My First Love
by Christine Lay
It's been a long time since I have played Samurai Shodown.
Very long indeed.
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But not playing the game does not mean that I have forgotten it.
I will always remember it's quiet entrance during the Street Fighter
golden era in the early 1990s. I will always remember it's rise to
fame during the next few years with SSII, III and IV respectively.
And I will always remember when it's popularity fell.
As quietly as it has entered, SS faded into the background of my
gaming life. Notice I said "faded" not "left" or "gone".
I first noticed SS in 1991, when Street Fighter was at its peak.
Amongst SF, with the early Fatal Fury games as well other SF wannabe
games, this game stood out from the rest.
For one, the time period was very different. The characters seem
more vibrant, more alive than SF. Each character unique, with
his/her own characteristics. The sickly Ukyo, brash egotistical
Haohmaru, arrogant but strangely vulnerable Charlotte, fun-loving
boyish Galford and his beloved dog, Poppy (whom I fancied to be a
wolfhound of some sort), youthful but wise Nakoruru, the strangely
gnarled and hunched Gen-an, who had a drop-dead gorgeous woman as
a wife…the list just goes on and on.
I sure just about everyone who loves SS came across it about the
same way that I did - saw the game, felt the difference, put in that
token to play and got hooked for life.
It all went downhill when SS64 was launched. For during its
transition from 2D to 3D, the element that made SS special to me
seemed to have gotten lost. About the only thing I was excited
about were Galford's new clothes (in the 2D SNK drawings, he looked
a lot better) and the new characters Shiki and later, Asura.
Shiki became one of my favorite female characters next to Charlotte.
Nako was nice I suppose, and I'm glad they didn't make her into one
of those cutesy squealy extremely girly typical main female
characters (that was Rimi…but I'm digressing here), but she was
drawn in a too stereotypical japanese kawaii way to appeal to me.
I played SS64 - and that became my last ever SS game. SS64, 2
came in but I never did try it. I did not enjoy the 3D outings
of the SS series and I never touched it again.
Nowadays, I play Tekken, in place of SS. I felt a bit like a
traitor when I discovered that I actually enjoyed playing Tekken
as much if not more than SS. But I still surfed around the SS
pages…especially this website. It's a bit sad to see how many of
the SS pages have been taken down. But it's not an easy battle,
as SS's popularity is down and many of these warriors are tired.
Hopefully, the new SS RPG will bring new life back into the SS
series. I probably won't get so attached to the new guys
though…still prefer Galford and gang…they are much more familiar.
SS is no longer my life and everything I think of now. But it will
always always have a special hold in my heart. I guess it's sort of
like a relationship - in the first stages of it, you just want to
see and be with that person all the time. Then it evolves to
something more - the fire of passion cools down but in its place is
something much more enduring. That's how SS is to me now. I feel
a sense of familiarity and happiness whenever I see new art of the
SS gang; like looking into the face of an old, beloved friend.
I don't play it now, but it will always be the best-loved game
to me - simply because SS was my first arcade game.
Thank you, Samurai Shodown, for introducing me to the world of
fighting games and for sharing your world of adventure, love,
honor and betrayal with me.