Samurai Shodown! review by Torture

Before I bought Samurai Showdown, I read some reviews and impressions of the game. To my surprise, some people seemed a bit disappointed with the game. Because of this, I really wasnít sure what to expect. I didnít let what I heard discourage me, and am glad I gave the game a chance on its own. In my opinion, Samurai Showdown is a wonderful addition to any devout Neo Geo Pocket ownerís game library. It holds its own in direct comparison to King of Fighters R-1, but has a style and feel all its own that sets it apart as more than just another fighting game.

Graphics

As with most Neo Geo Pocket games so far, the graphics for Samurai Showdown are quite impressive. The sprites themselves are a little smaller than KOFís, but they are detailed and animate very well. In fact, I find it difficult to tell which of them has better animation, as Samurai Showdown plays at a slower pace. The backgrounds are detailed, as weíve come to expect from Neo Geo Pocket fighting games. I think it is easier to find a good balance of contrast between the foreground and background in Samurai Showdown than it is in KOF, which makes it easier to see all the detail. All in all, Samurai Showdown is impressive graphically, and only falls just a bit short of KOF in this category.

Sound

I never find sound as easy to rate as other aspects of the game. I think Samurai Showdown is strong here overall, though. I myself like the sound effects of the swords, hits, and such. I think SNK did a good job adapting them to the NGP. I find the music didnít make the transition as smoothly. I think the music is good, but some stages donít seem to have music as good as others. Overall though, I think the game is strong here.

Gameplay

As weíve come to expect from SNK fighting games, this game oozes quality. Based on Samurai Showdown 4, which I have for the Saturn, this game is very intricate, and it is amazing they preserved its complexity in pocket form. One gripe I had with Samurai Showdown 4 was the unforgiving control, and that didnít help when dealing with the gameís difficulty. The control on the Neo Geo Pocket is fabulous, thanks to the ever reliable SNK thumb pad. It is ideal for fithing games and makes this game a dream to control. The 4 button system of the original has been brought faithfully down to NGPís 2, perhaps even more impressively than KOF was. The simplicity of the controls promotes learning the complexity of the game itself. With Samurai Showdown 4, as much as I liked it, I didnít feel compelled to learn the combos and other finer elements of strategy. The pocket versionís controls are simple to remember, but keep the great detail of the original. There are different combos with different effects, killing yourself, di sarming yourself or your opponent. The rage meter is there, and the ever inspiring Issen. The Slash and Bust modes made it, as well as the 3 play grades, so this gameís presentation is dead on.

The game has some negative points. First, the difficulty is rather easy, even on the ahrd mode. Luckily, they remedy this with survival mode, a very fun option. In survival mode, you fight single rounds against different opponents to see how many wins you can get in a row, and get a ranking based on that. After each fight, a small amount of energy is replenished, but it can easily be drained by the computer, so a good mastery of your specials, and the rage meter is imperative. Another problem with the game are the skimpy endings. After KOF, which had endings that I liked, Samurai Showdown is a letdown here. Perhaps they had to rush production, but it is a disappointment. Again, though, I think survival mode does make up for it for the most part.

Overall

My opinion of Samurai Showdown is very positive. I think SNK did a wonderful job with it, and it was a great game to release with the special edition NGP. The game also has a bit of a comedy element to it as well. Certain attacks cause some strange effects, but the lighter feel of the game lends itself well to a portable system. The graphics are well done, and the animation is impressive. The game plays amazingly well, and even after being so surprised at KOFís quality, Samurai Showdown took me by surprise. I am surprised that SNK was able to preserve so much of the original, and those details make Samurai Showdown marvelously deep 2d fighting game. The gameís slower pace promotes strategic attacks, and that is why I can recommend this game to those who already have KOF. The gameís flaws are minor in my eyes, and detract slightly from the gme. I canít recommend it over KOF R-1, but it doesnít lag behind at all. If youíre a fighting game fan, and if you own an NGP, I expect you might be, Samurai Showdown is a great addition to any NGP game library. The game has a style all its own, and fans of KOF should still consider it, as it is a much different fighter.