I’d like to note something before I proceed with the review. I love a lot of fighting games. I’m a big fan of Arc System Works fighting games such as: Guilty Gear, Blazblue, Granblue Fantasy Versus, (and my all-time favorite fighting game series) Persona 4 Arena. I also love both the Street Fighter series, and King of Fighters series. However, I do not enjoy Samurai Shodown. I appreciate it greatly, I understand why people enjoy the game, and love watching high-level play, but the pace of the game is just not for me. With that out of the way, let’s get on with the review proper.
There’s a lot to like about the PC port of Samurai Shodown 2019. First of all the game comes included with all currently released DLC characters at only half the price of the console versions.
Speaking of characters, each character looks great and has a unique playstyle. Between rushdown characters with moves that can easily open you up like Haohmaru and Genjuro, to hard zoning characters like Mina, the game provides the full gamut of character archetypes.
Gameplay is also responsive and easy to pick up. I may not enjoy it much, but I can’t complain about how the game feels like to play. Speaking of which, the game does an adequate job of “tutorializing” the player. The in-game tutorial does a good job at teaching the player how to play the game. It’s not as great as notable tutorials such as the ones in Skullgirls, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, and Skullgirls. But it’s a massive step up from my all-time worst fighting game tutorial: Vanilla Tekken 7.
The game itself looks amazing. The art style that SNK chose for Samurai Shodown 2019 really pops with its PC release. Stages really pop with the woodblock aesthetic (notably stages like Gairyu Isle, and Kamui Kotan highlight this the most).
On the topic of graphics, the game has your standard PC fighting game options such as enabling/disabling bloom and anti-aliasing, and a selection of display options from full screen to a borderless window. However, the game has one substantial absence that I’ll get to in the next part of the review.
Why is it that in the year 2020, a PC game doesn’t support resolutions higher than 1080p?
I have Skullgirls, Dragonball FighterZ, Killer Instinct, Street Fighter V: Championship Edition, and Granblue Fantasy Versus on my PC, all of which support above 1080p resolutions. Why is it that Samurai Shodown, the newest game from all of what I just mentioned, is limited to 1080p? I’m sure modders, or simply editing the .ini file will be able to lift this restriction. But lacking native support for both widescreen and resolutions past above 1080p in 2020 is unacceptable.
That’s pretty much the only bad thing about Samurai Shodown. I could talk about the story mode, but it’s not bad for fighting game. It’s not great like a Netherrealm studios story mode, but it’s par for the course as far as fighting games go.
There is however one more point that goes far beyond a section called “The Bad”.
In the current climate of the world, offline gatherings for playing fighting games aren’t possible. So a fighting game’s online experience is extremely important these days. Samurai Shodown is the worst online experience I’ve had in a fighting game, by a WIDE margin.
I waited a few days to test this out, and every experience I’ve had playing online was simply unplayable. It’s why my game footage is against the CPU. All my captures from online matches were unusable due to the slowdown caused by lag. 9 out of 10 of my online matches were so laggy that it was unplayable, and this was while searching for SUPPOSEDLY full bar connections. Also that 1 playable match I had was against a player FAR ABOVE my skill level, so the matchmaking isn’t that great either.
Delay-based netcode is not good enough these days. Every fighting game should be using rollback netcode.
Samurai Shodown isn’t my cup of tea, but it is a really good fighting game. It checks all the boxes (except “good online” that is) in what you want from a fighting game, and being HEAVILY neutral-based, is a good entry point into the genre. Just look for a person you can play with locally, or at least have a stable connection with online.