Soul Calibur II for GameCube is another one of those games that I've had hanging over my head for ages, but I finally sat down and give it a whirl recently. I'm not a huge fan of fighters in general, but the game regularly gets included in the list of greatest GameCube games of all time. I'd liked its predecessor, SoulCalibur for Dreamcast, pretty well, but after spending some time trying out the different characters and modes of this game I basically came to the same conclusion that IGN had at the time. They said:
- The problem (if that's what you want to call it) is that Soul Calibur on Dreamcast was, at the time of its release, an almost monumental achievement and breakthrough in fighting games. Soul Calibur II is essentially more of the same great stuff that made its predecessor the genre-defining game that it was, but in the context of the present day and the corresponding competition, the impact of such a game has been greatly reduced.
My main problem with SoulCalibur II is that it introduces only a handful of new characters, but they're all based on characters from the previous game. In other words, for a casual player like me it feels like essentially the same game as the previous game which was released three years earlier. I ended up spending the bulk of my time in the story mode, although it too is essentially the same as in the previous game. In this mode you go through different battles (justified by an extremely thin story), but the draw is that they have different setups and requirements, e.g. you can only use throws, or falling to the ground causes a lot of damage. The graphics don't even look that noticeably different from the Dreamcast game.
Fortunately, the GameCube version has a big addition which saved it and made it much more worthwhile to me, which is that it includes Link from the Zelda series, and who needs no introduction. Each of the three versions for the three major systems of the time got a version exclusive character, and Link was easily the best of the three. I ended up spending most of my time with him, and he did a pretty good job of keeping my interest. His unique ranged attacks (boomerang, bombs, and arrows) are are fairly useless because they're slow, but it was a lot of fun to see his iconic sword moves, such as the spin attack and the downward thrust. I barely made any inroads in learning all of his combos, but it was still fun to see Link in one of his best cameos to date.
Since this was the "sole" mainline entry in the SoulCalibur series to appear on a Nintendo platform, I don't feel much compelled to seek out further entries (thankfully). I'm still not that into fighting games, but there are definitely plenty more series I need to at least try out. Hopefully I'll get around to at least one more of those before the end of the year. Stay tuned!
Link to these Soul Calibur II links:
- A good look back at the game at 101 Video Games, including a link to a video with some footage of Link gameplay
- Random video with more Link footage
- Entry at Metacritic
- Entry at Wikipedia
- FAQ at GameFAQs