Just like hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan, Samurai Shodown had its first release all the way back in 1993, introducing us to SNK's brand of sword fighting for the first time on the Neo Geo. Since then it's had a fair few sequels, but we actually saw the last one a whole 11 years ago when Samurai Shodown: Sen hit the Xbox 360 in 2008. A decade on and we're preparing to finally head back into the action this year, and with the title confirmed for Evo already - the biggest fighting game event on the planet - our anticipations were high heading into the preview event in London earlier this month.
Before we get stuck in, SNK Game Designer Josh Weatherford gave us an opening pitch about how this is a reboot of sorts for the series. It's set just before the events of the very first game, and Weatherford explains that this was best so that they didn't have to worry too much about who was and wasn't alive in terms of the timeline. After 11 years this is really a reset of sorts, meaning that the likes of Haohmaru and Nakoruru are still at the forefront of the story as the series icons.
"We definitely think it's an iconic series in the SNK library, and it's been over 10 years since a new game's been released, so we wanted to bring something back and make sure it was easy for newcomers and old fans alike to jump in too," he explained in our interview.
If you've played the series before, you'll know it differs from other fighting games because of the fact that single attacks have the potential to take a lot of health, meaning it's less about stringing together fancy combos than making sure your attacks land, while also making sure you don't get hit. When playing on PS4, kicks were assigned to X, light sword attacks to Square, medium to Triangle, and heavy to Circle, and that formed the core pillars of combat.
When we say each hit has the chance of wiping an opponent's health out, we aren't kidding either. For example, pressing L2 activates a rage explosion that pushes your opponent back, and you then get one chance to press L2 again for a special attack that wipes out over half of your opponent's health bar in a stylised and bloody cinematic if it lands. These are often easily telegraphed and can be dodged, but it's worth a try if you know how.