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Samurai Shodown Sen (Xbox 360) artwork

Samurai Shodown Sen (Xbox 360) review

"Samurai Shodown Sen is not an awful game. The only way it could be considered "awful" would be to ignore the barely playable fighters that have come out over the last twenty years. The characters perform expected actions whenever I press the buttons, and -- aside from plastic doll faces -- the graphics are well beyond "PlayStation 2 quality". I can say this with confidence because I've actually played PS2 games."

Samurai Shodown Sen is not an awful game. The only way it could be considered "awful" would be to ignore the barely playable fighters that have come out over the last twenty years. The characters perform expected actions whenever I press the buttons, and -- aside from plastic doll faces -- the graphics are well beyond "PlayStation 2 quality". I can say this with confidence because I've actually played PS2 games. Sure, the static stage design and straightforward presentation may not compare favorably to the Dreamcast's Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive 2, but those were that era's Uncharted 2. The point is, it's obviously an Xbox 360 game and it's obviously not an awful one.

That being said, Samurai Shodown Sen is not a good game, either. There actually seems to be some variety in character styles, but I can only see people enjoying it at parties, and only if they party with nerds who have nothing better to play (and by definition, nerds should have far better games to play). I thought it was occasionally silly and mostly dull.

Case in point: Kyoshiro. According to the opening narration, he "believed that his duty in life was to spread the joys of kabuki around the world."

So he went forth and chopped off peoples' heads.

One of the epilogues relays the tale of Chinese warrior Wan Fu, who kills a bear for its liver, then wraps a chain around his body and leaps into the ocean to attract a shark so he can get across the ocean quickly. But the shark must first be tamed!

"After exchanging fists, the shark let me ride on its back."

That's some shark! I really wish I had a picture to go along with that epilogue, but each character's unique ending has no illustrations. That's important because it means the only incentive to play through the single-player mode is to unlock the bosses as playable characters . . . and to unlock both bosses, you must beat the game with everyone.

Although some people play SNK fighters for the story, most are more interested in the fighting. Samurai Shodown Sen is not unplayable, but it's designed for degenerates. When I played as the runaway princess Suzu, I found that victory was easy to attain by abusing the triple slash (hold back + vertical slash) and difficult to attain by playing "honestly". When I selected Haohmaru, I abused his throw. Actually, aside from Suzu, I abused everyone's throw. I beat the game with every character, and I improved my blocking-and-countering, but I don't feel like I really learned how to play the game.

The frightening thought lingering in the back of my head is that perhaps I actually did discover the best way to play. My "strategy" worked even on the harder difficulty setting.

When reviewing a fighting game, I would normally name or describe some of the characters. In Samurai Shodown Sen, they all use the same throw animation, so they're all the same to me, except that some wear skirts and some wear baggy pants.

Wait -- there's one character who stands apart from the rest. Her name is Angelica, and she's a leggy Amazon. She's unusual because her "throw" is inexplicably weak. She must throw people six times to win, whereas other characters must only throw people five times. After scouring the internet, I actually found a tier list for Samurai Shodown Sen, and Angelica was considered the worst character. But I still like her, because she's pretty hot.

Oh crap. Did I just do that?

Creating a balanced but challenging fighter requires an enormous amount of planning, testing, and time. That obviously didn't happen here; Suzu's triple slash, Wan Fu's knockdown-and-keepdown combos, and every character's "throw" could have been caught simply by playing against the computer. And then they should have been fixed. Finding these things doesn't help if they aren't corrected.

Playing against other people might be fun if other people actually played Samurai Shodown Sen, but they don't. I can't recommend a broken single-player experience or a multiplayer game that lacks a competitive community. My best memory of Samurai Shodown Sen was when I paused during Charlotte's stage and listened to the music for a while; that's not worth $20.


Rating: 4/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (October 24, 2010)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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honestgamer posted October 24, 2010:

This is a short but entertaining review, because I've played a lot of fighting games that aren't a total affront to my senses but that I really wouldn't care to ever play again. This sounds like one of those, and you perfectly paint the picture of a game where I'd shuffle around, waiting for my opportunity to throw a foe and maybe dealing the occasional light jab just to ease boredom. I feel like I've played this already and moved on to play something better. The line about nerds was terrific (it describes fools like me perfectly, except I don't throw parties).
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radicaldreamer posted October 26, 2010:

I remember playing Samurai Shodown V Special on the arcade machine in my college housing establishment. It was a really good game. It's surprising to hear that this game apparently sucks balls. Is it available through XBLA?

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