The Samurai Shodown universe (サムライスピリッツ, Samurai Spirits) is a weapon-based fighting by SNK, and was first released for the Neo Geo MVS Arcade and AES console in 1994. True to its namesake, Samurai Showdown takes place at the heart of the country and era that defined the historically renowned warriors of Japan, the samurai. Starring a multitude of characters whose paths and life goals from not just within Japan, but the globe, lead them into the Japanese nation, so do warriors of all walks and ways come to clash and showcase their own manner of samurai spirit as they seek out their dreams and desires in this time in history once ruled by might and the brave. The mascot character Nakoruru only appears as a Mii Costume for a Mii Swordfighter, through downloading the downloadable fighter debuted in Fatal Fury, Terry Bogard.

Franchise description

The stories in the series take place in 18th-century Japan, during the peak years of the 264 year rule of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Edo Period. While the Edo Period is known for its policy of Sakoku or the seclusion period of Japan (the first four games run across 1788 and 1789), it is depicted in series with great artistic license so that foreign-born characters (including some from places that did not exist as such in 1788) and fictional monsters can also be part of the story. The plot of each game is quite different, but they circle a central group of characters and a region in Japan. Samurai Shodown consequently portrays snippets of the Japanese culture and language internationally with little edits. For instance, unlike most fighting games made in Japan, the characters in the series (including the announcer) generally speak only in Japanese, with dialects ranging from archaic formalities and theatricalism to modern-day slang, something that has been preserved for overseas releases. Win quotes and other cut scenes provide subtitles in several languages, including but not limited to English, Portuguese, and German. Much of the music includes traditional Japanese instruments (predominately the shakuhachi, shamisen, koto and taiko) and later enka. Several characters are loosely based on real figures from Japanese history.

The timeline of the series is as follows:

  • 1786 (January through late summer) – Samurai Shodown V
  • 1787 – Samurai Shodown (2019)
  • 1788 (early spring through early summer) – Samurai Shodown (1993)
  • 1788 (summer through early autumn) – Samurai Shodown III
  • 1788 (autumn through early winter) – Samurai Shodown IV
  • 1789 (spring through summer) – Samurai Shodown II
  • 1789 (autumn) through 1790 (summer) – Samurai Shodown 64
  • 1789 (mid-autumn) – Samurai Shodown V Special (non-canon entry)
  • 1790 (late autumn through winter) – Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage
  • 1791 – Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny (separate from the main series’ timeline)
  • 1799 (new century start) – Samurai Shodown VI (non-canon entry)
  • 1811 – Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage

The series begins during the Tenmei famine in Japan, which led to a severe depression and near chaos throughout the country. Upset by his country men's lamentations and the shogun’s indifference to their plight, former Tokugawa general, Kyogoku Hinowanokami Gaoh, stages a rebellion in his land, Hinowa, against the reigning Tokugawa. He also hopes that his revolt will make the next shogun in line, Yoshitora Tokugawa, realize his responsibilities to his country. The war caused by the conflict gains the interest from several warriors. At the war's end, Gaoh is defeated and Yoshitora is made the next shogun.

A year later, entire country is beset by a terrible and looming evil. Fire, ruin and famine ran rampant throughout Japan. Meanwhile, as these events unfold, a sinister cloud envelops the air with a foreboding sense of dread. Shizuka Gozen (loosely based on historical figure), the deceased spirit of a young woman who is possessed and trapped in Yomi, (labeled Eternity in the game itself) threatens to destroy Japan. Warriors from all across Japan and beyond the ocean, driven by their own needs and desires, converge to investigate these evil forces and vanquish them. Amakusa Shiro Tokisada (loosely based on the historical figure), once leader to a Christian rebellion, made a pact with an evil entity named Ambrosia moments before his execution, resurrected as an undead specter. Amakusa defeated Haohmaru, a ronin, who recently left his tutelage from his master, Caffeine Nicotine. After absorbing amount of evil energy within Shizuka until her death, Amakusa took over the body of Shinzo, one of Hanzo Hattori's sons, and completing his resurrection two years after the events of Hinowa.

More than a decade before the series begins, after taking over Shinzo's body, Amakusa begin his plan to get revenge on those who reigned against him, intending to resurrect Ambrosia into the mortal realm upon his release. He steals the sacred item, the Palenke Stone, from Green Hell (a fictional native settlement in South America) to gain the necessary power he needs for the ritual. The sorcerer’s activity stirs evil phenomena across the globe, stretching from Japan to China to Europe and America, drawing several brave warriors to their calamities’ source. Amongst these warriors is Haohmaru, who wants a rematch against Amakusa. He sees the foe as a chance to sharpen his swordsmanship. An Ainu priestess, Nakoruru, though a pacifist, takes up her blade to save Mother Nature from further pain. Though several fighters attempt to slay the fiend, these two are successful in defeating him, apparently killing him in the process.

Months later, another “demon” rises in Japan. However, he is not related to Amakusa or Ambrosia. He is a man named Zankuro Minazuki, a powerful warrior who has earned the label “demon” for his merciless slaughter of innocent people, village after village. Zankuro eventually finds the error of his ways and retires to hermitage, only agreeing to kill skillful warriors in duels. One of the victims he spared was a child whom Haohmaru finds and raises. The child's name is Shizumaru Hisame, who seeks revenge for his family's murder under Zankuro's hands. He sets out with Haohmaru to test their strength against Zankuro, challenging other fighters along the way. Eventually, they meet and duel, Shizumaru being the victor. Though Zankuro was heavily wounded, he tries to deliver a final blow only to be struck down by the heavens. He dies complimenting the winner and his body is entombed.

Soon after Zankuro's entombment, Amakusa revives his efforts for revenge and steals the fallen warrior as an implement for destruction. This time, his spirit is split into two halves, one good and just; the other corrupt and ambitious. As the evil half brings destruction to Japan from Shimabara, the good half struggles to restores it. The evil Amakusa kidnaps a young kunoichi named Hazuki from the Kazama ninja clan. Hazuki, adept with ki and welding a special life force inside her, is used by the sorcerer to control Zankuro's bloodlust. Her brothers, Kazuki and Sougetsu, race to her rescue. Though several outcomes of this battle are interpreted, Kazuki is officially successful in slaying the evil Amakusa and Zankuro is finally put to rest by Sougetsu. Labeled nukenin, or rogue ninja, by their clan, Hazuki and Kazuki go into hiding while Sougetsu lets them escape.

Six months after this conflict, a priestess possessed by the evil demon, Mizuki Rashojin, emerges to send the world into chaos again. Mizuki, as a loyal servant to Ambrosia from 1000 years ago, is awakened by evil Amakusa's powers. Her awakening causes several worldwide disasters, and though her spirit is awake, she has yet to ascend to the human realm. She preys on unlucky warrior's souls and uses the fallen to strengthen her and Ambrosia's powers. The good Amakusa saves Haohmaru and other virtuous souls but he too falls to her bane. Warriors travel to Hell itself to battle her soul before it resurrects. Haohmaru and Nakoruru are able to make the journey to Hell and stop Mizuki, sealing her into the Makai (demon world) after her defeat.

Yuga the Destroyer, another being originating from the Makai realm, moves to conquer the world half one year after Mizuki's defeat. Twenty years prior to Amakusa's resurrection, she enters the human realm and steals various babies from mother's wombs and using her power, bestows superhuman abilities upon them. She silently re-inserts the unborn children, and waits for them to grow into superhuman warriors. Upon their adulthood, she appears before all of them and brainwashed all of them to become her loyal slaves through a magical puppet show. One of her victims is a mysterious woman named Shiki, the perfect female counterpart for Yuga's vessel. Yuga orders Shiki to find the perfect male counterpart, intending to merge the two for her eventual resurrection. Haohmaru is selected but Yuga underestimates him in their battle. Haohmaru defeats her and frees Shiki from her mind-control.

A year passes, and Yuga, better prepared, revives herself. With her second appearance, Asura, a destructive being (which wreaks havoc in order to bring about “the unification of this world and the Netherworld...”) escapes from his prison from the Netherworld. Yuga, realizing the strength of Asura, clones him and creates her loyal servant Hanmen no Asura. His orders are to reclaim Shiki and return to Yuga with her. However, he falls in love with Shiki and turns against his master. Both Asuras defeat Yuga entirely and merge, leaving Shiki with a child. She leaves the child to Haohmaru's care, feeling unworthy of motherhood.

Twenty years pass, with the age of samurai and swordsmen drawing to a close. Those not abiding to the peaceful change of era are outlawed to a prisoner island. Zealous inhabitants rise up and try to create a “new world exclusively for the chosen ones”, who are intent on destroying the shogunate. The group they form is called the “League of the Three Blades of Domination” and the island becomes known as Ritenkyo. Their leader is an old man named Oboro. A member of the Shinsengumi, Seishiro Kuki, is ordered by his superiors to assassinate the ones responsible for the uprising. An older Haohmaru goes to find his “niece”, Mikoto, and to free her from her torn past.

List of games in Samurai Shodown franchise

  • Samurai Shodown
  • Samurai Shodown II
  • Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood
  • Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's Revenge
  • Samurai Shodown RPG
  • Samurai Shodown 64
  • Samurai Shodown 64: Warriors Rage
  • Samurai Shodown!
  • Samurai Shodown! 2
  • Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage
  • Nakoruru: Ano Hito kara no Okurimono
  • Samurai Shodown V
  • Samurai Shodown V Special
  • Samurai Shodown VI
  • Samurai Shodown Sen
  • Samurai Shodown Anthology
  • Samurai Shodown (2019)
  • Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection


  • Samurai Spirits ~Makai Rinne Ki~
  • Samurai Spirits ~Shimensoka~
  • Samurai Spirits Tenka Musō Typing ~Makai Tenshō no Shō~
  • Samurai Spirits Kizuna
  • Samurai X (KALKALKAL) for Kakao
  • Samurai Shodown Slash for Kakao
  • Samurai Spirits OL
  • Tenkadaiichi Kenkakuden
  • Samurai Spirits: Oborozuki Densetsu (Samurai Shodown M, Samurai Spirits Online - Oborozuki Den)

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

All of the content for this franchise was released on November 6th, 2019 as part of the version 6.0.0 update.


  • "Banquet of Nature - SAMURAI SHOWDOWN": A remix of Nakoruru's theme from the original Samurai Shodown.
  • "Gaia - SAMURAI SHOWDOWN": A new arrangement of Earthquake's theme from Samurai Shodown.
  • "Tuna - SAMURAI SHOWDOWN" (Sourced Theme)

Mii Fighters Costumes

  • Nakoruru Outfit (Swordfighter)


External Links