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Soul Calibur

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The Legend will never die

Product: Soul Calibur | Publisher: Namco Bandai Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Fighting | Players: 1 | File size: 215MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Soul Calibur iPhone, thumbnail 1
Genre veterans accustomed to the pace of Street Fighter and the technical demands of Virtua Fighter discovered that Soul Calibur brought something entirely new to the fighting genre on its 1999 console release:

Bloody great swords.

What’s more, the game emphasised accessibility where other fighters catered only to the hardcore. For those who couldn’t manage so much as a hadouken or a sonic-boom, Soul Calibur offered visual spectacle and flowing combos with just a few button-presses.

Someone of your Calibur

But despite the relative accessibility of Soul Calibur, porting an arcade fighting game to a touchscreen device has resulted in some inevitable compromises, and there are moments when the flow of gameplay is interrupted by control inadequacies.

Thankfully, the placement of the on-screen buttons is highly customisable, and problems are an occasional irritation rather than a constant issue.

The absence of any multiplayer mode – the bedrock of any fighting game – is a more serious offence, and Soul Calibur’s lifespan suffers as a consequence.

After all, trouncing your friends has always been excellent motivation for memorising combos, and pounding the AI doesn’t really offer the same thrill.

Survival and Survival Extra modes offer up a little focused challenge to complete once Arcade fatigue sets in, but even with leaderboard support adding a competitive edge to proceedings these make a poor substitute for the tense duels of the original title’s Versus mode.

Continue? 10… 9… 8…

Arcade mode sticks closely to the genre staples: a series of one-on-one fights of escalating difficulty, ending in a faintly anticlimactic boss battle. Success is rewarded, as the time-honoured fighting game tradition dictates, with a character-specific end sequence and a new fighter to play with.

The cast of characters available is varied and interesting, even if their designs lack the iconic flair of Capcom’s brawlers or the big-name clout of the Marvel-branded outings.

Their moves are what count, though, and Soul Calibur’s armed characters feel gratifyingly powerful – from the hyper-kineticism of Maxi’s nunchaku to the slow heft of Siegfried’s claymore.

Visually, Namco Bandai’s spit and polish job has worked wonders on an already handsome game, and fights look crisp and vivid on Retina display screens. Meanwhile, those acquainted with the busty excesses of later series entries may be surprised by the slightly more dignified design choices of the first game.

Even Ivy possesses roughly human proportions, and Taki’s nipples – as much a series staple as swordplay and ring-outs – are yet to take centre-stage.

But the soul still burns…

There’s no question that Soul Calibur holds up as an excellent game. Combos are intuitive enough for newcomers to learn in the natural course of their button-bashing, while the fighting system possesses enough depth for pros to take a more considered approach.

But the lack of multiplayer chafes, as does the absence of the Dreamcast version’s substantial Mission mode.

Namco Bandai has recently made the bold pronouncement that "free-to-play games can't be high quality", but whatever your opinions on iOS pricing, it’s hard to justify a £8/$12 price tag for a truncated port of a 13-year-old title.

Soul Calibur
Reviewer photo
James Nouch | 21 January 2012
Soul Calibur is a fantastic fighting game, which is harder to recommend than it should be thanks to a high price tag and the omission of any multiplayer modes
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Jan 2012
Post count:
birdman | 06:11 - 25 January 2012
You know what would be awesome? SoulCalibur games always have bonus characters specific to individual console versions of the game, so what if they released an update with an extra character from an iOS game? Like the God King from Infinity Blade, or Ayden from Sacred Odyssey.
Dec 2008
Post count:
klouud | 17:00 - 22 January 2012
One thing that would get me to buy the game @ $12 would be the addition of special characters - like Kratos, Link, Vader, Yoda... etc. But that isn't going to happen because those characters are tied to specific versions for specific system.

AKA - I'm not buying the game.
Apr 2010
Post count:
jeffyg3 | 02:54 - 22 January 2012
I played the Dreamcast version non-stop back in the days. All that time I hardly played Mission mode, like Kloud said about the multiplayer, it was just icing on the cake and I hardly played it. It was a nice distraction from the normal mode once in awhile, but the omission of the mode from this first version really isn't a biggie at all, but of course it would still be nice to have in a future update.

What will really get me to buy this game all over again is if they add iCade support. Would be nice to play this with physical controls on a mobile device with the iControlPad with iCade support
Jun 2011
Post count:
VirtualBoyFreak | 00:46 - 22 January 2012
klouud, +1 for you. I always play while in the public transport. Many people do so lately, and I haven't seen any of us play together with the rest. The only part I'd appreciated that Namco had kept in this conversion is the Mission Mode that everyone talks about, but in the end I never played Soul Calibur before, so I don't know about that mode. For me this conversion is just great. Final Fantasy 3 is also in the $12 segment and is a single player game...
Dec 2008
Post count:
klouud | 22:36 - 21 January 2012
multiplayer is over rated. The only thing a game needs is a solid single player campaign - multi-player is icing on the cake.