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Brendan
18 Aug, 2005

Samurai Shodown V Preview

PS2 Preview | Fighting with swords in the second dimension. Oh, and with minimum usage of the letter 'W'.
The Samurai Shodown series, known as Samurai Spirits in Japan, has always been considered a decent scrapper. It’s never reached the popularity of SNK’s flagship fighting game, King of Fighters, but it has enjoyed several enjoyable outings in the arcade and on various consoles. Unfortunately, Samurai Shodown V doesn’t look like it’s going to add to the overall quality of the series.

Samurai Shodown V is a straight port of the Neo Geo game of the same name. This in itself means it's fairly dated - but even moreso when you consider that the engine was first used in Samurai Shodown III back in 1993. Utilise the power of the PS2 this game does not.

A lot of ropey preview code comes through the PALGN offices, but Samurai Shodown V is even more questionable than most. To be completely honest, there is basically nothing that the game does right. Controls are slow and unresponsive, the game itself looks like it’s running on a Super Nintendo and STILL has slowdown, and…well, the less said about the audio, the better. The worst thing is that the game seems to be awfully close to completion, as there were none of the gaping holes that we’ve come to expect from preview builds. Apart from the hole where, y'know, actual quality gameplay should be.

This guy broke his opponent’s wrist with his hair. Nice.

This guy broke his opponent’s wrist with his hair. Nice.
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Just controlling your fighter feels like a chore. Unresponsive controls are enough to drag any game into the mud – but when it’s a 2D fighter like Samurai Shodown V, you might as well completely forget about it. When moves connect there is seemingly an eternity before you can press another button to execute a move on-screen, making combos fairly tough at best. D-pad rolls were also quite questionable, even for the usually difficult PS2 controller.

Jumping is just disturbing, with characters almost floating into the air before returning to earth. Compared to fluid 2D fighters such as the Guilty Gear series and even the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection, this game feels horrendous.

Sonic boom! Oh wait, wrong game.

Sonic boom! Oh wait, wrong game.
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By far the most off putting aspect of the game is the 16-bit presentation. It is simply unbelievable in the modern era. The sprite characters are not particularly detailed or interesting, backgrounds are static and utterly boring, while the animation is quite disturbing and often choppy. But, somehow, the framerate still manages to chug severely at times. The effects of special moves tend to be a cause of this, and often it seems deliberate, in order to ‘savour’ the move. We really hope there is a long way to go in the optimisation process, because this is a severe disservice to even the aging PS2 hardware. Yes, we understand that it's a port - but it still needs some sort of dressing up to be considered even remotely viable.

Hampering it even further are the ‘cut scenes’. These are straight from a 16-bit RPG, with the sprite characters wandering onto a static background and a speech bubble emerging from their head, before they wander off screen in the opposite direction. It goes without saying that the story is rubbish and incomprehensible (being a fighting game), but it would be better to completely disregard these story sequences completely rather than using this dated method of storytelling. If there is any place where the dated feeling of the game could be decreased, it's with some slick cut scences. Oh well.

Some good character design there. Well, not really.

Some good character design there. Well, not really.
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Fighting games have always had a tendency to feature annoying effects, and Samurai Shodown V is no exception. Characters scream loudly and often, and it is really freakin’ annoying. Infuriating, even. This cannot be stressed enough with words – within seconds of a bout, the constant stereotypical 'WAHHHHHS' and 'YAAAHHHSS' – doubly so for the female characters – will have you reaching frantically for the mute button.

Samurai Shodown V – known as Samurai Spirits Zero in some parts of the world – is scheduled for a PAL release in December. Unless something really drastic happens between now and then, this is one game that should get lost in the Christmas shuffle. And deservedly so, judging by this showing.
Overall:
Unless things radically improve, even the SNK faithful will be questioning what they've done to deserve this. Straight ports from very old games simply do not cut it - especially when the port isn't very good.

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9 Comments
8 years ago
icon_mad.gif I can't bear to look at it
8 years ago
Are you complaining about the game, or the port? Or you're not sure?

It is a 16 bit game, and it is based on a 12 year old engine.

I'll have to see it to compare to the MVS.
8 years ago
These last two weeks ive really been living up all the 2D fighters. I got Guilty Gear X2 # Reload, Marvel vs Capcom 2, SNK vs Capcom SVC Chaos, SF aniversary collection, Capcom fighting evoloution (jam) and now im getting Capcom vs SNK 2 EO.

Overall except for Guilty Gear X2 (which is pure brillance) there nothing epic in the proportions of a 3D fighter like Soul Calibur 2 but there always fun just to pick up and have a few rounds. But luckily I have the games that have pretty decent cross over characters with lots of variations in moves - im really not sure about this series but ill probably still give it a try (heck I even liked MVC2).
8 years ago
How good are you getting? Maybe you could turn up to one of my tournaments?

EDIT: By tournament I mean a bunch of guys who are pretty good at 2D fighting games meeting up. I'm not a real tournament level player.
8 years ago
^ Im pretty good at button smashing games. I know most of the moves of the Street Fighter characters from when I was younger, now im learning the Capcom characters. I have no problems on hard aracde, how good are tourney players? And which games do you usually play? I think you said Third Strike before?
8 years ago
3rd Strike is no 1. I'm guessing most of us can easily beat the game on max (10 star) difficulty with our main characters. We're not 'tournament' players though - I'm just using the word to make a bunch of mates playing 3S sound impressive! We'd all get owned in the real tournaments. Some of those guys are freaks.

We also play King of Fighters etc. We don't (well, I don't) really play the 'fluff' fighters like MvC2 and Guilty Gear. I've got them on Dreamcast, but I couldn't be bothered with them when I've got Dream Match 1999 and Last Blade 2 sitting there!

I've got a bunch of new Neo games for next time - So we'll be playing KoF 97, Real Bout Special and Shodown 2!
8 years ago
...It's a port eh? That makes sense, then.

Didn't get any info with the game, just a burnt CD with "SSV" on it. :/

Still, it's a rubbish port then. Will revise the preview.
8 years ago
David wrote
Are you complaining about the game, or the port? Or you're not sure?
I meant as a poor game with poor gameplay. I actually really like to look of 2d fighters.
8 years ago
Jeremy wrote
David wrote
Are you complaining about the game, or the port? Or you're not sure?
I meant as a poor game with poor gameplay. I actually really like to look of 2d fighters.
LOL the question was for brendan!

It's based on old technology, but for SNK fans, the only thing that matters is if it's a good port. We'll find out in November if it is!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  SNK Playmore
Developer:
  SNK Playmore
Players:
  1-2

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