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Shacknews Best Fighting Game of 2019: Samurai Shodown

One of the great comeback stories of the year, Samurai Shodown is back and it's Shacknews' Best Fighting Game of 2019!

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While the most recognizable fighting game franchises in the world have all taken steps forward, sometimes to mixed results, SNK has taken one of its most recognzied series and gone back to the drawing board. And with a new look and some fundamental gameplay, they have achieved greatness. Samurai Shodown returned in 2019 after a lengthy hiatus, running on Unreal Engine 4 and ushering in a new age for SNK fighting games.

Samurai Shodown is a game that's almost entirely about its core fighting mechanics. This is not about blistering speed or bombastic combos. It's much less about pressuring opponents with repeated blows. There's no juggling opponents in the air. This is far more methodical, where all one player needs for victory is a single opening. Focus, positioning, reflexes, and understanding your opponent and your own character is the key to victory in Samurai Shodown. You can cause massive damage with a single heavy blow. It can be blocked, but you can respond in kind with deflection that stuns your opponent and might even send their weapon flying into the air. It's simple at its core, but only those who truly understand the game's systems will achieve victory.

That's not to say there aren't cool cinematic moments. Rage Explosions and Lightning Blades can lead to some visual flair and stylish ways to polish off your opponent. They're a bit complex and they won't always hit, but because of Samurai Shodown's core ideas of blocking, parrying, and counterattacking, actually managing to hit something like a Lightning Blade feels truly rewarding.

The fighting game landscape is a better place when SNK is at its best, standing alongside fighting game royalty like Capcom and NetherRealm. Samurai Shodown is different enough to stand as a true alternative to the big league fighting games, simple enough for any average player to pick up and play, complex enough for experts to grind away at it, and has enough potential for growth that it can be an outstanding fighting game package by the time its DLC train reaches its final stop. For these reasons and more, Samurai Shodown is the Shacknews Best Fighting Game of 2019.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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