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Cheat Code

Samurai game ain't as sharp as it could have been

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Published 6/2/2010

Samurai Showdown: Sen
SNK Playmore
Xbox 360

In the '90s, when most households had either a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis, living rooms of renegade gamers had the Neo Geo game system. Sure, the thing cost a ridiculous $600, but you got the ability to play the best fighting game series this side of Street Fighter. One such game was the weapon-based Samurai Showdown, where each fighter would hack and slash his way to victory, with the ability to maim the competition. Let that sink in for a second. Maim. The. Competition. Since then, though, the fighting game has changed. ... and Samurai Showdown: Sen fails to keep up.

With 24 fighters to choose from, Sen's focus isn't on random button-mashing, but a calculated series of slashes and strikes. The problem is that the entire fighting system feels choppy and unresponsive. The meat of the fighting consists of mixing vertical and horizontal slashes to attack, but there's not much difference between the two, and they're both easy to block. Most fighting games require a fair bit of time in the training option to be able to learn the timing of the upper level combos, but Sen's training mode is bare-bones, with the move-list being very esoteric and hard to understand. Eventually, the fighting devolves into pressing the unblockable attack button, and hoping that you don't get hit while performing the move.

Visually, this isn't a pretty sight, with graphics looking very last-generation, and the animations, much like the gameplay, being very choppy. One cool thing to see, though, when pulled off correctly, is that your character can finish the match by slicing your enemy in half. While it does feel a bit satisfying to eviscerate your enemy, it's not enough to forget everything else you see is subpar.

With Street Fighter making a triumphant comeback, and the Soul Calibur series holding the weapons-based combat crown, there isn't much that Samurai Showdown: Sen brings to the fight.

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