Title: Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Release Date: June 18, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: SNK Corporation
Growing up during the arcade era of gaming exposed me to many series that would shape my love for Japanese culture. When everyone was playing the newest version of Street Fighter II, you could find me playing the more obscure tournament fighters, one of which being Samurai Shodown. I never considered myself good at the game, but they were still undeniably fun.
Now, developer Digital Eclipse has packaged all that nostalgia up for us with the release of Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection. What comes of it is a great collection of some of the most genre-defining fighting games ever released.
Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection contains seven Samurai Shodown titles: Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown II, Samurai Shodown III, Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa’s Revenge, Samurai Shodown V, Samurai Shodown V Special, and Samurai Shodown V Perfect. Each entry can be played in either the Japanese and US version, which is actually a cool feature that I wasn’t expecting.
Beginning from the first Samurai Shodown, you’ll get a fairly straight forward fighter here. However, the addition of weapons was new at the time of its release, which gave each character a unique style. This is perhaps one of my most favorite entries, as it has a sort of punk vibe too it. Taking on the tournament fighter genre is no easy task, but this game entered the ring and held its own. However, similar to some of the other early entries, you won’t be getting much of a story here.
Samurai Shodown II builds on the foundation of the first entry and introduces some of my favorite characters of the series. I loved this game if only for the hilarious things the characters would say before each match.
Everything would change for the series in Samurai Shodown III. The speed increased, there were items, and battles began to feel more arcadey. Flashy moves, and combos found characters flying across the screen. Furthermore, this entry introduced different character variations called Slash and Burst, to better fit playstyles.
From Samurai Shodown IV to Samurai Shodown V Special, the series really found its footing, which character scenarios and balancing. The roster also improved as well as combo systems.
This collection is made better by including Samurai Shodown V Perfect. This unreleased game was preserved off of a NeoGeo cartridge and contained the most updated version of Samurai Shodown V. This title also includes a few added story scenes and a revised ending for the arcade mode. However, I didn’t like that it used many of the same backgrounds from Samurai Shodown V Special.
This collection overall is excellent, and the developer did an awesome job at porting the series. The controls are responsive, and the character animations have never looked better. Still, I wish there was an added training mode for the game. I ended up just choosing versus with an unmanned player 2 as a workaround. Also, I wish there was a way to quit to the title screen of a game instead of having to leave to the collection menu and restart.
Each game can be playing online through casual arcade matches or ranked play. It was almost impossible for me to get matched up during this mode, and I waited for a good hour in total to find someone to play with. Sadly, it may only work best if you play with friends. Perhaps when the game launches on consoles, there were will be more people playing.
Other features of the collection include the ability to change the borders of the display along with the actual size of the gaming area. I personally prefer pixel-perfect ratio, but there are other options for those who want it, including scan lines for CRT TVs and arcade screens.
Digital Eclipse is known for including a museum feature in their ports, and they didn’t skimp out on this release. The entire Samurai Showdown lineup of key art and illustrations has been preserved digitally. It was really cool seeing these concept images and understanding how the series has evolved over the years.
Furthermore, there is added text for each of the games included in the release. This gives you a look at how the games differ and what went into its development. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also video interviews with the development team who share stories from working on the series.
Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection is a great collection of some of the most iconic fighters released to date. However, it comes at the cost of probably playing single-player or local coop only given the limitation of the online features. Regardless, this was an awesome walk down memory lane and offers a way to share a series’ humble beginnings.
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