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Being new to the Samurai Shodown games, and I have little experience with fighting games in general, so I was pretty confused when I first played the Samurai Shodown Anthology. However, with a bit of online research, I was able to understand why the game will be enjoyable for many, and why it appeals to its fans. The first Samurai Shodown game was released in 1993 for the Neo Geo console, and the Anthology covers this and five others.
Samurai Shodown was the first game to break from the Street Fighter II mould, and was also unique for its focus on weapon based combat, rather than hand-to-hand fighting. In the Anthology, all of this has been kept, with all of the original characters appearing. Samurai Shodown 2 adds several things to this, like the ability to do a roll or a small jump, which was meant for avoiding low or high blows. Although when I played it, I couldn't hope to avoid a single attack, I'm sure that this addition (along with a parry mechanic that was adopted later by Street Fighter III) added a new level of strategy for fans. Apparently this is considered one of the best Samurai Shodown games.
I was able to get by a few fights with my epic combinations of light attacks and heavy attacks, but I had no chance of pulling off one of the long combination moves.
Samurai Shodown III took the series in a new direction. It's considerably darker, with all the characters being redrawn to reflect this. A lot of SSII's movement techniques were removed, and replaced with the ability to press A and B together to dodge attacks. Unfortunately, at launch the game was marred by bugs, and poor overall balance, which are attributed to a rushed development. Samurai Shodown IV improves on many of the flaws of SSIII, and it's particularly noticeable that the game is more light-hearted and brighter than the previous game. The balance was better, and although there are still problems with the game, it was generally well received.
After a 7 year gap because of the collapse of the creators of the series, Samurai Shodown V was released. However, the development was given to Yuki Enteprises, a company which had no experience with fighting games. It's also a true prequel, set two years before the first game. It was generally considered a decent game, without really standing out. Samurai Shodown was obviously the game I played the most, and it contains tons of characters and six different fighting styles. I found it to be probably the most enjoyable experience.
The Samurai Shodown is obviously not aimed at me. I don't really play fighting games, and for almost all of the time I played the game I was completely confused. I was able to get by a few fights with my epic combinations of light attacks and heavy attacks, but I had no chance of pulling off one of the long combination moves.
You can look at the evolution of the games style, or just plain enjoy the nostalgia.
I also didn't really appreciate the differences between the games, because the complex bits of game play were beyond me. Until I looked things up on the Internet, most of the games were locked off to me because of the complexity. If you like fighting games in general, or if you played one of the games a while ago, this'll be interesting for you, because you can look at the evolution of the games style, or just plain enjoy the nostalgia. But for me, and anyone else who isn't currently a fighting game fan, this obviously isn't the place for us to start.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: