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Game info

Samurai Shodown

Samurai Shodown
Developer / PublisherTakara / SNK
Media1 x cartridge_small
Reviewed byndial
Samurai Shodown is the first title of the Samurai Shodown series being a great 2D fighting game initially developed and published in 1993 by SNK for their Neo Geo arcade cabinets. The game ported in 1994 to various home platforms, including the Nintendo Super NES, Game Boy, Sega Megadrive/Genesis, Sega Game Gear, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, Panasonic 3DO, FM Towns and PlayStation. There was also a much later port to the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Wii consoles too. The game was also known as: Samurai Spirits (JP).
Samurai ShodownAt the end of the 18th century, Japan suddenly became engulfed in a wave of natural distasters and cruel and vicious wars. Life became a constant and brutal battle for survival. The maelstrom of evil began spreading accross the seas to other countries., and it seemed as if the whole world would soon be enveloped in an age of darkness.
A man with mysterious powers, preaching a heretical religion, had appeared at the same stime the troubles began. It seemed that the violence and evil was connected to this religion, for war and disaster followed whenever it spread. The man's name was Shiro Tokisada Amakusa, and his power grew stronger and stronger by the day, until it seemed that nothing could stand in his way.
Little did the world know that Amakusa was actually the servant of the evil Ambrosia, and had been sent to draw the world into a vortex of chaos and destruction. Now, as Amakusa's influence spreads to country after country, it's time for the battle... it's time for a SAMURAI SHODOWN!

Well, the story doesn't really say much for the game, except that Samurai warriors will fight each other in that chaos.
Focusing more on quick, powerful strikes than combos, slow motion was added to intensify damage dealt from hard hits (much like the famous Mortal Kombat series). All the characters wield weapons here. The goal is to battle against the most fearless warriors of the 18th century, each with own unique weapon and moves, by using your sword and your kick and punch techniques. There is also a 'Rage' gauge feature which rises every time you are injured and gives you extra power when at maximum! The original gameplay offered a variety of special attacks (combos) but not found in the Game Gear (and Gameboy Color) version, flashing Katana swords and fantastic moves.
Note that fights are very intensive and include very large amount of blood at least to the original version (the home platforms either excluded or had the blood painted in other than red color)!
The Game Gear port offers 9 fighting characters to choose from (Gen-An, Galford, Haohmaru, Ukyo, Charlotte, Nakoruru, Jubei, Hanzo and Kyoshiro), whilst the original (SNK arcades) version offered 12. Honestly, it is one of the best fighters on the Game Gear, right alongside the Mortal Kombat series.

The Game Gear version includes all original stages with plenty of colors and most of the special moves (which play really smooth), but has no combos, fatalities. Each fight can take place during day or night, and thus the graphics are changed accordingly in terms of lighting etc. There are some short of animated backdrops here too, but reduced from the original due to Game Gear hardware limitations. Each screen is also scaled-down and thus some of the original backgrounds are cropped due to the small screen.
Sound is good too, offering most of the original music albeit in scaled-down form, whilst there are some short of SFX but no sampled voices here.
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Gameplay sample
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Hardware information

Game Gear

Game GearCPU: 8bit Zilog Z80 at 3.58 MHz
GRAPHICS: A standard of 3,2" with 160x144 pixel resolution, 32 on-screen colours out of a palette of 4096. It support 64 hardware sprites (8x8 or 8x16 pixels). Video memory is 16 KB wide.
SOUND: 3 square wave generators, 1 noise generator, the system has a mono speaker (or stereo via headphone output)
The Game Gear (default) color palette
12bit RGB 4096-colours palette (32 on screen)
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