The third Samurai Shodown game represented quite a departure from the first two games. Some might say that it was not a good thing and others may disagree. However there is no doubting that it is different.
One of the first things I noticed when I originally played this game was the two different selections for each character, Bust and Slash. Slash is basically the original version of your character and Bust is kind of an evil version of them that has some different moves (Check out Nakoruru, she looks quite sadistic in Bust mode and has the Wolf with her instead of her Bird Mamaha). You also get to choose a difficulty setting at the start of each game. Novice mode gives you auto blocking, intermediate is the standard setting and advanced means that your power bar is fully charged all the time and that there is no blocking allowed at all!
There are now 3 slash buttons, and only one kick button, instead of having 2 buttons for slash and two for kick. A, B and C are light, medium and hard slash respectively, and the D button is kick (yes, there is only one strength of kick now). There are also lots of little changes, including the addition of air blocking and also being able to move around before the round starts. Also, if you tap A and B quickly, you can sidestep out of the way of projectile attacks. If you do this when close up, you will actually dodge all the way around your opponent. There is a small change to the way the weapons break too; when you are hit by a super move, your weapon is no longer destroyed. Instead, you drop it and can pick it back up.
There are five new fighters in this game, and just seven remaining from Samurai Shodown II, which gives us a lower character count than SS2 of twelve selectable characters. Nicotine is now gone but is replaced by his grandson Gaira. You can now also pick Rimururu who is Nakoruru's younger sister and is my favourite new fighter.
One of the reasons for the lower character count is probably so that SNK could fit a whole bucket-load more animation within its 282 Megabits. The animation is now silky smooth and although it has been surpassed in recent times, it is still very impressive and looks great. Graphically, it is a big improvement over the first two (and the first two looked good), and it does have a slightly darker atmosphere too, which is nice. The characters look more detailed, and some of the stages are even better; my favourites are Galford's and Nakoruru's. There is also a nice effect that happens when someone is about to die, where the background changes and goes dark, which looks quite cool.
Sound effects & Music:
As always, the music is great, with some stages having the trademark atmospheric music, and once again some having heavier music. The sound effects are great as usual, but in the FAQ below it mentions that there are some strange bugs where the sound effects mess up. I haven't noticed this myself though, but I have spoken to other people who have.
There are apparently other bugs according to the FAQ below, but I haven't seen them for myself either. One thing that is slightly annoying however, is that some hits take off far too much damage… I have no idea why SNK made it this way. Ignoring the apparent bugs, Samurai Shodown is still a very good game, but whether you will prefer this to the first two games is down to personal taste. The control system is different, and although I like both styles I do prefer Samurai Shodown 2. Some people (myself included) also prefer the character selection in SS2 because many of the great fighters from that are missing in this one such as Cham Cham. The best idea is to try both and see which you prefer, or to skip this game and try Samurai Shodown 4, which has the same control system as this one but has been improved in many ways, including the addition of some old favourite characters like Tam Tam! Not to mention the fact that certain things are also fixed… but I shouldn't really be mentioning that in an SS3 review I know. That's another story so read the review of SS4! (link below :-)
This is probably one of the weaker installments in the Samurai series, in my opinion at least. It is still a quality game and I can say without hesitation that I have spent a good amount of time playing it and enjoyed every minute… the only problem is that I'd much rather be playing SS2. Don't pass up on this one altogether though, because you might enjoy it more than me!
Graphics: 9/10 Sound: 8/10 Game play: 8/10 Replay Value: 8/10
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