SS64: Warriors Rage) is a vibrant and intriguing collection of warriors. (Seriously, check out some of their TFG profiles). These character designs had so much potential

It's bittersweet that the artwork and designs are the best aspect of the game, by far. The quality of these illustrations is among the best of the entire series, easily. On paper, Warriors Rage is so drastically visually different from prequels - that it's almost like SNK's version of a "Darkstalkers spin-off" coming after the likes of Street Fighter. If only SNK could've built upon what they started with this game, I think it could've turned into something great - and deserved spin-offs of its own.  

As a fan of Samurai Shodown since the first game... I didn't spend much time with SSWR, sadly. I worshiped the prequels for their flawless 2D sprites & solid gameplay, so giving this PS1-only game a chance back then was a tough sell for me. However, I've come to appreciate this hidden gem, primarily for the inspiring and interesting character designs (seriously, check out some of their artwork & storylines)!  Super underrated.

Warriors Rage also suffered as a risky "new generation" spin-off... since most of the original and iconic cast was nowhere to be found. However, you've gotta respect the guts of the devs for attempting something this different. Especially for back then. Alas, I hope some of the SSWR roster returns in future sequels, or even... make a proper comeback in some kind of "remake" from this future timeline. Now that would be pretty sick I think. DO IT SNK! 
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

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