Samurai Shodown 3/Mechanics

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Character Customisation

Upon selecting your character, you'll be given two extra choices to make before you begin the match -- you must select their Technique, and their Grade. What you choose here greatly determines how you will be playing your character.


Every character has two playable versions, which the game calls Techniques: Slash and Bust (or Shura 修羅 and Rasetsu 羅刹 in the Japanese version).

Each Technique has a separate selection of two color palettes for each character, with Slash being the character’s usual color scheme and generally featuring lighter color choice, while Bust leans more towards darker palettes.

Universal mechanics do not change between Techniques, but special moves, and in some cases command normal moves, do. Differences between a Slash and Bust character range from subtle move property changes to entire move list reworkings. A general rule of thumb is that a Slash character will be the more traditional version of the character you’ll see in other games in the series, while the corresponding Bust character will be redesigned to have a more offensive focus.

The one exception to the Technique system is Zankuro, who is the exact same character in both Techniques. It’s really just a choice between colors for him.


After selecting your Technique, you can select a Grade, of which there are three.

  • Beginner Class is essentially the easy mode, giving you five automatic blocks (auto guards) per match, but making your manual rage charge much slower. Details on Auto Guard can be found on the Esoterics page.
  • Medium Grade is the default mode of play, with no alterations to basic mechanics. All information listed on this wiki assumes Medium Grade is used.
  • Upper Grade is hard mode. In Upper Grade, you no longer have the ability to block, but to compensate, you are always at full Rage. A very literal and extreme case of “high risk, high reward.”


Samurai Shodown 3 is the only game in the series that allows you to walk around the stage before the round starts, which can lead to some interesting situations if either character has a command throw or a quick mixup tool.

Walking, running and backdashing are the same as Samurai Shodown V Special. Every character is able to perform dashing normals from their forward dash, and performing these normals after running under your opponent will cause you to immediately re-orient towards your opponent, making dash under normals exceptionally useful for confirming anti-airs. Do note that you cannot run or backdash while your opponent is backturned.

Ukyo, Kyoshiro, and Gaira (yikes) all have the unique property of light/medium guard point while running. In other words, these characters will not be affected by light and medium slashes while running forward, regardless of how the attack would need to be blocked normally. This also works in Upper Grade.

Offensive Mechanics

Dashing Normals

Every character has a set of normal attacks that can be performed out of a run. Dashing normals work in the same way for most of the cast.

  • 66A is universally a quick dashing jab. This is generally very unrewarding on hit and very punishable on block, but it provides enough hitstun on back hit to easily combo. Generally a good option to use after running under jumping opponents.
  • 66B is a character-specific dashing attack whose uses vary. Some are special cancelable strikes while others are fast knockdown lows.
  • 66C is universally a slow, unblockable knockdown attack, often with a lot of active frames. Make of that what you will.
  • 66D is, with few exceptions, a slide kick that knocks down on hit. Can be useful for approaching depending on the character.


Input with 4/6C while close to the opponent.
After throw startup, hold the direction you want to throw them in, otherwise the game defaults to forward throw. You can throw directly from a run. Throw mechanics follow the same beat as they do in the most recent Samurai Shodown -- no automatic follow-up, but you have enough advantage to follow-up with a few attacks. Back throw leaves opponent backturned, but further away than forward throw. Be careful, as throws have visibly slow startup and long whiff animations, and they also do not connect on stunned or backturned opponents. You can be more creative than that.

To mitigate the risk that comes with committing to a throw, the throw input can also be option selected in two different ways.

  • 4/6AC: - This leads to a throw when in throw range, and a light slash when not in throw range.
  • 4/6CD: - This leads to a throw when in throw range, and nothing when not in throw range.

Weapon Clashes

Weapon clashes are essentially a minigame in the battle, where both players have to mash buttons faster than the other, with the loser being disarmed. In the event of a tie, neither player is disarmed. There are two different scenarios in which a weapon clash can occur, and both have different specific requirements.

  • 1. Both combatants use a ground normal that can trigger a clash.
  • Round timer has 16 seconds or higher remaining.
  • Both combatants have more than 16 "units" of health.
  • The distance between both combatants is at least 71 "units" of space.
  • 2. Both combatants collide with each other while running.
  • Round timer has 16 seconds or higher remaining.

When the loser is disarmed, their weapon can fly off in one of three predetermined directions, with the direction being chosen at random.

  • Forwards: 2/8
  • Backwards: 5/8
  • Upwards: 1/8

Defensive Mechanics

Side Step and Circle Steps

Pressing AB while far from your opponent will result in a Side Step. A side step can also be performed at any distance from your opponent with 4AB.
Side Steps have two vulnerable frames of startup (though you can still block at this time) and are fully invulnerable afterwards, recover very quickly, and can even cancel the latter half of the animation into normal attacks.

Pressing AB while close to your opponent will result in a Circle Step.
Circle step has all of the same invulnerability properties as side step.
Circles behind the opponent, leaving them back turned, but any input from the opponent will automatically reorient them towards you. You cannot circle step while behind your opponent or while they are airborne, as this will result in a side step. You can, however, circle step while your opponent is knocked down.

Air Blocking

You can block in the air by holding 4 while airborne. This game follows fairly standard blocking rules -- that is to say, you can air block airborne attacks as well as projectiles, but grounded attacks (barring some exceptions, such as Zankuro n.5C) are air-unblockable. Dragon Punch-type anti-air moves, such as Haohmaru and Genjuro 623S, are considered as air-unblockable for the whole animation, including parts where they are off the ground.

Due to this, if you recover soon enough after an opponent air blocks an attack, you can hit them with an air-unblockable attack to force damage -- usually this occurs after the opponent has blocked an air-to-air. This kind of situation is commonly referred to as a “guard break” in games such as Vampire Savior.


There are two kinds of universal counters in this game, known as Deflect and Blade Catch. Both are performed by inputting 41236 (half-circle forward). This is not counted as a special move for cancel purposes. If you are hit during the startup or recovery, it will be considered a counter hit. However, by holding 1 or 4 after inputting a deflect, you can option select a normal guard into a deflect attempt, making deflect a very safe option. In addition, presumably as a result of its awkward input, deflect can be special cancelled.

You must be holding your weapon to perform a deflect. A successful deflect will put your opponent into a special stun, allowing you to punish. This counts as hitstun, so while you can freely hit your opponent, you cannot punish with a grab.
Deflect stun is not affected by the strength of the attack deflected. Instead, each character has a different deflect animation that determines how much frame advantage they receive from a successful deflect. Details can be found on the Advanced Mechanics page.

You must be unarmed in order to perform a blade catch. A successful blade catch will disarm your opponent and knock them down. As far as is currently known, frame advantage from blade catch is universal for all characters.

Rage Mechanics

Rage works similarly to other SamSho games -- your Rage (or POW) meter will fill as you take damage. When it is full, you briefly enter Max Rage, where you deal 30-40% extra damage and have access to your Weapon Flipping Technique (WFT), a super special move that disarms your opponent on hit. Unlike later SamSho games, WFT inputs differ depending on the character and their chosen Technique.

You can manually charge your Rage meter by holding ABC. Perhaps as a consequence of being able to do this, Rage in SamSho 3 lasts for a very short amount of time compared to other games in the series. Additionally, Rage does not carry over between rounds.

When you have 25% life remaining, you will automatically enter Desperation. In Desperation, you are essentially in perma-rage, even if you connect with a WFT. As a result, WFTs also deal increased damage in this state. If you are one round away from losing the match, you will instead enter Desperation when you have 50% life remaining. The only way to exit Desperation is to heal out of the 25%/50% health range by a food item thrown into the stage and wait for the Rage period to end. If both players enter Desperation on the final round, the stage background will change to a more psychedelic landscape and the music will stop. This doesn’t have an effect on gameplay, but it’s a really cool touch.

Combo Rules


For the most part, normal move cancel rules are the same as other SamSho games. If a move is cancelable on hit, it is also cancelable on whiff, as well as on block as long as there is no associated recoil animation.

While most normals do recoil on block, SamSho 3 does not allow recoil cancels. However, recoiling buttons are safer on block than in other games in the series, so you have less to fear when pushing buttons.

Back Hits

A new mechanic in SamSho 3 that carries on to later titles is back hits. Put simply, hitting your opponent from behind results in increased hitstun. However, the increase in hitstun here is much larger compared to later games in the series, and combined with more cancelable normals and the ease with which you can get behind an opponent in the first place, extremely damaging back hit-only combos, loops and touch of death sequences are commonplace. The sole exception to this rule is Zankuro -- while he does suffer extended hitstun on back hit, a back hit will cause him to immediately lose his hurtbox until he turns around.

Juggles and Restands

A small handful of moves in SamSho 3 cause juggle states on hit (an example of this is Bust Haohmaru's 2146C). While most normals air reset an airborne opponent, certain moves when timed correctly can cause the opponent to restand, allowing for extremely damaging combos that would not be possible otherwise. While many restand combos are only practical (or even possible) with a back hit, the majority of them dizzy the opponent, leaving them open to further punishment that will most likely kill them.


While dizzy (or stun) mostly occurs as a result of certain back hit combos, it more or less follows standard dizzy rules, ie it occurs when you get hit too many times in quick succession. Not every attack seems to deal the same amount of dizzy, and there are many long combo sequences that will never inflict dizzy at all, so the details are as yet unknown. It is possible to be stunned multiple times in a single round with no upper limit, with the caveat being you cannot be stunned multiple times in one combo. This game’s high damage makes being stunned multiple times unlikely outside of being hit with Amakusa/Slash Rimururu’s instant dizzy moves. You can, of course, mash out of a dizzy with repeated button and directional inputs. This can be the deciding factor of whether or not you lose the round off of getting dizzied.

Samurai Shodown 3

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