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New Samurai Shodown arrives in June, bringing new blood to a classic fighting game

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SNK’s reinvention of the weapons-based fighter promises thrilling, violent battles

SNK’s weapon-based fighting game series, Samurai Shodown, will get its first new entry in more than a decade in June. Simply titled Samurai Shodown, the game will bring back many of the franchise’s favorite characters in battles that deliver tense, bloody action where death is just one strike away.

In the new Samurai Shodown, players can defeat each other in as little as three hits under certain conditions. During a hands-on demo of the fighting game in New York, Samurai Shodown producer Yasuyuki Oda and director Nobuyuki Kuroki showed off those powerful, blood-spraying hits and how their new game is returning to the series’ roots. You can see some of their gameplay in the video above.

The new Samurai Shodown will be a prequel to the original game, and will include much of the cast from that 1993 Neo Geo fighting game. SNK is planning 16 characters for launch, 13 veterans and three newcomers. Fighters like Galford, Haohmaru, Earthquake, Charlotte, and Nakoruru will return, looking true to their early ’90s selves, but updated with stylized 3D models.

Samurai Shodown’s fighting system draws upon the series history. It’s less focused on combos than it is on reading your opponent and looking for an opening to land a powerful blow. As players battle with weapons like katana, hooks, and épée, they’ll build up a Rage Gauge as they take and deliver damage. Once that meter fills up, it will power up certain attacks; let players unleash a powerful Super Special Move (available only once per match); and perform a move called a Lightning Strike, a risky but powerful attack with a hyper-stylized presentation.

Players can also strip an opponent of their weapon, forcing them to fight barehanded until they can recover their blade.

It’s those high-risk, high-damage moves that will make Samurai Shodown a game to watch at fighting game tournaments. SNK’s new fighter will be included as part of Evo 2019’s main game lineup, even though Samurai Shodown comes out just weeks before that event. It will likely be one of the tournament’s biggest crowdpleasers, thanks to its meaty, tide-turning hits.

SNK is also planning something special for players who want to challenge computer-controlled opponents. The developer is touting a “revolutionary deep learning AI” technology; Samurai Shodown will study your fighting tactics in offline modes (versus, story, survival, etc.) and create “ghost” data that be uploaded and then downloaded by other players for asynchronous multiplayer challenges. SNK is even including an “Iron Man” mode in which players will battle 100 AI-controlled player ghosts, something not even the game’s producer says he can complete.

Samurai Shodown is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in June. A Nintendo Switch version will launch sometime during Q4 2019, while a PC version remains undated.