Soul is a weapon-based fighting game series by Namco. 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 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.
As of May, 2007, the Soul series has sold approximately 9 million units worldwide.
The first installment was named Soul Edge in Japan, which was updated to Soul Edge Ver. II and transported overseas as Soul Blade. 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.
The 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.
Soulcalibur 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.
Breaking 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.
Arriving 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. 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. The PlayStation 3 version received the Star Wars Sith Lord, Darth Vader, while the Xbox 360 version received the Star Wars Jedi Master, Yoda. Both versions of the game also include the Vader's Apprentice ("Starkiller") 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.
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 3's Guard Meter is an example of such a device). The Weapon Meter was abandoned following Soul Edge and instead replaced with Soulcalibur's 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).
|Character||Soul Edge/Blade||Soulcalibur||Soulcalibur II||Soulcalibur III||Soulcalibur Legends||Soulcalibur IV|
|Inferno/SoulEdge||6 5||6||6 4|
|Li Long||3 4|
|Lizardman (Aeon Calcos)|
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.