Samurai Shodown IV: Amasuka's Revenge

SNK's new import fighter is more of the same stuff. Is that bad or good?

Publisher: SNK
Developer: SNK
Genre: Fighting

Yet another perfect port of a Neo-Geo arcade title has just hit the Saturn in Japan. Samurai Shodown IV: Amasuka's Revenge is the next sequel in the red-hot series from SNK, but this time the new features aren't going to jump up and bite you.

Fans of Samurai Shodown aren't going to have much to complain about -- this is the same SS gameplay with which we're all familiar. There are a few new characters, a couple new styles and moves for every character, and some combinations new to this series. SSIV is more of an update than a new game, so keep that in mind if you already own the last Samurai.

On the flipside, if you're one of those folks -- like me -- who never cared for the series to begin with, you're not going to find anything new that'll sway your opinion of the game in the other direction. Samurai Shodown was always a gorgeous-looking fighter that didn't play as well as it looks. The stylized action -- those weird, dramatic pauses during powerful strikes, for example -- is an incredible distraction. And if you want to play as a hulking, strong character-type, prepare for slow-paced strategy where you have plenty of time to calculate (or watch) moves in motion.

It's not a terrible game, it's just hard to swallow a sequel that hasn't changed enough to justify a release. Especially when you never really liked the series, anyway.

But, if you must import this title (since it's currently only available in Japan), keep in mind that you'll need the add-on one-MB RAM cartridge to keep up with the detailed animation sequences. Besides, the game won't work without one.