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 didnt 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, its
avoided the road to perdition to survive as one of the elite of the fighting
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
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 isnt 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 games 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 isnt 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 Souls
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.
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
The most interesting thing about this title is that it wasnt 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
Soul Calibur II
Platforms: Arcade | Playstation 2 | Gamecube | Xbox
Release: August 2003
Why fix something that isnt broken? Thats the main concept
behind Soul Calibur II. After the Dreamcasts failing, Namco found a
home for its smash hit on the other market-viable consoles at the time – the leading
Playstation 2, Nintendos new Gamecube, and new market player, Microsofts
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 2s Heihachi, Xboxs Spawn, or Nintendos Link. Each had
their specific strength and weaknesses, and added some replay ability on
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 games 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
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
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 youre in the presence
of greatness. However, as you dig into it more, you realize that youre given a
somewhat mediocre product under some decorative wrapping.
This game isnt 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 dont be surprised if you bring this around great
players, the best will rather take it back to Soul Calibur II.
Soul Calibur Legends
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 Wiis characteristics (i.e. motion-based
gameplay) and the story of an established franchise of Soul Caliburs 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
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
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 www.forum.thegamerstudio.com