Samurai Shodown Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on Google Stadia, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Samurai Shodown, developed and published by SNK, is a fighting game set in Japan. As the name suggests, this release is part of the long-standing Samurai Shodown series of games, and almost feels like an attempt to get back to its roots rather than a dramatically different sequel. This particular review is for the Nintendo Switch version of the game rather than the Playstation 4 or Xbox One releases from 2019.
Samurai Shodown features a base roster of sixteen fighters, with more to come via DLC. Compared to most other modern fighters, this may seem like a limited offering. Thankfully, each fighter comes equipped with enough unique flair, character, and fighting style that I never really felt limited. The bulk of the fighters will be familiar to players of the original Samurai Shodown entries, from the classic Haohmaru to the screen-dominating Earthquake. Some of the classic fighters even have costumes available that make them appear more like their original, polygonal selves in all of their pointy glory. Additionally, three new fighters join the roster, further offering diversity. In fact, the new fighter Darli Dagger quickly became my go to fighter despite my affinity to the early 1990's nostalgia of the original fighters.
Game modes offered in Samurai Shodown are basic fare for the genre. Of course there are various multiplayer options, locally through battle mode and online battles when lacking local players to go sword-to-sword with. Solo-modes are both diverse and limiting at the same time oddly enough. Story mode of Samurai Shodown is barebones, yet still interesting enough to play through at least once. Additionally, solo players are able to simply battle CPUs in a non-story setting in traditional battles, as well as variations such as timed trials and a mode in which you must battle through all of the other fighters. Dojo mode is an odd amalgamation of multiplayer and solo play, in which you are able to battle against "ghost" versions of other players in an asynchronous styled battle. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the game not being open to the public yet when I played it, Dojo mode was more of a mess than a challenge. I can see the intrigue of this mode, but it seems as if it would need much more time to build up before pursuing it much further.
While I have not played the other versions of this release and cannot speak to their technical advantages or woes, I can attest to a few seeming limitations to the Nintendo Switch edition of Samurai Shodown. I observed fairly significant graphical degradation when switching from docked to handheld mode on the Switch. Everything on screen in handheld mode seemed overly pixelated and blurry, even to the point of struggling to read some of the labels and on-screen information. The actual gameplay, however, did not suffer and remained superbly responsive regardless of mode played. Additionally, while this may be personal preference, I found controls when in handheld mode felt much more awkward when compared to docked with Joy Cons or with a pro controller.