The great trouble with a lot of SNK games is that due to the exorbitant cost of the Neo Geo consoles and cartridges, pretty much no one got a chance to play them when they first came out. It%26rsquo;s only now, through downloads and retro compilations like this one, that many of us are getting our first taste %26ndash; and for many titles (such as the uber-bland King of Fighters) it%26rsquo;s just come a little bit too late. Thankfully, Samurai Shodown remains unique enough to be worth a second glance. With a memorable cast, rich mythology and some ginormous, detailed sprites that don%26rsquo;t look half bad today, the series has held up surprisingly well against the ravages of time.
It%26rsquo;s a fairly generous package, containing Shodowns I-VI, although extra content is limited to a single truly awful minigame and the standard gallery and soundtracks that no-one really cares about. The first two games are really more like embryonic versions of what the series, from part III onwards, would become. As such, they%26rsquo;re hardly worth your time. Later entries are deeper, prettier and feel more balanced. The disc is almost worth it for series highlight Samurai Shodown IV alone, although we%26rsquo;d be happier recommending it without the ridiculous price tag.
It%26rsquo;s not the best celebration of the franchise%26rsquo;s 15th anniversary, and it%26rsquo;s not the title that%26rsquo;s going to bring the series out of the periphery and into the limelight %26ndash; that%26rsquo;ll have to wait for the likely HD remake %26ndash; but the quality of the included games transcends our mostly petty concerns. Except the one about it being too pricey for what you get.
Mar 25, 2009