|Developers||Namco (Project Soul)|
|Publishers||Bandai Namco Entertainment|
|Platforms||Arcade, PlayStation, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Wii, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Network, Android, iOS|
|First release||Soul Edge
January 29, 1996
|Latest release||Soulcalibur: Unbreakable Soul
May 8, 2014
The Soul series (ソウルシリーズ Sōru shirīzu?) is a weapon-based fighting video game series by Bandai Namco Entertainment. There are six 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 with Soul Edge in 1996, 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, set in a historical fantasy version of the 16th century, are mythical swords, the evil weapon called 'Soul Edge' and the subsequent sword used to oppose this evil, 'Soul Calibur'. While it has developed during its various iterations, some of the characters and gameplay elements have remained consistent throughout the series. It is one of the most popular and successful franchises in the fighting game genre.
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.
- 1 Games
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Plot
- 4 Characters
- 5 Other media
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The series has six main installments, four spin-offs and one remake:
- Soul Edge (1996): Arcade and PlayStation (PlayStation port released as Soul Blade in North America, 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 (a spin-off title based on Soulcalibur IV)
- Soulcalibur V (2012): PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
- Soulcalibur II HD Online (2013): Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network
- Soulcalibur: Lost Swords (2014): PlayStation Network (a free-to-play game based on Soulcalibur V)
- Soulcalibur: Unbreakable Soul (2014): iOS
Wikipedia uses a standardized naming convention of Soulcalibur for all games in the series except for the original Soul Edge (also known as Soul Blade). However, most usages of Soulcalibur are officially written as SoulCalibur or Soul Calibur (abbreviated to SC), and even SOULCALIBUR in all capital letters as it is used in the games' 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 usually 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.
The first installment was titled 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 consoles 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.
2002's 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.
A high definition-optimized enhanced port of the game, entitled Soulcalibur II HD Online, was released in November 2013, and features revamped HD visuals, online play, and trophy/achievement support. It is a digital release and is available through Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade and Sony's PlayStation Network digital storefronts. Being based on the original PlayStation 2 and Xbox releases, both ports include the two guest characters (Heihachi Mishima and Spawn) who were originally exclusive to each platform.
When the fans asked about a HD Wii U port, the director replied that the development team wanted to work on those specific platforms (PS3/Xbox 360) but a Wii U port was possibility if there was enough demand for the game.
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.
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, yet they've become downloadable in opposite console versions. 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.
Released in 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 as well as the fighting style of Devil Jin from the Tekken series.
Released in 2007 for the Wii, Soulcalibur Legends is the series' first spin-off title. Departing from the usual fighting game genre, it is an action-adventure game with elements of hack and slash, in which the player controls one out of the game's seven playable characters through a level infested with enemies and defeats the boss in the end. It also features competitive and cooperative gameplay in addition to the single-player mode. Soulcalibur Legends, although set between the events of Soul Edge and Soulcalibur, is non-canon to the series.
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 introduced 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: Lost Swords
Released in 2014, Soulcalibur: Lost Swords is a free-to-play video game distributed through the PlayStation Network. It is a strictly single-player game based on Soulcalibur V which goal is for the player to collect loot, including raw materials and weapons, through battles in the new Quest Mode.
Soulcalibur: Unbreakable Soul
Initially trademarked by Bandai Namco in October 2013, Soulcalibur: Unbreakable Soul was announced on Bandai Namco's Global Gamer's Day 2014 for the mobile phones, the first installment made specifically for the platform, this time iOS (the previous mobile game was an Android port of Soulcalibur). Released on May 8, 2014, Unbreakable Soul is a card-based fighting game where players can pick different attack cards to strike enemies. Elemental system makes a return from Soulcalibur: Lost Swords; players can mix the cards with one of the five elements: fire, water, wind, light, and dark. There are over 200 weapons as well as more than 150 player avatars featured. The game's story revolves around Cassandra and Edge Master in their efforts to find the fragments of Soul Edge. Unbreakable Soul received unfavorable reviews.
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 new Guard Impact techniques: Parry and Weapon Strip, while the original repelling technique was renamed as Repelling. 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 game's 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 themselves 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 introduced 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. V also includes infinite stages (the stages have no edges of any kind, allowing the battle to continue in any direction with no limit) for the first time in the history of the series.
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-dimensional 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.
A long time ago, an ordinary sword was soaked with blood through the endless battles of its era, causing the sword to be corrupted and becoming sentient by its own, which earned it the name "Soul Edge". No one dared to wield the sword without getting corrupted by its evil spirit, and only the Hero King, Algol can wield it without being possessed. However, Algol's son, jealous of his father's feat, wielded the sword and became corrupted. Algol destroyed both his son and the sword, to which he then made a weapon from the purified Soul Edge's shards in grief, naming it "Soul Calibur". He was sacrificed to complete the sword's ritual which would then be protected by a cult; no one knew that Soul Edge would reform on its own later on. Soul Calibur itself would then be lost after it was stolen by a member of the cult, Zasalamel.
In 1563, a Spanish pirate, Cervantes de Leon stole Soul Edge from a dealer's ship, but gradually became corrupted by its spirit until it devoured his soul and he started terrorizing the world for twenty years. This terror sparked several warriors to stop him, including a female ninja, Taki, who wants to destroy Soul Edge for having corrupted her master, and a German rebel, Siegfried Schtauffen, who desperately wants to blame someone for the accidental murder of his father. Eventually, a Greek warrior, Sophitia Alexandra, confronts and manages to destroy one of Cervantes' blade, but the battle is eventually ended by Taki, who manages to slay Cervantes. Siegfried then comes to check Soul Edge, but he becomes possessed by the release of the "Evil Seed" and turns into the monstrous Nightmare. The Evil Seed event has major impact to the world, including several people going insane, and Nightmare replaces Cervantes in terrorizing the world, wanting to recover the lost Soul Edge shards. Three years later, Nightmare has prepared for the ritual to complete Soul Edge, but three warriors from Asia, Chai Xianghua, Kilik, and Maxi storm his castle, the Ostrheinsburg and manage to defeat Nightmare, with Soul Edge's spirit (Inferno) being shattered by Xianghua's blade, which is revealed to be the lost Soul Calibur. Soul Calibur becomes missing, while Siegfried temporarily regains his sanity, but he becomes possessed again shortly.
Four years later, Nightmare has begun on his Soul Edge ritual again in his old castle, wanting to resurrect Soul Edge, but his ritual is interrupted by French nobleman, Raphael Sorel. Although Raphael is utterly defeated, he pierces Soul Edge, which gives Siegfried the time to break free of its control fully. Soul Edge is then pierced by Siegfried using Soul Calibur, trapping them in the "Soul Embrace". While things seem to go normal afterwards, Zasalamel, a member of Algol's cult, has returned to try and free both swords, intending to use their power in breaking his cycle of reincarnation induced by Soul Calibur. He manages to do so, and Soul Edge's spirit takes a physical form to become the "second Nightmare". Siegfried clashes with this new Nightmare, but is wounded in the process and has to be healed by Soul Calibur, while Soul Edge is casted to the void to heal itself. The clash of Soul Edge and Soul Calibur has awakened Algol from his slumber, who then rises the Tower of Remembrance to wait for warriors to challenge him. Meanwhile, Nightmare, with his servant Tira, who want to gather Soul Edge shards to complete the sword, force several warriors, including Astaroth, Sophitia, and Voldo into servitude, while Siegfried, having recovered, goes on his way to confront Nightmare for the final battle. The two clash for the second time in the Tower of Remembrance, where Siegfried manages to destroy both Nightmare and Soul Edge, seemingly once and for all.
Seventeen years later, however, Soul Edge has reformed itself, as does Nightmare, who has possessed a swordsman and is now ruling Hungary under the alias "Graf Dumas". His former servant, Tira, does not accept him and intends to search for a new vessel for Soul Edge. She eventually found her now-dead nemesis, Sophitia's daughter, Pyrrha Alexandra, whom she kidnapped earlier, who has Soul Edge's power in her blood. She is successful in persuading her to attack and kill people who had ostracized her, but is confronted by Pyrrha's long-lost brother, Patroklos Alexander, formerly a warrior under Graf Dumas, who has made his life's goal to find his sister and avenge his mother's murder. While he is successful in bringing her back, they are confronted by Nightmare, and Pyrrha awakens her Soul Edge powers due to being in the state of danger. She is disappointed when Patroklos is hesitant in accepting her, and decides to follow Tira again. Patroklos is named as Soul Calibur's new possessor afterwards by the now-old Siegfried and also purifies the holy sword through the help of several Asian warriors, before going on an all-out battle in Europe. Nightmare is eventually killed by Siegfried's subordinate, Z.W.E.I., who is immediately wounded by the possessed Pyrrha, who proceeds to battle Patroklos. Patroklos accidentally kills his sister, but is given a second chance by the great master, Edge Master to rethink his decision and subsequently purifies Pyrrha without killing her. However, Patroklos is trapped subconsciously to fight Soul Calibur's spirit, Elysium; the one who has guided him all this time, as she is angry at him for sparing his malfested sister. After defeating Elysium, he goes on alongside the now-sane Pyrrha to pierce Soul Calibur with Soul Edge, after which he accepts to live with his sister regardless of who she is.
The Soul series features a wide variety of characters hailing from various regions, backgrounds, and disciplines. Most characters typically have their own reasons in partaking their journey, although they frequently meet and interact with each other and most also share a common goal; finding either the cursed sword Soul Edge or its holy counterpart, Soul Calibur. As the game is set in the late 16th century, many real-life events happening during the timeline often influence the story, one example being Oda Nobunaga as the initiator for Yoshimitsu's journey to find Soul Edge.
Out of all the characters in the series, four characters have appeared in all nine games so far: Cervantes, Mitsurugi, Nightmare, and Siegfried, the latter two making one appearance each as an alternate costume to each other. Four characters: Astaroth, Ivy, Sophitia, and Taki have come close, appearing in eight games. Other characters who do not appear often make cameos or being commented upon in-game. While continuously being revised in each game, the character lineup generally stay consistent until Soulcalibur V, in which a major time skip is done and the character roster undergoing major changes, with former mainstays being replaced by their younger successors.
The series is notable for its inclusion of characters from other series appearing as guests. Since Soulcalibur II, every sequent game (with the exception of Soulcalibur III) have hosted guest characters, usually from other Namco franchises, although more recent games have branched into titles developed by other companies, such as The Legend of Zelda, Spawn, Star Wars, God of War and Assassin's Creed. While the guests can only appear in one game due to licensing, they also influence the story the game set in. Guest characters that have appeared in the series include Heihachi Mishima from Tekken, Link from The Legend of Zelda, Spawn from Spawn, Llyod Irving from Tales of Symphonia, Darth Vader, Yoda, and The Apprentice from Star Wars, Kratos from God of War, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin's Creed. Other than featuring characters from other series, the series' characters have also appeared in other video games as well, including the Ridge Racer series, Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2, Queen's Gate: Spiral Chaos and Musou Orochi 2 Ultimate, as well as crossover titles such as Namco × Capcom.
A five-volume manga based on Soulcalibur was published in 1999. A two-volume novelization was written by Tobita Mandom (supervised by Project Soul), illustrated by JUNNY, and published by Shueisha in Japan in 2012. Several guide and art books were published in Japan for various installments of the series by Namco, Enterbrain, Gamest, Nintendo and V Jump.
Two soundtrack albums were released for Soul Edge, and one album for each of Soulcalibur, II, III, IV and V.
Film adaptation project
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 were to include Eastern Europe and 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-owned 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 plot "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 teaser website for the film (soulcaliburthemovie.com) contained a citation from Nostradamus. The film remains in development hell.
|This section requires expansion. (July 2013)|
The Soul series has become one of the most popular and successful fighting game franchises. As of 2012, the Soul series has sold more than 13 million units worldwide.
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- "Games-to-Film: Soul Calibur - IGN". M.uk.ign.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Series sales up to January 27, 2012: 12 million ("...And Ezio sharpens Calibur’s chances" (Press release) (in Japanese). MCV. 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2012-01-27.)
- Soulcalibur V sales from January 31, 2012 to June 30, 2012: 1.38 million ("Financial Highlights for the First Quarter of the Fiscal Year Ending March 2013 (April-June 2012)" (PDF). Namco Bandai Games. Namco Bandai Holdings. August 2, 2012. p. 3. Retrieved 2 September 2012.)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to the Soul series.|
- Official website
- SoulCalibur on Facebook
- (Japanese) Project Soul website
- Soul Calibur series at DMOZ