Samurai Shodown III
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|Samurai Shodown III|
Neo-Geo CD cover for Samurai Shodown III.
|Release date(s)||November 15, 1995
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players simultaneously|
|Arcade system||Neo Geo (282 Mbit cartridge)|
|Display||Raster, 304 x 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors|
Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood, known as Samurai Spirits: Zankuro Musouken (サムライスピリッツ 斬紅郎無双剣?) in Japan and Fighters Swords in Korea, is the third game in SNK's popular Samurai Shodown series of fighting games for the Neo Geo. While it is the third game in the main series, it is the first part of a two-chapter interquel between Samurai Shodown and Samurai Shodown II.
In keeping with their habit of using the third game in a series as a place to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, Samurai Shodown III was to be the start of a bold new direction for the franchise.
The most obvious difference between this game and the others in the series is the notably darker aesthetic. The more light-hearted characters (Earthquake, Cham Cham, and Gen-an to name a few) from the previous games have been excised, and even the kabuki master, Kyoshiro Senryo, received a redesign, transforming him from a flamboyant stage performer into a grim-faced, muscular man. All of the characters have been completely redrawn. The animation is very smooth for all characters, another departure from the graphical style of the second game.
Along with the aesthetic overhaul came significant changes in the gameplay. The most obvious was the addition of two selectable versions of each character.
- Slash: Known to the Japanese as Shura (修羅), which means "fighting" or a "scene of carnage", and occasionally mistranslated as "Chivalry", and implies a regular fighter (compare a face in professional wrestling). This version tended to be the closest in style and moves to the Samurai Shodown II version of the character.
- Bust: Known to the Japanese as Rasetsu (羅刹), which is a derivation of the Sanskrit word, "rakshasa", in reference to a type of demon. It is occasionally mistranslated as "Treachery", implying a rulebreaking heel version of the character. This version typically differed considerably from its Slash counterpart in gameplay, though it visually did not look different beyond its color palette. The fighter Nakoruru is the only notable exception to this. The "Slash" version of her character is accompanied by her pet hawk, Mamahaha, as in the two previous SS games. Her "Bust" version, however, is accompanied by her pet wolf, Shikuru. (Like with Mamahaha, she is able to hop onto Shikuruu's back and perform modified attacks.) Galford in his "Bust" version fights without his dog, Poppy for the first time in the game.
Also, the button layout was changed, mapping the first three of the four available buttons to weak, medium and strong slash attacks, respectively. The fourth button was used for kick attacks, presumably to de-emphasize kicks in favor of the sword strikes.
The pace of the game had shifted somewhat, as many basic attacks could now be canceled into special moves, something which was extremely rare in the first two installments. Most of SS2's movement options had been removed, in favor of the ability to dodge attacks by pressing the A and B buttons simultaneously. When close, performing this command would result in a quick switch-around to the opponent's back, which could then be followed up by other attacks. It was also possible to block attacks in mid-air. Items were also thrown onto the battlefield from off-screen as opposed from a delivery man running in the background.
Perhaps most significant, Haohmaru's role in the story was diminished, in favor of the new main character, and the overall story was smaller in scope.
In spite of the removal of several characters, new ones were added in their place. The new additions to the series included the following:
- Shiro Tokisada Amakusa, while not a new character to the series, was now playable, and not a boss.
- Shizumaru Hisame, the semi-amnesiac, umbrella-wielding young boy, who is the main protagonist of this game. His goal is to slay Zankuro Minazuki because Shizumaru believes that Zankuro murdered his family.
- Rimururu, Nakoruru's younger sister, who wielded the power of ice.
- Gaira Caffeine, the large, brash and overbearing monk... who happens to be the nephew of Nicotine Caffeine (in the Korean language setting, Gaira's name changes to "Kim Ung Che", which is spoken by a different announcer).
- Basara Kubikiri, an undead spirit, seeking revenge for his own murder, and that of his lover.
- Zankuro Minazuki, the new final boss of the game. He is a giant of a man, and a swordsman driven insane by his quest to perfect his skills. His murderous rampage sets the stage for everything else that occurs.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2013)|
Like the first Samurai Shodown game, Samurai Shodown III was released on multiple consoles other than the Neo Geo and Neo Geo CD such as the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and even a Game Boy version known as "Nettou Samurai Spirits: Zankuro Musouken" with Super Game Boy support capabilities. Unlike the arcade and console versions, the Game Boy version lacks Kyoshiro Senryo and Gaira Caffeine but adds Jubei Yagyu back to the roster as a hidden final boss exclusively for the game. The handheld version also builds on adding three exclusive SSIII borders for Super Game Boy users, one being the default border, the second shown after the two bosses are unlocked and the third one used for the endings. Like the first Game Boy version of SS, the GB version of SSIII also features full color art via SGB, new victory speeches (a rarity feature for a GB game), story intro for all characters, new POW super moves similar to the console versions, Bust and Slash versions of all characters, cut-scenes are feature in between matches, a Kuroko mirror match added, a two-player vs. mode via link cable or Super Game Boy, and for the first time in a portable Samurai Shodown game, blood was also featured (but only in black dripping color). Unlike the arcade and console ports, the Game Boy version wasn't hampered by the many gameplay flaws since it was developed a year after the arcade and console versions. The Game Boy port was released only in Japan by developers Takara, the same team responsible for the porting of several other SNK arcade games to multiple consoles and handhelds.
Unfortunately, for all of its positive aspects, the game was marred by a number of bugs, including spotty collision detection in places, and poor game balance, with some characters being much, much more powerful than the rest of the cast. Damages were very high, which resulted in matches ending very quickly (sometimes in only a few seconds). This, combined with the unexpected aesthetic shift and the removal of taunts and most win quotes, led to considerable backlash from the series' fans.
Over time, it has become better-appreciated in spite of its flaws (primarily outside of arcades, where the individual matches didn't cost players money), and is usually seen as a broken-but-fun gaming experience. Most SNK faithful see it as a missed opportunity: a game that had a vision, but was rushed to meet a deadline, and was thus less than what it set out to be. It was ported to both the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and the former of the two became colloquially known as "Samurai Slowdown", due to extremely poor performance.
- Kazuya UK. "Samurai Shodown III Review". Neogeoforlife.com - A SNK Fan Site. Retrieved December 21, 2007. "One thing that is slightly annoying however, is that some hits take off far too much damage."
- Bobak!. "Samurai Shodown III Review". Neo-Geo.com - A SNK Fan Site. Retrieved December 21, 2007. "Matches are either too brief or too long. Many matches are decided by 10 attacks or less."
- Bobak!. "Samurai Shodown III Review". Neo-Geo.com - A SNK Fan Site. Retrieved December 21, 2007. "While the game isn't terrible, its rushed qualities make it the black sheep of the series."
- "Review: Samurai Shodown III for PlayStation on Gamepro.com". Gamepro.com - A Video Game Review Site. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved December 21, 2007. "You are not ready...for this awful game. Samurai Shodown III is a lousy port of an equally bad NeoGeo game. The graphics are one-dimensional (and they're missing frames of animation), the moves are slowed down horribly, and the fights aren't over fast enough. This port should never have been made."
- "Blades of Blood: Samurai Shodown III Reviews". Game Rankings - A Video Game Review Site. Retrieved December 19, 2007.
- "Samurai Shodown III Reviews". Game Rankings - A Video Game Review Site. Retrieved December 19, 2007.