Samurai Spirits was released in July 1993 in Japan.
The game is known outside Japan as 'Samurai Shodown'
Samurai Spirits is the first game that introduced weapon fighting into the fighting game genre. The game used an upgraded version of the scaling graphics engine that was originally featured in "Art of Fighting".
Samurai Spirits also started SNK's reputation for their unique style of Engrish, known as SNKgrish in their games.
Unlike "Mortal Kombat
", the usage of blood in this game is generally accepted, and the decision to replace blood with 'white blood' remains a sore point among fans of this series.
Samurai Spirits is considered by some to portray Japanese culture and language effectively. Unlike most American versions of Japanese video games, the characters in this game (including the announcer) generally speak fluent Japanese with subtitles, and traditional Japanese music is often heard during gameplay. Samurai Shodown takes most of its characters from either historical sources or characters from the Ninja Scroll anime. In fact, a few designers that worked on Samurai Shodown also worked on the Ninja Scroll anime...
Haohmaru is based on the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), whose fighting philosophy heavily influenced that of the Haohmaru character.
Ukyo Tachibana is Based on Sasaki Kojiro Genryu (1572-1612), Musashi's skilled rival.
Jubei Yagyu is based on the historical Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi (1606-1644), who was a sword instructor to the Tokugawa shogunate. The Yagyu clan was a famous clan of samurai.
Hattori Hanzo Masashige (1541-1596) was the most famous of the Iga Ninja clan. He was a genius at leading night raids on forts and fiefs and became a feared assassin. Under his leadership, Iga Ninja became so notorious that Nobunaga felt it necessary to obliterate the Iga Ninja clan.
Wan-Fu seems to be a combination of two famous Chinese warriors. The first is a famous Chinese swordsman who was a rebel during the Ch'ing Dynasty. His name was Wang Ts-bin Wu, but he became known as Da Dao Wang Wu ('Big Scimitar Wang Wu'). The second lead bases Wan Fu upon the ancient, almost legendary, founder of the Chou Dynasty, King Wu Wang.
Kyoshiro Senryo is based on Nemuri Kyoshiro, a fictional character created by Shibata Tosaburo. 'Kyoshiro' translates to something like 'deranged fellow'. Tosaburo's Kyoshiro had nothing to do with kabuki theater as does Samurai Shodown Kyoshiro. Kyoshiro's weapon is called a naginata.
Charlotte is based on a character in the manga 'The Rose of Versailles' by Riyoko Ikeda (1972).
Gen-an Shiranui looks much like Mushizo, the hunchback demon of Ninja Scroll. Gen-an's weapon is modeled after the weapon wielded by Shijima, the shadow demon, from Ninja Scroll. Although they share a surname, Gen-an is not a relative of Mai Shiranui of the Fatal Fury/King of Fighters series.
Amakusa Shiro Tokisada (1622-1638) led a Christian uprising against the Tokugawa shogunate in the Shimabara region of Japan.
Nakoruru is a homage to Sailor Moon.
A 'Kuroko' is a traditional Kabuki theater stagehand. They are traditionally dressed in black and took care of scenery and other behind-the-scenes needs during a Kabuki performance, just like modern theater stagehands. In the case of Samurai Shodown, Kuroko is the referee for each match in Samurai Shodown I and II. The black strip of fabric hanging over a Kuroko's face is to signify that they are not part of the Kabuki performance, just helping with the props. The red and white flags that Kuroko has are used in traditional martial arts matches, where each successful hit gets the corresponding fighter's flag raised.
Mai Shiranui (of Fatal Fury) appears in Haohmaru's and Gen-An's endings.
Pony Canyon / Scitron released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Samurai Spirits - PCCB-00135) on 17/09/1993.