Last year, the classic fighting game franchise Samurai Shodown got a fresh code of paint when SNK rebooted the series. 2021’s Samurai Shodown came out to a subdued response, while the franchise may have once been globally known in the days of the original PlayStation, other franchises like Street Fight, Marvel vs. Capcom, Tekken, and even Skullgirls have picked up the slack in the years since.
SNK may be trying to breathe life into Samurai Shodown by announcing that the game will be receiving an update with “rollback netcode” for online multiplayer fights. For those who don’t know, rollback netcode is the latest in multiplayer technology in fighting games. Rollback netcode virtually eliminates input lag and other latency issues from fighting games; and in games where a single frame can make the difference between blocking a health shattering ultimate attack or eating it face first.
Rollback netcode achieves this by allowing users to receive input from their moves locally. The game then makes minor predictions of what the opponent will do in order to keep the game flowing, these predictions are generally only a couple frames long but this buffer makes all the distance. If the prediction is right, the game proceeds smoothly, if it’s wrong the game will still go smoothly but there’s a potential for some strange situations. Fighting game fans tend to agree that the rare glitch is worth it for a smooth gaming experience.
Other games have been updating their online services with rollback netcode, or launching with it from the get-go. Surprisingly, the game that put a spotlight on the technology was the recent Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl; which surprised fans with how seriously they were considering the game’s multiplayer experience despite it being a corporate tie-in game.
Will rollback netcode be enough to bring a healthy player pool back to Samurai Shodown? At the time of writing the game is boasting an all-time max player count of 160 players according to Steamcharts, a website which analyzes Steam’s backend. While Samurai Shodown is a multiplatform title, it’s safe to assume that the game has a similar player base across Xbox and PlayStation.
A release date for the rollback netcode update has not been announced, but fans will be able to test out the new feature in an open beta sometime in January 2023. So far the open beta will only be available for players on PC via Steam, a console beta has not been announced.