A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Basic themes of good and evil, with no guarantee that good will always win out. Local multiplayer promotes friendly competitive social gaming among friends.
Positive Role Models
Fighters -- a mix of male and female characters, most from feudal Japan but also a few from other parts of the world -- are provided simple background stories that make them appear to be good, neutral, or evil. Regardless of alignment, all of them clearly get their kicks from bloody, lethal combat.
Ease of Play
This is a challenging fighting game that demands players learn specific button combinations and timing. Victory offline demands practice, and success online depends largely on the experience and abilities of the two players.
Violence & Scariness
Characters use a mix of martial arts, swordplay, and magical abilities (fire, electricity, etc.) in one-on-one combat. Combat techniques involve intense and powerful looking stabbing, slashing, and thrusting attacks. Blood sprays and splashes with most hits, with characters yelping in pain. Some finishing moves end with enemies severed in half at the waist. Players can opt to switch off the blood and dismemberment effects.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some female characters wear revealing costumes exposing noticeable cleavage. One character briefly appears nearly nude during combat, her private areas cleverly covered by her hair and arms as she fights.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One character celebrates her victory by drinking something -- presumably wine or ale -- from a large cask.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Samurai Shodown is a downloadable fighting game for the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs set in feudal Japan. Combat is frenetic and intense, with characters using their fists, feet, melee weapons, and magical abilities to viciously attack opponents. Fast stabbing and slashing moves generate large sprays and splashes of red blood, and some finishing moves result in characters getting cut in half, though players can opt to switch off the blood and dismemberment effects. The fighters -- a mix of men and women mostly from Japan but also a few from other parts of the world -- are provided simple motivations that make them lean towards good, neutral, or evil inclinations, but all of them clearly enjoy the prospect of fighting. Parents should also be aware that one of the female characters briefly appears almost naked in the midst of combat, her breasts and midsection cleverly obscured. One character also appears to drink something alcoholic in a victory celebration.
Is It Any Good?
This is a game meant for serious fighting game fans. You don't need to be familiar with the rest of the series to enjoy Samurai Shodown, but it helps immensely to be experienced and skilled with fighting games in general. Tapping buttons at random won't get you very far, not even against the computer. You'll need to learn specific button combinations, be able to identify subtle movements that telegraph your opponent's attacks, and have lightning fast reflexes in order to properly block and counter. Using a proper arcade controller with a joystick and big buttons probably wouldn't hurt, either. Still, expect a lengthy learning curve. Even the tutorials -- which explain how to perform moves without actually showing you how to do them -- can be surprisingly challenging to complete. This isn't the sort of game that gently leads players by the hand through its many intricacies, or offers cheat-like combat shortcuts to make newcomers feel insanely powerful. Nor does it dangle many of the progression carrots seen in many other modern fighting games, such as loot, gear, and character level progression. It has all the expected modes and means of play, but it feels stripped down compared to games like Mortal Kombat 11 or Injustice 2.
That said, fans of a pure fighting game experience will likely find a lot to like. The hand-drawn art style is stunning, with an almost painterly feel possessed by some of the environments. And the combat is tight and satisfying. It may take time to learn how to properly play a character, but once you know the buttons and have the timing down to be able to reliably pull off a few good attacks and counters, the fighting can be magnificent. It turns into a beautifully choreographed martial arts dance in which fighters gracefully attack, disarm, and outmaneuver one another. It all but begs players to capture and share clips of their best fights. All of which is to say that Samurai Shodown clearly targets a niche group of players who adore and obsess over 2D Japanese fighting games, and that this group ought to find itself properly satisfied.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.