Samurai Shodown (video game)
- This article is specifically about the original Samurai Shodown game. For information on the series as a whole, see Samurai Shodown (series).
Cover art of the Neo Geo U.S. version of Samurai Shodown by Shinkiro.
|Release date(s)||August 11, 1993
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players simultaneously|
|Distribution||(118 Mbit cartridge)|
|Arcade system||Neo Geo|
|Display||Raster, 304 x 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors|
Samurai Shodown, known as Samurai Spirits (サムライスピリッツ Samurai Supirittsu?, Samu Supi in short) in Japan, is a competitive fighting game developed and published by SNK for their Neo Geo arcade and home platform. Released in 1993, it is the first installment in the Samurai Shodown series. In contrast to other fighting games at the time which were set in modern times and focused primarily on hand-to-hand combat, Samurai Shodown is set in feudal-era Japan (similar to Kaneko's Shogun Warriors) and was one of the first fighting games to focus primarily on weapon-based combat after the success of Capcom's Street Fighter II.
The game is set in the late 18th century, and all the characters wield weapons. The game uses comparatively authentic music from the time period, rife with sounds of traditional Japanese instruments, such as the shakuhachi and shamisen, and a refined version of the camera zoom first found in Art of Fighting. True to its use of bladed weapons, the game also included copious amounts of blood.
The game quickly became renowned for its fast pace, focused more on quick, powerful strikes than the combos. As to emphasize the distinction of this gameplay system, slow motion was added to intensify damage dealt from hard hits. Also during a match, a referee held flags representing each player (player 1 was white; player 2 red). When a player landed a successful hit, the referee would lift the corresponding flag, letting everyone watching know who dealt the blow. To lessen the repetition of fights, a delivery man running in the background threw items such as chicken (that healed) or bombs, which could significantly change the outcome of a play.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2013)|
In addition to the Neo Geo system, the AES, the game was ported to multiple other platforms, including the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, 3DO, FM Towns, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. All of the cartridge versions were handled by Takara, while Crystal Dynamics ported the 3DO version, and Funcom handled the Sega CD port.
The Genesis and Sega CD versions omit Earthquake and his stage. Both versions lack the camera zoom, and as a result the camera is zoomed-in, which gives better detail to the characters, but the fighting area is smaller. In addition, some attacks were altered or removed entirely from the Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game. The final boss is playable in two player mode without the use of a code. The Mega Drive/Genesis version lacks the arcade introduction, instead displaying the arcade version's text with no background graphics or speech, the character artwork shown after beating an opponent is missing, and portions of some characters endings are missing. The announcer no longer says the names of the characters before a fight or after winning a fight. The Sega CD version, however, includes the arcade intro with the text, graphics, and speech, as well as the character artwork shown after beating an opponent, and the announcer says the names of the characters before a fight and after winning a fight. The Sega CD version also includes the attacks that were removed or altered in the Mega Drive/Genesis version, and the music is the same as the arcade version.
The SNES version has the character line-up intact, but has the game zoomed-out, which makes the character sprites smaller compared to the other ports. This version has all of the stages from the arcade version, and they are less restricted compared to the Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega CD ports. This version also supports Dolby Surround sound. The SNES version includes the arcade intro sequence, although the voice accompanying the text is missing, the character artwork shown after beating an opponent is present, as well as the arcade endings. The announcer, like the Sega CD version, says the names of the characters before a fight and after winning a fight. An exclusive mode, count down, is included in this port. Players can also use the final boss in two player mode with a secret code.
The Game Boy version includes all the characters, all the stages, and most of the special moves, but has no combos, fatalities, or voices. All the music tracks are included, albeit in scaled-down form. The Game Gear version includes only seven characters.
Unlike most early home versions of the game, the 3DO version includes the camera zoom, as well as all the characters, special moves, and fatalities.
The Neo Geo AES version of the game was released for the Wii Virtual Console on October 16, 2007 in Japan; May 30, 2008 in Europe; and June 16, 2008 in North America. However, before the Virtual Console version was released in the North America, the game was released as part of SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1.
The game was edited when it was first released for the AES as it featured blood and graphic fatal attacks that kill opponents by slicing them in half. This was mostly due to the negative publicity surrounding the use of violence in video games of the time. As a result, it was decided to censor the game for most platforms, by changing the blood from red to white and disabling all of the fatal attack animations. The win quotes were also censored, and references to death or blood were altered.
In the Super NES version the blood was recolored orange and the half slicing is removed. The 3DO version, however, was released in 1994 with all blood and fatality graphics intact. As a result, some retailers didn't carry this edition of the game.
The censoring of the Neo Geo console version was unusual in that it was tied to the specific system. For instance, a North American cartridge running on a North American Neo Geo would display white sweat, but the same cartridge, when plugged into a Japanese Neo Geo, would run the uncensored game with blood. Neo Geo console modifications would enable users to set the system's region to Japan, or play in arcade mode, either of which would cause the game to be played with all of the blood and death animations intact, even on a North American/PAL console.
Three anime adaptations have been made based on the game:
- Samurai Spirits: Haten Gouma no Shou in 1994 which is a full length film
- Samurai Spirits 2: Asura Zanmaden in 1999 which is two2 episodes
- Nakoruru ~Ano hito kara no okurimono~ (OVA) in 2002 which is one episode
In the February 1994 issue of Gamest magazine in Japan, Samurai Spirits was awarded Best Game of 1993 in the Seventh Annual Gamest Grand Prize, being the first to win in the category of Best Fighting Game as well (Street Fighter II Dash, the previous Game of the Year, won as Best Action Game). Samurai Spirits placed first place in Best VGM, Best Album and Best Direction, and second place in Best Graphics. In the Best Characters list, Nakoruru placed No. 1, Haohmaru at No. 6, Jubei Yagyu at No. 8, a tie between Ukyo Tachibana, Galford, and Poppy at No. 11, Charlotte at No. 16 (tied with Duck King from Fatal Fury Special), Kuroko at No. 18, Tam Tam and Hanzo Hattori tied for No. 22, Gen-an Shiranui at No. 29, and Wan-Fu tied at No. 45 with five other characters.
Samurai Shodown won multiple awards from Electronic Gaming Monthly in their 1993 video game awards, including Best Neo-Geo Game, Best Fighting Game, and Game of the Year. It was awarded "Game of the Year" at the April 1994 European Computer Trade Show.
On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Neo Geo version of the game a 25 out of 40, giving the Super Famicom version an 8 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review. GamePro opined that the game is a rare case where the Genesis/Mega Drive version is superior to the Super Nintendo version, citing the Genesis version's better scale (zoomed-in versus the zoomed-out graphics of the Super Nintendo version) and the awkward control configuration on the Super Nintendo version. They held the Game Boy version to be surprisingly good given the hardware but unsatisfying in absolute terms, and concluded that hardcore fans should pass on even the Genesis version in favor of the upcoming 3DO and Sega CD versions.
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the 3DO version a 7.6/10, calling it "A very faithful home version of the arcade fighter".
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