Samurai Shodown 4

Arcade 1996 Windows SNK Oriental Beat em up

Much improved sequel

Another rival to Street Fighter IV's crown as king of the hill when it comes to 2D beat 'em ups steps forward only this time this one is actually in with a chance of claiming it. SNK's feudal Japan-set series is a fantastic one, full of over-the-top fighters and kick-ass moves. This fourth entry in the franchise doesn't mess with the formula a lot so cannot be considered overly original, but what it does, it does well. The previous game in the series, Samurai Shodown 3, was largely derided in the community so this one removed a lot of the elements which attracted negative feedback and tweaked other aspects. Most obviously, the visuals have been made a little more cartoon-like which can either be a good or bad thing, depending on your preferences, but the controls are now slightly looser and which gives the game a better feel. There are of course the obligatory new characters, although there are only two of them, which is a touch disappointing but not a major downer. There's also the slightly controversial inclusion of Mortal Kombat-style fatalities and suicide moves, where you can end your opponent's life in suitably gruesome fashion or choose to take your own to preserve your honour. This is a much improved game over its predecessor and if you're looking for a solid fighter, you can't go wrong here. The array of characters is enough to keep you playing for some time and there is a lot of challenge to be found. The visuals are slick and chunky and the action fast and furious so really, what's not to like?

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