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How will Hibiki Takane's moves and abilities translate from her home series into Samurai Shodown?

Even though they're both samurai-themed fighting games from the same company, the two franchises are actually very different in how they play

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • April 21, 2021 at 11:19 a.m. PDT • Comments: 14

We've known for quite some time that one of Samurai Shodown's Season 3 characters (the very next one to be released, in fact) would be a guest character from SNK's own franchise The Last Blade, later revealed to be Hibiki Takane from The Last Blade 2. It looks like the release of Hibiki is drawing ever closer as well, since SNK have decided to forego their weekly King of Fighters 15 trailer to instead show us Hibiki's trailer.

With her inclusion getting closer by the day, it felt like a good time to look at how exactly Hibiki might translate to Samurai Shodown. While it's easy to just think of Samurai Shodown and The Last Blade as similar things since they're both samurai-themed weapon-based fighting games developed by the same company, most people who have played both actually knows that they're very different in how they play. Let's have a look at how Hibiki Takane works in her source game The Last Blade 2 and how this might translate to her upcoming Samurai Shodown appearance.

In The Last Blade 2, Hibiki is a character largely centered around Battōjutsu, which is the art of drawing the sword and instantly slicing. This is also exemplified in one of Samurai Shodown's most popular and mainstay characters Ukyo Tachibana, and you'll notice that their idle stances are relatively similar.

With this in mind, Hibiki is a fairly speedy character in The Last Blade 2 who regularly re-sheathes her sword after performing an attack. Her normals in combination with the Distance Slash special move give her exceptional mid-range screen control and she's quite capable of keeping opponents out. The Distance Slash reaches very far and can be either a mid or a low depending on which version you do.

This is likely a tool she'll maintain in Samurai Shodown as well and it wouldn't be surprising to see her employ some efficient mid-range zoning strategies with it. Given that The Last Blade 2 is generally a more fast-paced game than Samurai Shodown, I'd imagine that her moves will be suitably slowed down to fit the pace of the other SNK swordfighter.

Another interesting part about Hibiki's general special moves is that some of them will change properties depending on if you hold the button or not. This seems like a neat gimmick that they'd easily be able to bring back for Samurai Shodown, though given the high-scale nature of damage dealt in Samurai Shodown, it's hard to imagine what properties you could give holding the button without making it too volatile.

If you were to simply increase damage on held specials, it's likely that they'd either end up making the charge damage far too high or the normal damage a tad too low. It'd be interesting to see if SNK could do some finessing with her held moves to give them mixup opportunities or perhaps different properties on block or post-hit advantage situations on hit.

She also possesses some counter and dodge type specials which may fit better in Samurai Shodown than they did in The Last Blade given the high commitment level of Samurai Shodown in general. While these would obviously carry large risk with them by their very nature, it could give Hibiki opportunity to play as a much more defensive character than most of the current cast are able to.

One mechanic which is hard to imagine if they'll try to implement or not is the Repel from The Last Blade. It doesn't work quite the same as it would in Samurai Shodown as it is just a button press rather than a full motion and at least to me never felt like quite as big of a commitment as the Samurai Shodown Deflect is.

On top of this, it isn't only done while standing — it can also be done while crouching or in the air. The Repel mechanic from The Last Blade also allows you to press the same button once again on a successful Repel to get a guaranteed knockdown on the opponent, or if you'd rather you can simply go for a combo on the successful Repel.

If they truly want to bring over some The Last Blade flavor with Hibiki, they'd try and keep some of this flavour intact for her. The problem is that the Deflect system in Samurai Shodown already covers crouching attacks (albeit not lows) and that having an airborne Deflect is likely to be broken if Hibiki is the only character who possesses this skill, unlike The Last Blade where everyone can do it.

Hibiki also has a Desperation Move in Heavenly Spirit of Victory which is remarkably similar to what the Issen in Samurai Shodown already is, so I'd imagine they'll simply drop this move from her repertoire and have it represented via the game's universal mechanic instead. It's a bit of a shame if they do since one of my favorite parts of playing Hibiki was comboing into this, but it makes sense given that Samurai Shodown is a much less combo-focused game.

For her Super Special Move, it'd be easy to bring over her No Fear Feint. In The Last Blade 2, it functions basically like a command grab while close but also has a less-damaging function at further ranges. Given how weak I found Iroha's Super Special Move (which is a short-ranged command grab), it feels like a better move to make Hibiki's Super Special Move have a long-range function as well.

Keeping it that way would also make it unique compared to others in the game as none of the others change properties depending on what distance you activate them at — they simply either hit or they don't. While Super Special Moves aren't exactly central to the game since you only have them once per game, this would still bring an interesting additional touch of flavor to her gameplay, I think.

One of the absolute biggest differences between Samurai Shodown and Hibiki's game of origin The Last Blade 2, though, is the fact that in the latter you get to choose different versions of your character. Each of them has a Power version and a Speed version and while the character themselves tend to remain largely the same across both versions, there are key differences which include how their supers work.

In the Speed mode, which is Hibiki's favored version, you have access to super moves which are in a similar vein to the classic Geese Howard move Deadly Rave — that is to say, the super isn't simply an animation that activates, but you continuously do inputs throughout it that must be timed correctly in order for the super to keep going.

Speed mode also generally lets you cancel normals to each other, but they will do less damage than in Power mode. Such a complex system being implemented for just one character seems unlikely, but at the same time it's hard to say she's truly representing her home game without such a system in place.

One could argue, though, that the Power style is already similar to the basic gameplay you have in Samurai Shodown and that it'd be fitting to simply have Hibiki modeled after the Speed mode from The Last Blade 2, even moreso since that's the preferred mode to play her in (though I personally played her in Power, like the pleb that I am).

Whatever the case, we should find out a bit of what she'll be like from the trailer tonight, though based on Cham Cham's trailer last month they aren't going to show quite everything either, so we may have to hold off until her actual release which is still yet to be revealed before we can gauge just how much of The Last Blade came with her for Samurai Shodown.

One thing is for certain though — at least this is the most exciting guest character so far after the previous two questionable picks of For Honor's Warden and Honor of Kings' Gongsun Li, though it's quite possible Hibiki may end being overshadowed by the upcoming Guilty Gear guest character... who is probably Baiken. Only time will tell.

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