Over the past week, we’ve been lucky enough to play Samurai Shodown, the prequel/reboot of SNK’s long-running cult classic series. While a full review is still pending, largely due to the fact that the online modes and the ambitious Dojo Mode weren’t fully ready before the game’s review embargo (at the time of publishing, the servers have only just gone live), you can rest safe in the knowledge that we really like this one.
Fans of the series from over the past two decades should immediately feel comfortable with the game’s systems, as this edition only adds a couple of new characters and features instead of reinventing the wheel, while new players might be intimidated by the slow-paced, high damage intensity that the series is known for. Despite the franchise’s legacy, it’s still unlike anything else the genre has to offer at the moment.
In case you are a new player looking for a new fighting game to play in between bouts of Mortal Kombat 11, Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V, we’ve put together a few quick tips that should make your life in the high risk world of feudal Japan much easier. Here are 5 tips to succeed when playing Samurai Shodown.
Samurai Shodown has four main attack buttons: light, medium, heavy and kick. Light and kick attacks are quick, close range strikes that are perfect for interrupting your opponent’s attacks, while medium and heavy attacks have a longer range and are generally more devastating, but have a much longer wind-up and will take much longer to recover from should your opponent guard your attack. Your light, medium and heavy attacks will change depending on your distance to your opponent, while kicks change based on directional input.
As for your basic defence, you can block attacks by holding back and dodge by pressing light and medium together. Pressing block just before an attack hits will activate a just defense, which is similar to that of a parry. After a just defense, you can perform a stance break by pressing light and medium together, which will put some distance between you and your opponent, or press the attack.
2. Disarmed and Dangerous
As a weapon based fighting game, you’re naturally going to be at more of an advantage if you have a weapon and your opponent doesn’t. Luckily, there are a few ways to separate man from deadly steel, with the simplest being a Weapon Flipping Technique that’s activated with quarter circle forward + medium and heavy slash, but there are limits to when you can perform this move. We’ll touch on that later.
Your other disarming option is a counter, activated via quarter circle forward + light and medium slash. The timing is precise, but when properly executed, you’ll be able to wrestle the weapon from the hands of your foe. If you find yourself sans weapon, you can pick it up with a press of light slash when next to the weapon, and you can also use the same counter input to perform a blade catch, disarming your opponent for a fist fight of epic proportions.
While a disarmed opponent is generally disadvantaged, certain characters can still perform special moves while unarmed, which means they’re still a threat even if they’re only throwing hands. You can also put down your weapon by pressing medium slash, heavy slash and kick together, which is a benefit in the case of Darli Dagger. She unlocks access to a new charge punch special move, Point Break, that can delete three quarters of a lifebar in one hit. Disarming opponents helps you win, essentially, but it’s not an instant win mechanic.
3. What It Means To Be Special
Special Moves are a staple of fighting games, and they’re here in Samurai Shodown, so you better get training on how to perform quarter circles and Shoryuken motions. Each character has their own special moves with their own inputs, so you’ll have to do your own research, but pretty much every character has quarter circle forward or quarter circle back with either light, medium or heavy.
Just like other fighting games such as Street Fighter, special moves will change depending on whether you use light, medium or heavy, with increased damage and recovery depending on the strength of the button pressed. The increase in damage of heavy special attacks often isn’t huge, so use them sparingly. Spamming heavy uppercut style attacks will just open you up to a heavy slash that deletes a third of your health.
Samurai Shodown’s rage mechanic returns once again, giving players somewhat of a comeback mechanic should they find themselves on the receiving end of an 18th Century battering. As you take damage, the Rage gauge at the bottom of the screen fills up. Once you hit Max Rage, you’re given access to various options, while increasing the amount of damage you dish out.
The Weapon Flipping Technique we mentioned earlier becomes accessible in Max Rage, along with some other options we’ll get into on our final tip. Crucially, Max Rage can carry over between rounds, so if you manage to clutch a round with Max Rage still active, you can open up the next round with a Weapon Flipping Technique to put your opponent at an immediate disadvantage. You can attempt the Technique multiple times while Max Rage is active, but once it lands, the gauge will drain.
5. One And Done
Here’s where strategy comes into effect when playing Samurai Shodown. Players have access to two mechanics during a match that can only be used once. The first is the Super Special Move, activated via pressing forward, half-circle back to forward + heavy slash and kick, and that input is universal for all characters. Super Special Moves are heavily telegraphed, so it’s best to activate them after a whiffed special move to ensure they land. Remember, only one use per match, regardless of whether or not it lands.
Your other one time use mechanic is Rage Explosion. Rage Explosions can be activated at any with a press of all three slashes together, but the larger your Rage gauge is, the longer the explosion will last. While in this powered up state, your attack power is greatly increased, and you can perform Weapon Flipping Techniques.
You can also utilise the Lightning Blade attack by pressing all three slashes together again. When activated, your character will lunge across the whole screen, and if your opponent gets hit, they’ll lose anywhere between 40-70% of their life, depending on how much time of your Rage Explosion is left.
However, activating Lightning Blade will end your Rage Explosion, regardless of whether or not you land the hit, and an experienced player will easily be able to block or dodge the move if you activate it raw. The best time to use it is during your opponent’s attack, due to its quick start-up and travelling speed. If your opponent is dead set on throwing projectiles from full screen, Lightning Blade will cut right through it.
And there’s five tips that should help you on your journey through Samurai Shodown. Should. We’ll see how well they fare online and let you know in our review.