The Nintendo Switch has become home to some good fighting games. The Street Fighter collection comes to mind, along with an abundance of Arc System Works’ stuff like BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. And I’d be a fool if I didn’t mention Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Come on.
But SNK is in a league by itself. Along with a number of its classic favorites in the Arcade Archives collection, it’s also released a couple of games. SNK Heroines, while not to everyone’s tastes, was a curious little beast. And now, we have Samurai Shodown.
Originally released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One last year, the game has made the transition to Switch. And, some minor technical issues aside, it’s done very well in that transition.
Like King of Fighters XIV before it (on other platforms), Samurai Shodown successfully blends 3D visuals with 2D gameplay. It feels pretty much smooth throughout as you execute slick moves, including slashes, deep slashes, kicks, and special moves. These will pave the way to success — and the potential demise of your opponents. (Yes, you can cut them in half if you prefer.)
The game doesn’t rely on quick mashes, though. Samurai Shodown is all about tactful fighting, where one wrong move doesn’t automatically mean you’re finished. You’ll need to think quickly and act wisely as you plot your next attack, or it could be you lying on the ground in a river of blood.
Control-wise, the game is very responsive. SNK knows how to dial in its Samurai Shodown gameplay throughout. It may have a slight hitch here and there with handheld play (more on that in a second), but for the most part, this is an accurate recreation of the game for a Switch platform. Color me impressed.
On top of that, there’s a variety of modes to choose from, including Story, Versus and more. While the story can be a bit typical at times, it does build up nicely, and gives you a goal to work your way towards. The others are worth exploring as well, if only to see what kind of mixture they have in store. There’s also a Dojo mode, though light in content. At least it’ll give you room to practice, if you need it.
As for Versus, I really liked how Samurai Shodown comes through. It’s a great local play game, and you can find steady competition as well. Try to watch yourself before you challenge others greater than you, though. There are some beasts with this game.
Presentation-wise, Samurai Shodown is great in TV mode. The game retains its 60 frames per second speed and also looks pretty sharp in terms of details and animations. The only complaint is that it can take a bit long to load at times, especially in later match-ups or versus competitions.
Also, in handheld mode, Samurai Shodown does lose a little bit of competitive edge. The speed dwindles a bit, and, let’s be fair, playing with JoyCons with a game like this is a real pain. Get a Pro Controller, however, and you’ll be able to adjust accordingly. But if you really want the most out of this game, stick with TV mode.
The sound rounds out the overall package, with terrific dialogue, Samurai Shodown-esque traditional music and great clanging of weaponry. It sounds like the classic game, through and through.
Sure, some more work could’ve been done to improve handheld performance and make loading a thing of the past. (Perhaps with future patches?) But overall, Samurai Shodown makes a thrilling debut on the Switch. It holds up most of the time in terms of performance, and it plays great with the proper controller in hand. Plus you can bring a friend (or find one) and get into some truly awesome match-ups.
If this is what’s to come on SNK’s plate — King of Fighters XV and a new Metal Slug, mayhaps? — then count me in. This team knows its port work.