Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny Hands-On - New Control Scheme, New 3D Graphics

We get our hands on this Xbox 360-exclusive Samurai Shodown fighting game at E3 2009.


E3 2009 is in full swing in Los Angeles, California, and Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny for the Xbox 360 is one of the wondrous games at the show. Originally released in Japan as the arcade game Samurai Spirits: Flash, Edge of Destiny is a new 3D Samurai Shodown fighting game from SNK that features 13 returning characters who have appeared in the series at some point (such as Haohmaru, Ukyo Tachibana, Hanzo Hattori, and, unfortunately, Galford), as well as 11 brand-new characters, some of which are "period" characters to fit the game's shogunate-era Japan setting, like the new samurai character Takechiyo. Others have clearly been added for the sake of variety, such as Gallows, the viking warrior, and J, an African-American samurai with an afro haircut.

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Who's Making This Game: SNK Playmore, the creator of the original 2D Samurai Shodown fighting series and the disastrous three previous 3D Samurai Shodown fighting games, all of which were uniformly terrible, though to be fair, they came out many years ago on hardware that is no longer supported.

What The Game Looks Like: A very blocky, chunky 3D version of Samurai Shodown, though the way several of the 3D models have rough, angular looks to them is probably due to the 3D artists trying to approximate the stylized, exaggered 2D art that inspired the characters. This is particularly obvious with characters like the scarf-wearing ninja Hanzo and the crazy-haired ronin Haohmaru. The version of the game we played had plentiful red blood effects and no apparent mystical special attacks, though it could be that we simply didn't play enough of the game to see them. There are also modified "fatalities," vaguely reminiscent of the death and dismemberment fight endings seen in Samurai Shodown 5, and these seem to happen when you end a match with a strong slash. We ourselves ended a match with Haohmaru's strong slash, and his katana clipped off the head of his foe as gouts of blood poured out from the neck. For the most part, it appears that the voice-over for all returning characters has been provided by their original voice actors from the 2D games: Haohmaru is still voiced by the manly Masaki Usui; Hanzo is still voiced by the wheezy, asthmatic-sounding Toshimitsu Arai; Kyoshiro is still voiced by the zany Atsushi "Monster" Maetsuka; and Galford is probably still voiced by the same guy, but we didn't bother to check, because really, if you play as Galford, you're probably a gigantic loser.

What There Is To Do: This is a one-on-one fighting game, so if there isn't anyone to play against in competition, you'll be able to play against computer-controlled opponents in an arcade mode, as well as a survival mode and a practice mode.

How The Game Is Played: The game has a basic four-button setup reminiscent of the classic NeoGeo four-button setup, though the actual basic attacks resemble those of the Soul Calibur games. There's a horizontal slash button, a vertical slash button, a kick button, and a separate button to throw your opponent. Pressing various combinations of buttons lets you perform other types of attacks, such as the aforementioned strong slash and an unblockable attack, but thankfully, you can assign these combinations to your Xbox 360's bumper buttons. Fortunately, there is no block button, and blocking seems to work similarly to a block in a standard 2D fighting game--you can pull back on your joystick to block and down-back on your joystick to block low attacks.

What They Say: Even though this game is already available in Japanese arcades, it's headed to US shores exclusively for the Xbox 360.

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What We Say: The control scheme is completely different from that in previous 2D Samurai Shodown games--many characters' signature attacks are performed with a combination of single joystick touches plus a button press, rather than the 2D series' more-conventional quarter-circle and half-circle joystick motions. It's definitely not going to be another 2D Samurai Shodown game, and if you come in expecting it to be, you may be disappointed. You'll be able to see for yourself when the game ships this winter.

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