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Shin Samurai Spirits: Haohmaru Jigokuhen
  opened by paleface at 04:10:16 05/09/06  
  paleface [sys=PCB; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN]
I got the full name from GameFAQs; in the States, it was just known as Samurai Shodown II, just maybe the bestest fighting game ever. There has never been a true console port, and that's a darn, darn shame. The closest has been a combined port of Sam Spirits I and II to PS1 (see entry 246), but they had to chop that one up a good deal to get it to play on the PS1.
So, here we are, the big kahuna. What makes it so special? What I like most is the timing of the moves. Big chops come out slow, and with a big recovery time, and when they hit, the action sort of freezes or slows, and the characters hold their hitting/hit pose, with a big thick sword-slicing sound, and then someone goes flying dramatically backwards, a big chunk dropping off their life meter. Heck, you can even cut people and scenery right in half, if you swing just right.
The characters have a certain solidity and weight to them that the series lost after this installment. Take Earthquake, for instance: nearly filling the screen with his bulk, this is one fat sprite, and after one look at his rolling girth butt-bouncing his tiny opponents to death, you'll know this game isn't fooling around.
The medieval Japanese backgrounds burst with color and animation, covering a wide variety of areas such as flowing wheat fields, sumptuous palace interiors, and winter bamboo forests.
All the characters have a lot of very expressive voice effects. The sound effects are all very beefy; you can tell by the sound what strength sword-stroke was made, and whether it whiffed, hit, was blocked, or whatever. And the music is just, well, pretty much classic in the medieval Japanese action game genre.
The characters are expressive in more than just voice, with unique moves, timings, styles, stances, and everything else. Each has their own stage. They come in a huge variety, from the grim one-eyed swordsman Jubei to the little monkey girl with a boomerang, Cham Cham.
Super moves are rare, and incredibly memorable when pulled off. The game flashes the moves required to do them sometimes, in the corners below the health meters. The lion's share of the fighting, though, comes down to good ol' slashing and blocking, and the clashing sound of the weapons, the stabbing sounds, the back and forth across the stages never seems to get old.
And then there are the wild elements, like random powerups sometimes thrown out by the judge, or the little button-mashing minigame to disarm an opponent sometimes when you get real close to each other. There are all kinds of crazy moves and techniques in the game that I can't even come close to understanding, much less pulling off in practice. This game was made by a fairly young SNK, and you can tell that much blood and tears went into the pretty near faultless making of it.
It is a hard game. I can't get very far against the CPU at normal difficulty levels. It is a slow game, of exact movements and time-frozen death strokes. It is an old, subtle game. It is bonzer.
· Samurai Shodown Anthology (PS2)
· Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood (PS1)
· Samurai Shodown V (PCB)
· Samurai Shodown VI (PS4)
· Samurai Spirits IV: Amakusa Kourin Special (PS1)
· Samurai Spirits: Kenkaku Shinan Pack (PS1)
· Samurai Spirits: Tenkaichi Kenkakuden (PS2)
· Samurai Spirits Zero (PS2)

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