Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits Bushidō Retsuden
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|Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits
|Designer(s)||Shirou Ono (main illustrator)|
|Release date(s)||June 27, 1997|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Samurai Shodown RPG, known as Samurai Spirits, a True Story: Bushido Biographies (真説サムライスピリッツ武士道烈伝 Shinsetsu Samurai Supirittsu: Bushidō Retsuden ) in Japan, is a role-playing video game for the SNK's Neo Geo CD system, and was also ported to the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation. It was never released outside of Japan.
As the original title does not translate smoothly to English, it is commonly simply referred to as Samurai Shodown RPG. Alternatively, it has also been referred to as Samurai Spirits: True Legends of Furious Bushido RPG.
The basic setup of the game is very similar to most console RPGs, such as Final Fantasy. Your characters roam an overworld, enter towns and dungeons, and get into battles, which occur on a separate screen. The menu options enable equipping of armor and accessories, as well as use of items.
At the outset, the player is given the option to choose from six characters to be the "main" character of the story. They were Haohmaru, Nakoruru, Genjuro Kibagami, Galford D. Weller, Ukyo Tachibana and Cham Cham. The basic outline of the plot did not diverge greatly for any of them, but each had different dialogue ingame, and each also had unique special scenes which would go into greater detail of the character. In addition, to better adjust to character continuity, certain stories were modified slightly based on the selected chapter. Over the course of the game, two other characters could also join your party (unless the hero is Genjuro who only gains a partner in his second story). The secondary characters who could join you were Charlotte Christine Colde, Rimururu and Kyoshiro Senryo, as well as other "main" characters whom the player did not select at the outset. In addition, the second chapter also introduced a new character, a warrior by the name of Shippuu no Reon (疾風の鈴音), whose name translates roughly to "The Ringing of the Gale Winds." All of the first two Samurai Shodown games' characters make an appearance, either as a temporary helper, plot device, and/or enemy.
From a game-mechanics standpoint, combat is not unlike Final Fantasy in most respects. Its most significant deviation from formula is that there is an option which enables the player to input the joystick motions for the various special moves manually, just as they were done in the arcade games, rather than simply selecting the moves from a list. For example, to do Haohmaru's Senpuu Retsuzan, or "Cyclone Slash" (Japanese: 旋風烈斬), one could do the standard "quarter-circle forward" motion of pressing down, down-right, and then right plus the attack button in sequence. This, combined with the overall speed of combat, makes for fairly engaging gameplay, as it requires one to remember the motions for a character's moves.
Tactically, the game ranged wildly (but steadily) in its overall difficulty. The second chapter is notably more difficult than the first, and the standard "attack" command is rarely useful, in comparison to the ubiquitous special moves. The characters are given an ample supply of "spirit points" with which to do these moves, and they are always needed, as they are typically the only things that are effective against most foes of equal or greater strength.
While armor and accessories could be bought and equipped, there are no weapons for sale anywhere. Each character has the same weapon throughout the game, and players could visit blacksmiths in the game to temper their weapons to make them stronger. These smiths could also infuse the weapons with one of the game's various elements, which would make the weapon's normal strikes and select special moves more effective against certain enemies, depending on which was chosen.
The various dungeons and overworld maps tended to be small in size, which compensated for the extremely high encounter rate. On average, in a dungeon/overworld, fights would begin every 3–5 seconds of movement (slightly more frequent while running). By playing through both chapters with a single character (not including load times), total game length was roughly 20–25 hours.
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- Cham Cham - Sister to the Greenhell hero, Tam Tam, who goes to Japan to find the Palenke Stone. She battles Mizuki because she "needs to beat the bad guys".
- Charlotte - optional secondary character. If she joins with Haohmaru as the main hero in the second chapter, they will exchange a special conversation when she comes home to Paris.
- Galford - Upon just completing his training with Hanzo, his mentor's son, Shinzo, is possessed by Amakusa. He leaves alone to deal justice to Amakusa. He intends the same with Mizuki.
- Haohmaru - While in Nicotine's dojo, he is confronted by Amakusa to join his forces. He refuses and gets beaten badly by Genjuro in a duel. When he awakens, he begins to wonder about his own potential, and leaves to vanquish Amakusa and find self-fulfillment. He honors his master's wishes and goes to slay Mizuki in his stead.
- Kibagami Genjuro - Humiliated by Amakusa for his preference for Haohmaru, he sets out to kill him. When Mizuki terrorizes the world, he decides to kill her from pure interest. Due to his arrogance, he is the only hero who does his story solo (the exception being Reon and his non-fighting pet in his party).
- Nakoruru - Much like her original origin story but with Rimururu present. When her father is killed by a wild bear, she goes to slay the source of the evil, Amakusa. Mizuki's revival again stirred trouble for Nature so she sets out to save it.
- Rimururu - optional secondary character. She will have special dialogue if the main hero who recruits her is Nakoruru.
- Senryo Kyoshiro - optional secondary character.
- Shippū no Reon - original character. Appears in Mizuki chapter as the mandatory third/second character. A mysterious warrior on a mission to defeat Mizuki, no matter the cost.
- Tachibana Ukyo - Ill and intending to ease his beloved Kei's worry, he leaves to find the ultimate flower for her pleasure. The flower he finds after Amakusa's defeat was genuine so as a favor to Nicotine, he goes to slay Mizuki.
- Amakusa Shiro Tokisada - sorcerer who revives his role as main villain for the first chapter.
- Bizuki - priestess who is eventually possessed by Mizuki.
- Caffeine Gaira - occasional guest party member, will have special dialogue if Haohmaru or Genjuro are the main hero.
- Caffeine Nicotine - sage advisor and occasional guest party member, will have special dialogue if Haohmaru or Genjuro are the main hero.
- Earthquake - minor villain; has special dialogue and scenes if Galford is the main hero.
- Haon - original character; the name to Bizuki's demon dog companion.
- Hattori Hanzō - occasional guest party member; will have special scenes if Galford is the main hero in the first chapter.
- Hisame Shizumaru - NeoCD version bonus only.
- Kazama Kazuki - NeoCD version bonus only.
- Kazama Sogetsu - NeoCD version bonus only.
- Kubikiri Basara - occasional guest party member in first chapter; optional boss in second chapter.
- Kuroko - cameo as stageman; acts as the "save point" for the game.
- Neinhalt Sieger - occasional guest party member; dies late in second chapter.
- Paku-Paku - monkey pet to Cham Cham; in the first chapter, it's established that he is really Tam Tam. In Mizuki's story, it's unconfirmed whether it's still Tam Tam or her actual pet, Paku Paku.
- Poppy - faithful husky companion to Galford.
- Rashojin Mizuki - evil demon who acts as the villain for the second chapter.
- Reppū no Hion - original character; Reon's ancestor and companion to Bizuki.
- Shiranui Gen-an - minor villain.
- Tam Tam - appears briefly in the first chapter of Cham Cham's story; transformed into Paku-Paku
- Tokihime - original character; sister to the lover of Amakusa. Depending on the player's actions, her sister saves Amakusa's soul from Ambrosia.
- Ushiwakahime - original character; servant to Ambrosia but is commanded by Amakusa.
- Wan-Fu - occasional guest party member.
- Yagyu Jubei - occasional guest party member; dies early in second chapter.
The development history of the game is fairly storied. It was announced for development at the height of the Samurai Shodown series' popularity in 1995, and underwent many delays in the process, finally being released a few years later. For some time, rumors abounded that it was never going to come out.
As originally envisioned, the game was to be split into three episodes: one for each of the three games in the series. For a while, it was to be a NeoCD exclusive, but developmental and financial pressures caused SNK to also release it for the other two current systems. In a somewhat inexplicable marketing move, SNK decided that each version was to contain only two of the three episodes, thereby necessitating a player to buy two copies of the game in order to get the whole thing. Unsurprisingly, this plan resulted in a significant backlash from fans, and was discarded.
Eventually, as development ground on, the executive decision was finally made to scrap the third chapter entirely, and focus solely on the first two, so as to allow the game to be released sooner. This may, in fact, be the only reason SNK's original two-chapters-per-version plan wasn't put into effect. Finally, it was released in mid-1997, to generally mixed reviews. While it was praised for its striking animation and 2D visuals, it was hampered by excessive load times. Despite this, speculations were made of a possible localized US release by Working Designs, but rumors proved false.
While the core gameplay is largely similar between the versions, certain aesthetic and gameplay differences between the Neo Geo CD and PlayStation/Saturn versions suggest that the development may have been handled by two different dev teams.
- The Neo Geo CD version has considerably more animation in the combat sprites than the PS and Saturn, including unique idle stances for each character, and specialized death animations for monsters.
- The Neo Geo CD version has more ornate and colorful menus, whereas the PS and Saturn versions have fairly blank, purple-and-green menus instead.
- Motions in the Neo Geo CD version have a smoother look and feel than the others.
- In the overworld map, the NeoCD version uses a scaled-down version of the dungeon/down character sprite. The PS version uses a new sprite entirely.
- The Neo Geo CD runs in its native resolution of 304x224, whereas the PS and Saturn run in 320x240.
- The Neo Geo CD version has less pauses in between audio clips than the others.
- The PS and Saturn version have significant animation cuts in the characters' walk/run animations.
- The PS version enables the player to select the strength of a normal attack after choosing a target, whereas the Neo Geo CD does not.
- The PS version shows an Active Time Battle bar, which the NeoCD lacks.
- The PS version has higher-quality music than either of the other two versions, owing to higher-quality PCM samples.
The most obvious differences between the three versions are the bonus modes which are unlocked after beating the game.
- Neo Geo CD: A third "mini-chapter" is enabled, wherein the player controls Hisame Shizumaru as he wanders around, running into cameos appearances of various SNK characters from other games.
- PlayStation: A "side story" mode is enabled, which enables the player to view non-interactive sequences about many of the series' other characters.
- Saturn: An interview mode is enabled, which enables the player to view a lengthy, non-interactive sequence about the various characters (which frequently breaks the fourth wall). This bonus content is also available in the PlayStation version, by way of a hacked save file.
There have been a few attempts at translating the game into English, much like Policenauts and other CD based Japan-only games but so far none have been completed or even partially released. The translation by video game translator "Deuce" has been in development for several years and has not -as of 2012- been released. Save for a YouTube video showing a partial translation hack in action and a few screenshots of the game menu in English, nothing has ever materialized. It is assumed Deuce has left the project indefinitely for reasons unknown.
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- IGN Staff. "Samurai Bosses Revealed". IGN.com. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
- SNK, ed. (1997). Samurai Spirits Bushido Rensetsuden Sega Saturn instruction manual (in Japanese). SNK, FujiTV, Asatsu. pp. 26–31. T-3112G.
- Famitsu, ed. (1997). Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits Bushidoretsuden Official Guide Book (in Japanese). ASCII. pp. 54, 58, 60–63, 68. ISBN 4-89366-789-0.
- SNK, ed. (1997). Samurai Spirits Bushido Rensetsuden Sega Saturn instruction manual (in Japanese). SNK, FujiTV, Asatsu. p. 13. T-3112G.
- SNK, ed. (1997). Samurai Spirits Bushido Rensetsuden Sega Saturn instruction manual (in Japanese). SNK, FujiTV, Asatsu. pp. 32, 33. T-3112G.
- Famitsu, ed. (1997). Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits Bushidoretsuden Official Guide Book (in Japanese). ASCII. pp. 174–185. ISBN 4-89366-789-0.
- SNK, ed. (1997). Samurai Spirits Bushido Rensetsuden Sega Saturn instruction manual (in Japanese). SNK, FujiTV, Asatsu. pp. 18–21, 24. T-3112G.
- SNK, ed. (1997). Samurai Spirits Bushido Rensetsuden Sega Saturn instruction manual (in Japanese). SNK, FujiTV, Asatsu. pp. 15, 17, 23. T-3112G.
- IGN Staff. "Still Working Away". IGN.com. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
- Famitsu, ed. (1997). Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits Bushidoretsuden Official Guide Book (in Japanese). ASCII. pp. 2–6. ISBN 4-89366-789-0.