2D fighting games were the bomb back in the '90s and now, you can enjoy a great franchise from that era in one convenient collection.
Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection includes the first 5 mainline games from the series as well as 2 additional iterations of Samurai Shodown V so there are essentially 7 featured games. I've played some of these games casually in the past and have enjoyed them quite a lot. Also, I should mention that every game except for Samurai Shodown V Perfect has been recently released as separate ACA NeoGeo ports so if you purchased those then it must sting having to get this, too, but it's totally worth it for the bonus game and all of the delightful museum-style content which I'll discuss later. Anyway, you can play each game via its American or Japanese version and you can also challenge others with local or online multiplayer matches after practicing in the standard solo arcade mode. Although this is fantastic, I couldn't find any online matches to join as of yet but I prefer playing these games solo so I'm okay with that.
The included games feature some of the most visceral classic 2D fighting that I've ever played. The original Samurai Shodown introduced genre fans to weapon-based combat where fighters could cause some serious damage if they used the right move at the right time while taking advantage of their opponent's position. Button-mashing to break out of locked swords is fun, too, and the Rage Gauge where losing players have a chance to overpower their adversary is brilliant. Samurai Shodown II continued the trend set by the original yet with a slightly different roster and cool new systems such as hops, taunts, Weapon Breaker attacks, and Sword Stun parries.
Moving on, Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood transformed the franchise in many ways such as having Slash and Bust variants of each character as well as more weapon attack buttons which makes the combat even more exciting. I find it to be the most difficult game here but thankfully, Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's Revenge built upon it while taking the best elements of the first 2 games which makes it feel new and exceptionally well-rounded. Plus, the Rage Explosion moves are awesome to execute. Finally, Samurai Shodown V is included which originally released in 2003; 7 years after its predecessor. It features the largest roster of characters and super-tight controls that make the fighting more enjoyable than ever. Samurai Shodown V Special includes more characters and Overkill finishing moves while the previously unreleased Samurai Shodown V Perfect is very similar yet features new endings for each character.
Finally, allow me to discuss the extras in Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection. For starters, there are some helpful options that allow you to customize the controls, change the difficulty, and toggle various visual settings. That being said, these can be intensely difficult games even on the easiest settings which is surprising and can get rather frustrating to say the least. Anyway, there's a massive museum menu as well that contains extensive information and images for every Samurai Shodown game, even the ones not in this collection. You can also browse art and info for all 38 characters which is awesome because the fighters themselves are quite interesting and cool-looking. You can even watch 8 interviews with the developers, listen to all of the soundtracks, check out a ton of rare design documents, and watch gameplay videos of 7 professional matches with lengthy descriptions for context. I wish I could play that good!
Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection is a prime example of how to create a video game compilation. With oodles of extras and 7 fantastic fighting games in one comprehensive package, this is a must-have for any fan of 2D fighters.
- + Contains 7 fantastic Samurai Shodown games in one cohesive collection
- + Awesome museum-style content
- + Cool cast of characters and nice options
- - Difficulty can be exceptionally frustrating even after lowering the settings
- - Missing some titles such as Samurai Shodown VI and the few 3D games