The SAMURAI SHODOWN series first started in 1993, and even after nearly 27 years, there exist people who are as serious about the game now as when it first came out. At Famitsu.com, in order to celebrate the launch of the PS4 and Switch versions of the SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION, we decided to sit down and talk with the series’ biggest fans to hear their stories. The Hotblooded SamSho Scrolls acts as a gateway into understanding the passion these individuals have for SAMURAI SHODOWN.
For our second installment of the Hotblooded SamSho Scrolls, we sat down with behomaso, the founder of a website dedicated to helping beginner SamSho players and who has been creating events and tournaments at Mikado to foster the SamSho fan community. Today we’ll talk in-depth about what they love about SamSho.
For our second installment, we sat down with Behomaso, the founder of a website dedicated to helping beginner SamSho players and who has been creating events and tournaments at Mikado to foster the SamSho fan community. We’ll talk about his youth and how he became so crazy about SamSho that his passion for it exists today stronger than ever.
Runs multiple events and hosts “Samurai Taisen”, a SamSho series tournament that takes place at Takadanobaba Game Center Mikado. Currently, he manages a website aimed at helping beginners new to SAMURAI SHODOWN and is taking steps to ensure the continued growth of the community. Additionally, he is in the process of creating an anthology event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of SAMURAI SHODOWN III within his circle this year.
Behomaso twitter: @Behomaso
※Website for beginners to the SamSho series
※Website Muso Kenran, 25th anniversary anthology event for SAMURAI SHODOWN III
※Behomaso icon by: saripi-san
Behomaso runs large-scale SamSho series events at Game Center Mikado and is considered a pillar in the community.
A huge appeal of SamSho is its “Japanese Fantasy” setting. It really sets itself apart from other fighting games.
――For the second edition of the Hotblooded SamSho Scrolls, we sit down with Behomaso, an event organizer who continues to support the SamSho scene in many different ways.
BehomasoThank you for having me. I’ve been really looking forward to this interview.
――So Behomaso, we know that you have a long history of hosting events and tournaments, and that these are no small feats. It takes a lot of effort for these things to even get off the ground. Can you please explain the circumstances surrounding how and why you pour so much effort into the SamSho scene?
BehomasoI had many interactions with the series, but one that sticks out is when I read the Shin Samurai Spirits novel that was published in 1994. It was featured in gaming magazines, and it delved into side stories and fleshed out characters and settings that you simply couldn’t get through just playing the games. I thought it was so cool.
――That was your first experience with SamSho?
BehomasoWell, the first time I laid eyes on SamSho was actually the first SAMURAI SHODOWN when it was released in 1993. I was in elementary school during that time, and a lot of the games of that period like Street Fighter II, FATAL FURY, etc., were set in our world but featured fighters with different fighting styles. But SamSho’s setting took place in feudal Japan, and that felt so fresh and interesting to me.
I even think about it today like, a strong appeal of SamSho is totally in its “Japanese Fantasy” setting. Some stages barely feature any BGM, and it so it really feels like a fight against two samurai. Plus, the characters were so unique that it really separated itself from the rest.
It really stirred something deep inside me when I was a child. So, from that starting point, my mind was blown when I read the SamSho novel and the setting was instantly expanded upon. That’s when I knew I was in deep.
――Ah, so you were infatuated more with the characters and world setting than actual gameplay. Interesting!
BehomasoWell, I mean it makes sense, right? Kids in school don’t have a lot of cash to burn, so the idea of spending day after day at an arcade seems insane. Naturally, we’d gravitate more towards finding an interest in character backgrounds and the like.
“I did English flash cards during the loading segments when playing on the NEOGEO CD, heh.”
――Which game did you first start playing seriously?
BehomasoIf we’re talking about played experiences, well I played all of them upon release. But I guess I actively stated looking for fights during my time playing SAMURAI SHODOWN III (1995) and SAMURAI SHODOWN IV (1996). During those times I had NEOGEO CD, so my friends came over my house to play.
――Wow, haven’t heard that name in a long time.
BehomasoCompared to the cartridges, the NEOGEO CD took forever to load games, and so it was actually really great for someone like me who wanted to both play SamSho and get some studying in, heh. Every time a game would enter a loading screen, I would study some English. Now that I think about it, those loading times probably saved me since I would have played non-stop without them! Thanks to the NEOGEO CD, I was able to maintain my status as both a gamer and a good student!
――You actually studied during the load times? Wild.
BehomasoOf course it doesn’t beat real studying, but actually those CD loading screens were actually kind of charming. There was this drawn animation on SAMURAI SHODOWN III loading screens that always impressed me. They really took their time with this game and it showed.
――That’s some great fanservice right there.
BehomasoActually, that artwork wasn’t included in the SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION’s museum gallery, so I hope they add it in a future update!
Acting as a bridge between neighboring SamSho communities
――So, can you explain how you went from playing all the games in the series as they came outーeven becoming a professional player with 27 years of experience, to planning and running tournaments?
BehomasoWell, it all started in 2005 during the release of SAMURAI SHODOWN VI. I found myself playing it with the community at the game center BEAT-TRIBE in Machida, which was also a sacred site for Virtua Fighter fans. Unfortunately, however, SAMURAI SHODOWN VI was released for the Atomiswave and not the NEOGEO, so it wasn’t featured in the collection.
――Ah, that’s right. Wasn’t SAMURAI SHODOWN VI featured in the fighting game tournament Tougeki- Super Battle Opera*? I remember at that time there was a big change in the types of games Tougeki was going to host.
※From 2003 to 2012, ENTERBRAIN (formerly) ran a yearly fighting game tournament that brought in competitors all across Japan. It was once known to be quite radical as they featured multiple fighting games per event.
BehomasoThat’s right. If a game got picked for their lineup then many players would prepare for Tougeki, but after the event was over, many times a new game would be released.
My crew and I really liked SamSho, so when asked, “what are ya gonna play next week?” after Tougeki finished, we would all say, “we’re gonna play the older titles!” We really started a movement there as more and more people wanted to play the classics.
The folks at BEAT-TRIBE were super supportive when it came to starting events, so when we got people playing the older titles, we simply asked the arcade to put on a tournament for older games, and they said OK pretty much right away! And that was pretty much my start at running, creating, and hosting tournaments.
――It’s really great to hear that there are events going on right now run by the same players of old who never lost sight of the culture or passion.
BehomasoBut, I must stress that that’s just how the community I belong to does things. During that time, there were tons of communities in different areas who came together to play various SamSho games.
There’s a community in Kansai that still plays the first SAMURAI SHODOWN. Then there’s others that only play SAMURAI SHODOWN II. Even though they’re both fans of SamSho, the games (and therefore the playstyles) are different, and so that’s why players gravitate to what game they prefer.
――Ah, interesting. We sometimes find ourselves saying the “SamSho Community”, but really SamSho has a long history with each game having a pretty different playstyles.
BehomasoThat’s right. That’s what makes the “Samurai Taisen”, a tournament that focuses on each SamSho game, so great. On the outside it looks like just a bunch of SamSho fans, but take a second and you see these vastly different communities come together for their passion.
So I help run this event, but one time someone mentioned about how they mainly played SAMURAI SHODOWN II, but were interested in joining the SAMURAI SHODOWN IV bracket--and that's when it hit me that by combining the communities under one tournament, players from different groups could cross over and discover new and interesting things about other games in the series with like-minded players. That’s why I get such happiness from “bridging” these communities through these events.
――Certainly, the best goal in mind is to gather people around something they all enjoy. But I imagine actually running the events must be really difficult. Has anything stood out so far?
BehomasoHonestly? It’s really not that hard. Compared to current esports tournaments, tournaments run at game centers are super laid-back. Even when it comes to commentating, generally someone considered to hold an imaginary “PhD” in the game will talk for us, and so it’s really the combined effort from everyone that they go so smoothly.
Also, I’ve gotta say that the help from the game center has been huge. Not only do they provide the cabinets, but the game center also prepares the necessary devices and environment for a tournament to be held in the first place. It goes without saying that they work their asses off to provide a fun and safe area for everyone, not even especially for events. I can’t thank them enough.
Recently, however, COVID19 has put a strain on game centers in Japan as many cannot hold offline events anymore. Even our homeland game center “Game Center Mikado” got hit hard and hard to resort to crowdfunding to stay afloat. Thankfully they met their goal, but I think it was mostly because players like ourselves are also investing in them because let’s be honest, there aren’t many arcades that let you play retro fighters as much as you want. It’s a difficult time, but I just can’t wait until this blows over so I can host more events!
Until then, I’ll continue to support the community by playing online matches in the SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION, and by teaching newbies to SamSho the ropes.
――Certainly, the SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION is doing its part in keeping the community together. It seems you’ve been playing the PC version for some time now. What do you think of it so far?
BehomasoFirst, let me just say how great it is to have each game ported over so perfectly. And I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to play people online, since before the only way we could play was by physically going to the arcade. Playing it for a while now, I found myself often running into players that I actually knew in real life.
I was taken aback by the sheer volume of the museum mode. Even for someone like me who has spent decades collecting character references and other documents to better learn more about SamSho, I couldn’t help but think I found the motherload. If you’re a fan of SamSho, you gotta pick up this collection.
――That sounds very trustworthy coming from someone like you, Behomaso. Your passion not just for SamSho but for the community came through blazing hot. For our last question, can you tell us what is SAMURAI SHODOWN to you?
BehomasoTough question but I’d have to say “never-ending youth.” Some people may look back at their youth and cringe or be slightly embarrassed, but to me what I played during my youth is still something I’m able to play nowーand to me that’s something I’m very happy about.
And heck, it doesn’t just go for me. The players labbing the game now will probably be labbing the game even when they’re old and wrinkled. Who knows, I may even find a new technique or strategy in a few years from now…
Seeing a shift in the playerbase based on age for one long-running game is also a pretty cool thing, too.
――Ah, so you mean to say you expect SamSho to continue on for a very long time, huh.
BehomasoI just get so excited thinking of a player who has played for decades and how devastating their heavy slash must be. Decades from now, you’re going to see the community shift even further towards geriatrics, and who knowsーmaybe I can host tournaments at the local old folks home!
The SAMURAI SHODOWN NEOGEO COLLECTION goes on sale for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch this summer for Europe and the US.
The collection contains six titles previously sold on the NEOGEO, as well as a never-before-released version of SAMURAI SHODOWN V SPECIAL, bringing the collection to a total of seven playable titles! Additionally, each game has online battle modes, and its museum mode boasts tons of music tracks and illustrations! It will be available for download for PS4 and the Nintendo Switch July 28th, 2020ーwith the physical version coming this summer!
Digital version available now!
※PlayStation 4 (USA)
※PlayStation 4 (EU)
※Nintendo Switch (USA)
※Nintendo Switch (EU)
Hotblooded SamSho Scrolls
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