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Samurai Shodown Sen Review

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On 05/07/2010 at 01:24 PM by Nick DiMola

What the hell happened to this series?

Avoid this title, but if you have interest in the series, check out the Wii compilation or one of the early titles released on XBLA.

The Samurai Shodown series has been around at this point for quite a while. Years ago, it helped redefine the fighting genre by working in a variety of new ideas, most prominently, weaponry. Unfortunately for the series, over time it has become less and less relevant, especially when it made its move to 3D. Since that point, it has struggled to find its identity, and this shows through in the latest iteration of the series, Samurai Shodown Sen.

At its core, Sen is a combo-based fighter, much like many other fighting games on the market. Unfortunately, it adheres to combo-based attacks so strongly that it has resulted in something that is quite unenjoyable for newcomers to the game/series. Personally, I found the learning curve to be particularly high, especially coming from Super Street Fighter IV, which offers a much more fluid and precise control scheme.

The game's move list feels quite shallow, forcing players to rely on the rigid combo system to effectively attack their opponent. What's worse is that the damage dealt by given moves always felt disproportionate to something as simple as a grab. I found myself performing grabs as often as possible because each one would drop around 25% of my opponent's life bar.

Grabs aren't the only thing that felt overpowered - strong swipes seem to fall into the same category. Thus, instead of investing time to learn comboing it almost always felt easier to simply block and time strong attacks to hit at the exact right moments.

Counter attacks, which seem to occur randomly, are also included in the warrior's arsenal and can reduce a lifebar by well over 50%. I was able to pull them off a number of times, but I can't say I understand how or why, even after analyzing both me and my opponent's exact moves. Regardless, a move that removes that much health in any case is a bit misconceived unless it requires some huge button input string that can't be easily or quickly executed.

Given the lack of balance in the move list and the stiff controls, there isn't much more that could be wrong with the game. These two points drag down any amount of quality the game could've been trying to achieve.

The game's graphical presentation is as lifeless as the fighting engine, featuring bland 3D models and some rough looking arenas. This can be forgiven to an extent due to the true age of the game (two years old in Japan), but even still, it's obvious that the series' real strength is in the detailed 2D sprites.

Samurai Shodown Sen is a very poor fighting game that seems even worse when competing with Super Street Fighter IV. Its lack of balance and lack of accessibility make it unenjoyable for both veterans and newcomers of the genre. For those looking to try out the series, check out some of the Arcade rereleases found on Xbox Live Arcade, or the compilation that released on Wii.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Don Quixote

05/07/2010 at 11:19 PM

Its a shame. IIRC, they tried a 3d Samurai Shodown with mixed results. Some franchises just need to stick with 2d.

Don Quixote

05/07/2010 at 11:21 PM

*No edit function.*

I should clarify that they tried a 3d title BEFORE.

Lukasz Balicki Staff Alumnus

05/08/2010 at 12:26 PM

I looked at Giant Bomb's quick look and this game looked like ass.

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