PAX East 2019: Samurai Shodown is a cut above the rest

This year’s PAX East marked the first time gamers got to play the new Samurai Shodown. This latest iteration of the 2D fighting franchise wowed fans new and old with its gorgeous visuals and visceral gameplay. After getting some hands-on time, it’s safe to say that Mortal Kombat 11 has some real competition coming.

My experience with Samurai Shodown immediately left an impression. The first level my opponent and I sparred in dripped in style with a scenic backdrop and crashing ocean waves. That, coupled with the smooth (but deadly) animations of our characters, truly felt like playing inside a moving painting. Just take away the health bars and super meters and frame it on your wall. It’s that pretty.

The PAX East build included six playable characters. There was Haohmaru, Nakoruru, Earthquake, Galford, Jubei, and Genjuro. I primarily played around with Genjuro and Jubei since I was most familiar with them in previous games. Fortunately, my prior knowledge paid off since these characters felt largely unchanged. That doesn’t mean veterans won’t have new tricks to learn, though.

One of the mechanics that newcomers will certainly appreciate is Rage Mode. Activate this to deal more damage and open up the chance to pull off your Lightning Blade move. This is a highly damaging attack that is done by hitting two attack buttons and can work well to make a comeback. It’s also stylish like whoa, as you can see below.

PAX East 2019: Samurai Shodown is a cut above the rest

Serious samurais

Fighting game veterans will also appreciate the defensive options available. Deflecting an attack, for example, is a good way to disarm your opponent. That can open them up to further damage as they try to regain their weapon. Another way to disarm someone is by winning a clash. This can happen when both players attack at once, which triggers a button mash battle. It truly brings back that arcade feel.

Samurai Shodown is not without some extra flash, though. There are super moves that can be performed for big damage, as well as Special Super Moves for even bigger damage. Your super meter is not spent if you whiff a super move, and they can even disarm your opponent. However, using the Lightning Blade move mentioned earlier will take away your super meter for the rest of the match. In a game where every hit counts and defeat is only a few moves away, how you spend your meter becomes a huge strategy.

The Switch version of Samurai Shodown is scheduled for a Q4 2019 release. PS4 and Xbox One ports are releasing in June, so we expect this one in our hands in August or September. Ready your blades until then, Nintendo fans.

David Giltinan
David has been involved in games media since 2012 running his own blog, YouTube channel, being a founding member of RETRO Magazine, and now as host/producer of ARGcast - Another Retro Gaming Podcast. He also dabbles in voiceover and is occasionally a stunt double for Jude Law.

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