5 Reasons You Should Be Excited About Soul Calibur 6… if you aren’t already
Depending on when you read this, E3 may or may not be wrapped up. And whether your brain has become a mass of goo inadvisable to consume orally, or your soul has seeped out of your bones out of sheer ennui over whatever EA is up to, one thing is for sure; Fighting games have been absolute bombshells these past few years. The common reaction among fighting game fans of the reveals from Capcom, KOEI Tecmo, Netherrealm Studios and so on have figuratively (and hopefully in some instances literally) been knee buckling climaxes with enough breathless screams of “Oh my God” that it if their reactions were a porn script they would warrant a dialogue punch up.
As a matter of record, I am a MORTAL KOMBAAAAAAAT kind of Dave, and I’m pretty sure I’ll curl up in a ball and launch myself Kano style into the nearest wall if an MK XI unveiling drops this year. Netherrealm Studios have been awfully vague about the matter, though – rather unkharakteristik (see what I did there?) of them when compared with their previous Mortal Kombat and Injustice iterations. But where the annoyingly mischievous tendencies of Ed Boon and his mind control eyebrows have left us steeped in mystique, NAMCO has stepped in and given us a soul quenching certainty: One of their most beloved IPs is coming back. Soul Calibur, another favourite of mine, and hopefully yours as well.
Regardless of whether your knuckles are going white with anticipation or you’re a genuine newcomer to the series, here are 5 reasons you should be excited about Soul Calibur 6, if you aren’t already.
Number One: Tekken 7 and Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
“Raider Dave”, I hear you ask, “You bastard. What have these games to do with Soul Calibur?” Well, my dear Tadpole of God, these two games, though vastly unrelated to each other do constitute a nice axis of comparison. These titles started off so similarly, yet ended up in such different places the contrast is strong enough to give me an ulcer. Now, both games provoked quite the ripple when they announced, and the collective following kept a close eye on each step of the way. Do keep in mind: these two games were a thorough revitalisation of beloved, though somewhat neglected, franchises.
Fast forward to the present, Tekken 7 still draws interest aplenty despite being an imperfect game. Tekken 7 remains a very solid experience for fighting game fans which breathed new life back into those iron fisted, old lungs. The game delivered on all fronts: technical functionality, aesthetics, heritage, and so forth. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, on the other hand, deserves every bit of the praise it gets, all of which is heavily slanted towards its gameplay mechanics. It’s a fun game, and that’s primarily the goal – to offer a viable choice for entertainment.
But what about the other fronts? Capcom’s decision to better represent the currently superhot MCU over the comic book aesthetics of the Marvel vs. Capcom Legacy has definitely blurred the game’s identity and alienated a fanbase that doesn’t just seek an entertaining game, but a new MvC game installment with a beating heart and miles of personality to boast. Thus, MvC Legacy ended up a game with a meek personality unable to rise past the shadow of its predecessors. Since Street Fighter V has been Capcom’s priority as of late, it’s quite obvious no further efforts will be delivered to Marvel vs. Capcom.
And that’s fucking sad. The game became a cautionary tale, one that Namco, the company behind Tekken 7 won’t overlook. Tekken and the Soul Series are basically sibling franchises, but they’re not going to develop parallel in regards to quality. They will compete, and each game must be better than the latest jewel produced by their rival. By this logic, the work put on Soul Calibur 6 will be at least comparable, if not indeed better than the ace development behind Tekken 7.
Number Two: The Way the Gears Click
All games of all genres have very particular, distinctive nuances on how they function and how they play. This is especially true for fighting games. The basics remain: two health bars, one timer, one character per side, the means to cause harm to the other. All core games build their own way upon these foundations, whether it be Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, or King of Fighters (another favourite from the days when I carried nothing but sand in my pockets), which earns these games their own technical personality.
Modern iterations of both Soul Calibur and Tekken handle their technical personalities based off a close relation with physics. Absurdly high launching kicks and oversized weapons notwithstanding, these games link their frame data with their characters’ build in a feasible way, which makes the combat look a little more ‘real’, if you will. The notion of having a 3D fighting field adds to the effect. Nonetheless, each game has a way of preventing the gameplay from getting generic in the slightest.
Soul Calibur has been introducing new perks with each installment, some better received than others. In much the same manner a company must look at cautionary tales, they must also be willing to learn from their mistakes, and the gameplay features of Soul Calibur 6 display that very mindset. Case in point the classic signature perk "Guard Impact" returns, free from the tweaks that soured it in Soul Calibur 5. Critical Edges and Armour Breaks will stick with us and we’ll also get neat new features, such as a Reversal Edge, which introduces rock-paper-scissors-like tactic into the duels. The game will also boast revamped Soul Charges, enabling enhanced versatility in combat.
So, in the very way the game is shaping up to be played, we’ll get to experience the dynamics that endeared the franchise so quickly to the fans, as well as the opportunity to try new things.
Number Three: It’s a Reboot
The current overabundance of remakes, reboots, rehashes, re-imaginings, renewals, revelations, resurrections, and remorse, practically make the whole idea of a franchise revival (there we go again) into something old. However, sometimes that is just what needs to be done to salvage a franchise which has grown bloated and corrupt from poor decisions. Now, that is a very tough critique of Soul Calibur 5, which wasn’t a terrible game. However it did sort of cull interest for further installments given how rushed the game was and the resulting ‘unfinished’ feel to it.
Though SC5 definitely had its audience, it felt like an unsuitable follow-up to SC4, which kind of wrapped up the story of the series. What SC5 aimed for was to revive the conflict by using a new set of characters, most of whom were either unlikeable or bland, and even worse, they were the recipients of the gameplay styles that belonged to older, more beloved, absent characters. An interesting subversion to this were two of the new characters, the goth kids Z.W.E.I. and Viola, who took nobody’s place in terms of style and boasted some alluring new possibilities in terms of gameplay, lore and design.
There’s no telling if Soul Calibur will do a continuity overhaul a la Mortal Kombat 9, but one thing is for sure – it is definitely returning to the old aesthetics of the earlier games while implementing the aforementioned bold and revitalised mechanics. And while the base of the story will probably remain the same, we can reasonably expect it to go in new directions. This is best exemplified by the introduction of the new character, Grøh, who at first sight looks like a pastiche of the goth kids from SC5. Whether this character will come off as a edgy or cringy remains to be seen. It may be worth taking these impressions with a grain of salt, or pepper, or paprika, or cyanide, or whatever you consume to keep your judgement clear.
For all we know, it may turn out to be the best of both worlds.
Number Four: The Old Favourites
It goes without saying, but this being a reboot means the game will be a playground for the original main characters we know and love. We will get to see young Mitsurugi, Nightmare, Siegfried, Ivy, The BDSM Spirit Animal Husbando known as Voldo, Lizardman (hopefully), and internet darling Yoshimitsu gloriously updated with fully refined next generation graphics. Much to the joy of players disillusioned with the previous game’s roster, we’ll also see the return of menopause-immune mum Sophitia, Taki, Kilik and Xianghua – all of whom were cut from SC5. Technically Kilik wasn’t scratched, but without pole dancing and nads knocking, Kilik’s just not Kilik, ya know?
At this point, I believe the comparison with Mortal Kombat 9 gains a bit more strength considering another announcement regarding characters. Zasalamel, the badass Sumerian Grim Reaper from SC3, whom wasn’t around at the time of the first Soul games will be playable. If the MK reboot placed characters from later games into the first tournament’s setting, it's not completely unreasonable to expect other fan favourites not from Soul Edge or the first Soul Calibur. Otherwise, the character creation suite may provide a nice alternative.
Nonetheless, fingers crossed on my end for Hilde to be playable.
Number Five: The Significance of Geralt
Among the gentle stream of playable character announcements, one in particular stood out and was preceded with some hefty anticipation. Of course, I’m talking about the Guest Character, staple of the series since SC2, adopted thusly by Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat, and Injustice 2. The pick for Guest Character was not much of a surprise, but the inclusion of The Witcher 3’s Geralt of Rivia rang sweetly for many. Still, if we’re going by the logic of Soul Calibur 6 needing to surpass Tekken 7, we should probably be on the lookout for even more outsiders.
Just take a look at Tekken 7’s picks for guest characters: Akuma from Street Fighter, Geese Howard from Fatal Fury (and then King of Fighters). These two were massive surprises on announcement, and I can honestly said I was chasing after my own breath about the latter. And if that wasn’t enough, they also got Noctis from Boy Band Simulator aka Final Fantasy XV, a character not from a fighting game, who nonetheless turned so many heads I could hear the collective groan about muscular pain. Considering the NJPW DLC, I was also kind of expecting (and wishing) for Fergal Devitt and Kenny Omega to be guest characters also.
In a world where these three can make a surprise appearance, as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hellboy and icons of American slash horror cinema for Netherrealm Studios, it would be underwhelming to get only one guest character, especially from the series that got the snowball rolling down the slope. I don’t think this feature in particular will be the make-or-break factor in the game as a whole; the entire thing looks tasty enough on its own. But it is an indication of the depth of the well the developers could plumb for surprises for their loyal fans.
Fingers crossed for The Hunter from Bloodborne.
So, there you have it, beloved Bed Bugs of Heaven, five reasons you really should be looking forward to what Namco will be revealing for their upcoming reboot of the Soul series. Stick around Fanboys in the Hood for the best shit ever surrounding comics, movies, video games and cat petting. See ya.