Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage (剣客異聞録 甦りし蒼紅の刃 サムライスピリッツ新章, Kenkaku Ibunroku - Yomigaerishi Sōkō no Yaiba - Samurai Spirits Shinshō, lit. "Tale of Swordsmen - Revival of the Azure and Crimson Blades - New Chapter of Samurai Spirits") is the seventh game in SNK's Samurai Shodown series of fighting games. The game is known as Samurai Spirits Shinshou or Samurai Spirits: A New Chapter of Blade internationally. The phrase "Tale of Swordsmen" refers to the name of Ichiro Suzuki's record of the game's events; whereas "Azure and Crimson Blades" refers to respective weapons of two main characters, Seishiro and Tohma. It was first released in Japan on December 22, 1999 and was released again as downloadable online content for the Playstation 3 and PSP on April 26, 2007.
For reasons unknown, SNK gave this game an extremely similar English title to that of its predecessor, Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage. This generated considerable confusion, and led many to the assumption that it was a port of the second Hyper Neo Geo 64 game. It was also released in relatively limited numbers outside of Japan, as the gaming market was gearing up for the release of the PlayStation 2. This meant that few people had actually seen either game, and so the title was the only thing they had to go on. Even a cursory comparison between the two reveals that they are two very different entities. To help eliminate confusion, Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage is now frequently referred to in English-speaking circles as "Warriors Rage 2", or "SSWR2" for short.
The game also spawned a two-volume manga adaption illustrated by Takashi Kujira. It also has a drama CD that predates the start of the game. Short novelization of the game was published for The Playstation magazine in late 1999 through early 2000. They were written by Uriwari Minami, who is a former developer of the Samurai Shodown series.
The official story (which is set in 1811), as given by SNK, is as follows:
It is a time of sustained peace, and the age of the sword was drawing to a close. But an increasing number could not adapt to the flow of history and became trouble before long. So the shogunate created a "colony of prisoners" on a small island in sea nearby Edo as a place to rehabilitate the outlaws. But, there were those who exploited this prison island and tried to create a "new world exclusively for the chosen ones" after destroying the shogunate. The group they formed was called the "League of the Three Blades of Domination" and each member had their own mighty strength. Using their might, they subjugated the outlaws and begin their plans to overthrow the shogunate. And in no time the "town of outlaws" came to be called "Ritenkyo"-the seat of opposition.
Under these figures Ritenkyo unexpectedly changed from a "place of rehabilitation for returning to society" to a "lawless zone in which only the strong survive." The inhabitants engaged in vendettas, skirmishes, and death battles to survive from day to day. And the "Three Blades of Domination" steadily consolidated their power to its utmost, absorbing strength from the hate surrounding them.
On a still, pitch-black night of the new moon. Flicker-Flicker-Flicker-Flicker. The glow of a candle grows and a single shadow emerges from the darkness. It is an elderly gentleman with a beard and tranquil visage. "Have they arrived?"
"Yes, Lord Oboro. The red-eyed boy and girl have come."
Only a voice comes from the darkness. Without making a noise, the old man rises and speaks: "At last, the time has come.... Time to make their acquaintance." The man's closed eyelids pop open. His red eyes glow with the light of the candle.
Whooooosh! A burst of wind slices the calm, and darkness once again dominates the world.
A few years later, three people look down at the world below from a tall tower. One is a tall man armed with a sword; the other, a bewitching, alabaster-skinned woman. The two share a pair of red eyes. And standing behind them awaits a fine-looking elderly man who appears somewhat out of place.
The sunlight reflects off their red eyes, making them glow eerily. The woman mutters, "A few people we have some things to settle with appear to have entered Ritenkyo. Word has it that they are major obstacles to the realization of our intentions."
The man speaks as he continues to survey the world below. "All we need to do is wait here. The rats will come even if we do nothing."
The Three Blades of Domination are about to bring an end to the era of peace in this world. And the warriors who battle for their own reasons converge on "Ritenkyo" as our story begins.
Continuing onward from the storyline set forth in the two Hyper Neogeo 64 games in the series, Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage takes place 20 years later, with a dramatically revamped cast, and was released solely for the Sony Playstation. Though other Samurai Shodown games have followed it, it is chronologically the last game in the series, and is the only game in the series proper to not get an arcade release.
The first change is the revamped character roster, which removed every playable character from previous games. The exceptions were Haohmaru, who is now an older man, and Hanzo Hattori. Hanzo is not actually the same character, but rather the original Hanzo's son, Shinzo, who had assumed his name. Nicotine Caffeine, Nakoruru and Rimururu also played a role in the story, but are not in a playable form. Every other character is a new design.
The game was also very plot-intensive, with more than two dozen characters, each one having a reasonably significant role to play in the story.
Though the game is still in 3D graphics, SNK sought to further diminish the role of the third dimensions by making all gameplay based on the principles of a normal 2D game with no movement along the Z-axis beyond a basic dodge. Two buttons controlled weak and strong slashes, a third controlled kick attacks, and the fourth is used for dodges.
The game introduced a new lifebar system, which was subdivided into three sections. The first "round" of the fight lasted until one person is drained of all three sections, upon which one section of the bar would disappear, and the remaining two would refill. Once those two are drained, the second section would be dropped, with the last one refilled. This is punctuated by a pause in the action, during which the other player would go through a taunt animation. The match was finally over when one player had been drained of this last section of life. Aside from the lifebar system, gameplay was relatively straightforward.
Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage also came with a Nakoruru centric game for the PocketStation. Commonly abbreviated as "Nako PG", players can play as Nakoruru in a RPG mini adventure. With Shikuru and Mamahaha, she needs to heal or defend nature from Yuga the Destroyer's schemes. Players need to clear 20 obstacles to finish a game. The gameplay is rather simplistic and is fairly easy to complete. Its main draws are the illustration and movie files found during play, which can be saved on the Playstation memory card and is viewable in Warriors Rage's gallery mode.
The other bonus for the PocketStation was a clock function known as the Samurai Watch or "Samu Watch". Players can chose either Nakoruru or Rimururu to tell them the time.
Critical and Fan ReceptionEdit
For a variety of reasons, the game was poorly reviewed by virtually everyone, and is usually cited as the lowest point in the series's history. The most common complaints are:
- The new lifebar system interrupts the flow of fights.
- Gameplay has too much of a "stuttering" feel to it.
- Lack of classic, favorite characters.
While it is not an inherently bad game, it is a fairly mediocre one, perceived as worse than it is because of subpar graphics. Currently, it is all but forgotten, regarded by most as little more than a curious and lamented footnote in SNK's history. Its poor reception resulted in the "death" of the series until the release of Samurai Shodown V.
- Similarly to Samurai Shodown II, players can select which winpose they will get. Holding the "up" direction will trigger the first winpose, and holding "down" will trigger the second one. Additionally, players can select alternative intro pose of characters by holding "down" before the beginning of match.
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