Samurai Showdown for me was a series that not only captured my attention as a fighting game enthusiast, but also held a special place in my gaming history as one of the few arcade experiences that I had as a teenager. I remember playing the original arcade cabinet of SamSho at the local bowling alley as my family did their routine bowling. I also played on a rare 'Samurai Showdown III: Blades of Blood" arcade cabinet at the local Kmart department store back in the day when department stores had those special arcade rooms set aside for the children of customers. Of course I also bought SamShoIII when it was finally ported to the PSOne in the late 90's, because I loved it that much. The Treachery, and Chivalry finishers in SamShoIII were, in my opinion one of the series' finer points. A feature which was lost along the way as SamSho became an all inclusive, and censored shell of it's former glory. Don't get me wrong though. I did love the new character additions, and mechanics that came into play years down the road. The different "Spirits' meters opened up new opportunities in-game, as they tend to do. When the final 3D SamSho dropped, and flopped on the Xbox 360 years after the final 2D entry I was fairly certain we'd no longer see or hear from it again. Imagine my surprise earlier this week when I found out on Twitter that a PS2 port of "SamShoVI" was actually coming to the PS4. If for nothing else I personally wanted it for a trip down memory lane, and for what it's worth I think it provided exactly that.
When considering buying "Samurai Showdown VI" there's a handful of things you need to weigh. First, and foremost the game did not receive the 'Last Blade 2' treatment. It is a direct port of the PS2 original with everything made available from the start including some tacked on screen options to get a more arcade-like appearance on your HDTV. The game does look visually dated with it's 480p resolution display, but if you opt to change the settings to the scanlines inclusive options it'll look much better than when left as is. For those of you who don't know SamShoVI it is an all inclusive game that harbors all of the 2D series' characters including tag along characters, and bosses. All of which are made available immediately. The roster is 50 plus characters heavy, and the game itself contains a few modes of play with which to master said characters. It is set in a fantasy samurai era where odd characters of all sorts feud over fame, fortune, and survival. Much like Street Fighter the characters in SamSho have their intertwining encounters, and a subtle mythology hinted at through vague conversations.
When it comes to said character offerings the character selection screen itself harbors not only the feuding individuals, but various spirit gauges that effect how you play each character in the game. The spirit gauges include the original SamSho setup with basic combat in mind all the way to the arranged gauge of VI. Some spirit gauges include special finishers or meter effects as well. SamShoIII's rage gauge, for example can be charged to beef up damage output. Later gauges in the series offer things like combo opportunities, or things like the Neverland + Flash finisher. Missing is SamShoIII's Treachery, and Chivalry finishers which I mentioned earlier. Also missing are the blood elements such as the blood spurts, and gory body splitting of heavily slashed opponents. All of which I honestly miss, and wish would have been included this go around.
As far as modes of play go you have a basic, but challenging 'Arcade' mode with character specific stages much like you'll find in games such as Street Fighter. This includes character specific rivalries made clearer through cartoon bubble, and textual dialogue as well as a final face off with your chosen character's main rival. Let's also not forget the bosses, and secret bosses that you can encounter after your rival duel. Other modes that are included are the two-player 'VS' mode, and a 'Survival' mode. While versus local play is fairly self explanatory the 'Survival' mode is a little less so. In 'Survival' you will be selecting one of 3 random character payouts that require you to finish the allotted character in a certain manner in order to reap the rewards after the fact. Those rewards being extra time, or life for the most part. Think of it like SFV's Arcade mode in that sense.
Aside from the character, and mode offerings SamShoVI also has two extra menu options known as 'Spirit Edit Mode', and 'Color Edit Mode'. The 'Spirit Edit Mode' is basically a spirit gauge custom option where you can tweak various gauge options to your liking. This includes meter type, gauge levels, and other things that will allow you to bend the game's mechanics to your liking. I think it actually ties-in with the VI spirit gauge option. An option like the others which is made available after you select your character. The 'Color Edit Mode' on the other hand is as it sounds. In it you'll be selecting a character of choice, and changing the characters various colors to your liking. I imagine you can select these saved color edits during the character select process if you press the appropriate button. I should also mention the 'Gallery Mode' which houses cutscenes, endings, and images from the game. All of which can be unlocked through Arcade mode playthroughs. There's that, and PSN trophies to earn along the way.
Other tweakable options include a language setting for Japanese speech, screen options in the form of art borders and scanlines as well as your basic volume/BGM picks. This game, as I said is basically a direct port of the PS2 version of SamShoVI in every sense of the meaning, and in being such it isn't something totally spectacular. Only oldschool gamers like myself would really benefit from a purchase, and playthrough of the game, but if you fancy seeing what SamSho is all about this is a good peek into that series. At $14.99 (US) it's not a bad deal, but by today's PSN store standards it's also not exactly the greatest of deals either. Be sure to check out my Youtube channel for some SamShoVI gameplay uploads. Just follow the link provided below, and you'll find my channel.
OtakuDante's Gaming inferno (YT) - https://www.youtube.com/user/otakudante