Review by Payne

"2D weapon-based fighting at its best? Not really."

Back when Street Fighter and mortal Kombat were on top most people seemed to overlook SNK’s fighters, me included. But one day I was at my local arcade and the crowds around the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat machines didn’t seem like they would let up any time soon so I started browsing around looking for something else to play. Then one of those Neo Geo arcade machines finally caught my eye, or ear I should say. The sound of metal clanking together instantly got my attention, and this was my first taste of Samurai Showdown. I was thinking, “Might as well give it a chance, at least it looks pretty cool.” Five minutes later I had a new favorite fighting game. I was looking forward to a Samurai Showdown sequel a lot more than another Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat game, and Samurai Showdown II delivered with everything I enjoyed from the original plus more. Then along came the third installment of the series and I was thinking, “How could they screw up such a great game!?”

Like the first two, the plot is revealed as you progress through the game. Although the first two didn’t really have a deep story, the plot was revealed more and more after about every other fight. There isn’t much of a plot in this one compared to the other two. Like before the final boss reveals a little about itself as you progress, but you have to go through about half of the characters before a glimpse of it is seen.

Sound: 8/10 Still has the same sound as the other two, giving off the familiar Samurai Showdown essence. I can usually do without the sounds of a fighting game and listen to my own music, but this is one exception. The music and sounds of the Samurai Showdown series fits the games perfectly. Everything from the announcer’s voice to each clank of the weapons clashing together fits hand in hand.

Graphics: 9/10 All the characters look very well done. The level of detail adds more, well, character to each character. Ukyo, my favorite character, looks ever more intense in this installment. The stages look great as well and fit each of the characters perfectly. Sudden changes in weather and transitions from day to night can add even more intensity to the fight as well.

Gameplay: 5/10 Simply put, the fighting engine has been ‘dumbed down’ from the first two. Weak, Medium, and Hard slashes each have their own button, leaving all but one button for an almost useless kick. The Slash/Bust and Guard options doesn’t really interest me at all. Damage in this one is just plain ridiculous too. If your using Slash as your type and you happen to counter an enemy attack using a Hard slash half, or even more, of their life meter is depleted. Damage like that should be limited to Boss characters in my opinion.

One thing that I liked about the first two is that you didn’t need to rely on special attacks to win. But in this one, doing special attacks is what can lose the match for you. Like before, special attacks are easily avoided and leave you wide open for anything. This game has turned into a hack and slash button masher. If normal attacks did less damage, instead of increasing it, from the first two then the new fighting engine might have worked out.

Replay Value: 6/10 Completing the game with every character is the only lasting appeal for the one player mode but once that is accomplished this game isn’t really much of a single player game. The simple gameplay could make this game a great party game though.

Overall: 7/10 All in all, Samurai Showdown III is not really a bad game, it can still be quite enjoyable but the lack of depth really takes something away from the game. It still looks and sounds like Samurai Showdown, but it doesn’t feel like Samurai Showdown.

Referee: 0/10 This doesn’t apply to the scoring, but that masked flag wielding ref in the background that we have all grown to love is no longer around. He shows up once in the story mode, but all he does is take the form of another character and another fight begins.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 07/19/01, Updated 07/19/01

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