Shoryuken editorial: Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection is a perfect example of how to preserve your series’ legacy

By on July 28, 2020 at 8:42 pm
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It is more than just a collection of games, its a careful curation of its history

[Editor’s Note: This is not a review. This is an editorial discussing the abundance of content available within Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection and why its content is important in maintaining its history and how other collections from other games should look to it as an example. Any discussion regarding the games themselves, the online capabilities, and the collection overall will be held in a traditional review format. All reviews on SRK are labeled “Shoryuken review”  in the headline to differentiate editorials and critiques.]

While Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection has been out on PC since June 11, the epic anthology finally released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch today. Those just now picking up the collection have a lot to look forward to. Some of the most exciting parts of this collection have nothing to do with the actual games themselves. Developer Digital Eclipse has done a fantastic job compiling everything SamSho with incredible attention to detail.

Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection contains “over 2,000 precious development documents and images” and every sketch, composition, character description, and video is a part of documenting the franchise’s story since it began in 1993. It is overwhelming how much content is available, nearly every aspect of the Samurai Shodown series and its representation is on full display. The further in you go, the more you realize you are going to need hours if not days to fully appreciate everything accessible.

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Through the History section, you take a guided tour along the Samurai Shodown timeline. Each title that’s available to play in the collection is given a thorough overview including the game’s story, development, trivia, tips, tricks, and an image gallery full of key art. Titles not included in the game still get the photo gallery treatment, this includes Samurai Shodown VI and the most recent title in the series, Samurai Shodown (2019).

What’s especially incredible here is that you have access to key art from games that aren’t Samurai Shodown titles but games that include the characters, like Capcom vs. SNK: Millenium Fight 2000, SNK vs Capcom: SVC Chaos, and The King of Fighters XIV. It would have been easy to omit titles that weren’t strictly within the Samurai Shodown family, but the handlers of this collection went beyond expectations. This just goes to show the length of its lineage and that every spin-off and each of its guest appearances are of value to the overall history.

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Move on down to the Characters section and you are greeted by a full character select screen with every fighter from all of the included titles. You can filter through titles as you watch the roster grow and see who stuck around throughout the series and find out who is unique to whichever entry. When you highlight a character, you see their full sprite in motion. Selecting them gives you a variety of assets to explore.

Once your character is chosen, you can take a look at their background info, detailing their height, weight, likes, dislikes, fighting style, and more. On top of that, you can view a variety of artwork both in concept and finalized form. You can even catch a glimpse at early character stage sketches. This is an incredibly creative and effective way to view details specific to each character that feels like a native to fighting games.

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Developer interviews are a highlight of the Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection. Some segments run over 30 minutes, giving fans tons of in-depth insight from the Samurai Shodown team. Topics range from sound, art direction, and game design. You even get a brief look at the office where Samurai Shodown was created.

These interviews offer a unique perspective only available through video. It is one thing to read the thoughts of developers, artists, and designers, but it is something else entirely to see the passion in their eyes and hear the dedication in their voice as they talk about something they’ve invested so much of themselves in. The spirit of Samurai Shodown starts with those who made it, and this museum pays tribute to their ideas and decisions that made these games what they are today.

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Players can listen to every song from the included titles in high-quality as much as they like. There’s more than just a list of songs in the Museum, however, its a fully functional media player. Want to listen to a game’s tracks in order? Go ahead. Not sure what song you want to listen to? Shuffle it up. Repeat your favorite track if that’s what you are in the mood for. Every song is there for you to appreciate.

The sound design in Samurai Shodown is crucial in establishing the tone of its universe. Tracks can be incredibly atmospheric, with the environmental sounds being just as important as the instruments. The wind roars while creatures howl and strings lead into a flute filled melody. At first, the track might be completely silent, and then, the song ramps up, just like your battles go from slow and methodical, as you gauge your opponent to strike just when they let their guard down.

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The Behind the Scenes section drops an abundance of sketches made at various stages of development. Players can find early designs for characters, moves, game mechanics, and storyboards. These drawings are the foundation for every design in terms of both visuals and gameplay mechanics. Ever wonder how a character’s signature attack is created? In this collection, you will discover that and more.

This kind of deep dive into a franchise’s early development is incredibly rare to see, even in collector’s edition art books. Each sketch houses a lesson in game design and development. For one game this would be plenty. Including the history of making four unique Samurai Shodown titles is beyond valuable.

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Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection could have stopped with the art, music, and interviews, and it would have offered more than enough value to any fan. It continues to go the extra mile by including recordings of high-octane professional matches. These matches are presented with their original audio commentary as well, making a truly authentic viewing experience. The additional fight analysis reflects upon player decisions and brings context and perspective to their strategies.

The matches between players are just as much a part of the history of Samurai Shodown as its art, development, and music. SNK and Digital Eclipse understand this and celebrate the players who kept the series’ competitive spirit strong over the years. This collection ensures that these battles are preserved for the years to come.

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Nearly every moment of Samurai Shodown is captured perfectly in this NeoGeo Collection. There is so much content available at your fingertips that just by owning this collection you can become a savvy SamSho historian.

We haven’t even begun to talk about how solid each title’s gameplay is, how phenomenal the ports are, or how the included and previously unreleased Samurai Shodown V Perfect completes its legendary development, but know there is even more to love about this essential collection.

Whether you are taking your first step into the series or revisiting your favorite fighters, Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC through Steam and the Epic Games Store. Editor-in-Chief. Austyn James Roney began his gaming journey with Super Smash Bros. on the N64 but learned the ways of the fighting game genre with Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Loves all fighters, regardless of dimension or playstyle.