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Samurai Spirits!
  opened by paleface at 04:00:48 02/24/04  
  last modified by paleface at 04:02:02 02/24/04  
  paleface [sys=NGP; cat=Fighting; loc=JPN]
The portable SS games (called "Samurai Shodown" in the West) did not have the very impressive sprites and active animation of the portable KOFs (see KOF R-1 entry 362 and R-2 entry 415). To put it another way, they were slow with puny sprites. What they could shoot for, however, was a thicker atmosphere and more intricate pacing.
SS! (1) succeeds in this. The move sets seem simple at first but then you find that for this portable version they developed some very complex gameplay surrounding pressing both buttons at once, much of it tied in to the "Rage Gauge" power meter that over the normal course of things fills up as you fight. You can blow your meter (for the remaining entirety of the fight) on one big attack, or use a combo burst to charge it up faster, or access various sneak attacks, and so forth. Some of these were probably in the later console SS games but I didn't really like those.
And I don't like the characters they brought in here from those games, like that flame guy, and the water guy, and other assorted contrived personages. I like Haohmaru, of course, and a couple of the other tough old samurai, but that's about it. Too bad that they didn't base this game on the first console SS... but I suppose the NGP couldn't have handled an Earthquake sprite. ;)
Oh yeah I mentioned atmosphere. Very good--nice classical Japanese music, slow and melancholy, with very subtle shades in the backgrounds for a four-shade grey game. And the moves have that rhythm to them, that stop and go, and waiting, and then coil and strike, that I like so much in SS2 (console). Not nearly that good, of course, but there's still something of it here and you can't say that for many other games.
Very slim on modes, just Story and Survival. The text in Story mode is the usual SNKgrish brilliance--no, a cut above it, actually (ah yes, the cart is multilanguage).
Another interesting thing: inserted into a NGPC, SS! springs to life with color! Each fighter gets a unique tint, and the background as well, plus most elements in the menus and intro sequence get splashes of color. Very impressive considering that this is supposed to be a B&W game! They must have had the NGPC hardware on-hand in some form while developing this title (but not KOF R-1, which was slightly earlier and gets no color in the color system).
  paleface 04:02:02 02/24/04
Oh, there is a Vs. mode of course, and of course I've never had anyone to play it with.
· Samurai Shodown! 2 (NGPC)
· Samurai Shodown VI (PS4)

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