In a quick turnaround since the game was originally released as Samurai Spirits: Flash in Japan, Samurai Showdown Sen has been brought to U.S. shores (a little more than four months). The title immediately differs from a number of other titles in the Samurai Shodown series in terms of the character breakdown. Where previous titles kept a majority of characters in from previous iterations of the titles, Sen seems to blend a tremendous amount of new characters (Suzu, Killian, Black Hawk, and Jinbei Sugamati) with the characters that long-term players of the series love (Haohmaru, Wan-Fu, Jubei Yagyu, and Kyoshiro Senryo).
Even with the inclusion of these different characters, there is more than enough reason for their entrance – rather than merely being a change of skin for a model, there is some backstory to be had with each character here. Xseed has to be lauded here as well, as the culture gap between Japanese and American titles has been nearly removed – where fighting games are easier to port than RPGs, for example, a great many titles that were imported from Japan have been off-putting due to this. Xseed makes American gamers, many of which who have not picked up a title in the Samurai Shodown line before, completely engrossed in the aforementioned storylines. SNK further tightens things up with fluid graphics, considerable variation in terms of sound clips, music, and player options.
By including the online component to the title, Samurai Shodown Sen will be a title in which players continue to determine the best of the best, even as further titles in the line are released. The only thing that I could foresee stopping this title from going gangbusters is the Mature tag that the ESRB placed upon it. While this rating is understandable owing to the sometimes-gruesome attacks, interested players that are not of the age to be buying the game should rationalize the purchase to their adults. The title is simply one of the best fighting games of the year, hands down.
Samurai Shodown Sen (Xbox 360) / 2010 Xseed Games | SNK Playmore / http://www.xseedgames.com