||This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2009)|
Current logo of Project Soul
|Publishers||Namco, Namco Bandai Games|
|Platforms||Arcade, PlayStation, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Wii, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable|
|First release||Soul Edge
|Latest release||Soulcalibur V
January 31, 2012
|Spin-offs||Manga series, an action-adventure game|
The Soul series (ソウルシリーズ Sōru shirīzu ) is a weapon-based historical fantasy, fighting game series by Namco (later Namco Bandai Games). There are seven installments of the video game and various media spin-offs, including music albums and a series of manga books. Originally released as an arcade game, and later ported to video game consoles, more recent versions have been released for consoles only and have evolved to include online playing modes.
The central motif of the series are mythical swords, the evil weapon called 'Soul Edge' and the subsequent sword used to oppose this evil, 'Soul Calibur'. While the game has developed during its various iterations, some of the characters and elements of the game have remained consistent throughout the series.
General information 
The series has seven main installments and one spin-off:
- Soul Edge (1996): Arcade and PlayStation (PlayStation port released as Soul Blade in the USA, Europe and Australia).
- Soulcalibur (1998): Arcade, Dreamcast, and Xbox Live Arcade (2008).
- Soulcalibur II (2002): Arcade, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
- Soulcalibur III (2005): Arcade and PlayStation 2.
- Soulcalibur Legends (2007): Wii (a spin-off title).
- Soulcalibur IV (2008): PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
- Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny (2009): PlayStation Portable.
- Soulcalibur V (2012): PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Wikipedia uses a standardized naming convention of Soulcalibur for all games in the series except for the original Soul Edge (later known as Soul Blade). However, most usages of Soulcalibur are officially written as SoulCalibur or Soul Calibur (abbreviated to SC), and even SOULCALIBUR. The latter is used in documentation and official websites but not in logos and only since Soulcalibur III (including for Soulcalibur Legends, written as SOULCALIBUR Legends). Various western media outlets use either Soulcalibur or Soul Calibur.
All games in the series before Soulcalibur III were originally released as arcade games, and subsequently ported to home consoles. 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. As of November 2011, the Soul series has sold approximately 12 million units worldwide.
Project Soul 
Project Soul is the internal Namco development group responsible for the Soul franchise after the release of Soulcalibur II. Although the games are usually simply credited to Namco itself, the team established its name to draw attention to the group's combined accomplishments.
Soul Edge/Blade 
The first installment was named Soul Edge in the arcades, and was updated to Soul Edge Ver. II and exported overseas as Soul Blade on the Sony PlayStation hardware. Set in the late sixteenth century, the game follows nine warriors in a quest, each of whom has his or her own reasons for joining the quest but they all share a common goal: to obtain the legendary sword, called 'Soul Edge'. After appearing first in arcades, it was made available for the PlayStation in 1997. 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 while obtaining a variety of weapons for use.
The sequel to Soul Edge arrived in video arcades a year later, with an exclusive porting to the Dreamcast console in 1999. The plot is set two–three years after the first game's and the title is derived from Soul Calibur, a legendary weapon which opposes the evil of Soul Edge. This title would come to express the Soul series as a whole, establishing its popularity in video gaming history as it garnered positive reviews from gaming fans and critics. Though retaining elements of its predecessor, Soulcalibur incorporated an extensive number of new features, including the "8-Way Run". In 2008, Namco Bandai released Soulcalibur on the Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360. Although online leaderboards and achievements were supported in this version, there was no online playing mode or mission mode, as there was in the Dreamcast version.
Soulcalibur II 
Soulcalibur II further improved and expanded on the Soulcalibur original, in both graphics and gameplay. Soulcalibur II was released in arcade format three years after the previous release in the series, and was subsequently 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 the GameCube. Specially featured on the PlayStation 2 version's roster is Heihachi Mishima of Tekken fame, while Image Comic's character Spawn was an exclusive addition for the Xbox version.
Soulcalibur III 
Breaking with tradition, the PlayStation 2 version of Soulcalibur III was released in 2005 before an Arcade Edition was seen. It was also possible to identify that a different graphics engine had been used to develop the game. Soulcalibur III contained a new single-player mode called "Tales of Souls", a true story mode in which the player could make course-altering decisions. Arenas were made more interactive, for example with rocks breaking 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. It is the only game in the Soul series to be THX approved.
Soulcalibur IV 
Released in 2008 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the fifth installment of the series is the second game with no arcade release prior to the release of the home game, as well as being the first to take bouts online. Soulcalibur IV introduces 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 Star Wars character Darth Vader is an exclusive playable character on the PlayStation 3, while Yoda can be selected as a character on the Xbox 360. Both versions of the game include the Apprentice character from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Like Soulcalibur III, the game also includes a character creation system with various customizable parts, some of which have to be unlocked. These characters can also be taken into online bouts, which in itself is a new addition to the series. However, unlike Soulcalibur III, the only available weapon disciplines are taken from the existing roster and there are no unique disciplines for created characters.
Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny 
Released in 2009 for the Sony PSP, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny is the first portable installment of the Soul series. It uses many of the features used in Soulcalibur IV, such as the soul crush, armor destruction, critical finishers, and Character Creation, and also brings in some new features such as new lighting effects for stages that correspond to different times of day, and the new Gauntlet Story mode. The game's features are similar to Soulcalibur IV, including its customization features, but it introduces a new character named Dampierre, a conman who wears twin blades on his wrists. In addition, Kratos from the God of War franchise appears as a guest character.
Soulcalibur V 
Released on January 31, 2012, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Soulcalibur V is the sixth installment of the series and the second game to take bouts online. Like the other Soulcalibur series, this game features guest characters; in this case Ezio Auditore da Firenze from the Assassin's Creed series and Devil Jin from the Tekken series. The game is set 17 years after its predecessor, Soulcalibur IV, and the main character of the game is Patroklos, the son of series' veteran Sophitia.
Gameplay system 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2012)|
All the games in the Soul series retain some specific features while others features vary from game to game. The basic button layout for the series launches two weapon attacks (horizontally and vertically aligned strikes), a kick button, and a guard button for blocking. Two features that have been kept in the series since its inception are the Guard Impact defense system and the Ring Out condition of victory. In the first game (Soul Edge/Blade), the Guard Impact system is a repelling technique that allows the player to "check" an incoming strike and push it back to allow a free hit. A Guard Impact requires precise timing (with the player pressing forward and guarding at the instant an opponent strikes) but it results in tactical advantage for the defender. The opposing player is able to counter a Guard Impact with their own and this can result in a stalemate until one of the players misjudges the timing on a subsequent Guard Impact. As the series progressed, the Guard Impact system was developed further. In Soulcalibur, Namco introduced multiple Guard Impact techniques (the original repelling technique was named "Repelling" while two new techniques, "Parrying" and "Weapon Stripping" were introduced). These different Guard Impact types have been kept in subsequent installments of the game. In the fifth game, Guard Impacts were slightly altered by giving the Parry maneuver the new property of slamming opponents to the ground rather than just easing their weapon off course. Repels still work in the same way as they have in previous Soul series games.
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, Soulcalibur II 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 to create a Ring Out opportunity). Soulcalibur V introduces a new aspect of Ring Outs; if a Ring Out is declared on certain stages, the battle will continue in a new location that is below the point where the Ring Out occurred.
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 breaking (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 deter 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 has used the 8-Way Run movement system.
In Soulcalibur IV, Namco introduced a new variation of the Critical Edge combo called the "Critical Finish". Rather than being a combo, a Critical Finish is more 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 three Soulcalibur games (a supercharge-like move that can give a character counter properties for the duration of its charge).
Large gameplay changes have been implemented for Soulcalibur V. Critical Finishes are no longer part of the gameplay, being replaced by the Critical Edge (a different attack from that used in Soul Blade). Critical Edge attacks can be used after filling up the new Critical Gauge, which works similarly to "super meters" in other fighting games. Guard Impacts are now tied to this gauge (a segment must be sacrificed to execute one) and the original Guard Impact mechanic is replaced by "Just Guard", which works similarly but removes the consequence for missed timing. The Critical Gauge can also be used for "Brave Edge" attacks, which are stronger attacks than regular ones that don't require an entire bar. In addition to the 8-Way Run, "Quick Step" allows players to execute a faster sidestep to circle their opponent.
Featured characters 
This table contains all the main characters in the series, with the bonus and guest characters listed below it.
|Algol||No||No||No 1 2||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Amy||No||No||No 1||Yes 3 4||No||Yes||Yes||No 2|
|Cassandra||No 2||No 2||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No 2|
|Cervantes||Yes||Yes 5||Yes||Yes||Yes 6||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Edge Master||No||Yes||No 1||No 2||No||No||No 1 2||Yes|
|Hwang Seong-gyeong||Yes||Yes||No 1||Yes 3 4||No||No 2||Yes 2 6||No|
|Inferno/SoulEdge||Yes 6 5||Yes||Yes 6||No||No||No||No||No|
|Li Long||Yes||No||No 1||Yes 3 4||No||No||Yes 2 6||No|
|Lizardman (Aeon Calcos)||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Night Terror||No||No||No||Yes 6||No||No||No||No|
|Nightmare||No 1 7||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes 6||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Patroklos/Alpha Patroklos||No||No||No||No 2||No||No 2||No||Yes|
|Pyrrha/Pyrrha Omega||No||No||No||No 2||No||No 2||No||Yes|
|Seong Han-myeong||Yes 5||No||No||No||No||No||No 2||No|
|Seong Mi-na||Yes||Yes||Yes 5||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Sophitia||Yes||Yes||Yes 5||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No 2|
^1 Makes an appearance in-game
Bonus characters 
- Soulcalibur II: Assassin, Berserker, Lizardman.
- Soulcalibur III: Abelia, Amy, Aurelia, Chester, Demuth, Girardot, Greed, Hualin, Luna, Lynette, Miser, Strife, Valeria.
- Soulcalibur IV: Angol Fear, Ashlotte, Kamikirimusi, Sheherazade, Shura.
Guest characters 
- Soulcalibur Legends
- Soulcalibur IV
- Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny
Original soundtracks 
Two soundtrack albums were released for Soul Edge, one album for each of Soulcalibur, II, III, IV and V, while no album has been released for Legends or Broken Destiny.
A five-volume manga based on Soulcalibur was published in 1999. Several artbooks were also released for various games in the series, including SOULCALIBUR - New Legends of Project Soul in 2012.
During spring 2001, the martial arts film star Sammo Hung announced plans for a film adaptation of Soulcalibur entitled Soul Calibur: The Movie. The film was to be Hung's debut as a director and would be produced by Alan Noel Vega, Michael Cerenzie, Sam Kute and Joseph Jones. According to a statement posted on his website, the film budget would need to be $50 million, locations might include Eastern Europe (Prague) and parts of China, and the special effects would be done by Rhythm and Hues Studios because of their relationship with Namco. In 2004, Warren Zide's Sony-based Anthem Pictures acquired the rights to adapt the game to film, which would be produced by Matthew Rhodes and Noel Vega and released in 2007. 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". The now-defunct website for the film contained a citation from Nostradamus. The film remains in development hell.
- The Making Of: Soul Calibur - NowGamer
- Faylor, Chris (2008-06-30). Soul Calibur Hits XBLA Wednesday. Shacknews. Retrieved on 2008-09-05
- SOULCALIBUR III official website
- SOULCALIBUR Legends official website
- IGN staff (2007-05-11). Soul Calibur coming to Nintendo Wii. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-01-27
- Project Soul. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-12-10
- "Soul Blade for PlayStation Review". GameSpot. 1997-04-03. Retrieved 2008-01-26.
- "Soul Blade review". IGN. 1997-03-03. Retrieved 2008-01-26.
- "Soul Calibur XBLA Stripped of Mission Mode, Contradicts Namco Promise of No Major Subtractions". Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- THX Certified Game Titles. THX. Retrieved on 2008-12-10
- New Soul Calibur II Artbook Announced: News from 1UP.com
- Sammo Hung’s Soul Calibur? - News - Nintendo World Report
- Kelpek, Patrick (2006-04-18). Soul Calibur Movie In 2007. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2008-12-10
- Games-to-Film: Soul Calibur - IGN
- Official website for the film[dead link]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: the Soul series|
- Official website
- Official Facebook account
- (Japanese) Project Soul website
- Soul Calibur series at the Open Directory Project
- The Soulcalibur Wiki (Wikia)