Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood, known as Samurai Spirits: Peerless Blade of Zankuro (サムライスピリッツ 斬紅郎無双剣 Samurai Supirittsu Zankurō Musōken) in Japan and Fighters Swords in Korea, is the third game in SNK's popular Samurai Shodown series of fighting games for the Neo Geo. While it is the third game in the main series, it is the first part of a two-chapter interquel between Samurai Shodown and Samurai Shodown II.
In keeping with their habit of using the third game in a series as a place to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, Samurai Shodown III was to be the start of a bold new direction for the franchise.
The most obvious difference between this game and the others in the series is the notably darker aesthetic. The more light-hearted characters (Earthquake, Cham Cham, and Gen-an to name a few) from the previous games have been excised, and even the kabuki master, Kyoshiro Senryo, received a redesign, transforming him from a flamboyant stage performer into a grim-faced, muscular man. All of the characters have been completely redrawn. The animation is very smooth for all characters, another departure from the graphical style of the second game.
Perhaps most significant, Haohmaru's role in the story was diminished, in favor of the new main character, and the overall story was smaller in scope.
In spite of the removal of several characters, new ones were added in their place. The new additions to the series included the following:
- Shiro Tokisada Amakusa, while not a new character to the series, was now playable, and not a boss.
- Shizumaru Hisame, the semi-amnesiac, umbrella-wielding young boy, who was the focus of the game's story.
- Rimururu, Nakoruru's younger sister, who wielded the power of ice.
- Gaira Caffeine, the large, brash and overbearing monk... who happens to be the nephew of Nicotine Caffeine (in the Korean language setting, Gaira's name changes to "Kim Ung Che", which is spoken by a different announcer).
- Basara Kubikiri, an undead spirit, seeking revenge for his own murder, and that of his lover.
- Zankuro Minazuki, the new final boss of the game. He is a giant of a man, and a swordsman driven insane by his quest to perfect his skills. His murderous rampage sets the stage for everything else that occurs.
Along with the aesthetic overhaul came significant changes in the gameplay. The most obvious was the addition of two selectable versions of each character.
- Slash: Known to the Japanese as Shura (修羅), which means "fighting" or a "scene of carnage", and occasionally mistranslated as "Chivalry," and implies a regular fighter (compare a face in professional wrestling). This version tended to be the closest in style and moves to the Samurai Shodown II version of the character.
- Bust: Known to the Japanese as Rasetsu (羅刹), which is a derivation of the Sanskrit word, "rakshasa," in reference to a type of demon. It is occasionally mistranslated as "Treachery," implying a rulebreaking heel version of the character. This version typically differed considerably from its Slash counterpart in gameplay, though it visually did not look different beyond its color palette. The fighter Nakoruru is the only notable exception to this. The "Slash" version of her character is accompanied by her pet hawk, Mamahaha, as in the two previous SS games. Her "Bust" version, however, is accompanied by her pet wolf, Shikuru. (Like with Mamahaha, she is able to hop onto Shikuruu's back and perform modified attacks.) Galford in his "Bust" version fights without his dog, Poppy for the first time in the game.
Also, the button layout was changed, mapping the first three of the four available buttons to weak, medium and strong slash attacks, respectively. The fourth button was used for kick attacks, presumably to de-emphasize kicks in favor of the sword strikes. Though controversial at first, this change was gradually accepted by the fanbase.
The pace of the game had shifted somewhat, as many basic attacks could now be cancelled into special moves, something which was extremely rare in the first two installments. Most of SS2's movement options had been removed, in favor of the ability to dodge attacks by pressing the A and B buttons simultaneously. When close, performing this command would result in a quick switch-around to the opponent's back, which could then be followed up by other attacks. It was also possible to block attacks in mid-air. Items were also thrown onto the battlefield from off-screen as opposed from a delivery man running in the background.
Source: Wikipedia, Samurai Shodown III , available under the CC-BY-SA License.