Samurai Shodown on Switch Is Still a Brilliant Fighter Despite Its Flaws
Bring Haohmaru and friends (or enemies) on-the-go with this less than optimal port of SNK's fantastic fighting game, Samurai Shodown.
The newest iteration of Samurai Shodown is one of my favorite modern fighting games. Along with Mortal Kombat 11 and Tekken 7, it is the reason I really began loving the genre. Its slow and intense combat, along with its brilliant cartoonish art style is such a departure from what we’ve become accustomed to with the genre. As such, it’s only natural for SNK to want to expand that list of platforms it is available on. Hence the Nintendo Switch version that just released.
Samurai Shodown on Switch, without a doubt, is a great game. If you enjoyed it on PS4, Xbox One, or Stadia (if you could even find a match), then you’ll probably enjoy it on Nintendo’s console/portable hybrid. However, like many ports brought to the Switch, it does have its caveats in terms of performance and visuals.
When the Switch is docked, Samurai Shodown seems to be running around 60fps which is what you would want from a competitive fighting game. It is definitely not a consistent 60 fps, as it seems to dip any time you do a special attack. However, because it seems the developers favored performance over visuals, resolution takes a hit. I didn’t get specifics, but it seems it is running at 720p resolution.
In the PS4 version, the visuals are certainly part of Samurai Shodown‘s charm. It really has a great art style that looks incredibly sharp on a 4K television running on a PS4 Pro. It would be crazy to expect that kind of fidelity to come from the Nintendo Switch. While there are really great looking games on the platform, it seems a lot of third-party ports are always inferior to its counterparts. It is the same story here. The Switch version of Samurai Shodown just doesn’t have that sharpness the other releases have.
This notion is more prominent when you play Samurai Shodown on the Switch’s handheld mode. It’s like that scene in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man when Peter Parker realizes he has superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. When he put his glasses on, everything just becomes blurry. Performance seems to be roughly the same as when the console is docked, but I did notice its inconsistency a bit more in handheld.
It is a bit disappointing that the resolution takes a hit. Of course, console parity across all platforms would be great. However, I do think it was the right call to favor performance over visuals. Sure, it doesn’t look as good as other versions, but at least it plays like them.
Also taking a slight hit is the loading times. While it isn’t unbearable, Samurai Shodown on Switch takes a bit of time to boot into a match, regardless of the mode. It’s not like it takes minutes to load, but it feels just long enough for it to be noticeable, and a bit bothersome.
When the console was docked, I used the Switch pro controller. While I haven’t played Samurai Shodown on Xbox One, I have played a considerable amount with the DualShock 4 on PS4. It seems crazy, but I prefer using the Switch pro controller over the DualShock 4. It comes down to its D-pad. I feel like I am way more consistent with my inputs than with the DualShock 4, which is incredibly important for a game that relies on the player’s ability to read an opponent and execute the appropriate move.
While I loved playing Samurai Shodown with the pro controller, I kind of hated it with the Joy-Cons in handheld mode. I can get over bad visuals, especially since it seemed to be hitting 50 to 60 fps. But since I am a D-pad player, and the standard Joy-Con D-pad is four buttons (similar to the DualShock 4, but exponentially worse), it was not favorable. It was so uncomfortable, and my playing was so inconsistent, I opted to just use the Switch’s kickstand at a table, and use the pro controller instead.
SNK and Safari Games did a decent job with the Samurai Shodown Switch port. If you’re expecting a 1:1 port, you will be sorely disappointed. The muddy visuals and subtle frame rate issues technically make this the least optimal version of the game. But that doesn’t mean it’s unplayable. Whether you want to practice on-the-go and bring what you’ve learned to the PS4 or Xbox One version, or the Switch is the only console you own, you need to play this game.