Soul is a weapon-based fighting game series by Namco Bandai Games. The series revolves around a sword that, after years of bloodshed and hatred, gained a soul of its own, the Soul Edge, and the sword forged to counter it, Soul Calibur. The series is special in that each character is created to have his or her own unique weapon and style creating a varied fighting experience. The series links with the Tekken series as one of the characters is a descendant of one in this series.
|Contents [hide]*1 General information|
All games in the series before Soulcalibur III were originally arcade games, subsequently being ported to home consoles. The series has five main installments and two spin-off:
- Soul Edge (1996): Arcade and PlayStation (PlayStation port released as Soul Blade in USA, Europe and Australia).
- Soulcalibur (1998): Arcade, Dreamcast, and (2008) Xbox Live Arcade  on the Xbox 360.
- Soulcalibur II (2002): Arcade, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.
- Soulcalibur III (2005): PlayStation 2 and Arcade.
- Soulcalibur Legends (2007): Wii. – Spin-off title
- Soulcalibur IV (2008): Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
- Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny (2009): PlayStation Portable. – Spin-off title
The ported versions are known for their extra features, including new characters, weapons, new costumes, art galleries, martial arts demonstrations and involved single player modes, when compared to the original arcade versions. For example, Seung Han Myong is not featured in the arcade version of Soul Edge, and in home versions there is an RPG-type mode titled "Edge Master" where the player can unlock various items including weapons for the default characters.
Project Soul is the internal Namco development group responsible for the Soul franchise. Although the games are most often simply credited to Namco itself, the team established its name to draw attention to the group's combined accomplishments. The designed logo for Project Soul, like the first game it was applied to, contains an outlining of the in-game character Nightmare, using his Soulcalibur II design.
Even though they are often usen interchangeably, the terms Soulcalibur (written as one word) and Soul Calibur (written as two words with a capital C) are two separate terms; the former is another name for the franchise, while the latter refers to the holy sword featured in the storyline that the series is named after.
As of May, 2007, the Soul series has sold approximately 9 million units worldwide.
Main article: Soul EdgeThe first installment was named Soul Edge in the arcades, which was updated to Soul Edge Ver. II and transported overseas as Soul Blade on the Playstation hardware. Set in the late sixteenth century, the game follows nine warriors in a quest, each of whom has his or her own reasons but share a common goal: to obtain the legendary sword, Soul Edge. After appearing in arcades, it was made available for the PlayStation. Along with its soundtrack, this weapon-based title has been widely praised for being innovative yet traditional to the fighting genre of games. With Versus (one-on-one battle mode), Survival (take on a gauntlet of opponents until the player is unable to continue), Time Attack, Team Battle (a selection of combatants will take on an opposing group, a victor is announced when the last remaining member of a team is defeated) and Training modes, the console port also saw the addition of "Edge Master", a single-player mode in which the player would guide one of the ten main characters in a story-like manner whilst obtaining a variety of weapons for use.
Main article: SoulcaliburThe sequel to Soul Edge arrived in video arcades a year later, the plot being 2-3 years later than the first game's, as was its exclusive porting to the Dreamcast console. The title is derived from Soul Calibur, a legendary weapon which opposes the evil of Soul Edge. This title would also retcon the Soul series as a whole, establishing its popularity in video gaming history as it garnered positive reviews from gaming fans and critics alike. Though retaining elements of its predecessor, Soulcalibur incorporated an extensive amount of new features, including the "8-Way Run".
On July 2, 2008, Namco Bandai released Soulcalibur on the Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360. Although online leaderboards and achievements are supported in this version, there is no online mode or mission mode, which was in the Dreamcast version. Therefore, all content normally unlocked by playing Mission Mode in the Dreamcast version is already unlocked from the beginning in the XBLA version.
Main article: Soulcalibur IISoulcalibur II further improved and expanded from Soulcalibur, in both graphics and gameplay. Soulcalibur II was released in arcade format 3 years after the previous outing of the series, subsequently being ported to all three active sixth-generation consoles. This is the first game in the Soul series to feature characters in other media, such as Link from Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda, playable on GameCube's roster. Specially featured on PlayStation 2's roster is Heihachi Mishima of Tekken fame, while Image Comic's character Spawn was an exclusive addition for the Xbox version.
Main article: Soulcalibur IIIBreaking tradition, Soulcalibur III was released only for PlayStation 2 in 2005, before an Arcade Edition was seen. It is also possible to identify the use of a different graphics engine used to develop the game. Soulcalibur III contained a new single-player mode called "Tales of Souls", the true story mode in which the player could make course-altering decisions along the way. Arenas were made more interactive, such as the breaking of rocks if one of the 42 selectable characters were to impact against them. Soulcalibur III is the first game in the series to feature a character creation system, and features a story mode called "Chronicles of the Sword" which is a mode with some strategic aspects purely for created characters.
Note: Soulcalibur III is the first and only game in the Soul Series to be THX approved.
Main article: Soulcalibur IVArriving in 2008 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the fifth installment of the series is the second game not to see an arcade release prior to the home game, as well as the first to take bouts online. Soulcalibur IV instates new gameplay mechanics into the series in the form of damage-absorbing armor (that can be shattered) and Critical Finishes (both tied to the new Soul Gauge).
Like Soulcalibur II, the fourth game also included cameos from different media. Initially, Star Wars Sith Lord Darth Vader is an exclusive playable character on the PlayStation 3, while Jedi Master Yoda is selectable on the Xbox 360. The character that the specific console version lacks can be unlocked as downloadable content via PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Marketplace. Both versions of the game also include the Apprentice character from the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed multimedia project.
Like Soulcalibur III, Soulcalibur IV also includes a character creation system with various customizable parts, some unlockable. These characters can also be taken into online bouts, which in itself is a new addition to the series. However, unlike Soulcalibur III, the only available weapon disciplines are taken from the existing roster (there are no unique disciplines for created characters).
Soulcalibur: Broken DestinyEdit
Main article: Soulcalibur: Broken DestinyReleased in 2009 for the Sony PSP, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny is the first portable installment of the Soul series. The game's features are pulled heavily from Soulcalibur IV, including its customization features. It features a new character named "Dampierre", a warrior who wears twin blades on his wrists. In addition, Kratos from the God of War franchise appears as a guest character.
All the games in the Soul series retain some specific features while introducing or removing others from game to game. The basic button layout for the Soul series is two weapon attacks (horizontally and vertically aligned strikes), a kick button and a guard button for blocking. Two features that have been kept in the series since its inception are the Guard Impact defense system and the Ring Out condition of victory. In the first game (Soul Edge/Blade), the Guard Impact system is a repelling technique that allows the player to "check" an incoming strike and push it back and allowing for a free hit. A Guard Impact requires precise timing (having the player pressing forward plus guard at the instant an opponent strikes) but results in tactical advantage for the defender. The opposing player is also able to counter a Guard Impact with their own and can stalemate their opponent until someone misses the timing on the subsequent Guard Impact. As the series moved forward, the Guard Impact system was made deeper. In Soulcalibur, Namco introduced multiple Guard Impact techniques (the original repelling technique was named "Repelling" while two new techniques, "Parrying" and "Weapon Stripping" were introduced). These different Guard Impact types have been kept for the subsequent installments. For the fifth game, Guard Impacts were slightly altered by giving the Parry maneuver a new property of slamming opponents to the ground rather than just easing their weapon off its course. Repels still work the same way as they have in previous Soul series games.
Ring Outs occur when one of the fighters is forcibly removed from the arena (or "ring"), instantly ending the round and resulting in a round point for their opponent. The idea of Ring Outs in 3D fighting games was originally conceived by the Virtua Fighter series of fighting games and adopted by Namco for Soul Edge. A combatant cannot be knocked out of the ring without being eliminated by some effort from themself or by their opponent. Later games introduced new ring designs that modified the way Ring Outs were handled (Soulcalibur allowed rings to take different shapes instead of a basic square, its sequel introduced stages with walls that blocked off parts of the ring and made Ring Outs possible only in certain parts of the stage or removing that condition altogether, and Soulcalibur III introduced low walls that can be destroyed and create a Ring Out opportunity once it is gone).
Soul Edge is unique in the series as it is the only game to feature the "Weapon Meter"; a sword-shaped meter under the characters' vitality bars that determined how much damage a weapon could sustain. As a character blocked attacks; the meter would deplete until it emptied which resulted in a weapon break (the player would also have to pay half the Weapon Meter to perform a "Critical Edge" combo). Once the character's weapon was broken, they were forced to fight bare-handed until the end of the round. The Weapon Meter was designed to promote consistent offense and not constant defense (other fighters have adopted similar means to deter over-defending; Street Fighter Alpha 3s Guard Meter is an example of such a device). The Weapon Meter was abandoned following Soul Edge and instead replaced with Soulcaliburs trademark "8-Way Run" system. The 8-Way Run allowed players to walk in any direction at any time instead of using a specific command to sidestep. This kept the fights truly three-dimesional and made it easier to maneuver around attacks or away from ring edges (as well as launch specific 8-Way Run attacks). Each of the sequels to Soulcalibur have used the 8-Way Run movement system.
In the fifth installment, Namco introduced a new spin on the Critical Edge combo called the "Critical Finish". Rather than being a combo, a Critical Finish is more in the vein of a finishing move which involves an elaborate move that defeats opponents in a single attack. This new attack is tied to the "Soul Gauge" that works similarly to the Guard Break meter in Street Fighter Alpha 3 (the meter decreases whenever the player blocks an attack and is replenished by landing attacks on the opponent, it also refills slowly over time). Also tied to the Soul Gauge is the concept of destructible character armor (akin to Fighting Vipers) that can be smashed off characters to weaken their resistance to attacks. The Critical Finish itself replaces the "Soul Charge" from the other 3 Soulcalibur games (a supercharge-like move that can give your character counter properties for the duration of its charge).
Main article: List of characters in the Soul seriesThis table contains all the playable characters in the series, with the guest characters listed below it. Note that shaded cells denote unlockable characters in each game.
The following are guest characters from other franchises who have appeared in the Soul Series:
- Each of the home versions of Soulcalibur II has one character exclusive to its particular platform. The GameCube version features the Nintendo character Link from the The Legend of Zelda series, the Xbox version features Todd McFarlane's comic book character Spawn, and the PlayStation 2 version features Heihachi Mishima from Namco's very own Tekken series.
- Lloyd Irving from Namco's Tales of Symphonia appears in Soulcalibur Legends.
- Both versions of Soulcalibur IV feature a Star Wars character unique to each platform. Initially, the PlayStation 3 version features Darth Vader, while the Xbox 360 version features Yoda; the character the specific version lacked was later unlocked through downloadable content for both versions. It was later revealed that both characters were actually available on both versions, and the downloadable content to unlock the hidden character was just a "key" to allow access to the content that was already there. Both versions feature Darth Vader's secret Apprentice from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
- The PSP title, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny, features Kratos from the God of War series.
Main article: Discography of the Soul seriesSoul Edge sparked the release of two soundtrack albums. Soulcalibur, II, III, and IV each produced one album, while Legends and Broken Destiny have not seen the release of any albums.
During spring 2001, Chinese director Sammo Hung committed to do a movie adaptation of Soulcalibur and had actor Jackie Chan in mind to star. At first everything seemed to be going well, Sammo was given a $50 million budget and backed up by Namco. Sammo's official website announced its plans regarding Soulcalibur, but after a year later nothing developed. Eventually Sammo's official website removed its announcement and the Soulcalibur movie was presumed cancelled. Unofficial sources suggest that Sammo had lost interest in creating the movie after Chan could not commit a schedule to create the movie. Sammo had forfeited his rights to produce the movie and they were taken by an American producer.
Warren Zide's Anthem Pictures has since acquired the rights to adapt the game to film. It has been stated that the film's story, unlike the games', "revolves around two warriors who are chosen by Shaolin monks to recover and destroy a powerful sword that has fallen into the hands of an evil prince who plans to use it to open the gates of hell and destroy the world."
Nevertheless, other than the copyrights, it provides no further information. The teaser website from 2nd Degree Media (affiliated with Anthem Pictures) have not since released any new information in almost two years since its appearance. The only change is the year release date has been updated to 2007, otherwise there is no mention of any real developments. It is speculated by many that the Soulcalibur movie has been scrapped once again and that the official website is merely an abandoned web page. To further support the speculation, Namco has yet to make any official announcements of Soulcalibur's movie status. However depending how sucessful the Tekken movie is, Namco may go back to the project.