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Game Review

Samurai Shodown III Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

A new spin on the popular fighting series

It's no secret that the Samurai Shodown series played a huge role in vaulting SNK up to the big boy fighting game table. And as popular as the original release was, it was the sequel that would set the standard by which all future titles of the franchise would be judged. Samurai Shodown III would mark the first time the series underwent any major changes, and while many of them certainly improved the playability of the game, they also ended up rubbing some longtime fans the wrong way.

Many of the same fighters from past games return in this third instalment, although there are a few new ones tossed into the mix. While it still retains the hack 'n' slash feel of past releases, there are quite a few noticeable changes that won't take diehard fans long to notice.

When your fighters are getting ready to begin the match, they can now move around from side to side in order to get into position for their first attack. The old combination of pressing two buttons at once to initiate a strong slash or strong kick has now been replaced with three slash buttons – light, medium, and fierce – and only one kick button. This is definitely a much-needed improvement and offers a very small trade-off since the kicks have never before played a large role in the overall scheme of things.

These button assignments aren't the only new features, as the two-button combinations open up a few new gameplay twists. The first new function is the ability to dodge by pressing the A and B buttons simultaneously. This will cause your character to quickly move around to the other side of their opponent, thus being able to not only avoid an oncoming strike but also catch your opponent off guard with a quick attack from the opposite side. The other new feature involves the ability to charge up your power gauge by holding the A, B and C buttons down. Of course, you have to be careful as this opens you up to an attack.

There's no denying the very different feel the game has when compared with past releases in the series. Everything seems a little looser at times, but in a good way that allows you to string together attacks and defensive moves on the fly with a bit more freedom. The cast of characters is fairly balanced, but you'll soon find that the game can be quite the handful in single-player mode, especially as you get closer to the boss. As long as you can accept the different feel of it, you're likely to find the added playability a nice surprise and one that definitely makes for a smoother experience for those who put in the time to master it.

The Samurai Shodown series has always been known for its beautiful backdrops and highly detailed cast of fighters, and while there's still plenty of eye candy to be found in Samurai Shodown III, there are also a few backdrops that look downright bland and have an almost unfinished appearance to them. The characters themselves all look amazing and even surpass past renditions in terms of both detail and animation quality. It's clear the developers put some serious time into creating a gorgeous world for the battles to take place in – it just would have been nice if they'd been a bit more consistent.

The audio package will be immediately familiar to fans of the series as some of the tunes from previous games make a return and join a host of new tracks. The same classic eastern themes are still in full force, and the developers managed to update many of the character sound effects to give the game an even fresher sound.


How you warm up to Samurai Shodown III will depend heavily on invested in the fighting engine of the first two titles you are. The new play controls of the game do a great job of giving the game a more modern feel while still retaining many of the classic elements of the first two releases. If you're a fan of the series that's open-minded enough to appreciate the improvements of this third release, you're likely to find a very rewarding experience and one definitely worth your time and Wii points. It might not be quite as solid as Samurai Shodown II, but it's a nice change of pace for the series and one worth checking out for fighting fans.

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User Comments (21)



NassaDane said:

Just get the Collection on the Wii. Its got 6 or 7 on it, can't remember the exact number.



BulbasaurusRex said:

I haven't played the series yet, the gameplay changes sound like good improvements (plus more characters is always nice), and I don't really care about the quality of the backdrops, so I'll get this when it comes to North America, although if we get it tomorrow, I'll have to wait until Tuesday for my Hori Classic Controller (SNES button layout, good D-Pad, left analog stick still in primary position, also plays GameCube games, turbo functions for all buttons) to arrive (no mail on Sundays or Labor Day) before I can play it.



BulbasaurusRex said:

Hmm...my research indicates that this game actually has a net loss of characters from SS2. Maybe I'll also get SS2 if I like this one.



madgear said:

SonicMaster - I think SS2 is the best in the series personally (just like the first game but more to it) but it's not very hard. Saying that, I've never managed to finish it - it's incredibly easy until you fight the last boss, who is impossible! Technically I should have beaten it since I win one round almost every match but I can just never do two rounds in a row - incredibly frustrating but my bad luck has to run out one day.



Shiryu said:

My favorite of the series, mainly because we used to play the hell out of it int he arcades and then the PlayStation home conversion. Me and my friends had dedicated characters so we always put up one hell of a show we we fought each other. I reckon I still know every move there is with Galford Bust (aka "no Puppy edition"). A fine addition to the Wii VC but if you love your Samurai Showdown, I'm sure you already have Samurai Showdown Anthology on DVD format.



Egg_miester said:

samurai showdown series was one of the greatest fighting series in the 90ies they kinda died out in the 2000
i wish i could find the Anthology but it wasn't sold that much in my town



SwerdMurd said:

it can't be 282 megs....

@egg - collection doesn't allow for use of gamecube controllers I woulda bought it, but no arc-stick use = no purchase for a 2d fighter.



The_Fox said:

I'm pretty sure back then some developers intentionally coded some games inefficiently so they would take up far more space than needed, thus seeing better (back then, anyway) .



Egg_miester said:

@Swerd_Murd no harm in that for me i don't like the gv controllers and even worse for fighters i prefer the classic controller, i'll just have to order the game online sometime



motang said:

I love this series, and I am glad this game came out on the VC. I used to play this a lot in the arcades and then on my computer via NeoGeo rom. I do remember this game have a great soundtrack, going to be buying this one soon.



Saeros_Fae_Falla said:

@7:I bought SS2...It was ok. Iv beaten the last boss 2 twice(almost fainted when it happend) I want to get SS3(the controls seem similar to TVC).



DIRTY said:

This is a good game, although I enjoyed SS2 more. The Slash/Bust feature is kind of lame since the characters keep most of the same moves. The computer AI is very difficult, you are better off learning to play with a friend. As for the review, its spot on, two backgrounds- Ukyo and Hanzo, did they finish them? They lack detail. All the other backgrounds though are pretty cool and I like the new characters, especially Basara and Shizumaru.



DIRTY said:

Game is not a snoozer, I would give it a solid 9/10. With the SS games you have to go in with an open mind on the way they play. If you are expecting to kick spamming special moves like SF2, you will probably lose a lot.



CrimsonMoonMist said:

While this installment had lots of neat features and a fancy look,
It still feels unfinished in many ways.
I can hardly wait for IV, which is my favorite Samsho (yes, even over II).



kartus said:

This really shouldn't be overrated, because it's just like FF3; silly and experimental, with SSIV to fix that problem (and SSIV is pretty silly itself). III and IV are very different games from II, you might be better off not comparing them too much.

And yes, you really should just get the retail collection. It has all of them up to VI, including V Special (a much better game than V).

(blah blah samurai spirits blah blah)

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