Review: Samurai Shodown finally slices its way onto the PC

It seemed that SNK would never turn back to its much beloved Samurai Shodown franchise after nearly decades without releasing a new game, instead focusing on their bread and butter in the form of The King of Fighters. But lo and behold, last year we finally got to throw down with Haohmaru and his colorful cast of friends in one of the best looking and smoothest playing fighting games in the last few years as a reboot of Samurai Shodown was released for consoles.

I absolutely adored the game even after spending a good number of hours getting cut into ribbons playing online against much more skilled fighters, and when word came that SamSho (as it’s affectionately referred to by its fans) would be coming to PC via the Epic Game Store, I couldn’t miss the chance of stepping into the world stage once again, especially since my PlayStation 4 broke down days before the pandemic quarantine dropped and I haven’t been able to play any Samurai Shodown since. 

And positively happy I am to report that this version of the game turned out pretty damn well. Technical junkies might scoff at the limited graphical options on show here, or the fact that the max resolution is limited to only 1080p. Still, the game runs beautifully with absolutely no slowdown even on my aging computer with the few toggles that there are turned to max. I’ve had a code for the game for a little while now and I’m glad to report that it’s just as playable as it’s always been, and hell, you can now use all the range of controllers that are available on PC, your mind being the only limiting factor. Or your wallet, of course.

Iroha opens Mina up with her deadly crane attack.

Admittedly, due to the busy nature of reviewing games, since my last time touching Samurai Shodown on PS4 there have been a bunch of new characters added into the game’s roster via two season passes released so far. I’ve had the chance to play with all of them on PC, and they’re by far the most varied assortment of additions I’ve seen in a fighting game. Out of the bunch, my personal highlights are Wan-Fu from season 1 and from season 2 I’m tending to stick with Mina and Iroha out of the three currently released combatants — the final one has yet to be announced at this time.

Wan-Fu is deceptively quick for such a big guy, even more so considering that he fights with a big totem which he hurls around and at his opponents. His attacks are positively devastating and manage to cover the whole range of the screen in a matter of seconds. He’s quite an impressive fighter to go against if he’s the hands of a capable player, and I’m looking forward to putting some more time into learning him.

On the other hand, but not at all in opposition to Wan-Fu, Mina is a space controller thanks to her quick draw and fire bow with which he can basically dictate the distance her enemy can get to her, while also being able to counter any forms of closing the gap. There are obvious caveats of using her surely enough as her shots can only be fired a couple of seconds after pulling the string, and you have to anticipate where the enemy will try to approach from and react accordingly.

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Mina gains control of the space and keeps Nakoruru away.

Iroha is probably the most unique out of my three favorites from the DLC characters, a mythical crane who dons the skin of a maid when push comes to shove and she has to protect her master. Fighting as her is a lot of fun thanks to the myriad of attacks she can use, both with her dual short swords, her razor sharp feathers as well as fire. Design-wise she’s been considered by fans and even some of the producers of the reboot to be the farthest from the general motif of ‘Shodown, but given that even an imp man was a fighter in the old games, I can make an exception for a crane.

The best part about playing fighting games has definitely got to be multiplayer, and for as shaky as it was when the game just hit the Epic Store last week, I’m happy to report that online functions are working fine now and are generally stable, as long as you set your regional ping options accordingly. While I still dislike the way lobbies work in the game overall, thanks to the convolution of controls and not being able to instantly start watching your opponents fighting as you enter the room, everything works as it should, and I was able to join in a number of different mini tournaments during the process of playing this version of the game for review.

It’s always exciting to get the chance to play a game you truly enjoy after an extended time away from it and see that it remains just as good as you remember it. Such is the case with me and the new Samurai Showdown. It might have taken nearly a whole year for SNK to bring it to PC, it was worth the wait for those who chose not to play on console, or didn’t have a choice due to not owning either a PlayStation 4 or a Xbox One. If you’re in any way into fighting games and have yet to play the new game in SNK’s classic franchise, it’s a great time to draw your weapon and attack.

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