Coming off the critical acclaim that was Samurai Shodown 2, SNK decides in order to keep the series fresh for gamers; the company takes a huge risk, changing several major details for the next game, like having half the roster ditch from number two and be replace by a new group of weapon specialist. Samurai Shodown 3 is release and comes out as one of the biggest overhauls a fighting game could ever get. Would the fans be interested with this totally different look?
A cold-blooded giant, with his mighty tall samurai sword in hand, has been destroying villages and slaughtering those who are in his way left and right, with even the innocent not being safe. Now, several warriors have stepped up and made it their personal goal to kill the killer, in order to prevent anymore further meaningless deaths to continue.
A ton of the major downfalls to the game happens during the actual fights. Itís the same old fight till you gain two victories and go on, but now you can move around before the round starts. Still, itís obvious the game has some unfair mechanics. For one, damage infliction takes way too much energy from the opponent randomly. Even without a full POW bar, well place hard slashes from them would mean a quick death for the opponent, lessening the strategy quite a bit. Another section is the POW meter, as when it fills up though getting hit, it stays for quite some time. However, when you are charging it yourself (which takes forever and a day to do), it empties just as fast, not even lasting a couple of seconds, though Iím happy they kept the input of how to do the super move for your fighter. Finally, the time limit must be on crack because it countdowns really fast.
Most specials and supers take tons of seconds to either hit or finish the move and if you are neck and neck, it will make you mad. The weapons clashed system got a small upgrade by having the screen show you the number of how many times you tapped the buttons. The one with the biggest number wins the confrontation and the loser must retrieve their weapon from the ground. The AI in number three does redeem some of the low points providing some great battles, but some fighters like Kyoshiro, Gaira, and Kuroko must be psychic. They seem to know every action you are going to do before even you think about it, blocking and hitting you like its nothing. The game also took out the referee in the backgrounds, who now serves as the mid-boss of this game. The last boss, Zankuro, isnít a real big threat if you follow his pattern closely, as he himself hints his weakness in a lot of his moves.
The arcade buttons on attacking has been somewhat altered, now sporting the C button as the hard slash, leaving only one kick button to tap on. Itís a blessing because now your handís muscles wonít hurt as much trying to press two buttons simultaneously on occasion. In my view, the new sidestep, by pressing AB near the opponent, is very useful, but forgettable at the same time. Throws have been overthrown in favor of a movement involving grabbing and pushing the opponent away, making them vulnerable to any attack. Some of the special moves can be a real hassle to pull out. That and the super moves come off so slow and predictable, youíll find yourself just ignoring the thought of should you take this opening and hit a super. Having get strike by Bust Ukyo's super take 8 seconds to finish! his Even when it connects, the weapon doesnít shatter anymore, its gets knock from the fighterís hand and they just need to pick it up. Having air-blocking included is always a good thing for everybody and it works well with this game.
The first thing youíll notice is the graphics look more serious. Some of the returning fighters themselves no longer look like their old image, especially guys like Kyoshiro! You can tell that the SNK crew wanted it legit, for there is almost absolutely no comic relief in this game, which explains why guys like Earthquake and Gen-an are not there. The stages give off a very dark presence adding suspense to the fighting, like the boat in the river and the abandon old house, Basara use to live. The game so dark, come to think of it, I recall seeing only two stages that has any sunlight in their backdrop setting. One unique showing is that if both players got one win and someone is near losing in the third round, the stage temporary switches to an even mysterious, darker version of itself until the round is won, which is nice touch.
The winner portraits screenshot's are nice to look at, but the very short and uninspiring win quotes layer on top of it, will make you feel like your IQ just drop down a few points. Also the fatalities in the game are still laughable and good as ever, having to know their insides is just the color black. However, due to how Ďdarkí the gameís environments are, you will feel like there something missing in this game, but you canít put your finger on it as to what it is.
Sound effects & Music:
The sound and music is also one of the gameís strong points. The music soundtrack is a great mix of classical Japanese instruments and really gives that samurai essence the game been famous for. Itís like the music should belong in those old Japanese samurai movies. As for sound effects, to the cuteness of Rimaruruís giggling to the new deeper voice of Genjuro after sipping from the bowl, everything fits extremely well in the voice-over department.
The speeches the fighters and the announcer says during the game are clear and donít sound like crappy cut and paste work. One thing that I did find funny is that, when someone is slice in half in the air, you sometimes get to hear two completely different death moans come at the same time for the dead fighter. Not to sound mean, but it makes you chuckle, case in point, Galford.
New to the game are options given to you after you select a warrior. The first one is choosing which version you want your fighter to play as: Slash or Bust, which translates sort of as Good or Evil. Both two sides possess their own arsenal of different special and super moves for the fighter. See Nakoruru as a sample. Selecting Slash would give her the bird, Mamahaha, she always with, but getting Bust hands her a wolf with different twist of her known moves.
The second option asks you what difficulty you would like to battle the opponents under. Beginner Class gets some auto-guard help, Medium is basically normal, and Expert gives you an unlimited POW meter, but for that you canít block at all. Itís a fantastic challenge for many. There very creative ideas are a great change of pace that not just double the playersí lineup to 24, instead of 12, but gives the game a little life in replay value with the battle level setup.
Samurai Shodown 3, while not as good then itís prequel before it, manages to stand on its own two feet. Even though it has its problems, the new introductions of stuff like Slash/Bust and animation really make up for the game. Sometimes change is good and seeing as how this game looked when this got release in the arcades, itís not that bad a job at all.
Graphics: 8/10 Sound: 9/10 Game play: 7/10 Replay Value: 8/10
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