Repost: Samurai Showdown Sen Review

The Samurai Showdown series is among of the oldest arcade fighters. The Neo Geo cabinets usually had one version of the series on the set of switchable games. Previously as well, Samurai Showdown was a 2D sprite fighter taking place on a fixed plane.

Samurai Showdown Sen is the first of the series to enter 3D and add another axis of movement. Exclusive to the Xbox 360, Samurai Showdown Sen brings another fighting title to the system. Though was the move from 2D to 3D a success as other titles have proved it can be?

The Plot

Like most fighting genre titles, the actual story is secondary to the actual gameplay. Since there are 24 different characters in the title and each one has their own reason for fighting across the world, the main point is that they are all going to end up in the Western Era United States to have their final encounter.

Most of the time through many of the playthroughs, the motivations behind characters was stereotypical or unnecessary. Samurai Showdown Sen does better to focus on the different styles rather than trying to create a story that develops over 24 characters.

The Look

Samurai Showdown Sen is a disappointment when it comes to the visual aspect of the overall title. A cross between a first generation Xbox 360 title and late generation PlayStation 2 title, Samurai Showdown Sen looks good during very specific scenes, but otherwise looks a bit unpolished and blocky. The camera is the main problem because it focuses too close to the pair fighting. All the characters have individual models and no one looks too similar to another, but the detail in the models were not divided equally.

The background also have some issues with a mix of bland and developed areas. Another big problem is that battles that took place during the night were darker than they needed to be, creating a difficulty to judge distance.

Samurai Showdown Sen could have looked better, but doesn’t look horrible. But considering the time into the cycle of the system, titles shouldn’t be looking like this.

The Sound

The title features Japanese audio with English subtitles and also the option to have titles in their original Japanese. The voiceovers are standard anime voices, including the gruff one-liners to helium friendly kunoichi.

The music is forgettable like in most other fighting game titles and the support for custom soundtracks takes care of that issue. As with most fighting titles, most of the actual audio is reactions to attacks or the last breaths before death, so there’s really nothing surprising about it.

Function

The mechanics behind a fighting title are paramount against the success of the game overall. Sadly, Samurai Showdown Sen didn’t meet this mark very well. The title feels slow, with button presses having a split second lag before the action on the screen. Add in the less than accurate controller and that equals a lot of missed moves and lack of defense.

Even with the characters all having different styles, button mashing is the most likely winner because the skill involved to complete the moves of each character can easily be broken by some random vertical or horizontal strike.

The addition of the z-axis in the fighting is only helpful against one of the sub-bosses who uses a rifle (that can fire across the screen and be added to combos), otherwise it causes an unnecessary movement for the title.

The core gameplay of Samurai Showdown Sen doesn’t meet the quick response necessary to be successful and that pulls the title down.

Decisions

With the core gameplay lacking, it’s hard to really push as Samurai Showdown Sen a necessary purchase, especially for fighting genre fans, of which I’m a part of. Samurai Showdown Sen is the first attempt for the series in 3D and it’s a good start, but there are a lot of improvements that the title needs before it really starts to shine against other titles in the genre that have made their appearance on the current consoles.

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