2 min read

How Samurai Shodown got its start: As a side-scrolling beat-em-up

"I'm probably the only one from SNK that knows this, but the idea originally started as an action game with various monsters," original Samurai Shodown dev Yasushi Adachi tells Polygon.
"I’m probably the only one from SNK that knows this, but the idea originally started as an action game with various monsters. As the concept evolved, the 'survivor' of those monsters was Genan."

- Engines CEO Yasushi Adachi, speaking to Polygon about his time working at SNK Corporation on what became the original Samurai Shodown.

SNK Corporation's Samurai Shodown (or Samurai Spirits in Japan) is a significant series of fighting games for a whole host of reasons, not least of which that it was among the first (if not the first) to introduce the concept of weapons into a 2D, one-on-one fighting game.

Devs who want to know more about how Samurai Shodown was made should check out a great feature on the topic that Polygon ran this week, because it includes comments from members of the original dev team about where the game came from -- and how it was originally intended to be less like Street Fighter and more like Streets of Rage.

"The idea originally started as an action game with various monsters," game developer Yasushi Adachi, who worked at SNK on the original Samurai Shodown, recalled. "When I was creating the concept for a monster game, I was contemplating what would sell to a global audience. I ultimately felt that a fighting game with ninjas and samurais, which represented distinctly Japanese characters, would do better than just monsters, so I changed the concept accordingly." 

Later in the interview, Adachi speaks to why the team decided to make a 2D fighting game with weapons: firstly, it set Samurai Shodown apart from SNK's extant barehanded 2D fighting game Fatal Fury, and secondly, it made the game scary.

"We wanted to illustrate the terror of fighting weapon-to-weapon, the impact of fighting with a sword," said Adachi. "There was a lot of internal criticism about deducting so much life gauge with one [sword] attack. SNK management said this design had to be changed, but I thought it was very interesting to have players fight under the risk and fear of fighting with weapons and feel the destructive force of the sword, so I ignored them and kept it in the game."

You can (and should!) read the rest of Adachi's comments, alongside those of Samurai Shodown composer Norio Tate and background designer Tomoki Fukui, in the full Polygon feature.

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