the original soul calibur on dreamcast is yet another one of the all-time greats that has been on my list of games to play, and it was actually one of my main motivations for buying a dreamcast. i’m not a huge fan of fighters in general, and although i had played and enjoyed soul blade for the original playstation a couple of years ago that game didn’t make me a convert to the series. unfortunately, although there was a lot i admired about this entry, it hasn’t drawn me in the same way that the smash series, or even the street fighter series has.
somewhat surprisingly the game doesn’t feel that different from the original in its fundamentals. the graphics are definitely a leap ahead and hold up extremely well, and the pace is much faster. the animations are all silky smooth, and the new characters are great. the sound and backgrounds are also well done. the addition of the 8-way run makes the game feel more dynamic but didn’t really feel essential, and namco seems to have removed the rock-paper-scissors-like mechanics of the original which took the form of horizontal and vertical moves and sidesteps. but at its core the game failed to engage me for the same reasons as its predecessors: the movesets tend to be repetitive, the stories are given a barebones presentation and are only mildly entertaining at best (although that’s true of most fighters), and being able to chain a follow-up attack whenever a character gets downed seems pointless. the restrictions in the mission mode are entertaining for the most part, although the majority of the 5* difficulty missions feel completely pointless. this time around it also seemed to be too easy to spam one move over and over again. also, even though it’s fairly easy to perform a wide range of flashy moves, the number of moves seems pointlessly excessive. maybe at tournament levels of play they become essential, but even though i can see why most people would love them, for me they just feel like crowd-pleasing padding.
well, certainly not of my favorite games, but i enjoyed the game overall and i can see why others praise it so highly. soulcalibur II is also on my list, so i’ll give that a go, although i’m not sure that i’m going to bother with much more of the series after that. we’ll see. oh, and in case anyone was wondering, i spent most of my time with kilik, who is apparently good for newbie players, although i beat the game (on varying levels of difficulty) with all the characters.
[just a footnote, i tried to find out how to properly punctuate soul calibur, i.e. whether or not it should be soulcalibur without a space. i did a quick survey of links online and on namco's sites and in their instruction manuals, and it seems that the original soul calibur was generally punctuated with a space, and that the subsequent releases were punctuated without it (even though the name of the series refers to a sword in the games that does have a space in its name). so for now i'll go with that assumption unless someone can present a strong case for the other side.]
some soulful soul calibur links:
- entry at wikipedia
- good FAQ at gamefaqs.com
- entry at gamerankings.com
- pretty funny “characters that fit snugly into ivy’s bra” feature at gamesradar.com