Review by timegal yuki

"Certainly the most stylized of the Samurai games, but certainly the weakest"

I was a little skeptical about this game a few years back before it was released because a major bulk of my favorite characters were being replaced by a then unknown, totally new roster of samurai folk. After playing in the arcades, buckling down and buying the home cart, I can say my feelings are mixed. Average it is, a classic it is not.

Graphics: The first thing you will instantly notice about SS3 is that the game has arguably the best graphics of any Neo fighting game. The character sprites are huge, detailed, colorful and well animated. The screen zooms in and out much smoother than the previous two games and the backgrounds are absolutely stunning. The art work is also exceptional and head over heals better than that of anything in the first two games. It really shows what the Neo Geo is capable of and even today is wonderful to look at.

Music/Sound: Like the graphics, this is my favorite soundtrack of any of the SNK fighting games. The music is catchy and at times amazing. Considering this was a cartridge I was playing on, it plays almost like a CD. Crystal clear and definitely professional sounding. The entire game score is a masterpiece.

Gameplay: This is where SS3 ultimately falters. Understandably, beating such a land mark game such as SS2 can't be an easy task, but what SNK has seemed to do was make the game look and sound so good in hopes that we won't even notice how lousy the play mechanics are. While some new features such as the chivalry/treachory selection is definitely a welcome addition, the developers dummied down the gameplay to a point where there really isn't that much strategy in battles and the likes. The damage control is one of the most irritating factors of the gameplay; with one felt 3 hit combo you can take about 75% of your opponents life bar within the first 5 seconds of the match. Speaking of combos, SNK still hadn't established a solid combo system with this version meaning that if you happen to string some attacks together it was from the button smashing (which there is a lot of). Prepare to do the old fighting game tug of war with attack, retreat, attack and so on. The game was also designed with the cheap player in mind. You can now power up your POW bar, there is an insanely ridiculous side step around the opponent technique (the cheapest of the whole game) and a hard slash that can be performed with only one button (the control set up is 3 slashes and a kick). While this can work, the attacks are way to powerful and this, with the above mentioned high damage make the bouts way too short.

Overall: Now I know a lot of people love this game, and that's cool, but a lot of Neo fans give this game way too much props. I couldn't handle the cheap hit and run gameplay after being raised on the likes of Fatal Fury Special and the likes. SS3 is far from a failure, and would in fact be any other companies' crowning achievment, but when you consider that this is SNK game, you have to be critical.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/05/03, Updated 03/05/03

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