Let’s start by saying this reviewer is not the best at fighting games and hence is not a big “fan” of them. I tend to shy away from them unless compelled for some reason. Reasons like e.g. the Injustice series, because of, well DC Comics. SNK’s Samurai Shodown has had somewhat of a following through the years. The blade-wielding fighting game series saw its initial release in 1993. Back in 1993, it was released on every system conceivable back then. Since then eleven years have passed since the last of the series’ installments which was Samurai Shodown Anthology. Now Samurai Shodown sees itself being released on the newest of the consoles, the Nintendo Switch. Wondering what compelled me to play this particular fighter? Read on for our Samurai Shodown Nintendo Switch Review to find out why!
Play Modes Galor!
As far as blade-wielding fighting games go, Samurai Shodown offers you a multitude of ways to play, in fact, ten different ways to play. Our review is based heavily on story mode and the online “matched” battle modes.
First up is “story mode”. This Nintendo Switch version is said to be a brand new game. Not having played the original I took it at face value that SNK states that this Samurai Shodown‘s story is set one year before the series’ first installment. The story mode has voice overs but note, they are in Japanese. Some might think this contributes to the overall feel of the game, myself included. The story mode plays out in a somewhat antiquated way. You get a short introduction, battle some opponents, see a few cut scenes, battle a boss. But throughout this game, its Unreal 4 engine based visuals are a treat to behold. Somewhat cartoony, but also includes hand-drawn stills, all very reminiscent of our arcade days.
The story revolves around various warriors and combatants, with their own goals nonetheless, battling to fulfil their personal destinies! Initially, you can select your champion to be one of the CPU’s random choices or make a selection yourself from the initial sixteen fighters. You can also purchase, currently six, e-Shop Deluxe/Season Pass DLC characters (Rimururu, Basara, Kazuki Kazama, Wan-Fu, Mina Majikina and Sogetsu Kazama) if you’d like to make your way through the story as one of those fighters.
Each fighter has their own epilogue and prologue but encounters the same final boss. Normally, this would be a setback but in this case, with so many distinct fighters to choose from, each with their own style, it never becomes boring.
The Other Play Modes
If story mode seems boring to you there are plenty of other modes to try. Start with the typical “Practice” which is your tutorial and training mode. There is also an “Online Battle” mode with leaderboards, casual match or ranked match play. A word of warning is that being matched up takes some patience. The Nintendo Switch seems to have a challenge with games offering online play, for whatever reason. Not just this game but several others as well. Perhaps it’s due to requiring a separate Nintendo Switch Online membership (which Samurai Shodown does)? Thankfully you can queue up for a match, continue playing in story mode and suffer from the interruption when a challenger is found. During primetime hours I seemed to get a match every ten minutes or so.
Other modes include a unique, new “Dojo” mode that revolves around a new “Ghost” feature. This new feature learns players’ game actions and patterns in order to create CPU-controlled “ghost” characters. Inside the “Dojo” there’s the “Ironman Challenge” where you battle 100 CPU ghosts at a time. The “Dojo” also has offers “Ghost Match” which is a 1 versus 1 battle mode against CPU ghosts.
The “Battle” mode grouping includes “Time Trial” against CPU opponents, a “Survival” Mode, a “Gauntlet” mode, where you fight every character in the game, and last but not least, “Versus” which is an offline battle mode for playing against players or CPU opponents.
The Compulsion To Play This Game
Early on in this review, I mentioned something compelled me to play this fighter. It comes down to I had heard that Samurai Shodown‘s combat revolves around four attack types, i.e. light, medium, heavy, and kick, and is less based on stringing together complex combos. Thankfully, that hint was accurate. Samurai Shodown battles are more focused on watching for an opening and executing at that moment. Combat is responsive and fluid, I’ve made it a habit to leap over another player for the “back attack”.
Now honestly, I still need to jog my memory occasionally on how to pull off built-up charge special moves, etc. It’s these kinds of things that need to be kept in mind to succeed in the online leaderboards. Unfortunately, a few fights I lost because I forgot the button sequence for my “special attack”.
Nevertheless, for a guy who normally sucks at games like Injustice, Mortal Combat, etc. I truly feel going into a Samurai Shodown match that I can win. Case in point, last night one challenger I got a match with had 358 wins / 200 loses, I said no way I can win this, you know what? I did! And that’s what makes Samurai Shodown an enjoyable fighting game, so much so I think I’ll keep it installed and buy some additional fighters!
The game performed well even in handheld mode, which is how we played it mostly. The undocked screen size was no issue for this game making it a fun, sit on the couch activity. How much longer my joy-cons can take the button beating I seem to inflict during fighting games is a story for another time!
Samurai Shodown is out now on Nintendo Switch by publishers SNK for $49.99 or the “deluxe pack” for $59.99. Additionally, more fighters are available as add-ons separately, for $5.99 each or via Season Passes. Season Pass 1 (four new fighters) and a newer Season Pass 2, cost $19.99 each. Season Pass 2 only has two of the expected four new fighters released at this time. The deluxe pack includes the Season 1 pass (four extra fighters, each $5.99 if purchased separately) for $10.00 more.
Compare To: Street Fighter
A game key was provided for the purpose of review.