Samurai Shodown V Special (known in Japan as Samurai Spirits Zero Special) is a 2D historical-fantasy weapon-based fighting game developed by Yuki and released by SNK Playmore for arcades (using Neo Geo MVS hardware) exclusively in Japan on April 22, 2004, with a worldwide Neo Geo Advanced Entertainment System release on July 9, 2004.
A revision of the series' fifth main installment, Samurai Shodown V Special is known as the last official game released for the Neo Geo hardware. Along with minor changes (such as tweaked commands for certain abilities), the game adds the final bosses from all main games as playable characters (Amakusa, Mizuki, Zankuro, and Gaoh), while removing two mid-bosses (Sankuro and Yumeji) and introducing new fatality effects (including a new special move, the Zetsumei Ougi, which can finish off opponents mid-battle).
Due to the intensity of the overall amount of fatality effects, the game was censored for its home Neo Geo AES release. Because these changes added new glitches to the game, SNK Playmore issued a recall and allowed players to trade their cartridges back for an updated bug-fixed version. It is the only game in the series not to be released for other home consoles near the time of its release.
An updated version of the game, known as Samurai Spirits Zero Special Kanzen-han, received a limited location test during the development of Samurai Shodown VI. Also known as Samurai Shodown V Perfect, this version includes some gameplay fixes and rebalances along with new story cutscenes and minor censorship of the fatality effects. It was said during later interviews that this version was developed and tested without SNK Playmore's knowledge, and it was quickly pulled from testing and cancelled once they found out. Originally believed to be lost, it was later re-discovered and included in the 2020 compilation Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection, followed by its own dedicated arcade release in 2022 (by Team EXA-AM1 as part of the PC-based exA-Arcadia platform). The exA version features pillarbox artwork by Shiroh Ohno, as well as the restored fatality effects.
Ports & Releases
Although the game was not ported to consoles at the time, nor was it included in the Samurai Shodown Anthology compilation, it later received multiple separate digital releases: