Back to ABSOLUTE PLAYSTATION   Coming Soon > Whats New > Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Absolute PlayStation


(Blades of Blood)
Written By: DJS

Please note that the views expressed in this review are those of the writer and not of A.P.I

I've been a fan of fighting games for many years - 2D, 3D, you name it.
Among the many fighters I've played, Samurai Showdown 2 holds an
especially high position for its wonderful atmosphere and superb
gameplay. So when I was in the market for a new fighter, and since
Street Fighter EX+ is still a ways off, I decided to give Samurai
Showdown III a spin.

Unfortunately, $40+tax and an hour later, I feel extremely jilted by SNK
and Sony, who seem to have decided that a "nearly flawless translation",
as the back of the CD reads, can contain half (or less) of the animation
frames, muddy graphics and sound, and unbearable load times. It seems
"nearly" is a very broad term in their book.

First of all, the first two Samurai Showdown titles were known for their
beautiful backdrops, attention to detail, and fluid animation. The PSX
version of the third title strikes out in all three categories. The
backdrops are low-resolution nightmares. The subtleties of SS2, like
Genjuro's frog and Gen-an's hopping cohorts in the background, are gone.
And the animation is unspeakably poor, to the point of not being able to
comprehend what's happening at some points. For example, Haohmaru has a
finishing animation in SS2 where he tosses up his sword and spins his
sheath, with the sword eventually falling and sliding nicely into the
sheath. In this version, the sword disappears, the sheath spins (in
about two frames of animation), and the sword just reappears in the

SS2's sound effects were great. The sword slashes and kicks were crisp
and exciting, and the background music counterpointed each character's
atmosphere nicely. Nicotine's background in particular had wonderful
ambient sound effects that added a lot to the atmosphere. SS3's sound
effects are muddy and clipped. In fact, with all the animation frames
cut out, you sometimes hear a sword slash and don't even see one on
screen! The music tracks are repetitive, annoying, and sometimes silly.
(Rimururu's background music sounds like big band.) The music cuts in
and out like mad.

SS2 incorporated cut-scenes into the gameplay very nicely. Every three
victories or so, you see another scene from the story line; they're fun
to watch and provide a nice momentary break from the action. SS3 had
only a few cut-scenes, but you almost wish it didn't have any. Not only
does it take up to twenty seconds just to load them, but they're very
clipped, to the point of not being able to understand what's happening.
There isn't even an intro; the game takes you straight to a menu.

The previous Samurai Showdown titles distinguished themselves with great
gameplay; it played quickly and cleanly, and each character had a
coherent strategy. SS3 has lost all of this. The missing animation
frames make the gameplay fast, but you have trouble following your
character's and opponent's actions. Strategy? Well, I beat the game the
first time through on the highest difficulty, without a single continue,
using Haohmaru's hard slash alone. Yup, SS3 is just brimming with

But my biggest complaint overall is with the load time. For the life of
me, I can't understand why a game with such low-res graphics and badly
sampled sound effects could take up to thirty seconds - yes, you read
right, THIRTY SECONDS - just to load the next match. (In contrast, Soul
Blade takes three or four, max.) Once a match ends, it can take up to
twelve seconds just to show a still shot of your character saying
his/her winning phrase. And it can take up to fifteen seconds just to
load the character select screen. I just don't get it. My first play
though took about twenty minutes, and about three-quarters of that was
load time.

I'm very surprised that a release this poor exists for the PlayStation,
let alone a sequel to a popular series by a reputable company like SNK.
If you're a fan of the Samurai Showdown series, I'd recommend renting it
and considering if paying $40 for a nice-looking manual and an
unplayable game is worth it.