Review by DarkFuture

Reviewed: 12/14/01 | Updated: 12/14/01

A somewhat rare game worth its weight in gold.

First there was Samurai Shodown. The unique fighting game was different because the fighters would use swords and other weapons. Gamers all over would spend countless quarters in the arcade or buy the SNES or the (inferior) Genesis version to play. Then came Samurai Shodown II, which was even more popular. It was the top of the peak for Samurai Shodown. Quietly comes Samurai Shodown III, a somewhat popular game which changed the style of play and used a new graphics engine. Here is Samurai Shodown IV, the final in the series. Long live SNK.

Samurai Shodown IV includes all of the characters from Samurai Shodown III, and also adds in some other characters from the earlier Samurai Shodowns such as Jubei and Kyoshiro.

Graphics 8/10: The backgrounds are great. Fine detail was put into the stages, from Amakusa's castle to an abandoned city. Each of the stages have their own ''introduction'' to it, where it shows perhaps your opponent staring into the moon or a lightning striking a star on the floor. They're a lot cooler than they sound! The sprites are also quite detailed. When some POW moves are used, the background will turn black as the characters use their flashy samurai tricks, a nice little bit in the game.

Control 9/10: Nice. The characters feel a bit stiff at first, but it is easy to get used to. The controls are responsive and everything feels right. There are a few basics that you need to memorize, such as how to use a ''combo attack'' or ''rage explosion'', explained in the game. Sometimes these, and POW moves can be hard to pull off because you need to fit the joystick FAST. This, in the end, can actually be good as it forces you to learn to be quick at those POW combos...

Sound 9/10: Good. The voices all match their characters. Swords clanging sounds great. Overall pretty good.

Music 7/10: The musics in this game do not go by stage but actually by character, and few characters have music. However, those few songs sound pretty nice, with a ''samurai'' feel to it, using Japanese drums and string instruments, and maybe a little dash of HARD ROCK.

Presentation (7/10)/Gameplay (9/10): This game could be a bit frustrating at first to those who are more used to other games. Normal hits take off an 1/8 of your health, sometimes a quarter when the POW meter is full. POW moves, in some cases, hurt less than hard slashes (this makes sense, however, because if you combo a medium slash with a POW move...). Some matches can end in 6 seconds overall. Gameplay is VERY defensive, unlike some fighting games. Once one gets used to this style of fighting, it becomes very addicting. Personally, I think I spent 200 bucks on the local machine the past year.

Overall (not an average) 8.75/10: Very addicting fighting game. With a unique game style, but it's not for everybody. Those who like very fast paced, offensive battles may step away from Samurai Shodown IV's defensive fighting style and slower paced action.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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