SNK Playmore’s Samurai Spirits has been extremely popular in Japan – the original Samurai Shodown has got to be as old as Street Fighter II. I remember playing it on the Genesis and, even in my youth, I could see just how beautiful it is. It is a series of fighting games set primarily in Japan, with characters based on historical figures—or directly descended from them.
It has a very distinct look and feel, as a series. Just by principle this is one thing that, if missing, would result in a terrible game.
It is a shame, because the very distinct look and feel IS missing in Samurai Shodown Sen.
Much to my dismay, this is the first widely available game in the series that uses 3D graphics. Why does this bother me? Because the last excuse, Warriors Rage, didn’t sell well for a reason! Speaking of which, Warriors Rage used to be the lowest point for this series…
With Samurai Shodown Sen, a lot has definitely been lost, visually. No, scrap that. Honesty is the best policy—this game is hideous. Whereas Tekken 6 “just about” passes as a game from this generation, Samurai Shodown Sen does not.
The description on Amazon.co.uk says, “This is the Samurai Shodown you’ve been waiting for! Its intricate graphics crafted to the minutest detail and brimming with realism are a must-see! Your pulse will pound to the thrill of true battle with images rivaling the latest in game machines.”
No. No they fecking don’t. And I’ve yet to have a fighting game’s graphics make my pulse pound; even Dead or Alive 4 can’t manage this (with Hitomi bouncing in my face).
I know this is just anger talking, but this game just makes me boil with it. It is the Deadly Arts of the Xbox 360. If these graphics indeed rival current day arcade standards, then they need to go back to Lunar Lander and start over.
Sen‘s biggest issue, where graphics are concerned, is with character faces. They’re jagged and sharp, and barely resemble their mugshots at all. And beautiful Nakoruru…what have they done to you!? Nakoruru does not resemble her sprites from the earlier games at all—her mugshot and character model, there’s a huge difference between them.
With such a distinct painted visual style going on with the artwork, would it have hurt to apply a similar filter to the characters and environments? Like Street Fighter IV does? C’mon SNK. The examples are there. If you plant a filter on your graphics, you are not stealing from Street Fighter IV, OK?
So, the graphics, huh? Just to summarize: The people who made this were the people who made Tenchu Z. It looks like Tenchu Z. Tenchu Z is horrid.
I know that perhaps I’ve been a little bit cruel about these graphics, and it’s mainly because I’m so pissed off with the game itself—but it looks like it should have been on the Wii, not the Xbox 360. The screenshots may not accurately show the mistakes—but of course, these screenshots were sourced from the Internet, and we all know that developers brush up their promotional screenshots if they’re worried about the graphics.
In this game, each of the 24 main characters has their own story, and indeed their own reason for travelling Japan. Ten new characters join the fray, but several old characters return, such as Haohmaru and Nakoruru, Charlotte, Galford and a few others. Each story results in having to fight a Nazi-esque European general named Golba and a shotgun-wielding bloke called Draco, which will also be the two hardest battles in your whole life.
I thought Dead or Alive 4 was the hardest fighting game I’d played. Why did I have to play this game? Why did I have to be appealed toward this long-running SNK series? Why did I have to witness, first-hand, how impossible this game is?
If the devastating visuals weren’t enough for this game to earn the right to disappear for all of eternity, then the difficulty comes out and tops the list. Shame it doesn’t top itself. Maybe the development team should top themselves. There I said it.
I don’t mean that, it’s just… ARGH! GAH! F&$@!!!
The controls are dreadful—to the point where the simplest combo is very, very hard to pull off. Not to mention the massive pauses between every attack, deliberately lining up with the AI’s moves perfectly at every possible opportunity.
Playing on any difficulty other than Beginner, you will get your arse handed to you without a moment’s notice. The L/R trigger slash moves can take a clean half-bar without any trouble whatsoever—and whereas the computer more or less always blocks these, I seem incapable of doing so.
The result? Less than five seconds of battle, and half a minute’s loading. I don’t understand quite what it has to load every time a battle begins, or why it can’t be loading all of this from when you pick your character (as opposed to waiting a few seconds before doing so). This just isn’t the right way to handle it.
You can squash the loading times down to about 10-15 seconds by installing the game to your hard-drive. However, I’m mid-way through Tales of Vesperia, and seeing as I have a small hard-drive, the RPG takes priority for installed games.
Also, just a small point. If your fighting game does not contain an Arcade Mode, then don’t offer CHARACTER CHANGE after choosing to continue. Look at Dead or Alive 4 (you know, the benchmark for Next Gen fighting games) for a hint or two—notice how after choosing to continue, you’re instantly back in battle?
SNK. There are more than enough examples to follow. So do it.
One thing I do agree with is the returning ability to amputate various parts of your opponent’s body with your final blow. Land it correctly and you may chop their entire body in half, or decapitate them rather cleanly. There are no incentives to try to go for removing their head, but it is satisfying when you succeed in doing so.
After spending more time on loading screens than actually fighting, it is satisfying when your finishing blow against the final boss takes his head off, and a geyser of blood spills everywhere.
Although I say, “play on Beginner,” this won’t save you from regular death. The final bosses are overpowered (kinda like screen-sized Onslaught in Marvel vs. Capcom). Completing anybody’s story mode is a miracle in itself, but for a single achievement, you must beat all 24 of them on Hard.
Like HELL I will. Speaking of Hell, I heard someone tell me that it froze over—which would explain why this is just such a bloody dreadful game. This game makes me want to kill someone, but with controls like these, that’s impossible.
This ugly beast should never have crawled out from under the rock it came, and it upsets me to give an SNK game such a low score. I’m surprised this game even got released outside of Japan—seems publishers license the wrong Japanese games, and then refuse to license the right ones. This game is best left where it belongs, on the shop shelf, getting ignored in favor of “actual” games.
Its redeeming features are slim, and its appeal is low. For fans of the genre, there are far better games games out there. Save yourself the time spent cursing and keep your beer money for what it is supposed to be used for.
Sorry SNK, but you did a boo-boo. Try harder next time.