Samurai Shodown VI, known in Japan as "Samurai Spirits: Tenkaichi Kenkakuden" ("Samurai Spirits: Tale of the World's Greatest Swordsman") (see entry 1016), came out on PS2 in the States in Samurai Shodown Anthology (see entry 1280), but is now out as a stand-alone emulated, never-actually-released-on-PS2 North American PS2 game, on PS4. You can play it with borders to have it play on a 1080p screen at a pixel-perfect 2x size--the game ran natively at 480p, being originally from the Atomiswave, where like other Atomiswave games, the character sprites were 240p low-res NeoGeo style, but the backgrounds were double resolution 480p.
This gives the game a funky look, and it doesn't help that the backgrounds, though busy, are mostly blandly imagined and colored.
The fully orchestrated and often fully voiced soundtrack, though, does add life and funkiness; an Arrange option is available here, although on a casual listen the Arrange tracks don't seem vastly different than the standard versions.
The game has a ton of characters, and in this PS4 version they all come unlocked from the get-go--although many are gimmick characters like only very slightly different "EX" or whatever character versions, or playable versions of the animal pets.
The pets, whose hit sprites (the flash that appears on them when they're struck) are as big as they themselves are, become so covered in flashes in a fierce fight as to be unplayable for my weak eyeballs. But still, with other characters this is one Samurai Shodown game I can actually play *without*, so far anyway, risking flash-induced migraines; all previous 2D SamSho games made extensive use of full-screen red flash effects--a seeming favorite tool for NeoGeo game developers 8o--and the newfangled 3D one on PS4 coats all sword strokes in neon flashes; miraculously, SSVI is somehow major-flash-free; some of the sprite effects a bit bumpy, and the way character portraits are streaked at high speed left and right past the screen after a match aren't easy on the eyes, but those are at least predictably timed, so you know they're coming and can just close your eyes momentarily if necessary.
So, I can play it! Maybe too well--the AI is not the strongest; I'm already playing it at max difficulty--level 8--and frequently getting to the boss stages of Arcade mode without having to use a "Continue"; the bosses tend to be harder, especially the last one, but much less fun to fight, so this is kind of a downer and may limit its longevity. One other possibility through is Survival Mode (all modes are also unlocked by default in this version), where the AI at least in a few brief plays has felt a lot tougher, although this could also be down to the player character having less life to lose; I don't tend to like that aspect of Survival modes, and I kind of like it less here because unlike most survival modes, here you don't automatically regain a smidge of life between matches--instead, you only regain life if you fulfill an arbitrary, usually highly cryptically phrased, ostentatiously placed on-screen text command, like (I think? I don't know these names) using a certain move x times, or a certain feature of a certain spirit mode x times. I don't like being told how to play, so my plan is just to disregard those, even if it limits my time. : P At least, I think, you in theory get to face all the regular opponents in this mode, unlike Arcade Mode, in which you seem to face a fairly small set of opponents--you almost always have to fight that cringily fetishized maid-outfitted new character, Iroha, for instance, while there are other characters I think I've only faced once or twice, possibly as a result of them being specific arch-enemies of particular characters I've tried--which is one neat thing about Arcade Mode, that there is a relatively high amount of text-based interaction between characters as you go along, including customized conversations with at least two other non-boss characters, one as a sort of mid-boss, and the other as the first step of the boss stages at the end. (On another down side, some of the text in female character win quotes, especially from petite, feisty characters, are horribly fetishistic double-entendres ; |.)
Ah, the spirit modes: after choosing a character, you assign them one of eight "spirit" modes, essentially an "-ism," governing what type of super meter they'll have, and so on. Some of these are pretty complex; I don't even like regular super moves, but fortunately there's one spirit mode, the first one ("I"), that omits super moves; you just get a series-standard "rage" damage boost after a while, which is cool, AND you can press light slash and medium slash to do a super-duper POWER slash that is super slow but can take off the majority of the opponent's life bar in one hit, particularly if you connect while your character is in rage mode. Sweet. So I just stick with that one. : D
Of the large (40+, I think) regular cast, I am currently down to eight that I actually want to play ("Haohmaru", "Gen-An", "Cham Cham", "Sieger", "Charlotte", "Rimururu", "Gaira", "Yumeji"), which isn't a great ratio for me for an SNK game (although this game, like SamSho V, was actually made by Yuki Enterprise, not SNK, who started the series)--but it's still a decent number, certainly plenty to like for a single fighting game. Also, each character has five color palettes, some of which are pretty (too? : o) wild.
(And if you need more than that, there's a color edit mode, which I haven't tried yet. Also, I believe the eighth spirit mode ("VIII") can be edited in the spirit edit mode--which I also haven't tried, because the text directions and descriptions there, as in Survival mode, are incredibly cryptic (I wonder if this is why the game was never released in the West as a stand-alone home game).