|Samurai Shodown character|
|First appearance||Samurai Shodown (1993)|
|Last appearance||Soulcalibur VI (2019)|
|Portrayed by||Hiroshi Fujioka (KOF All-Stars promo trailer)|
|Fighting style||His own|
|Weapon||Katana and sake jug|
Fugudoku (Blowfish Poison)
|Origin||Musashi-koku castle town|
Haohmaru (覇王丸 Haōmaru) is the titular protagonist character of the Samurai Shodown series of video games and is one of its most known characters alongside Nakoruru. He was introduced in the original Samurai Shodown in 1993 and has since appeared in every title in the series.
The character was based on the famed swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, a duelist who claimed to have never lost a match. Though he is a swordsman with no loyalties to any lord, Haohmaru has a "samurai spirit" which is often stressed in the series. He is also often accredited to defeating most of the series' villains.
Haohmaru appears in all Samurai Shodown games and their other-media adaptations. According to his backstory, at the age of fifteen he challenged the series' version of Jubei Yagyu to a duel but lost due to lack of experience. Jubei, amused by the youth's bravado, brought Haohmaru to Nicotine Caffeine so that he may gain proper training. Whilst living there, Haohmaru also met and befriended Kibagami Genjuro, fellow student and another orphan like himself. One day, Nicotine told them they would battle to determine who would learn the secrets in a magical scroll to increase their fighting ability. Genjuro won but almost killed Haohmaru; in response, Nicotine banished Genjuro which began the latter's grudge against Haohmaru and Nicotine. Encouraged by this defeat to further improve himself, Haohmaru travelled the lands, perfecting his sword skills and searching for worthy challengers in the name of Ashura. During his many travels, Haohmaru also raised Shizumaru Hisame and trained him to be a fighter.
Haohmaru fell in love with a girl named Oshizu, but he eventually leaves her for his travels in Samurai Shodown VI even as she begs him to stay with her. In the same game, it is shown that Haohmaru shares a close relationship with Charlotte Christine de Colde, even travelling all the way to France in order to visit her. In Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, Haohmaru is a skilled and active swordsman at the age of forty-seven. At this time, he is trying to find his adopted niece, Mikoto and bring her back home. Samurai Shodown V character Rasetsumaru is a monstrous doppelganger of Haohmaru.
Haohmaru also made appearances in several other video games by SNK and other developers, including fighting games Capcom vs. SNK 2, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, mobile game Neo Geo Tennis Coliseum, dating sim Days of Memories: Oedo Love Scroll, and battle arena game Lost Saga. Neo Geo Battle Coliseum developers stated that no matter what the fans wanted, they wanted to include Samurai Shodown characters and made Haohmaru's inclusion one of their top priorities in development. He also makes regular appearances in the series' merchandise, including at least two action figures. He is also a part of Soulcalibur VI season pass 2. This news was announced during EVO 2019 on August 4th in the season 2 trailer after the Cassandra Alexandra release date trailer shows that she is a part of season pass 1.
Design and gameplay
Haohmaru's creation was inspired by the famous historical samurai Miyamoto Musashi. He was actually called called 'Musashi' during the development of the first Samurai Shodown game. The series' creator Yasushi Adachi chose "the two flagship characters" Haohmaru and Nakoruru as the ones that best sum up the series: "With his use of powerful and damaging attacks as well as the Ikari gauge that increases attack power, Haohmaru does a great job representing the myriad of concepts game systems in these games."
His trademark moves are "Kogetsuzan", a crescent-shaped uppercut, and "Senpuretsuzan", a whirlwind projectile which lifts opponents into the air (like a hurricane) before dropping them on their heads. He also has a sake jug, which he uses to 'bless' his blade with liquor before he fights. In Samurai Shodown II, he may swing his jug in battle for a multi-hit short-range attack or alternatively use it to reflect projectiles. He also gained a somersault attack, which could cause massive damage upon crouching foes. When his style splits in Samurai Shodown III, his "Slash" form retains several strategies used in previous games, being a balanced and easy-to-master mid-range combatant. By contrast, his "Bust" form alters several moves, granting him access to aggressive close-combat fighting. His appearance in Warriors Rage for the PlayStation also combined some elements from Genjuro's fighting style such as his stance and crouching strikes.
Haohmaru was well received, often regarded as a classic character or an "old favourite". In the Japanese Gamest magazine's 1997 Heroes Collection, Haohmaru was tied with Ukyo for their 29th spot (out of 50) in the staff's list of favorite arcade gaming characters. Greg Kasavin from GameSpot listed his "Crescent Moon Slash" move as one of the best special attacks in fighting games' history. Complex cited Haohmaru while including Samurai Shodown V on their list of top games with Fatality-like special moves, and included him among the fighters with most humiliating quotes. GamesRadar included him in a potential roster of their dream fighting game "Vertigo Vs. SNK" and Sony Online Entertainment art director Timothy Heydelaar took Haohmaru as his nickname. In 2013, WatchMojo.com ranked this "memorable series regular" as the tenth most iconic fighting game character.
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