Samurai Shodown III (known in Japan as Samurai Spirits: Zankuro Musouken, which is loosely translated to "Samurai Spirits: Peerless Blade of Zankuro", and in Korea as Fighters Swords) is a 2D historical-fantasy weapon-based fighting game developed and released by SNK for arcades (running Neo Geo MVS hardware) and the Neo Geo AES on December 1, 1995.
The third installment of the Samurai Shodown series (and the prequel to Samurai Shodown II), the game features significantly updated visuals (redrawing all character sprites in a larger, more defined style) and a revamped roster (trading half of the older characters for some new ones, including new protagonist Shizumaru). The story takes place between both of the previous games, focusing on a powerful sociopath known as Zankuro.
The gameplay style was also nearly overhauled, adding a variety of new mechanics (such as air-blocking, an alternate moveset for each combatant, and optional difficulty levels), while revamping the control scheme (switching the Light Kick button for a Strong Slash) and removing/replacing some older mechanics (such as the removal of weapon breaking and the simplification of movement techniques into a simple Dodge technique).
The game received a port to the Neo Geo CD on December 29, 1995, Saturn on November 8, 1996 (for Japan only), and PlayStation on November 30, 1996 (ported by Ukiyotei as Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood, later re-released in Japan only for the PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network in June 27, 2007). The game was digitally re-released for the Wii (via Wii Virtual Console) on September 6, 2010 and was included in the Samurai Shodown Anthology compilation for the PlayStation 2 and Wii. A handheld version was made for the Game Boy in Japan only (on August 23, 1996 as Nettou Samurai Spirits: Zankuro Musouken, ported by Betop and released by TAKARA).
- Shizumaru Hisame
- Gaira Caffeine (not available in the GB version, known in the Korean version as Kim Ung Che)
- Zankuro Minazuki (final boss, only playable with code in Versus matches)