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Samurai Shodown IV/Mechanics

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General Mechanics

Movement

The left stick is used to move your character. If you've played any fighting game, it's already self-explanatory. Pressing forwards moves you forwards, twice to dash forwards, and vice versa when moving backwards. Pressing up or diagonally up will have your character jump, and holding down in any direction has your character crouch. Walking, running and backdashing are the same as SamSho 5SP, including the ability to cancel backdashes into aerial special moves. Unlike in SS3, it is possible to run while the opponent is backturned.

Dashing

Dashes have their own dash attacks that characters can utilize and follow a general rule of thumb, however these can vary slightly depending on the character. These normals will also auto-correct to face your opponent if you run under them, which makes them useful for punishing some jump-in attempts.

  • 66A is universally a quick dashing slice/jab. These are largely unsafe on block, but they can deal a lot of hitstun, especially on backhit. Generally good for combos and cross-under anti-airing.
  • 66B is an attack that varies between characters, with its usefulness naturally varying as well. They’re frequently combo tools, especially on backhits.
  • 66C is similar to 66B in that it’s a character specific dashing attack that frequently sees use in combos.
  • 66D is universally a slide kick that knocks down on hit. Can be useful for approaching depending on the character.
* u.66AC or u.66BD are Rimururu exclusive dash attacks where she trips over herself and knocks the opponent down via her clumsiness. These are gag dash attacks, but fun little easter eggs.

When dashing, your character performs a sprint forward and won't stop until you either perform an attack, get interrupted, let go, or end up right in front of the opponent. This also means that you cannot run fowards continuously if you're right next to the opponent, as your character will immediately enter their brakeing animation. Dashing, naturally, is great for getting closer to the opponent and faster or respacing yourself. You can also do other types of maneuvers like dashing into a throw to open up the opponent on the defensive into a combo.

You may think this, in turn, means you cannot dash attack up close, but you actually can. It's a little tricky, however. In order to dash attack while in close contact, you have to press the button immediately after letting go of dash. Any later and the input is ignored as your character performs the brake animation. So basically, it looks like this: 665X. You can also do 664X if it helps you get the rhythm down easier, but isn't necessary. Do note that doing 664C will result in your character instead doing a back throw, so this is advised against. It will take some practice, but is a highly necessary ability to do consistently for many characters as dash attacks are often very beneficial for many reasons.

Technique System

Returning from Samurai Shodown 3 is the Slash/Bust Technique System.

Every character has two different versions - the Slash (修羅;Shura) and Bust (羅刹;Rasetsu) techniques. These provide moveset changes and differences in playstyles that range from minor move swapping to complete reworks. The normals of these characters do not change between techniques, only the special moves and (usually) the WFT. The Slash and Bust variants of characters also have different color palettes to differentiate the two variants visually. Unlike Samurai Shodown 3, the HUD actually shows whether the characters are their Slash or Bust variants below the lifebar.

The only exception to this rule is Zankuro who, while having different color palettes, does not change his movelist between techniques.

Grade System

Once You've chosen between your character's Slash and Bust variants, you then have to select your grade.

  • Beginner Class (剣客) is a simpler mode for beginners - or rather, was intended for beginners by design.
  • Pressing CD gives you an automatic 4-hit knockdown instead of the usual Combo Slash.
  • You also build Rage faster than you do in the other grades. You cannot perform Rage Explosion in Beginner Class, either.
  • Instead, pressing ABCD will allow you to perform your WFT instantly instead of requiring you do the universal input.
  • One last detail is that you deal 100% damage modifier, while barehanded you deal a 98% damage modifier.
  • The variant of the automatic combo slash used in Beginner Class is the CD > ABC 4-hit variant, which knocks the opponent against the wall and then lands near you. This auto-CD is actually treated as a special move, meaning you can cancel into it from your normals. However, you cannot follow up the 4-hit knockdown with anything. Although Beginner Class is supposed to disable the ability to use CD combos, in actuality you can still perform them. By pressing C + D + Start, you gain access to all CD combos just like in Medium and Upper Grades. On real arcade hardware, this would be very inconvenient and cumbersome to have to input. But with emulators and home ports being far more common now, it's incredibly easy to remap the Start button next to CD and abuse this bug. For these reasons, at least according to the Korean RigVeda Wiki and also the Korean Namu Wiki, Beginner Class is banned in Korean Samurai Shodown 4 matches. In short, this essentially turns Beginner Class into Medium Grade but with no Rage Explosion and faster rage rate. While it is not banned in Japanese play, it's still seen as wholly inferior to picking Medium Grade, though using the CD bug may be frowned upon in online matches, regardless.
  • Since the auto-CD is treated as a special move, that also means that from the regular CD combos, you can cancel into the auto-CD for an easy combo ender, too.
  • Medium Grade (剣豪) is the standard mode of play, with all mechanics intact.
  • All information listed in this wiki assumes Medium Grade is used.
  • Medium Grade also utilizes a 101% damage modifier, however Charlotte is the only one to have a 99% damage modifier.
  • Also worth noting that the "Special 2017" boss hack of Samsho 4 completely disables Grade Selection, only allowing players to pick Medium Grade.
  • Upper Grade (剣聖) is hard mode. In Upper Grade, you cannot block.
  • Unlike in SS3, you are no longer constantly in Rage, instead gaining a slight damage increase.
  • Upper Grade utilizes a 105% damage modifier, but a 110% damage modifier unarmed.
  • The upside for this isn’t potent enough to make up for the loss of blocking, so it’s overall not worth it for the amount of trade off you have to make.

Offense Mechanics

Pursuits

A new mechanic introduced in SS4, pursuits (追い討ち) allow you to OTG an opponent after a knockdown. Pursuits are not guaranteed to combo, as the opponent can potentially recover in time before it lands, but depending on the situation and/or combo, the pursuit is guaranteed damage. Pursuit speeds are also not universal, though it's a slight variance.

  • 3S and 8S are light and heavy pursuit respectively.
  • Light pursuits (小追い討ち) deal small damage but are much faster and easier to confirm into, being the low committal pursuit.
  • Heavy pursuits (大追い討ち) are slow and often only connect after certain attacks, on top of being harder to time without it whiffing past the opponent but deal higher damage.

Counter Hits

Counter hits occur when you or the opponent is hit during the startup or active frames of a move. You gain extra damage on a counterhit, determined by how early the move was interrupted, based on a percentage value.

Universal Overhead

Throws

Weapon Flipping Technique

Defense Mechanics

Deflect/Weapon Catch

To deflect or catch an opponent’s weapon, input 2146D. This is counted as a special move, and as such can be special cancelled into. The active window isn’t very large, and if you are hit during the startup or recovery, it will be considered a counter hit. Given its high risk, it is scary to use but a very powerful option if you have a read on your opponent.

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. Deflect stun time depends on the strength of the deflected attack, and deflecting a heavy slash will additionally disarm your opponent. Running slashes that can be deflected count as heavy slashes, meaning deflecting one will disarm the opponent. Also be aware that deflect stun counts as hitstun, so while you can punish with an attack, you cannot punish with a grab, and this state can be exploded out of.

You must be unarmed in order to perform a weapon catch. A successful weapon catch will knock your opponent back and into a knockdown and disarm them, with their weapon dropping next to you. Weapon catches have much shorter recovery time, making them an overall safer option.

Unarmed Notes

Recovery

Cancel Points

Cancel 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.

Most normals will recoil on block, leaving you open. However, during this recoil period, it is possible to cancel into anything you can special cancel into. Not every attack with a recoil animation has an associated cancel window during it, however, and the timing can vary between attacks.

Normal Cancel

Recoil Cancel

Jump Recovery Cancel

Dash Cancel

Backdash Cancel

Weapon Discard Cancel

Sidestep Cancel

Throw Cancel

Weapon Pickup Cancel

Rage SCS Cancel

Combos

Combo Specifics

Much like other Samurai Shodown games, hitting your opponent’s back with most moves in Samurai Shodown 4 will result in increased hitstun, allowing for unique combos, to say the least. Due to backthrows leaving the opponent in a backturned state these combos are an important part of the game, being the optimal setups for many characters.

Using two heavy hits in a row during any combo will knock the opponent down, even if the attack normally wouldn’t knock down. If the opponent is backturned during this, they will still fly “backwards,” being knocked towards you. Note that an attack doesn’t necessarily have to require a C input to count as a heavy. For example, the second hit of Genjuro’s 66B counts as a heavy, and following it up on backhit with 2C will knock the opponent down.

A handful of moves on backhit in Samurai Shodown 4 cause the opponent to be knocked straight up before falling down. Followups are limited to heavy pursuits, though Basara is uniquely vulnerable the entire time, giving almost the entire cast easy infinites on him in specific. The JPN wiki refers to this as the “Basara Virus”.

Combo Counter

Keep in mind, however, that the combo counter in this game will outright lie to you -- the combo counter seems to be pretty bad at recognizing when hitstun has ended, which leads to the game telling you many strings are combos when the opponent is able to block. All combos should be tested against an opponent that is able to block after the first hit of a combo. There are rare instances where the combo counter will also tell you something doesn't combo, but in reality it does combo.

Samurai Combo Slash

Compared to SS3 whose combo game relies primarily on links and the heavily increased hitstun on backhit, SS4 combos keep that while also making use of the newly introduced S.C.S “Samurai Combo System” (also known as CD combos for short) activated by pressing 56CD. This leads into a special, character specific “CD Attack” that allows you to use several different predetermined chain combos.

  • AAA: Standard combo. Does little damage, but knocks the opponent far away.
  • ABC: Knockback combo. Does slightly more damage than the standard combo, and can bounce the opponent off the wall.
  • BBC: Juggle combo. The actual combo itself does very low damage, but allows you to juggle with a special move, leading to decent damage.
  • CCD: Shizumaru exclusive combo. Knocks down on hit at the end and leaves the opponent next to Shizumaru. Mostly a joke CD combo since it ends with Shizumaru bowing his head and apologizing, saying "Gomenasai."
  • CBBB: Kazama brothers exclusive combo. A unique combo slash that only the Kazama brothers are able to do. They can also exclusively perform a CD > CC combo slash.
  • 6AABBCCABCCCCC: Rage combo. The infamous SS4 14-hitter combo. Does the most damage of the SCS combos, generally allows a light pursuit afterwards in the corner (maybe even a heavy pursuit if you’re privileged), and completing it will completely fill your POW meter as your character strikes a pose. This pose varies in length between characters, and some can be punished on hit by specific setups (e.g. Slash Kazuki Homura Gaeshi). The real bonus of this combo is that several hits of all characters 14-hitters (generally the 10th/12th) can be special cancelled, leading to greater damage and combo opportunities.
Do keep in mind too, that in order for you to combo the rage SCS properly, you have to hold forward for both of the first two A presses. If you press the second A, but input it as 5A instead of 6A, the game will only allow you to perform the standard CD combos. Also note that once you commit to the rage CD by pressing 6AA, you cannot do the other CD combos even if they also start with A, because those combos start with 5A, not 6A. Your only choice is to finish the rest of the rage SCS.

Rage

Rage works similarly to other Samurai Shodown games -- your Rage (or POW) meter will fill as you take damage. When it is full, you briefly enter Rage state, where you deal increased damage and have access to your Weapon Flipping Technique (WFT), a super special move that inflicts good damage and disarms your opponent on hit. SS4 sets the standard for later SamSho games, with a universal WFT command, being 4632AB.

All characters and techniques have a certain Rage Special. These are powered up versions of special moves available only while in Rage, and generally add extra damage and hits, with a select few adding new unique properties or otherwise special utility over its standard version.

Different characters fill up their POW at different rates, as well as stay at full POW for varying amounts of time. This combined with balancing the utility of Rage Specials and dealing increased damage over the course of full POW versus cashing out with a WFT means characters will manage this resource differently from one another. For example, Genjuro can potentially rage multiple times in one lifebar’s worth of damage taken, while Ukyo has to take well over one lifebar’s worth of damage before raging.

One particularity about POW in this game that does not appear in other SamSho games is that if you end the round with full POW, the timer resets at the beginning of the next round. The timer additionally does not go down when you are taking damage or performing a special move or a WFT.

Rage Explosion

As mentioned in the controls section, you can also enter Rage Explosion by pressing ABC, which will consume your POW for the rest of the match, replacing it with the Rage Bar. The Rage Bar drains over time, and disappears with the use of Combo Slashes and Issen. Rage Bar does not drain when you are taking damage or knocked down, or when using Combo Slashes.

Rage Explosion SCS

Full Input: ABC during Rage Explosion, deals 6 hits then ABC on the 6th hit, two more hits then ABC on the 8th hit, one more hit then ABC on the 9th hit to end the combo.

Combo Slashes are, by comparison, essentially an upgraded version of the CD 14-hitter rage combo that is available during Rage Explosion (performed with ABC). They can be easily comboed into and out of, opening up massive combos for a vast majority of the cast. Their rules are very particular, with slight property changes between characters. Like with CD combos, opponents hit by Combo Slashes are forced into front-turned standing hitstun.

The initial Combo Slash uses up 1/4 of your Rage Bar for a six hit auto-combo that can be special cancelled on the sixth hit. The second Combo Slash in a row adds two hits, the second of which can be special cancelled. The third Combo Slash in a row adds one more hit that can be special cancelled. The fourth Combo Slash in a row will finish the combo and drain all remaining Rage Bar, ending Rage Explosion.

Combo Slashes can be cancelled into from anything with a cancel window, including specials such as rekkas (e.g. Slash Genjuro 236S), and generally leave you at enough advantage to link a normal afterwards for further combos. An interesting property is that if you spend the last of your Rage Bar on a Combo Slash, you cannot chain into further Combo Slashes, but you can still cancel it into your Rage Special or WFT.

Issen

Input: BCD during Rage Explosion

Issen sends your character flying forward. If you hit the opponent with this, you will deal a good chunk of damage. The damage Issen deals is determined by the ammount of time you have left in Rage Explosion. Because of this, The lower health you have when you enter Rage Explosion, the better your chances are at landing a higher damage Issen. Issen can only be preformed on the ground.

Keep in mind that you can be hit out of Issen, and that your opponent can also block it or jump over it. When Issen ends, whether it be by landing the move, getting hit out of it or what have you, Rage Explosion will end, and your rage meter is gone for the rest of the match.

Miscellaneous

Taunts

By pressing Start three times, your character will taunt and disarm themselves.

Button Hold

Like the King of Fighters series, Samsho 4 actually features a button hold feature that allows you to buffer special moves and WFTs in advance during a combo to ensure they come out as soon as possible. (WIP section)

Background Changes

Similar to the background changes during Desperation in SS3, if certain conditions are met the stage background will change to an alternate form with unique visual effects and altered/muted BGM. In the first round, the background will not change at all. If one player is on match point, the final 20 seconds will have the background change, and if both players are on match point the final 40 seconds will have the background change.

Double KOs

In the event of a double KO, both players are granted a round win. If one player is at match point and the other has not won a round, the player on match point will win. If both players are at match point and experience a double KO, a unique final round occurs with a time limit of 30 seconds with a permanent background change.

Timeout Draws

Like with a double KO, if the round ends on a draw via timeout, both players are awarded a round. If a timeout draw occurs during the third round, the match continues in the special “final round” described above. If players draw by timeout or double KO in this round, neither player wins and the game goes to the arcade continue screen.

Honorable Deaths

Samurai Shodown IV
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