Somewhere in the middle of the major Street Fighter versus Mortal Kombat fighting game wars of the 1990s was SNK with its fighting favorites such as Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, and Samurai Shodown. Each of these title led to several sequels and revisions in the arcade and home console markets. Samurai Shodown is set for a compilation re-release in June from the developers / archivists at Digital Eclipse, and in the process of working on the project they were able to snag a lost, unreleased version of Samurai Shodown V to include in the collection. Ian Walker at Kotaku chronicles how this all came about and why the inclusion of Samurai Shodown V Perfect is such a lucky happening.
After being tapped by SNK to develop Samurai Shodown V and its Special follow-up in the early 2000s, development studio Yuki Enterprise and director Kouji Takaya soon set about working on a third and final update. Samurai Shodown V Perfect was meant to fix some of the gameplay issues still present in Special as well as introduce new stories for every character. The only problem was that no one told SNK, who only found out about the game when Yuki installed it in a single local arcade for testing. As work had already begun on Samurai Shodown VI, SNK quickly shut down the Perfect project, relegating its legacy to a handful of blurry photos from the test site.
Sheffield later told Kotaku via email that, despite it being generally “frowned upon” to hang onto company data, SNK was actually ecstatic to learn that Takaya still had a copy of Samurai Shodown V Perfect on hand. He credits SNK employee Adam Laatz with making sure the proper channels were notified and permissions were granted within the company to allow Perfect into the collection. Getting the game accepted took work, but thanks to a group effort, players will finally be able to experience this unreleased fighter.
I love when this kind of thing happens. Absolutely love it. Here we have a final revision of a game that was unceremoniously dumped by the publisher that, years later, is finally being released so the fans can experience and enjoy it. What's to be gained by leaving it in a metaphorical vault to gather dust and be otherwise lost to time? We've seen other publishers dig up their buried titles in the past few years. Nintendo is starting to build a reputation for mining its vaults for finished-but-unreleased games such as EarthBound Beginnings (originally meant for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991, but held back for the Wii U's Virtual Console in 2015) and Star Fox 2 (planned for the Super NES in 1996, but missing in action until it was part of the Super NES Classic console in 2017). What other finished-but-cancelled games would you like to see given another chance?