Raster, 304 x 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors
Samurai Showdown V Special, known as Samurai Spirits Zero Special(サムライスピリッツ零 SPECIAL,Samurai Supirittsu Zero Special?) in Japan, is the ninth game in SNK's Samurai Shodown/Samurai Spirits series of fighting games. This game is an upgraded version of the game titled Samurai Shodown V, and is the last official game for the Neo Geo platform. A further upgraded version of the game, Samurai Shodown V Special: Final Edition, was location tested, but never officially released.
The core gameplay remained relatively the same from Samurai Shodown V, but had all new graphics, including portraits done by artist Satoshi Ito, which convey a dark atmosphere similar to that of Samurai Shodown III.
A significant number of changes were made between Samurai Shodown V and Samurai Shodown V Special. Among them, the midboss characters Sankuro and Yumeji were taken out and replaced with SS1 boss Amakusa Shiro Tokisada and SS3 boss Zankuro Minazuki. Also, the hidden character Poppy was replaced with SS2 boss Rashoujin Mizuki and was playable without needing a hidden code.
In addition to the roster change, many graphical and sound changes were done to give the game a fresh feel, even though most of the returning characters used their old voices, dating all the way back to Samurai Shodown IV. Existing SS5 character stages were modified, and new stages were presented for the arrival of Amakusa, Zankuro, and Mizuki.
This game also has many gameplay tweaks, making this version much more balanced than its predecessor. However, the biggest gameplay change was the introduction of the Zetsumei Ougi, or the Overkill move for English-speaking areas. If this move is performed properly, it instantly ends the match for its victim, regardless of how much life he or she has remaining. This concept is similar to that of the Guilty Gear series, except the conditions for the move are stricter: your character must be in a rage explosion and the opponent's life must be below the point where they could have entered Concentration One. Concentration One was introduced in Samurai Shodown V as a special slowmotion mode powered up by meditating (holding D while standing still. The start-up motion is the same for each character when you attempt it, but if it hits the attacking character it can finish off their victim in their own unique fashion.
In addition to the overkill moves, generic fatality effects from Samurai Shodown IV were brought back for this game, such as being slashed in half horizontally. New fatality effects were also introduced, such as being split in half vertically with the victim drenching their opponent in blood. In addition, Nakoruru and Rimururu, who were both made "immune" to fatality effects in SS3 and 4, are able to experience these fatality effects at the end of a match, and in some situations they scream violently.
This combination of violent acts in Samurai Shodown V Special generated a lot of controversy. This led to SNKP censoring the Neo Geo AES cartridge shortly after the Sasebo slashing.
As the AES version of the game was approaching its release date on July 8, 2004, it was mysteriously delayed a week, moving its release date to the 15th. When it came out, the whole Neo Geo community was shocked to see that not only were generic fatalities[clarification needed] removed, but the zetsumei ougi was watered down to a loosely based version of the issen for the characters. As a first, this act of censorship affected the entire worldwide release, not just the non Japanese speaking audience. Not only did these modifications censor the game, but the censorship also created bugs, such as that of the AES's exclusive training mode, and upon hearing fan outcry, SNK did a cart recall shortly after that which fixed the bugs brought about by the censoring acts, and also to restore the character specific zetsumei ougis, but only partially. The acts of body splitting were still completely gone. This made some of the zetsumei ougis make no sense. However, some of the more violent content still remained, such as the more violent death screams and being able to be smashed into a wall. The only way for players outside of an arcade to experience the zetsumei ougis was either through emulation or to get an unfixed version of the game and apply Razoola's Universe Bios to it, which allows access to the uncensored versions of the moves and fixes the bugs that the censorship created.