Samurai Shodown Sen is a game that, despite current-generation graphics, feels like it belongs bout two console generations back. There are only the most basic of game modes, button mashing can ensure victory, and fighting game staples like sidestepping and counters are nowhere to be found. Sen also suffers from Tekken-itis – meaning that each character has far more moves that are realistically necessary and that you only really have enough time before the next fighting game comes out to get good with one character.
Samurai Shodown Sen features only three modes: Versus, Survival, and Story. All are self-explanatory, and all are genre staples. Where are the interesting modes? I don’t expect SNK to copy modes from other games, but we’ve got fighters with quarter mode, coop story, and moveset-restricted challenge modes. I expect more out a home console fighter than the options I had in arcades 15 years ago. Sen feels like a game whose motto was “what do we need?” instead of “what can we do?” There are a ton of moves available for each character, but you’ll find one combination that usually works well (block + A and B) to slog through the story.
Visually, Samurai Shodown Sen looks fine, but everything feels less alive than it used to. SNK has some of the best sprite-work out there, and it’s disappointing to see them use 3D models instead. There’s plenty of fun to be had with sprites on a 2D plane, and Samurai Shodown suffers for moving away from one of SNK’s strong suits and trading it away for 3D that looks like it could have come from any developer out there. Griping about lack of sprites aside, the game moves well, characters are animated nicely, and the backgrounds are gorgeous. It’s just a shame that it’s all dressing over a lackluster product.
Mechanically, Sen is stuck in the arcades. When you inevitably lost a match you’re greeted to your fighter bleeding out on the ground while a giant “Continue?” pops up on the screen with a timer. I don’t have quarters anymore. Just let me press A to continue or B to quit. And while you’re at it, come up with a better solution that sending me back to the character select. All that does is annoy me because then I have to wait through all the loads again. With so few options and current mechanics left on the floor the least you could give me is quick loading after I fall.
Samurai Shodown Sen feels like SNK looked at every popular fighter released in the last few years, took note of what features they all had in common, and slapped their characters on it. The whole package feels lifeless and uninspired. You’ll have more fun and spend less money with a used copy of Street Fighter IV. You’ll also be able to find people to play against online.
Plays Like: Street Fighter IV with less options and more moves
Pros: Backgrounds are nice
Cons: I miss the spritework and fun from Samurai Shodown games of years past