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December 13 2018

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  Samurai Shodown III - ©SNK 1995 (Review 3)

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Game Stats
1 or 2 player

One on One Fighter

282 Megs
Japanese Name:

Samurai Spirits 3

Released On:


Reviewed By:
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Other Opinions - More Reviews On NG4L:
Review 1 - by Kazuya_UK
Review 2 - by Boombada

Review Introduction:

Often considered as the Black Sheep of the series, Samurai Shodown 3 has been dissed by many fans. I decided to give the game another run, dunno why, even though i spent too much time on SS4 and SS2, enjoying every moment of it, i still needed more SamSho fix. After around 4 straight hours of playing ss3, both against CPU and with my sister, (who plays a mean rimururu). i can safely say that in my opinion, the game is not given credit that it deserves. Yes, it feels like a very rushed game overall, plus the game play is a bit on the wrong side of the Shodown games, but i does have its redeeming factors. Even I am surprised.

The Storyline is one of the main aspects that makes SNK games very cool and attractive.(fighting games to be specific)
Im too lazy to summarize, so here's me quoting an faq from (Story FAQ by Saiki)

-> One man became known as the "Oni"(demon). The man's name was Zankuro.
He would attack many villages and would leave none alive. But one night, he
left one child alive in a village. He couldn't kill that one child. No one knew
why. Ever since that night, Zankuro would only attack those who challenge him.
And many years later, twelve warriors set out to kill Zankuro.
(This takes place after SS1 and before SS4)<-

Ok, so it's pretty much standard fare good versus evil with some plot specifics depending on each character. The story is enticing, but still the way it's presented in the game is very much lacking.


Now, the gameplay. This is what upsets the fans, i think. Coming from SS2 it's a totally different scene here. We now see that it uses 3 Slash buttons and One kick button, i guess its much easier to focus on the weapons. Speaking of which, the distinction between the light & hard slashes are developed further, 3-4 Hard slashes could end a match, talk about overpowering, but i guess it's fairly realistic. The game is still Samurai Showdown, wherein it requires timing, patience and skill to fully master the game. We are introduced to the Slash and Bust modes/types, lets you play different "versions" of the characters, adds variety and replay value, which is a good thing. Then there is the various gameplay tweaks, the power-charging, the overhead attacks, the evades/dodgeing, the counters, guardcrushes. They seem a bit unfitting a first (especially when you're coming from SS2), but infact it fits the game perfectly... i wont go much into detail, cuz im not really an expert on these aspects. Playing the game yourself will help you get the feel of it.

The CPU fights are a pain, simply said. SS3 has got to have one of the best AI's in a fighting game, you'll spend hours trying to beat the game, even in Level-1! This serves as the game's best "feature". Although the matches are very much varied, it could either be 10secs long, or a whole 10 mins, this is mainly due to the game's difficulty and playability. This is good for VS matches, but the lack of characters makes it less of an enticing game. Basically a solid engine, yet undeveloped. This is still Samurai Shodown, but not the kind that we knew and loved. (This was cured in SS4, but that's a different story.)


First, this game has one of the better presentations for the NeoGeo, the dark tone, with thick brush strokes and high contrast artworks really suits the game's premise (story-wise). The artwork is closer to the 90's anime style (compared to SS2 or SS4 even), which is good in my opinion. The sprites themselves are my personal favorite. Obviously, its a totally new style of spriting at work here, from SS2, it has become more "modern" and obviously more serious. Having dark outlines and shading complements the game's mood. The animation is probably the best i've seen in a Samurai Shodown game, easily overpowering the choppy and washed-out (yet well drawn) sprites of SamSho4, even Samsho5/5Special. Also notable, is the Infamous blood splatters, they have improved, showing a more thick consistency and less bland, but still cartoonish.

The backgrounds are a mixed bunch, some BG's are really great like Kyoshiro's and Gaira's stages, the stage with the cherry blossoms, but some feel very empty like Ukyo's and rushed like Rimururu's. Overall good, but still lacking.

Sound effects & Music:

The music on the other hand is overall good, yet again, lacking. Were introduced to some familiar remixes like Nakoruru's and Galford's themes,and a suprisingly catching tune from Rimururu. Other's have that calm yet dark japanese tone to them, typical flutes and shamisen music, good, but often forgettable. Still, it's one fo the best arrangements you could hear from SNK, espcially on the NEOGEO. The voices have improved quality, still a good bunch of digitized voices. The SFX are standard fare.


There are new Characters! for example, Shizumaru, Rimururu, Basara, Gaira, to name a few. The new characters are a nice addition to the series. Shizumaru stands out, very creative of SNK to make use of an umbrella as a weapon. Basara is supposedly an undead being. Gaira is a buddhist monk who fights! Rimururu makes her debut as a playable character as well (Not just in the BGs like in SS2). Plus we get to see old "favorites" (depends on you) like Haohmaru, Genjuro, Galford, Hanzo, Kyoshiro, and a playable version of Amakusa. They have have the "NEW" feeling to them, everybody has been redrawn and given a major facelift. I especially like Kyoshiro's new look, which has a serious Kabuki Mono feel, Genjuro looks more menacing, and my personal favorite, Amakusa's overall character re-interpretation, He looks menacing+sexy now, not stupidly ghey back in SS1. The new BOSS, Zankuro, on the other hand, truly looks menacing, he proves to be an SNK boss because he can really put up a real fight, without being too cheap. Although the cast is a bit lacking, not like the grand cast that SS2 had. Sure we miss some of our favorites from SS2, but this cast definilty suits the storyline though, small-time and underground.


Overall. SS3 is a decent game, not only for the NEOGEO, but for any system. (i wouldnt reccomend Samurai SLOWdown 3 though for the PS1,Saturn, and especially the NGCD version). It's not part of the BEST FIGHTERS ever, but it's no definitley crappy game. Dissapointing? yes. Underrated? Truly. a Victoly? Not quite.

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 10/10
Game play: 9/10
Story: 7/10

Overall Rating: 8/10

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