Game Over - Soul Edge

Uploaded by RetroAhoy on 21.02.2012

Hello, this is RetroAhoy - and this is Game Over.
In this episode: Soul Edge - the prequel to the Soulcalibur series, and an important landmark
in the development of 3D fighting games.
Soul Edge - also known as Soul Blade in Europe, North America and Australia - was released
in 1996 by Namco, who established much of their reputation in the early years of arcade
gaming with titles such as Pac-Man and Xevious. By 1996 they were still a dominant force in
the arcades, and with their System 11 board, released in 1994 - essentially a Sony PlayStation
- they were at the forefront of gaming's transition to 3D.
True to their classics, one such game to use this board was Xevious 3D/G, a remake of their
original shooter with enhanced graphics, and an extra dimension.
The early 90s was the heyday of the fighting game, marked by the enduring popularity of
2D fighters such as Capcom's Street Fighter II in 1991 - but with the advent of more powerful
hardware, it wasn't long before the attempts to bring the fighting genre into the third
dimension would begin. Sega's Virtua Fighter in 1993 was the first,
with a crude polygonal style to keep the framerates required of a genre so reliant on reaction
time. A 3D fighter was enough of a novelty to draw
in the crowds, however - although 2D fighters would remain the choice of the purists.
Namco responded to Virtua Fighter with their own 3D fighting franchise - Tekken, on the
System 11 hardware in 1994. With more detailed models and texture mapping,
it shows the rapid pace of hardware development - although the fighting mechanics were still
very much reminiscent of the 2D fighters that came before.
Soul Edge wasn't the first fighting game to feature swords - SNK's Samurai Shodown in
1993 was one fighter that bucked Street Fighter's brawling trend, and had combatants wielding
a variety of sharpened implements. On the home consoles, PlayStation launch title
Battle Arena Toshinden was the first 3D fighting games to feature weapons, and was a popular
early title on PlayStation, before giving way to newer titles.
In 1996, Namco would release Soul Edge - running on the same System 11 hardware as Tekken,
and developed by dedicated Namco subdivision, Project Soul.
Rather than emulating the typical brawler-style popularised by Street Fighter and Tekken,
Soul Edge sought to differentiate itself with a radically different style - and a reliance
not on fists, but rather bladed weapons. The game's premise is based around the search
for the ultimate sword - the eponymous Soul Edge.
Set in the year 1584, the game features a diverse roster of characters, including stalwart
samurai Mitsurugi with a katana; Germanic knight Siegfried mit Zweihänder; the Grecian
sword and shield combination of Sophitia: and the dual katar of the most unusual Voldo.
The sword which all desire is currently manifested as a pair of longswords wielded by purple
pirate, Cervantes. Thus, the goal of each of the characters is
to take on this buccaneering boss and wield the demonic sword for themselves.
Defeating the pirate would see his body reanimated by Soul Edge, for a final fight amidst an
alternate dimension. The game's mechanics should be familiar to
those who've played fighting games before - two characters face each other one on one,
each with a health bar and a weapon specific to their character.
Employing a variety of attacks, the first to deplete their opponent's health will win
the round - and the best of three determines the outcome of the match.
The arenas are varied, but all share a similar square, open-edged construction - and should
a player be knocked out of this arena, they will lose the round regardless of any remaining
health. Moving about the arena is, for the most part,
on a 2D plane diametrical to your opponent - but, with a double tap of the stick it's
possible to sidestep and evade your opponent's attacks, and manouever into a stronger position.
Attacks are unique to each character, and controls fairly simple - one button for a
horizontal attack, and one each for the vertical, kicks, and guard.
With the right timing, complex combos are possible, and each character has a Critical
Edge attack, devastating if landed successfully. One interesting mechanic that was sadly dropped
from later games was the 'weapon bar', which indicated the remaining durability of your
weapon. Take too many blows while guarding and it
would chip away, and eventually lead to your weapon breaking - leaving you entirely reliant
on unarmed attacks.
Soul Edge was received well, with its well-honed mechanics and interesting setting - and so,
a sequel was almost inevitable. Rather than 'Soul Edge 2', 1998 would see
the release of 'Soulcalibur' - a portmanteau of 'Soul' and 'Excalibur', running on more
advanced hardware and with a host of other developments.
With freer movement in 3D dimensions with its 8-way run system, improvements to the
way combos were handled, and a deeper set of blocking moves, the first game to bear
the Soulcalibur name is a highly rated one - lauded as the best game ever made for the
Dreamcast, and otherwise scoring very well in reviews.
Soulcalibur II was released in 2002, an iteration of the previous game and development of the
storyline, and also introduced arena walls, with their own associated moves.
Along with further technical improvements thanks to the improved hardware available,
the mechanics were tweaked too - with the introduction of a clash system, and revisions
to the guard impact mechanics. SoulCalibur 3 was released in 2005 on the
Playstation 2, and 2006 in the arcades - again, developing the storyline, adding new characters
- and also featured custom character creation for the first time, via Create-A-Soul.
2008 saw Soul Calibur IV's release on the PS3 and Xbox 360 - introducing, for the first
time in the series, the ability to fight other players online.
IV was also notable for its Star Wars guest characters - Yoda, The Apprentice and Darth
Vader, initially console-specific and equipped with lightsaber and force powers in place
of traditional steel. Also of note are Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny,
and Soulcalibur: Legends, released for the PSP and Wii respectively.
The most recent game in the Soul series, Soulcalibur V, saw release recently, in early 2012.
Featuring Ezio Auditore from Assassin's Creed as a guest character, and with a host of gameplay
tweaks, and more features than ever - the Soul series now spans more than 15 years in
Of course, since Soul Edge's introduction there have been a great variety of 3D fighting
games, and Soulcalibur's sister franchise, Tekken, endures to this day as well, with
Tekken 6 released on the home consoles in 2009.
The brutal Bushido Blade on the Playstation in 1997 was an altogether more realistic approach
to weapon-based fighting games - with one blow to the head or torso sufficient to end
a bout abruptly. Stalwart of the 2D fighting genre, Street
Fighter made a number of attempts to break into the third dimension - with the Street
Fighter EX series, beginning in 1996. It wouldn't be until Street Fighter IV in
2008 that the main series would shift to 3D, although it remains very much rooted in the
traditions established in its two-dimensional predecessors.
With diverse weaponry and an intriguing backstory to each character, Soul Edge was a notable
development from the paper-thin plots and derivative characters commonly associated
with fighting games of that era. It wasn't the first 3D fighting game, but
it did much do much to develop the genre, and laid the foundations for the success of
the Soulcalibur series to follow.
This has been Soul Edge, and this is Game Over.
Thanks for watching - and be sure to join me next time, when we'll be covering an isometric
tactical shooter with a distinctly cyberpunk flavour.
Until then, farewell.