This week’s GotW is the arcade port of Namco’s Soul Calibur, a launch title for the Dreamcast in 1999 and along with Sonic Adventure, was THE reason to buy a DC in the first few months after the console’s release. In simple terms, Soul Calibur is a 3D weapons based fighter set in some sort of futuristic Hell (just my basic assessment but I may be wrong). I haven’t spent any time delving into the plot or source material for this game because it’s a fighter and who cares? It’s impossible to play Soul Calibur today and not be impressed at how good the characters & backgrounds look and how smooth the animations and controls are. You have a wide variety of characters to choose from and each one will possess a combination of unique weapons and hand to hand combat skills. The game allows you to play in various modes including a mission mode where you attempt to fulfill various mission goals in order to advance. These missions often involve pulling off special moves so playing the mission mode acts as sort of a training opportunity for a novice player. For me, playing the mission mode was a great tune up for the battle sequences in either computer or vs. modes.
I’ve never been much of a fighter fan and my lack of skills in the 2D realm of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter typically kept me from really getting into the 3D fighters once they became the norm. Nevertheless, I was smitten with Soul Calibur almost immediately as it’s quite easy for non-fighting gamers to still win battles against the computer without being a master of all the controls and options. The Dreamcast controller set up means you have the four buttons and the two triggers to pull off a variety of combo strikes along with your analog stick. I’m a button masher through and through so if I am unable to win matches here and there using the button mashing technique then I lose interest very quickly. Thankfully, Soul Calibur is good for button mashers like myself as evident when I played with my 6 year old daughter and periodically lost to her, good for kids too. Soul Calibur remains a charming and impressive game and clearly one of the stand out titles for the Dreamcast. It’s hard to find any fault with the game in how it looks, sounds and plays. Sure, some of the post match proverbs by the narrator are a little goofy (“the soul still burns”) but that’s really nitpicking. I would say if you could only own 5 Dreamcast titles, this game should probably be one of them.
Currently in my collection: game, manual, case