Samurai Shodown 3/FAQ

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What kind of game is Samurai Shodown 3?

Samurai Shodown III (often referred to as Samsho 3 for short, or Zansamu [斬サム] by the Japanese community as an abbreviation of the Japanese subtitle) is often considered to be a “black sheep” of the franchise. While Samsho as a whole is certainly no stranger to weird mechanical design that affects the gameplay in many curious ways - as every game in the series suffers from in some way, Samsho3 is notorious for its particular brand of mechanical mismanagement that would cause some to decry the game as “kusoge”. And yeah, it kind of is, but it’s endearing and a lot of fun in its own way.

While Samsho3 is still a Samurai Shodown game at its heart, bearing its signature focus on heavy risk taking and exploiting the opponent’s timing to get explosive damage, what makes it a unique entry in the series is something that becomes apparent very quickly. The match pacing is just as fluid and explosive as you'd expect from a Samsho game, switching between intense neutral and rapid offense at a moment's notice, but momentum tends to be a much larger factor in Samsho3, contributing to an offensive flow almost akin (loosely) to an anime fighter. Or more specifically, the nuance Samsho 3 brings is the one touch death nature of its design - while you will definitely play neutral a lot, entire rounds can end in as little as one mistake. But with it, also comes extremely strong offensive and defensive mechanics to give yourself a safety net when utilized well.

Here's a taste of some of the fun stuff you can expect from Samurai Shodown 3:

  • Disgusting mixups
  • Nigh-inescapable ambiguous setups (a number of which are unblockable)
  • Incredibly fast gameplay
  • Touch of death combos
  • A lot infinites here and there
  • Upper Grade Only matches played by Japan sometimes, which makes for its own unique gameplay

--All held together with a high skill ceiling and lots of room for creativity. It's easy to pick up and makes for a good side game as a result.

If you like the sound of any of these things, or just want a change of pace from the slow, methodical, more sensible affair you’ve come to expect from other games like Samurai Shodown V Special or Samurai Shodown 2019 (both of which you should also play), then stick around! You can refer to the Mechanics page to get you caught up on how the game works, as well as Lichmassacre's beginner guide video if you prefer visuals and narration.

Are there any communities for this game?

The English-speaking community primarily talks about the game in the Samurai Friends Discord.
It also sees a fair amount of play in Japan, and continues to see it from time to time today. Match footage can be found most frequently on Mikado's YouTube channel.
Here is a playlist of various SamSho 3 VODs for extended viewing.

Are there any visual references for the setups/combos?

Here is a collection of short video clips for numerous combos and setups discussed in this wiki, courtesy of KDOKBNZY, all organized by character and Technique.

Is there a frame data resource?

Indeed! Here is a frame data and damage value table for all characters, organized by Sleepmode.
Every character page also has a link to the respective frame data page, for sake of easy access.

What's with all the sports jokes?

Haohmaru, Nakoruru, and Genjuro are playable in a free-to-play online sports game called Freestyle2: Street Basketball. This is obviously really funny, so we took it from there.


What do all of the stats on the character pages mean?

Damage taken: How much damage a character receives, as a percentage of an attack's full damage value.
Rage rate: How quickly a character reaches Max Rage by taking damage, as a percentage of the full amount of Rage an attack generates for the opponent on hit.
Rage duration: How long a character's Max Rage lasts for, in seconds.
Throw startup: How long it takes for a character's throw to reach its first active frame.
Deflect advantage: How much frame advantage a character gets from a successful deflect.
Deflect disadvantage modifier: A character-specific value that affects the disadvantage a character receives from having an attack deflected.

Details on the latter three stats can be found on the Advanced Mechanics page.

What does the tier list look like?

Samsho 3 may be a hilariously explosive game where anything goes, especially with the Desperation mechanic, but the gaps in character strength can still be felt. There additionally seems to be some differing opinions on what exactly makes a character strong in this game. Very few people have really put in the effort to compile a tier list, and there are potentially many more things about this game to be discovered. That being said, even the supposed worse characters have unique strengths and can win like the others; it just takes more work and effort. Listed below are a few examples of tier lists for the game, including one masterminded by the fine folks responsible for this wiki.

Kapper's Tier List

This is based on kapper’s matchup chart from 2013. This tier list is slightly older and notably lacks a placement for Zankuro, but is still good insight into the development of the game’s meta.

  • S: Haohmaru (Bust)
A+: Nakoruru (Slash), Nakoruru (Bust), Galford (Bust), Genjuro (Slash), Gaira (Bust)
A: Shizumaru (Slash), Rimururu (Bust), Hanzo (Bust), Genjuro (Bust), Hanzo (Slash), Ukyo (Bust), Kyoshiro (Slash)
B: Amakusa (Bust), Gaira (Slash), Shizumaru (Bust), Kyoshiro (Bust), Rimururu (Slash), Galford (Slash), Amakusa (Slash), Haohmaru (Slash)
C: Basara (Slash), Ukyo (Slash), Basara (Bust)

KDOKBNZY's Tier List

KDOKBNZY (@FHD_TAD on Twitter) was very active in the SamSho3 community at Kohatsu. This is his tier list from around 2016. Notable is the very condensed tier structure.

  • S: Haohmaru (Bust), Gaira (Bust), Genjuro (Slash), Nakoruru (Bust), Rimururu (Bust)
A+: Nakoruru (Slash), Zankuro, Shizumaru (Slash), Hanzo (Bust), Genjuro (Bust), Shizumaru (Bust)
A: Galford (Bust), Haohmaru (Slash), Basara (Slash), Basara (Bust), Hanzo (Slash), Rimururu (Slash), Ukyo (Bust)
A-: Kyoshiro (Slash), Galford (Slash), Kyoshiro (Bust), Gaira (Slash), Amakusa (Slash), Amakusa (Bust), Ukyo (Slash)

Behomaso's Tier List

This tier list came soon after the Samurai Friends tier list's 2020 revision, and like the other Japanese sourced tier lists is based primarily on arcade play. Translated by KDOKBNZY.

  • Evil (邪): Haohmaru (Bust)
Demon (鬼): Genjuro (Slash), Genjuro (Bust), Nakoruru (Bust), Rimururu (Bust), Shizumaru (Slash), Shizumaru (Bust), Nakoruru (Slash), Zankuro, Gaira (Bust), Rimururu (Slash)
Good (良): Haohmaru (Slash), Basara (Bust), Basara (Slash), Galford (Bust), Galford (Slash), Hanzo (Slash), Hanzo (Bust), Ukyo (Bust)
Normal (普): Gaira (Slash), Amakusa (Slash), Amakusa (Bust), Kyoshiro (Slash), Kyoshiro (Bust), Ukyo (Slash)

Samurai Friends Tier List

The tier list compiled by members of the Samurai Friends Discord server, primarily Drako125, Makyurial, and Sleepmode, informed by both existing information and our own discoveries. SS tier is not ordered, all others are ordered.
For a more detailed explanation of the choices in tier placement, check out our writeup.

  • SS: Haohmaru (Bust), Genjuro (Slash)
S: Genjuro (Bust), Nakoruru (Bust), Nakoruru (Slash)
A+: Hanzo (Bust), Zankuro, Shizumaru (Slash)
A: Galford (Bust), Gaira (Bust), Rimururu (Bust), Ukyo (Bust), Hanzo (Slash)
B: Gaira (Slash), Shizumaru (Bust), Haohmaru (Slash), Rimururu (Slash)
B-: Galford (Slash), Basara (Slash), Kyoshiro (Slash), Ukyo (Slash), Kyoshiro (Bust)
C: Amakusa (Bust), Amakusa (Slash)
D: Basara (Bust)

Behomaso's Tier List (May 6, 2021)

Tier list can be found here. Tier placement explanations can also be found here. Note this accounts for normal gameplay, not Upper Grade Only gameplay. This tier list, as well as the two tier lists below, show that Japan basically agrees as a whole who the bottom 5 characters in the game are, in B tier.

  • S+ (殿堂入り - Hall of Fame) - Haohmaru (Bust)
  • S (鬼 - Demon) - Genjuro (Slash), Nakoruru (Slash), Nakoruru (Bust), Rimururu (Bust), Shizumaru (Slash), Shizumaru (Bust), Genjuro (Bust)
  • S- (力 - Powerful) - Gaira (Bust), Zankuro
  • A (良 - Good) - Rimururu (Slash), Basara (Bust), Basara (Slash), Haohmaru (Slash), Ukyo (Bust), Galford (Bust), Hanzo (Bust), Hanzo (Slash), Galford (Slash)
  • B (普 - Ordinary) - Amakusa (Slash), Amakusa (Bust), Gaira (Slash), Kyoshiro (Slash), Ukyo (Slash), Kyoshiro (Bust)

saripi_amtug's Tier List (May 5, 2021)

Tier list can be found here.

  • S+ (LEGEND) - Bust Haohmaru
  • S (鬼 - Demon) - Slash Genjuro, Slash Nakoruru, Bust Nakoruru, Bust Rimururu, Slash Shizumaru, Bust Genjuro, Bust Shizumaru
  • S- (つよっつよ - VERY Strong) - Bust Gaira, Zankuro
  • A (つよつよ - Very Strong) - Slash Rimururu, Bust Basara, Slash Basara, Slash Haohmaru, Bust Ukyo, Bust Hanzo, Bust Galford
  • B+ (つよ - Strong) - Slash Gaira, Slash Galford, Slash Hanzo
  • B (他ゲーLEGEND - Legendary in other games) - Bust Amakusa, Slash Amakusa, Slash Kyoshiro, Slash Ukyo, Bust Kyoshiro

sagi_sw's Tier List (May 5, 2021)

Tier list can be found here.

  • SSS - Bust Haohmaru, Slash Nakoruru
  • SS - Bust Rimururu, Slash Shizumaru, Slash Genjuro, Bust Nakoruru, Bust Shizumaru, Zankuro
  • S - Slash Rimururu, Slash Haohmaru, Bust Genjuro, Bust Gaira, Bust Ukyo, Bust Galford, Bust Hanzo
  • A - Slash Gaira, Bust Basara, Slash Basara, Slash Hanzo, Slash Galford
  • B - Bust Amakusa, Slash Amakusa, Slash Kyoshiro, Slash Ukyo, Bust Kyoshiro


What version do people play, and how is netplay done?

The most widely played version is the original Neo Geo MVS game, although usually it's played via emulation or one of the Hamster ports in western territories rather than on original hardware. There are numerous ports of this game to home consoles, but they aren't completely accurate to the Neo Geo version, so they aren't used. Version differences are listed here.
Netplay is done on Fightcade. Matches are generally organised through the Samurai Friends Discord server, so whether or not you use Fightcade 1 or 2 depends on who you're playing with.

How do I practice in this game?

As of 11/25/2020, there is a SamSho 3 training mode lua script for usage in Final Burn Neo made by peon2. It keeps track of combo hits, damage dealt, and features an input display. Download the lua script here.

The only official training mode for SamSho 3 is in the Samurai Shodown Anthology for Wii, PS2, or PSP. It has a training mode built into the game and is easily emulated. Note that certain character and system behaviors are not consistent with the original Neo Geo version, which renders labbing (particularly back hit combos) unduly difficult in it.

It is possible to train using Fightcade's Final Burn Neo via savestates. One could also use an emulator separate from Fightcade's packaged one along with emulation cheats.
The best way to simulate auto-block in the arcade version is to have your training dummy select Beginner Class to enable auto-guard, as well as a cheat that enables infinite auto-guards.

What's all this "frame data" stuff?

Frame data is, put simply, the numbers behind the scenes that make attacks function. Frame data encompasses -- among other things -- how long it takes for a given attack to put out a hitbox, how long that hitbox will stay out for, and how long it takes to return to an actionable state afterwards. When attack startup is listed in this wiki, it counts the first active frame as the last frame of startup. For instance, throws have 13 frames of startup and impact on frame 14, so they are listed as having 14 frames of startup, or 14f.

The main reason we're laying this out is that some of our analysis gets pretty heavy into frames to better understand SamSho 3's various interactions, and we want an easy to understand frame of reference for newcomers, as well as specifying how startup frames are counted.

...And frame advantage?

That covers how long the attacker and defender take to return to an actionable state after an attack connects or is blocked. For example, if Haohmaru's 2D is blocked, he is +2 frames. This means he can act two frames sooner than the defender can after it is blocked. It is still "his turn." If you are at negative frames, say you're -10, the defender has 10 frames to act before you can. If they have an attack that impacts on the tenth frame and use it as soon as they can, the attack will connect and you will not be able to block. The basic bread and potatoes of punishing.

Samurai Shodown 3

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