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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Samurai Shodown IV


Following a not too keenly received third installment in SNK's Samurai Shodown series, the company released a fourth episode in 1996 with fine tuned gameplay mechanics that remained faithful to the altered system the third piece introduced, yet the developers took criticisms into sober considerations. Massively vibrant, inventive and one of the most violent of the Samurai Shodown games, Amakusa's Revenge weights in as a refreshing, courageous experience to enrich the saga with.

Enjoy and Read on!

Samurai Shodown IV keeps the most notable characters the series already have built up by the time of this release, even reintroduces illustrious Boss figures we had a hard time colliding with back in the earliest days of the franchise. The game offers a rather unusual structural premise as you have a certain time limit being set in 1 Player mode, while it's amount is heavily dependent on the character you choose. Your goal yet again is to spank Amakusa's butt and the enemy roster you have to go through to reach his castle is similarly influenced by the hero you choose to play with. In case you arrive in time, you will have the chance to see if Amakusa hired any major guns to aid his - naturally - highly illegal and sinister purposes, while a defeat against time will lead to a conclusion you won't necessarily end up happy with.

Changes and gameplay additions are numerous and significant. First and foremost, the piece offers two variants of each character, namely a SLASH and a BUST figure whom have a couple of slightly distinctive moves compared to each other while the BUST replicas do exhibit an interesting "darker feel" to themselves as well. Now each hero comes with a variety of selectable outfit colors and even a Grade system, one of the funky inventions Samurai Shodown IV introduces.

There are Beginner, Medium and Bada ... I mean Expert Grades. These are massively reliant on the combo system the game operates with, so let us see how exactly this works. The program features a Consensus Combo Streak of 14 successful hits guaranteed, accessible and executable by every character, granted they hold either the Medium or the Expert Grade. A character with the Beginner Grade selected can execute the starting movement of the Consensus Combo, automatically resulting in 4 impacts if successfully executed, knocking the enemy off of her/his feet. Now the good thing is this: once you play at least on Medium Grade and manage to soak the Consensus Combo in, your POW meter - which is, amazingly: still available! - automatically fills up to the maximum. And let me tell you this: as we will see, we can do quite neat things with a full POW meter in Samurai Shodown IV. A funny extra thing is of immediate note about the Expert Grade though: this particular level will give you a slightly more swift character, while you completely lose the ability to block. Sounds like a fair trade? You know the drill: you decide, me just writes here.

The system has the fortunate potential to perform crazy-ass combos consisting of 35-40 hits by, yet the main function of this here frequently cited Consensus Combo that is available to all protagonists is more of a neat minigame that offers a way to fill your POW meter, as the damage done by the streak itself is not particularly excessive. Surely, each character have their unique combos you can invent and master by experimenting with the respective attack forms and specials they possess, naturally this is one of the main appeals the effort delivers, enriching the experience with sober complexity and nice surprises that might and should be revealed.

Samurai Shodown IV consorts with the third installment as far as the basic gameplay mechanics go: trademark attack moves that were executed with simultaneous button taps are now mainly available on separate locations, thanks to the extra attack button the game utilizes. This is by far not to say that the program would be free of simultaneous taps. In fact, it is more reliant on them than ever before. Samurai Shodown IV dictates a much more furious and significantly "braver" pace, it is truly no problem earning some extra stripes and cuts on the butts, as the next attack you are about to unleash: SURELY shall connect. This is the neat mood the game gets you in, also it is the rhythm it masterfully, cunningly invites it's enjoyer to keep up to.

All this has quite much to do with the increased lifelines the characters possess: now you have way more opportunity both to shine and to be massively, even successfully assaulted prior any of the characters on the screen would reach evidently desperate situation. Rounds have a tendency to last longer with the noted rhythmic pattern that invites you to give the good old snarl attitude right from the start.

Focal inventions to affect the gameplay are these: a full POW meter allows you to use special attacks, invoked by consensus commands by all characters, though resultant maneuvers are of course different. You are not constrained to rely only on these particular POW specials, though. You can trade a full POW meter in for the new RAGE meter which allows you to execute even a hilariously brutal strike, and here is how: the damage you deal with a successful RAGE strike is massively dependent on the amount your opponent claimed off of YOUR health. A brilliant idea, brilliantly realized. The concept adds considerable depth to the system as it demands sober decisions to be made whether to go for a RAGE strike at the first place in exchange of a full POW meter and related specials, while the successful utilization of such a furious assault could turn the tide of any, absolutely any situation. A sober decision have been quite welcomely made as well, since superquick the RAGE strike, might be: also a blockable assault it is. All in all, a truly nice feature to incorporate the concept of comeback to the game, even better: the piece immensely likes when you go senselessly brutal just to rip someone in two with a RAGE attack that no one ever could see coming or ever considered as needed. POW specials can be used multiple times per round, a RAGE strike can be unleashed only once per round. There is a Combination Slash as well, connectable with specials - the Combination Slash can be used four times after using the RAGE explosion, invoked by the same command as the one you used to get into RAGE mode. Remember though that Beginner grade does not incorporate RAGE.

Some nice additional features have been also incorporated, such are the ability to commit Seppuku once you decide NOT TO give away the W for the opponent in a hopeless situation. The good thing is this: once you showoff your bowels, you naturally lose the round, yet, granted there is a follow up round to roll for you will take start the period with your POW maximized. There is also an option implemented to taunt your opponent, and Samurai Shodown IV also includes No Contest moves quite reminiscent to Mortal Kombat's Fatalities. These specials can be utilized on a conditional basis, meaning the enemy has to be defeated in a certain way to give you the opportunity of finishing her/him if you choose to. Once this particular possibility is granted, the game is nice and enthusiastic 'nuff to inform you of the exact Consensus Special Command you need to perform to express your Radical Verdict.

Other nice, minor-yet significant additions are of note here yet. Now you have the ability to evade from attacks using a button combination, effectively moving to the 2.5th dimension, better yet: you can even trick your adversary by making a swift circle around her/him and connect with an attack by that tiny-tiny, precious free moment this maneuver grants you with. The weapon-collider minigame is still included, and now the ability is offered to take the enemy's weapon away when you are armed with nothing but hands and a sinister look. At the end of the day one can't help but notice: Samurai Shodown IV is among the most precious installments the franchise has produced so far, bringing us a rather rich mixture of inventive content to fuel a complex, swift, deep fighting experience.

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related recommendation:
Samurai Shodown IV Guide

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