My memory is fuzzy on whether Street Fighter II or Samurai Shodown was the first arcade fighting game I played. Regardless of which one sucked those first quarters dry, my memories of Samurai Shodown are much more pleasant. It was an over the top experience yet required a specific type of playing. You couldn’t go into SamSho and slash everything with your most powerful attacks. No, SamSho was all about playing footsie, waiting for your opponent to make a mistake while keeping them away from your blade, and going in for a powerful attack when they whiffed. Every title in The Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection requires this type of gameplay. Each successive title builds upon the last with different systems, features, characters, and story bits. This is a definitive collection of games that newcomers and veterans alike will enjoy.
The Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection contains Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown II, Samurai Shodown III, Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa’s Revenge, Samurai Shodown V, Samurai Shodown V Special, and Samurai Shodown V Perfect. All titles can be played solo, via couch co-op or online. SamSho V Perfect has been branded the best version of SamSho V. That alone is reason enough to check out the collection. However, those new to the series will be surprised to see how well the series has aged. Each game features beautiful hand drawn sprites. Each game features fighting arenas filled with neat stuff to look at when you’re not going blade to blade with your opponent. Each game features excellent music. And of course, each game features some hilariously bad translations that add to the series’ charm. The plots and character tales in each game are intriguing but hard to take seriously.
Most importantly, each game still plays well. There’s obviously a difference between playing Samurai Shodown and Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa’s Revenge. However, no matter which title you pick, controls are tight and responsive. Special move inputs range from easy to tricky. The bouts are almost always intense. I think the best part is the vast array of unique fighters to select in every title. There’s someone for everyone.
But, aside from the inclusion of Samurai Shodown V Perfect, you might be wondering what else makes this collection better than others. Believe it or not, the time you spend enjoying the game’s extras is about equal to the amount of time you can spend going through every game in the collection. In the aptly titled Museum Mode, you can learn the entire history of Samurai Shodown. There are scenario descriptions, hints and tips, development history, concept art, interviews, and much more. Learning the ins and outs of this series is a great way to take a break between titles. There’s a music player included with a cornucopia of tracks to top things off.
Unsurprisingly, The Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection has nearly endless replay ability. It won’t take long to go through one of the games. It will take long to learn the ins and outs of each one, master your favorite characters, and/or make it through to the end on higher difficulties. If you’ve never played an entry in the Samurai Shodown franchise, then this is a great way to acquaint yourself. If you’re a longtime fan, then this is the perfect collection. I still look back fondly at the time I first played the first Samurai Shodown arcade cabinet in a hotel lobby. Nothing can recapture that feeling but this collection comes close. Sprinkle in six other titles and a heaping helping of extras, and you’ve got a near perfect collection of fighting games.
Overall, 10/10: The Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection is the definitive collection of this often overlooked and under appreciated fighting series. Check it out to see what makes the series so (SamSho V) perfect.