Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One
Genre: 2D weapons-based fighting game

In light of the new & rebooted Samurai Shodown’s lovely sumi-e aesthetics that mimic classical Japanese paintings of the 17th century, I’ve decided to just write the majority of the review in a traditional poem structure renowned in that period.

Summarized thoughts are at the bottom if this style of poetry isn’t your jam.

SNK returns,

Samurai Shodown reboot,

Beginner-friendly.

SamSho_deflect

Fights feel raw; powered,

Prioritizes footsies,

Whiff, and you will die.

 

Patience is a must,

Mashing will get you nowhere,

Counter-hits wins matches.

samsho_ragemode_lightningblade

Even at Death’s door,

Comeback mechanics are strong,

Lightning Blade; painful.

 

The gang is all here,

Charlotte, Jubei: top tier,

Just abuse their mids.

 

They feel old yet new,

Still like their past counterparts,

Tam-Tam got better.

 

Samurai_Shodown_2019-_Darli

New fighters are fresh,

Brings in unique diverse styles,

Caters to all skills.

 

Darli is best bae,

Beginners will love her saw,

Jumping High: godlike.

 

Yashamaru pokes,

Double-jump shenanigans,

Has best air specials.

 

Wu-Ruixiang,

Zones and sets traps like a boss,

Feng shui Velma? Yes.

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Fight mechanics? Great!

Pity there are no extras,

Casuals may frown.

 

Devs can do better,

Features mean longevity,

Should copy MK.

 

Pros will dig it, though,

Dojo Mode shows big promise,

Practice Mode needs work.

 

Online mode seems fine,

Netcode seems serviceable,

Too many Jubeis.

coccppWg_2

Back to 2D form,

Not as bloated as  past games,

Good job, SNK!

In short, great swordplay,

Samurai spirit, retained,

Still needs extra stuff.

samsho05

Samurai Shodown is a great return to form for SNK’s swordfighting series. While it seems to be going for the Street Fighter V style of release and comes with the bare minimum, at least this game includes a standard arcade mode with endings and a fun (?) final boss called Shizuka to fight against. 

If you don’t mind paying triple-A price to train up for this game for future fighting game tournaments -and there will be if the Neo Geo World Tour is of any indication- then go nuts and play this 2D weapons-based masterclass. This is the best time as any to jump on board the SamSho train as long as you’re fine with the bare minimum offering. 

And if you’re still one of those grumpy old folks who think single-player offerings in a fighting game aren’t important, you may want to adjust your viewpoint via this insightful video. 

Pros

  • Great cast of fighters, old and new
  • Solid gameplay that rewards patience, neutral game, & counter-hits
  • Lovely art style and sounds

Cons

  • Lacks engaging single-player features & extras
  • Practice mode & tutorials are basic compared to other fighting games

Final Score: 70/100

 

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