In lieu of a copy of Street Fighter II or any of the Mortal Kombats, I had other fighting games in my collection to play on my first console, that lovable Super Nintendo currently sitting in my closet, dusty and yellow, but all the way functional, such as Killer Instinct, Shaq Fu, and Samurai Shodown. I probably have a few things to say about that first title and many, many words to write about how I got Shaq Fu–trust me, it’s more interesting than the game itself–but today, it’s all about twelve of the fiercest warriors of the late 18th century engaging in duels to the death as a dark power rises over Japan.
Yup, Samurai Shodown. It originally made its debut on the Neo Geo, but then got ported to a bunch of different consoles, which is how I ended up with a copy of it on the SNES. The SNES version is evidently a bit different than other ports, but I’m only learning this after the fact, years later, as I assumed everything I was seeing then as I jumped and slashed was how it all truly was; for example, the SNES version removed scaling, keeping the character sprites small and constant for an entire fight instead of zooming in and out of the action. Also, similar to Mortal Kombat, there’s no blood on Nintendo’s console when it comes to cutting people up with swords.
Samurai Shodown is known for being either the first or one of the first fighting games to focus on weapon-based combat–I’d later fall hard for this concept with Soul Blade on the PlayStation 1–and having a style based around late 18th century Japanese culture, such as calligraphy and musical instruments. A couple other standout elements from Samurai Shodown are camera zoom effects, randomly-dropped items like food for healing and bombs for damage, destructible environments, and the Rage Meter, which builds up over time upon receiving damage, allowing the fighter to become momentarily more powerful.
Here’s the thing. I haven’t played Samurai Shodown in a good, long while. The SNES cart left my hands probably at that time I gathered a bunch of them together to trade in at Toys “R” Us for some kind of lump discount off the forthcoming PlayStation 1. I do not remember every character and fighting stance and weapon type. That said, there’s Galford, the San Fransisco swordsman I couldn’t get enough of, and here’s why–side puppy. Named Poppy. She’s a beast, literally, and Galford can perform a special move to send her after opponents to maul them like a good puppy doggy. I mostly mained Galford, but I do remember using Hanzo and Jubei a bunch. Everybody else is a blur.
I never got to play any further releases in the Samurai Shodown franchise, nor did I really get into any later SNK fighting games. I think I tried The King of Fighters XIII once and found it bewildering. All in all, I’m a Tekken man, born and bred, as I can’t get enough of throws and countering and cool slow motion replays. It’s what I was raised on, and I’m only mentioning it now so that you’ll be prepared when you see another GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH for the original Tekken. Don’t worry, I still have Tekken 2. I’m not completely without reservations.
GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.