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Peep Game: Soul Calibur Special – A Tale of Souls and Swords

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The release of Soul Calibur IV is upon us this week! The game’s highly anticipated approach has taken several steps, led by critical acclaim,

commercial success and a hardcore fanbase that follows the series to its core.

 

Considering the incredible history of the Soul Calibur series, it would be a travesty if we didn’t drop

some knowledge on the subject. The most popular weapons-based fighter of all

time has had its own personal road to travel, and outside of one wrong turn, it’s

avoided the road to perdition to survive as one of the elite of the fighting

game genre.

 

Soul Edge (Blade)

Platforms: Arcade | Playstation

Release: January 1997

 

Every journey must begin with a first step, and a tale of Souls and Swords is no different. In a world where the 3d fighter was still new,

trying to find its place alongside the Street

Fighters and Samurai Showdowns of

the world, Namco had experimented and found some success emulating the former

with its Tekken Series. At that

point, they decided it was time to jump into the foray of armed combat.

 

This led to the creation of Soul Edge, localized as Soul

Blade for gamers in the west. First released in the fighters’ ultimate

battlefield, the Japanese arcade, the game swam where most sink. Namco knew

they had another star franchise under their belt, and began to put into action

the idea to port it to the most stable console of the time, and generation, the

Sony Playstation.

 

The series introduced us (and got us attached) to Mitsurugi,

Taki, Li Long, Sophitia, Rock, Seung Mina, Voldo, Hwang, and series protagonist

Seigfried. These characters’ backgrounds give them life, as you find that the

search for Soul edge isn’t just for power. Themes such as revenge,

conservatism, tradition and even safety are their ambitions.

 

Attached to the port beside the simple arcade mode was the

standard VS., Time attack, and Survival, along with the single player mode Edge

Master Mode, allowing players to work to unlock weapons.

 

The game’s main appeal was being a very stable fighting

product with weapons in the 3d arena. Even in the era before the genre

shattering eight-way run, they had an ability to jump, allowing the player to

dodge low attacks and add some diversity to the fighting lineup. A defining

feature in this game, which isn’t found in any other entry of the series, was

the weapon durability bar. It stopped characters from “turtling,” forcing them

to go weaponless, making every attack hurt that much more when blocking,

effectively making it useless. It also defined special moves, depleting itself

when characters unleashed their most powerful attacks.

 

The series of Soul’s

only entry into the Playstation library is a very effective one. Scoring high

amongst critics and garnering decent numbers, it all but guaranteed a sequel to

appear down the line.

Soul Calibur

Platforms: Arcade | Dreamcast

Release: September 1999

 

A sequel is an interesting device with an interesting history.

It has the power to push a series of any medium to a new level, or take the

priors building blocks and dash them much like the act of a divisive God. Luckily

for this series, Namco, and fans, Soul Calibur

took the foundation the first built and created a house that still stands

today.

 

The most interesting thing about this title is that it wasn’t as well received as its

predecessor in the arcades. However, when it came to the shores of the U.S. as a

part of the Sega Dreamcast launch, the title took off like a fresh rocket off

the launch pad.

 

One of the abilities of the Sega Dreamcast, which may not be

emulated as well by other consoles out on the market even today, is the near

perfect Arcade emulation that it carries. What this did was allow the

developers to work on upgrading the title, and making the most beautiful and

fun fighting games to date.

 

Another reason was the introduction of eight-way run, which

is now a main staple in 3d fighting. It allows characters to run to the left

and right, giving them the power to dodge and adds a new level of strategy.

 

This game was breathtaking, to say the least. The powerful

graphics engine still may have the ability to surprise to this day, with things

like catching blades of grass moving. It may be the most beautiful title to

come out on a console pre-millennium.

 

The series’ story adds more depth. It is assumed that once

noble Seigfried has been engulfed by the Soul Edge evil power. The Soul Calibur

is now the weapon that most are looking for, to combat the Soul Edge and defeat

Nightmare. New characters such as Ivy, Maxi, Kilik, Astaroth, and Xianghua now

added some more depth to the roster.

 

Also added to this game was the Mission Mode, and upgrade to

the previous Edge Master Mode. Now unlockable were costumes, artwork and video,

as well as weapons, allowing users to really get a handle on the

concepts that created this game. All of these things gave the mainstream a reason to appreciate what had previously only been known by

the hardcore.

Soul  Calibur II

Platforms: Arcade | Playstation 2 | Gamecube | Xbox

Release: August 2003

 

Why fix something that isn’t broken? That’s the main concept

behind Soul Calibur II.  After the Dreamcast’s failing, Namco found a

home for its smash hit on the other market-viable consoles at the time – the leading

Playstation 2, Nintendo’s new Gamecube, and new market player, Microsoft’s

Xbox.

 

With the new consoles came some added features, like the

upgraded Weapons Master Mode, which added some of the best features of Edge

Master Mode and Mission Mode. Also, Weapons now had their own personality, as

they now featured a back story. Characters had an Ultimate Weapon, a collection

of different effective armaments, and even for the bravest, joke weapons that

could be used to test yourself or embarrass an opponent.

 

The most distinguishing feature however, had to do with the

consoles the game appeared on. Each console had a specific character, whether

it was Playstation 2’s Heihachi, Xbox’s Spawn, or Nintendo’s Link. Each had

their specific strength and weaknesses, and added some replay ability on

different consoles.

 

Also added to the roster list were Yunsung, Talim, Raphael,

Charade and Cassandra. Each of these characters gained their own back story and

fit into the universe of Soul Calibur, whose story now revolved around the tale

of both swords, the Soul Edge and Soul Calibur. One of redemption, terror,

betrayal and ultimate sacrifice, this game’s biggest achievement was giving

much more backbone to the story elements of the game, giving everything some

sort of significance.

 

With what may be the best technical game of the series, Soul Calibur II is probably the best

balanced game of the series. While Blade

may be the original, and the original Calibur

may have gotten higher scores, this is the game where the best find their

edge competitively.

Soul Calibur III

Platforms: Arcade | Playstation 2 | Gamecube | Xbox

Release: October 2005

 

With a credible system now in place, the team at Namco

decided to create a feature laden experience. What ended up being created was Soul Calibur III, now a Sony-exclusive

game.

 

At first sight, this game seemed to have it all – a

character creation mode which lets you make your own creation and inject them

into the world with the Chronicle of the Sword Mode, which injects your

characters right into the world of war. Not just that, it featured RPG as well

as strategic elements that made your character grow with you. It allows some

attachment missing from video games today.

 

The original characters tales are not stripped, as the Tale

of Souls mode allows players to keep up with the story of the original games.

It added some battle functionality as well, giving button inputs that

determined if the next battle would be fought on level ground. Failing the

button input could mean that the battle starts off with a disadvantaged

position for the character.

 

World Competition mode

resembles tournament, allowing characters to capture gold medals. Extra weapons

return, but take a bit of a shortening. Also, the Soul Arena mode doubles as

the basic arcade mode.

 

The problem with this is much like an album with amazing

production yet average lyrics. At first, it seems that you’re in the presence

of greatness. However, as you dig into it more, you realize that you’re given a

somewhat mediocre product under some decorative wrapping.

 

This game isn’t bad by any means, but by missing Online

Play, not being as balanced as Soul Calibur

II, and coming with a gang of glitches that make masterful players cringe.

Still playable and fun, but don’t be surprised if you bring this around great

players, the best will rather take it back to Soul Calibur II.

Soul Calibur Legends

Platforms: Wii

Release: November 2007

 

There always is a misstep in every series, and this happens

to be it for the team at Namco/ Project Soul. What was supposed to be a game

that featured the best of the Wii’s characteristics (i.e. motion-based

gameplay) and the story of an established franchise of Soul Calibur’s stature, this should be a layup.

 

The story is three, Seigfried is looking for redemption.

Secret characters such as Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia make an appearance.

Story seems in line with the franchise. The move lists have been transferred

over, so many of the coolest combinations can be performed by the player.

 

However, the game features stale mechanics. The user has to

basically flail their arms like a madman to perform anything. Not just that,

most combinations are essentially useless. The gameplay basically leaves you

frustrated and tired all at the same time, for no reason.

 

Luckily this was an offshoot of the series, and just a foray

into experimentation. Series that have a solid background are allowed one

misstep, and this is one of them.

Soul Calibur IV

Platform: Xbox 360 | Playstation III

Release: July 29, 2008

 

At worst, the last two games can be called growing pains for

Project Soul. Even with Soul Calibur III

and Soul Calibur Legends not being the

standard flag bearers of the series, Soul Calibur

has been able to gather the imagination of most turned off by those two

missteps.

 

More characters, from Star

Wars characters Yoda and Darth Vader, the new step into the next

generation, and the dedication the team has given to the title may not be

enough to sway old fans back into the matrix, but the gameplay videos have been

able to.

 

Features such as online play and destroyable armor have

really excited the fan base again. Character Creation has been given a facelift

as the characters can now have more of a personality, custom armor and weapons.

Finishing moves have given cool ways to destroy your characters opponent in a

fancy way. Turtling seems to be all but finished, as with armor destruction has

given the game more an offensive feel, much like the original Soul Blade.

 

When this game is released July 29, one would be remised to

not give this one a chance. Fans of the second game should find themselves at

home, and those who are new to the series should find themselves engrossed in a

tale of Soul and Swords, one like the world has never seen.

Catch up on more gaming news and discussion with Adam Thomas and the crew at http://www.forum.thegamerstudio.com

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