Samurai Shodown (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 27.02.2020

Review for Samurai Shodown on Nintendo Switch

The last core entry in SNK's fan favourite fighting series was Samurai Shodown Sen in 2008. A long hiatus brings a distinct new look to the franchise, however, as the simply titled Samurai Shodown released on current systems last year, and moved to utilising Unreal Engine 4, unlike SNK's other fighters that were already on the market, including The King of Fighters XIV and SNK Heroines. There has been an even longer wait for Nintendo Switch owners eager to play this latest entry, but it is finally here.

A strong Japanese flavour and extremely distinct combat system immediately ensures Samurai Shodown stands out from the crowd. There aren't many weapons-based fighters out there, with SoulCalibur being the prime example that is mentioned in such discussions. What is unique in this new iteration of SNK's franchise is that weapons can be completely knocked out of characters' hands, leaving them fighting the rest of the battle with their bare hands - unless they can quickly manage to pick their sword or other item back up in time.

A character with a weapon is a deadly one, and, as expected, one without is at a huge disadvantage. Weapons deal strong damage, whereas fisticuffs will only give the foe opposite a bloody nose. Naturally, players want to keep hold of their weapons, and on top of dealing damage, do their best to render their counterparts weaponless in order give themselves the best chance of victory.

All is not lost for a player that finds themselves punching with their bare knuckles, though. With careful timing, it is possible to counter an attack and remove the weapons of their enemy, making for a much more level playing field once more. It takes skill, but it's a satisfying feeling when caught with a severe handicap, then turning it back onto the opposite warrior.

Special inputs common to most fighting games are all here, as well as a rage gauge that can be activated to dish out heavy pain during a limited time, and it is all relatively simple to get to grips with. As such, the tutorial mode isn't especially in-depth, but it doesn't really need to be; it does the job and doesn't give off an intimidating nature to keep things accessible for newcomers.

Screenshot for Samurai Shodown on Nintendo Switch

The story mode is pretty much an arcade mode and is overall a weak experience. Fight through a bunch of characters, including ones that are only playable by buying them as DLC, with a handful of short cut-scenes that don't provide an awful lot of scale to the narrative. Sure, for an arcade mode, it suffices, but labelling this a story and then churning out such a shallow playthrough for each character doesn't cut it in the fighting world of today.

This is made all the worse by the fact each moment between battles is bogged down by long loading times. Some battles can take up to 25 seconds to begin, dragging the whole experience down and out. Heck, menus are plagued by short bouts of loading, which is such an unpleasant thing to deal with.

The rest of the package is usual fighting game fare - time attack and survival modes, as well as an interesting one that includes creating an AI ghost fighter that can be developed the more you battle it. Taking on others' ghosts online can prove to be a decent alternative to the standard features. Online play provided a few stable matches for writing this review, with ranked and casual matches both available. Sadly, crossplay with other platforms is not an option. It all runs well on Switch, but this version has taken a huge knock to visual fidelity. Bright and colourful it can be, but it very much has the look of a GameCube era title in parts.

If you expected the DLC of the other platforms, of which all the first season pass characters are readily purchasable, to be included as standard in the Switch version, there is disappointing news. SNK has seen fit to try and make more money out of this game on day one, with Basara, Rimururu, Wan-Fu and Kazuki Kazama all only playable if you buy them in the eShop. This is made all the worse by the fact they appear in the story mode as opponents. Switch owners have had to wait an extended amount of time to play this game; the least SNK could have done is included the DLC characters that have been available for months on other systems in the base game here. Disappointing.

Screenshot for Samurai Shodown on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Despite the DLC gripes and the heavy downgrade in visuals for this Switch port, Samurai Shodown really stands out from the crowd, and it's great to see the revival of a popular series return in such a good way on the gameplay front. It takes weapons-based combat and creates a smart system out of it, putting players on edge, and provides moments of pure bliss when bare knuckle comebacks are made. The strong Japanese style only adds to the appeal. It really could have done with a more fleshed out story mode, though.

Developer

SNK

Publisher

SNK

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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