First things first. Sort the control scheme out before you launch into any of the games that constitute this collection. Confusingly, some of the games have different control presets, though it’s easy enough to tweak. After this stuttering start, the action is cranked up to lightning fast speeds. Indeed, many of the bouts will be over in seconds: the emphasis of Samurai Shodown has always been on clinical, lethal strikes with the power to carve great chunks out of an opponent’s health bar, rather than the lengthier block-counterattack stuff of the likes of Street Fighter IV.
Six titles make up Samurai Shodown Anthology, all of which are slick ports of the SNK arcade originals. Up until Shodown VI the evolution is sedate. New additions like counterattacking parries and feinted attacks are introduced gradually, while the feature of combining weak and middling attacks to create stunning strikes is constant throughout.
Shodown VI is where we see a departure of sorts, as we get a massively increased character roster (over 50 fighters) and a stack of extras, like an art gallery and a fighting style modifier. Another problem is that this much larger entry in Anthology requires the game to reboot, and it sits apart from the rest of the games in the collection – thus if you want to experience it after playing the others, unsaved progress will be lost.
The ability to alter fighting styles is brilliant. It almost makes Showdown VI into a brawling RPG. Points earned in the game can be used to modify your fighter’s attributes: the Rage meter can be extended; you can give your character the ability to play dead and even change special moves. It’s a great idea that many new games could take a cue from, and more than makes up for some of the disc’s rougher edges.
Jun 3, 2009