Alright guys, we are half way there. Half way down the list of my top 10 favorite games for the Nintendo Gamecube. I hope that everyone is enjoying everything I write, but please, if anyone has any suggestions, comments, or recommendations, feel free to leave a comment, tell me over facebook, or stalk me at my house. With any luck, this blog has taken you guys down memory lane and maybe even inspired you to bust out the ol' Gamecube, yourselves. At the very least, this blog is something for you to read at 3am when the internet has run out of things to look at for the day. I'd like to believe that so far, this list has been a nice collection of charming titles, some you may have heard of, some you haven't, but I will admit it lacks something...I'd say...it lacks some soul...
Soul Calibur, that is!
5) Soul Calibur II
The Soul Calibur series was originally introduced in the arcades in 1996. It's fighting-style mechanics were immediately compared to those of other popular fighting games such as Tekken or Mortal Combat. Eventually, the Soul Calibur games found their way onto the home console, following the steps of most other arcade-style fighters. There were instantly a few notable differences between Soul Calibur and some of the other fighting games around at the time and these differences were pretty key when it came to the gameplay, feel, and overall experience of the game. Soul Calibur featured a combat system that involved, first of all, weapons. Every character held a weapon. It didn't really affect the gameplay itself, but it sure did look badass. When it came to playing the game, Soul Calibur definitely stood out because of the functions of the buttons. At this point, in the arcades, fighting games had anywhere from 3 to 8 different buttons. Pressing some buttons would result in a kick to the face, maybe a kick to the feet, punch to the torso, punch to the feetpunchto head, face, neck, punchkickpunchpocuncudiwulmeofiuwnq AHHH OMG. Soul Calibur featured only a few different commands, and these same commands exist without any complication to this very day, in Soul Calibur 5. In Soul Calibur, 1 button was responsible for attacks that struck horizontally, 1 button made your character strike vertically, 1 made them kick, and 1 made them guard. Vertical? Horizontal? I don't get it. The idea was to create a fighting game where Horizontal attacks could only be avoided by ducking under them, jumping over them, or blocking. Vertical attacks could only be avoided by dodging to the right or left, or guarding. Essentially, there were different ways that would affectively dodge each attack, depending on which direction it came from. Ducking from a vertical wouldn't work, because you would just be hit on the head, and trying to move to the right to avoid an attack that is swung from the left to the right wouldn't work either because you would get hit either way. During a time where the last thing the world needed was another fighting game, The Soul Calibur series stuck out like a fat, exploding peacock.
Onto the sequel! Soul Calibur II plays the same way as the original Soul Calibur and Soul Edge, so really, there is very little for veterans to adjust to. This game is also, however, newcomer-friendly, which is great because I know a lot of people to whom Soul Calibur II was their first soul-slaying experience. As I said, Soul Calibur's sequel featured the same fighting ideas and pretty much the same gameplay as the original, so what makes it so special? The expansion of the idea.
See Namco and Project Soul have earned a reputation of NOT creating the same exact SC game twice
in a row. Although SC and SC2 were very similar, the later featured numerous different game modes, an addictive single player mode called Weapon Master, interchangeable weapons to choose to equip your character with, and many more characters. I believe that when the first sequel to anything is made, it should be simply an expansion to the original idea. I don't think it is necessary to completely overhaul the game, and obviously Project Soul agrees. The multiplayer is what keeps players coming back for more, as SC is a very easy game to pick up and learn how to play on the spot. It is fun and although the best results come from hours of studying the MOVE LIST in order to conclude which combos were the strongest, the game is very playable without knowing all of it's dark secrets (TL,DR it's girlfriend-friendly). Multiplayer modes include VS. Battle, Extra VS. Battle, VS. Team Battle, and Extra VS. Team Battle. Any mode that is preceded by the word "extra" means that the option to chose alternative weapons for your character to fight with is enabled. Different weapons have different affects on the character wielding or the character fighting against them. Some have greater range, some increase health with every blow you land, etc. Team Battle involves you and your opponent selecting up to 8 different characters, and having them all fighting each other 1 after another, for a longer game and a better opportunity to showcase your skills with many characters simultaneously.
So the multiplayer keeps you coming back for more, but what gets you started in the first place? The single player mode - Weapon Master. Weapon Master worked in a "chapter-like" system, where the idea was to complete each mission in the chapter in order to proceed to the following chapter until you beat every chapter. Each chapter featured a new collection of missions to complete, along with a new store to access. Completing each mission would not only result in your nearing of the chapter's completion, but it also rewarded you with gold. Gold could be exchanged, in the Chapter's Store, for new weapons, new character costumes, new artwork and new weapons. Did I mention new weapons? The missions involved you fighting Soul Calibur style under special, random conditions. Sometimes you can only defeat your opponent with a RING OUT (throwing him/her off the stage as opposed to depleting their health with attacks). Other times the enemies are invisible. Sometimes, you lose instantly if you are knocked to the ground. It sounds simple, but it is a clever way to be able to unlock new items without having to playing through Arcade mode 50,000 times with a million different characters. The mode progressively got more difficult so the pressure for you to constantly increase your skills was also on, and ultimately made you a better player. Once you beat every chapter in Weapon Master, including the 5 or so hidden chapters, you had access to the stores containing every weapon in the game, but you still had to raise Gold in order to buy them all if you couldn't afford to do so already. This increased the length of the game without making it boring. It was very possible for you to play without buying the weapons respective to the characters that you never play as, so you were never to feel stressed about missing certain weapons at first.
The characters, old and new are all shining and well-endowed as they blast onto this generation of gaming. All 25 characters have unique fighting styles, are all good-looking and are fun to play as. The voice acting is fantastic (this is important to me), and the moves of each fighter are clever and often have my friends and me looking at each other saying "...what the fuck just happened?" The new stages in SC2 are also fantastic. Stages in these types of fighting games often don't matter, as the characters never interact with them, but it is still nice to have something other than giant swords to look at once in a while. These stages are all accompanied by a great musical score. These are the kinds of things that true gamers appreciate- good looking stages and great music are nothing that would missed had they not been in the game, but the fact that the designers went the extra mile to enhance the Soul Calibur 2 experience is really why the fans love Soul Calibur so much. Soul Calibur 2 also included 1 guest character to the game. The character available to you depends on which system you play the game on, but the Gamecube version featured Link, from the Legend of Zelda series. Seems strange, but it's fun as hell. Trust me.
Soul Calibur 2 is a game for fans of fighting games, but it is also a great chance for the newcomers to jump onboard a genre of gaming that is easy to get lost in. Ever find yourself attracted to giant swords? If your answer is "Yes", then I hereby diagnose you with normality and welcome you to a game transcending history and the world, a tale of souls and swords, eternally retold.