Samurai Showdown (Xbox Series X/S) Review

By Luke Hemming 28.08.2021

Review for Samurai Showdown on Xbox Series X/S

Hadouken! Shoryuken! These are familiar sounds for anyone with even the smallest of interest in the fighting game genre, summoning forth thoughts of torn Gi's and rippling biceps. There is one thing that would have beaten all of that in a scrap: A ruddy big sword. Enter the reinvigorated Samurai Shodown franchise, optimised for Series X/S from developer SNK and taking a massively different direction in its approach compared to many challengers out there. The majority of differences between fists and steel are refreshingly for the better.

A staple of the SNK franchise, Samurai Shodown has delighted fans with its mix of great character design and tactical gameplay for years. Mostly though, it has remained unknown to the masses and, as time progressed, developed a small but loyal fanbase. Originally released a few years back, this latest entry was praised for its unique gameplay mechanics and graphical finesse.
For the uninitiated, the road to victory isn't littered with over-the-top moves and fancy juggling combos (though they are all present if that tickles the pickle). Instead, players must practice patience at all times, judging for their moment to strike or punish a mistake. More of a balletic dance than an all-out brawl, any experiences with that other big 2D fighting franchise are rendered redundant pretty quickly. Going in hard increases the likelihood of ending very quickly in a loss punctuated by, well, the puncture in the shogun's chest. All attacks can be parried with careful timing and one quick tap on the heavy attack button is likely to take the majority of the opponent's health, if not all. A risk and reward system is very much the order of the day here, going for the first move and a quick finish, potentially leaving a gap wide enough to plunge a katana through, or holding off and waiting for the first and fatal mistake.

Screenshot for Samurai Showdown on Xbox Series X/S

If this kind of system is intriguing, then Samurai Shodown is a title to go and grab as soon as possible, even more so if able to experience it at home on Series X/S. Not only do the visuals look bright and bold, really showcasing some of the excellent character designs SNK have produced, but this title is capable of running at a slick 120 fps. With sharper (pun intended) visuals and a faster game all round, it seems to be a lot truer to the style of duel it is trying to emulate. Loading times are also decreased to get back to kicking butt online that much quicker.
Mode wise, all the basics are here. However, that is all the bang for the buck: the basics. Arcade, story, online, versus, everything that should be there is present, without really giving any icing on the cake. All these modes perform their functions well however, and there is one mode allowing battles between AI controlled 'ghosts' of other players that is certainly worth a look. Even with the additional Series X/S updates however, for the price that is being charged the whole package seems lacking in comparison with other versions available. The first iteration of this title has been available for such a long time that it's hard to justify the price point of a new release, especially considering that the PC version comes complete with all available character DLC. Although the original cast of characters is large and diverse, as seems to be the way with all games in the genre, characters are added quickly and it feels a shame to be paying so much and missing out on so many new designs and fighting styles.

Screenshot for Samurai Showdown on Xbox Series X/S

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

As one of many Ken 'Masters' (very pleased with that one), the initial reaction to Samurai Shodown is a jarring one. Expecting to mow down hordes of AI controlled characters easily and instead getting beaten to pulp in a matter of seconds can be off-putting, to say the least. What quickly becomes apparent however is that gameplay treads the fine and brilliant line of 'easy to play, difficult to perfect'. Once a bit of caution is implemented, not a lot in the genre is as satisfying as a graceful dodge, parry and complete destruction. This is great for forgetting the old ways and embracing the way of the Samurai.

Developer

SNK

Publisher

Koch Media

Genre

Fighting

Players

1

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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