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Samurai Shodown V Special is one of the most fun, accessible, and balanced fighters

ScOULaris

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I've always been a fan of the Samurai Shodown series, and I had spent a decent amount of time with the first four games both in arcades and via console ports and emulation over the years. Samurai Shodown II and IV were always the standouts to me, and for whatever reason whenever I'd dabbled with SS V Special via emulation it didn't grab me in the same way that the others did. Being developed by Yuki Enterprise and having come so late into the Neo-Geo's lifecycle after the Playmore years where quality started to dip a bit, the game seemed to be sort of cobbled together with lower production values at first glance for me. The backgrounds didn't seem as detailed or lively as before, and the music seemed to be a step down from what we had in SSIV as well.

Well, my opinion completely changed after picking up the PS4/Vita release about a week ago. SSVS is now my favorite Samurai Shodown game, and it might even make its way into my Top 10 fighting games of all time.



I think it has been having the ability to play this entry online for the first time (since I never dabbled in Fightcade all that much on PC) that awakened me to the greatness of SSVS. While the netcode is admittedly poor (<100ms connections are an absolute requirement for playability), matches with solid connectivity are so tense, fun, and strategic. This game really strikes a balance in weapon-based fighting game design that the series seemed to always be striving for. From the beginning SNK wanted people to feel the danger that lethal weapons pose in 1v1 combat with the Samurai Shodown games. At times they took that too far (e.g. SS3) with matches ending in mere seconds due to obscenely high damage output. At other times they went the other direction and dialed back the damage of stronger strikes to make the game more combo-centric (e.g. SS4). SSVS feels like it blends both approaches in optimal proportions.


A well-timed strong slash will still take off nearly half of your lifebar, but there is also plenty of room for making use of the game's many new mechanics as well. You won't be seeing any long combo strings in this game, but what you will be treated to is some of the most satisfying footsie/fundamentals-based fighting gameplay you'll ever see. It really feels like playing a tense fight to the death between two armed warriors, and the best part is nearly the entire cast feels competitively viable.

The game also has some really satisfying comeback mechanics that don't feel cheap at all, and landing one of the game's many fatalities on an opponent in a live match feels earned and extremely rewarding.

There's just so much I want to say about this game, but I don't want this OP to drag on for too long. I'll open up the floor for discussion and then add more details in future posts.

Here are some links for those of you who want to learn about the game:

 

BadWolf

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It really is a great game and there are a lot of interesting mechanics at play, even has a legit suicide mechanic which lets you carry rage meter between rounds.

And the weapon bar is also very interesting since it further encourages the player not to swing their weapon uselessly (I'm guessing it was the inspiration for Vergil's new gauge mechanic in DMC4SE).

Unless it's a full reboot then here's hoping Samurai Showdown 7 uses this game as inspiration and continues where it left off.
 

TreIII

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Really hope Neo_G is looking at this old gal for ideas when it's his turn. SS0/V Special still holds up so very, very well.
 

ScOULaris

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Unless it's a full reboot then here's hoping Samurai Showdown 7 uses this game as inspiration and continues where it left off.

Really hope Neo_G is looking at this old gal for ideas when it's his turn. SS0/V Special still holds up so very, very well.

While I'd just be happy to receive a new SS game in general, I can't say that I'd have high hopes for it retaining the style and feel of its pixel-art predecessors. At the very least I hope it would retain some of the classy violence of the previous games. I don't want another sanitized entry like SSVI. KOF XIV just didn't do it for me because of the extremely poor quality of its 3D models, animation, and effects. It totally changes the way the game feels, IMO. I miss pixel-art SNK so much.
 

Mr. Nice_Guy

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Was his a straight arcade port or does this version have a training mode where I can train against a CPU? To clarify, a CPU where you can just set it to fight me. I know I won't have much time to actually play much online, but I do love "emulating" the experience when I do have the time because I haven't played this one and have always heard I should.
 

BentMyWookiee

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I haven't really played any of these since Samurai Shodown 2 back in the arcade days. I think about the series from time to time when I get in a fighting game mood and your thread is pushing me to pick the game up. Any idea on if this is crossbuy? Or would I have to purchase PS4 and Vita separately?
 

BadWolf

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While I'd just be happy to receive a new SS game in general, I can't say that I'd have high hopes for it retaining the style and feel of its pixel-art predecessors. At the very least I hope it would retain some of the classy violence of the previous games. I don't want another sanitized entry like SSVI. KOF XIV just didn't do it for me because of the extremely poor quality of its 3D models, animation, and effects. It totally changes the way the game feels, IMO. I miss pixel-art SNK so much.

When it comes to gameplay, KOFXIV nailed the 2D KOF feel, to a surprising degree even.

Visually, the 2D ship has sailed and there is no way to get it back. It's just something we have to deal with. But to be fair, it took SNK a few games to get good at 2D and make the gorgeous games we love most.

Heck even with XIV, just a few months after launch they released a gfx update patch which made a night/day difference.

Gotta remember that with XIV they started literally from zero, no team and no tools/engine. During the 1 year anniversary of the game, the general sentiment from the developers in their twitter postings was that they still couldn't believe they actually managed to finish creating the game considering the circumstances they were working under.

So yeah, just give them some time to get used to 3D development, they'll get there.

Was his a straight arcade port or does this version have a training mode where I can train against a CPU? To clarify, a CPU where you can just set it to fight me. I know I won't have much time to actually play much online, but I do love "emulating" the experience when I do have the time because I haven't played this one and have always heard I should.

It has training mode and arcade mode, there is also an art gallery etc.

I haven't really played any of these since Samurai Shodown 2 back in the arcade days. I think about the series from time to time when I get in a fighting game mood and your thread is pushing me to pick the game up. Any idea on if this is crossbuy? Or would I have to purchase PS4 and Vita separately?

It's cross buy and cross play.
 

TreIII

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While I'd just be happy to receive a new SS game in general, I can't say that I'd have high hopes for it retaining the style and feel of its pixel-art predecessors. At the very least I hope it would retain some of the classy violence of the previous games. I don't want another sanitized entry like SSVI. KOF XIV just didn't do it for me because of the extremely poor quality of its 3D models, animation, and effects. It totally changes the way the game feels, IMO. I miss pixel-art SNK so much.

Neo_G says that he actually wants to go for something more akin to classic Samurai films when it came to violence, so I'd honestly expect the bloody/brutal aesthetic to return in style.

As for the "feel" of the game itself? That remains to be seen whenever we finally see the unveiling, but I'd be willing to trust the guy who was the battle system director of MvC3 (and was personally involved with translating the DMC characters' movesets into that game), among so many other Capcom fighting game classics where his touch made them what they were.

If SNK gives the guy and his team everything they need to be successful, then I would like to think that we'd finally see SS get the modern effort it deserves.
 

Syril

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Was his a straight arcade port or does this version have a training mode where I can train against a CPU? To clarify, a CPU where you can just set it to fight me. I know I won't have much time to actually play much online, but I do love "emulating" the experience when I do have the time because I haven't played this one and have always heard I should.

I know this release has a training mode with the setting for CPU behavior, but I'm not sure if you can set it to regular fighting. Due to the circumstances of this game's history, the fatalities are censored in it though. The original home version was censored due to a high-profile murder that occurred immediately before it released, and it was never ported off the Neo Geo until now (seriously, even the PC release is just a ROM).
 

sibarraz

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Last night I was playing in my vita against the cpu, and god whwn both players have low cpu, the game gets ULTRA tense, you really feel that one mistake and you are done

Yesterday I ragequitted against the CPUA THOUGH, i was playing against enja, and he did me the spwcial move whwre he jumps to the corner and start hitting you, for some reason that move took 90% of my life, and I ragequitted since it never indicated that I was countered? I dont even recall.spaming a move or normal while recieving the killer move

How does the coubter system works in this game?

Was his a straight arcade port or does this version have a training mode where I can train against a CPU? To clarify, a CPU where you can just set it to fight me. I know I won't have much time to actually play much online, but I do love "emulating" the experience when I do have the time because I haven't played this one and have always heard I should.

Has the training mode from the AES version
 

osnameless

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Visually, the 2D ship has sailed and there is no way to get it back. It's just something we have to deal with. But to be fair, it took SNK a while to get good at 2D and make the gorgeous games we love most.

I wouldn't be sure. KOF XIII artstyle was nearly universally praised, and it felt an accumulation of KOF and other SNK series poured into one game.

They nailed the character design and the overall aesthetic feel of the game, and it is a actually a treat just looking at. It would be a tremendous waste if all of this went down the drain.

I really hope SNK hasn't abandoned 2D games. I will take anything they're working on - Garou, KOF, Samurai Shodown, Last Blade.... Almost all of their series are overdue for a comeback with the recent SNK revival.

I agree with you on the second part, SNK surely took its time from the early KOF and AOF days.
 

ScOULaris

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Perfect! Aaaaaaand bought!
See you online. :)

It has been surprisingly active for being such a niche release. I can find games at almost any time of the day.

As usual with these Code Mystics ports, however, do not bother with any connection greater than about 110ms. You'll face unplayable lag and won't be able to leave the match into it's over. You also can't see the connection quality until one person presses Ready in the lobby, so I recommend waiting for the host to say Ready before you do.

Anything under 100ms feels great though. I've loving the competition online so far.

Learning the game's many systems will help you appreciate it even more. Deflects, various dodges, weapon flipping/disarming, managing your rage and focus meters, finishing moves, suicides, etc.
 

BadWolf

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I wouldn't be sure. KOF XIII artstyle was nearly universally praised, and it felt an accumulation of KOF and other SNK series poured into one game.

They nailed the character design and the overall aesthetic feel of the game, and it is a actually a treat just looking at. It would be a tremendous waste if all of this went down the drain.

I really hope SNK hasn't abandoned 2D games. I will take anything they're working on - Garou, KOF, Samurai Shodown, Last Blade.... Almost all of their series are overdue for a comeback with the recent SNK revival.

I agree with you on the second part, SNK surely took its time from the early KOF and AOF days.

KOFXIII is one of the most beautiful 2D games to date but that sprite work was just way too expensive and time consuming, not to mention they had trouble finding artists who could create sprites at that level so things went even slower.

They had to spend years and years to get to the roster of XIII (and that included a few model swaps). It took them just two years to create 50 characters for XIV (all unique models, with 12 brand new characters), models they can easily update in the future without needing to redraw everything.

Personally I think there is little to no chance of them returning to 2D any time soon, outside maybe for Metal Slug.
 

HotHamBoy

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I wish they would also port SamSho II, though.

Nothing beats that game's mood and atmosphere. I also like the slower, deliberate gameplay.

I understand why they don't bother working on netcode much, even if the netcode was stellar the online is still going to be dead before the end of the month.

I'm hoping they do a KOF next. Honestly, they really should port KOF 98 UM and 2k2 UM...
 

BadWolf

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I wish they would also port SamSho II, though.

Nothing beats that game's mood and atmosphere. I also like the slower, deliberate gameplay.

I understand why they don't bother working on netcode much, even if the netcode was stellar the online is still going to be dead before the end of the month.

I'm hoping they do a KOF next. Honestly, they really should port KOF 98 UM and 2k2 UM...

NGBC is long overdue as well.
 

ScOULaris

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What GAF knows me for:
* Hating Silent Hill Shattered Memories
* Being the #1 Pharmercy cheerleader
* Thinking SS2 is clearly the best SS without argument

...I'm fine with that. :D
I can totally understand thinking that SS2 is the best in the series. I think the gameplay of SSVS edges it out slightly, but it's very close. SS2 takes it in terms of character selection and atmosphere though.
 

osnameless

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KOFXIII is one of the most beautiful 2D games to date but that sprite work was just way too expensive and time consuming, not to mention they had trouble finding artists who could create sprites at that level so things went even slower.

They had to spend years and years to get to the roster of XIII (and that included a few model swaps). It took them just two years to create 50 characters for XIV (all unique models, with 12 brand new characters), models they can easily update in the future without needing to redraw everything.

Personally I think there is little to no chance of them returning to 2D any time soon, outside maybe for Metal Slug.

I get that, but it is too hard to ignore the everlasting impression that game made. The game has been featured at every EVO competition until it was replaced with XIV at this year's competition. The game re-ignited a lot of people's faith in the series, and many consider it the best game in the series, and even one of SNK's best efforts. Sadly, there is not much to tell about the game's sales, except that it sold over 500,000 on Steam in four years.

Basically, what I am saying is it feels that this game was SNK perfecting the KOF formula after all those years (even though I'd take 97 and 2002 over it), and it makes a great keystone for SNK games going forward, whether it was KOF games or other SNK series.
 

ScOULaris

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For me ssv is better only because the execution is easier, while ss2 still has that classic stiffness from the first games of SNK
Not to mention some pretty convoluted inputs for Super Moves in combination with that old-school strict execution requirement. I'm still fine with it, of course, but SSVS does feel better to play overall to me as a result.
 

GrayFoxPL

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I tried hard to like vanilla SSV on PS2 and couldn't, game just sucked and felt souless. If this version isn't 500 times better then the original, I'm not getting it. Besides SS6 is pretty sweet. So itch is scratched.

My favorite will always be SS4

It's just a ROM dump though. No online play or extra features. Nothing to get excited about at all.

Apart of the fact that SS2 almost never got arcade perfect(or even good) home ports so if this is emulated accordingly it will be great.
 

Bloodporne

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Hmmm, have to check it out now. I stopped with SS4 back in the day and that was one cool, cool game.

My favorite is still SS3. I know it's quite unpopular, but I love the dark mood and all that.

EDIT: Checking out the gameplay video from OP right now and do I have nostalgia glasses for the earlier entries or is the sound and background quality kind of crappy here in comparison!?
 

InfiniteCombo

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Hmmm, you've made an appealing case, OP. I might just have to pick this up when I get home. I admit I was a bit annoyed when I got my hands on the Samurai Spirits collection on PS2, only to find... that there was no Samurai Spirits Zero Special in the collection, only the vanilla Zero.

My personal GOAT in the series will likely remain:


EDIT: Sorry for the confusing names, it's just that I grew up playing (and still own) the imports, so it's easier for me to remember the Japanese names. So Samurai Spirits Zero in Japan is Samurai Shodown V in the west, and that picture of my personal GOAT is Samurai Shodown II. (The Japanese games in this series are generally not numbered like they're in the West. The more you know....)
 

ScOULaris

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EDIT: Checking out the gameplay video from OP right now and do I have nostalgia glasses for the earlier entries or is the sound and background quality kind of crappy here in comparison!?

Well, SSVS arguably has the weakest backgrounds and soundtrack of any game in the series. That's initially what put me off to it before this PS4/Vita release as well. The production values just seem to be slightly lower than what we saw in SS2-4.

That being said, the gameplay is stellar and the character sprites/animations are all still great.

PS - the game looks its best when playing with 100% scanlines, no smoothing, and no flicker filter. The video I linked in the OP is being played via Fightcade on the PC with widescreen stretching and a horrible graphical filter enabled. The game looks much better than that on a Vita or PS4 with the settings I suggested.

Apart of the fact that SS2 almost never got arcade perfect(or even good) home ports so if this is emulated accordingly it will be great.
Sure it did. The Samurai Shodown Anthology version of SS2 is arcade-perfect, at least to my knowledge.
 

mollipen

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I can totally understand thinking that SS2 is the best in the series. I think the gameplay of SSVS edges it out slightly, but it's very close. SS2 takes it in terms of character selection and atmosphere though.

I also can't stand "modern era" SS's visuals, and think in both that and gameplay overall, SNK seemed to "Capcom" the game more and more as time went on. SS3 was this weird attempt to refresh things that kinda didn't work but I still have a soft spot for, SS4 I liked at first but came to not like more and more (said as someone who paid $250 day one for an AES cart), and past that is just very meh to me.

I actually do want to pick this up at some point soon and see if maybe my opinions will have softened with time, but I'm not hopeful (and there's really nothing it could ever do to supplant SS2 for me).
 

HotHamBoy

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It's just a ROM dump though. No online play or extra features. Nothing to get excited about at all.

I'll take it over nothing. Like I said above, the online is always dead after a couple weeks so these games are really intended for local play. Unless you have friends that are just as into fighting games as you and even then you're probably still playing local or your playing a newer game, anyway.

I just like to have the games on modern hardware. I have SS2 on Wii VC but... eh.

Here in Indianapolis there is a local barcade called Tappers with a 4-slot MVS and a rotating selection of games. They swap in one fighter at a time and so far they've put in SS2, Waku Waku 7, Garou MOW and KOF 98. I only ever see people playing fucking Bubble Bobble on it. The SSF2T and MK2 cabs see way more play.

I'm just saying, SNK fighters are really niche.
 

Syril

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EDIT: Sorry for the confusing names, it's just that I grew up playing (and still own) the imports, so it's easier for me to remember the Japanese names. So Samurai Spirits Zero in Japan is Samurai Shodown V in the west, and that picture of my personal GOAT is Samurai Shodown II. (The Japanese games in this series are generally not numbered like they're in the West. The more you know....)

I like the title Samurai Spirits better myself. The reason for the title change:
[series creator Yasushi Adachi]: This was suggested to us by SNK's U.S. distributor. They said that ”Spirits" [from the Japanese title Samurai Spirits] doesn't really tell the consumer what the game is about, so they suggested replacing it with the word ”Showdown." And the movie Shogun was popular at the time so they suggested the spelling of ”Shodown" as a reference to Shogun.

BTW Polygon did an amazing feature about the series' development. https://www.polygon.com/2017/4/10/15223966/the-making-of-samurai-shodown
 

ScOULaris

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BTW Polygon did an amazing feature about the series' development. https://www.polygon.com/2017/4/10/15223966/the-making-of-samurai-shodown

Yeah that's a great interview. I wish there were more interview with classic SNK devs like this.

This particular tidbit stuck out to me.

JM: There was an official Samurai Shodown anime that was released about a year after Ninja Scroll, but it always felt, to me, like the Ninja Scroll animation team took a lot of inspiration from Samurai Shodown. What do you think?

YA: Yes. I've always felt that Ninja Scroll and Rurouni Kenshin were both influenced by Samurai Shodown. It was a lot of fun because while we were making Samurai Shodown, we could see that Watsuki-sensei, the creator of Rurouni Kenshin, was being influenced by our work, and we were simultaneously also inspired by his work. I've never met him personally but it was fun working in parallel, in manga and games, on Japanese historical fiction.

I always thought that it was the other way around. I thought Samurai Shodown took inspiration from Ninja Scroll. I mean, shit. Look at Caffeine Nicotine in SS2. He's straight out of Ninja Scroll.

This user comment under the article also got my nostalgia juices flowing:

Samurai Shodown ii was a masterpiece &#8211; pure magic... first to incorporate a special moves bar, first game to have counters, reflecting projectiles, taunts, doll moves, super secret special moves, credits only shown to those who beat the game 1cc, the list goes on and on... and don't forget kim kaphwan would make a cameo every blue moon oh and don't forget the ref would jump out take over the other players game and whip you off the machine!!!! WHAT!
 

Bloodporne

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Well, SSVS arguably has the weakest backgrounds and soundtrack of any game in the series. That's initially what put me off to it before this PS4/Vita release as well. The production values just seem to be slightly lower than what we saw in SS2-4.

That being said, the gameplay is stellar and the character sprites/animations are all still great.

PS - the game looks its best when playing with 100% scanlines, no smoothing, and no flicker filter. The video I linked in the OP is being played via Fightcade on the PC with widescreen stretching and a horrible graphical filter enabled. The game looks much better than that on a Vita or PS4 with the settings I suggested.

That's annoying regarding the visuals and especially music as a big selling point for SamSho has always been the atmosphere for me. That being said, I'm still picking this up now and I'll definitely go with your suggestion regarding the visual setup, thanks!
 

Syril

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Yeah that's a great interview. I wish there were more interview with classic SNK devs like this.

This particular tidbit stuck out to me.



I always thought that it was the other way around. I thought Samurai Shodown took inspiration from Ninja Scroll. I mean, shit. Look at Caffeine Nicotine in SS2. He's straight out of Ninja Scroll.

Yeah I don't get that comment. Ninja Scroll predated the first Samurai Shodown by a month. Kenshin definitely took influence from Samurai Shodown though. In the volumes Nobuhiro Watsuki was constantly talking about how addicted to it he was, and Shishio's appearance in a flashback is literally Genjuro. Funny enough he ended up designing some of the new characters in SS5. I'm not sure exactly who, but I know he designed Yoshitora and Gaoh.
 

The Omega Man

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Yeah I don't get that comment. Ninja Scroll predated the first Samurai Shodown by a month. Kenshin definitely took influence from Samurai Shodown though. In the volumes Nobuhiro Watsuki was constantly talking about how addicted to it he was, and Shishio's appearance in a flashback is literally Genjuro. Funny enough he ended up designing some of the new characters in SS5. I'm not sure exactly who, but I know he designed Yoshitora and Gaoh.

Didn't Watsuki design Last Blade 2 character's? because Washizuka is a carbon copy of Saito from Rurouni Kenshin.
 

Sothpaw

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I've always loved the art and music of SamSho games, but I never got into them. I never understood how they were meant to be played. The footsie/fundamentals approach seems good to me. You convinced me to pick this game up when I get home today.
 

ScOULaris

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I've always loved the art and music of SamSho games, but I never got into them. I never understood how they were meant to be played. The footsie/fundamentals approach seems good to me. You convinced me to pick this game up when I get home today.
I hope you end up liking it as much as I do. I have a newborn at home right now, so being able to play this online on my Vita has been great.
 

ScOULaris

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I've been encountering some really good players online lately. I hope that the online population sticks around for a while on this one. This is the first time I've been able to play a SS game "for real" and against live competition. Every time I play against a skilled opponent I end up learning a bunch of new tech. It's great.