Soulcalibur Hands-On

The original Dreamcast fighting classic is heading to Xbox Live Arcade, and we've got a hands-on look.

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While Namco Bandai is set to bring Soulcalibur IV to consoles in just over a month, for many fighting game fans, the original Soulcalibur remains the highlight in the series. Originally released on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, the game featured a colorful band of fighters, silky-smooth controls, full eight-way run movement, and cutting-edge graphics for its time. The game is set for a revival, thanks to its upcoming arrival as a downloadable game on Xbox Live Marketplace, and we downloaded a preview copy of the game to see how it stacks up against the original.

The original is back: Soulcalibur is coming to Xbox Live Arcade.

First, the good news: Visually, this is a pretty faithful re-creation of the original DC game and, yes, those decade-old graphics still hold up remarkably well. The character animations are still as speedy and fluid as you may recall. Lumbering giants, such as Astaroth and Rock, feel immediately different from lighting-quick warriors, such as Taki and Xianghua. Better yet, the game controls beautifully and the characters are just as responsive as you might remember. Also, because the Xbox 360 controller is reminiscent in shape to the old Dreamcast controller (though obviously less unwieldy), your fingers will feel right at home executing your favorite combos from the likes of Kilik and Maxi.

While the characters themselves look great, the backgrounds don't always hold up. First of all, the game runs in 4:3 aspect ratio, with the Soul Calibur logo taking up the pillar boxes on each side of the screen. No problem there, really, but on a modern high-definition television set, the disparity in the texture quality between the ground underneath your fighter's feet, which is remarkably clear, and some of the background textures can be pretty noticeable. Interestingly, while the far background textures can be occasionally blurry, some of the background objects that are positioned more in the foreground are just as clear as the ground textures beneath your feet, resulting in a sometimes odd disparity. Still, for a ten year-old game, Soulcalibur still delivers.

So we know that Soulcalibur looks a lot like its forebearer. It certainly sounds like the original, what with the original music, character voices, and that dramatic voice-over ("The soul still burns..."). So does that mean it's a note-for-note reproduction of the original game? Well, not exactly. One of the key features found in the Dreamcast game, Mission Battle mode, is not in the Xbox Live version. In the original, Mission Battle mode had you guide a character through a storyline, taking him or her through multiple battles and earning points as you went along. You could use those points to unlock extras in the Museum mode; things like concept art, fan art, and the like. Though Mission mode is removed in the XBLA version, the game will still have all of the items in Museum mode unlocked automatically from the beginning.

Modes in Soulcalibur include Arcade, Versus Battle, Team Battle mode, Time Attack, Survival, Extra Survival, the aforementioned Museum mode, and Practice. While online fighting seems like a natural for a game like this, it doesn't seem to be in the cards for Soulcalibur, though the game will include leaderboards where you can upload Time Attack times and scores in Survival and Extra Survival Mode. If you want to get your online fight on, it seems, you'll have to do so in the upcoming Soul Calibur IV for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game is due for release this summer and will run you 800 MS points when it's released.

Discussion

87 comments
Flipyap28
Flipyap28

I cant believe i got addicted to this, an arcade game. I love this game and managed to get all achievements in 2 days.

howardorr
howardorr

I've never played the original SC but I've jst downloaded it from XBLA and i love it. It looks great and plays great. Damn! Why haven't I played this before!

Nocturnal15
Nocturnal15

Wow soo much blind stupidity here. All I keep seeing is "OMG no online play im not buying this!" Online play is not that important and its way too much to impliment into the game. Also they are just porting it to the box, however what does baffle me more than anything is the exclusion of Mission battle mode. That just kills the game.

dkslade
dkslade

why would they release this game, when its not the SAME. missing TOO many features the original carried. namco should focus on the DL content for Ace combat, you can never have enough planes that nobody buys......

stevenk4k5
stevenk4k5

Taking out Mission Battle mode? Ludicrous. You bring it back but with stripped features? Puh-lease, I'll just boot up the original.

INMATEofARKHAM
INMATEofARKHAM

No Mission Battle mode? :( That was the mode I was most looking forward too... It really could have been the mode that stood the test of time the best. Sad really... Though I'm not quite ready to write the game off but a game that I was buying without a doubt just got a heavy dose of doubt cast upon it.

l0uciferr
l0uciferr

Um Yea, NO! No Online play = Why bother? Emulators and my old Dreamcast work just fine KTHXBIII!

psychojosh
psychojosh

Seriously? No online play AND stripped features? If that's the case, I'd be a lot better off just booting up the original on my Dreamcast. Thanks for giving us absolutely no incentive to re-buy a 10 year old game, Namco.

m_axe9
m_axe9

no mission battle no online play ? wtf ? i bet that wil succccccccckkkkkkk

Nehine
Nehine

AgentDan well said... I don't understand either. How much room will it take up on the harddrive too? They should make arcade games like this as seperate purchasable games thta you can get as a cd instead of filling up your harddrive. having a 20gb system then seeing the much larger ones come out... its depressing...

MarceloRedfield
MarceloRedfield

What the hell? They stripped mission battle? That was the best part of the game. That is ***** ridiculous.

AgentDan
AgentDan

With Soul Calibur 4 almost out, I can't help but wonder... why? Besides the leaderboards it features almost no improvements over the previous release of the game, and it even still lacks online play. I'll be passing on this one and picking up SC4 instead when it comes out.

SpideR_CentS
SpideR_CentS

One of my fav games of all time, but no online play + crappy d pad = pass

loftus42
loftus42

wasn't the first called Soul Edge, and came out on the PS1?

Kcube
Kcube

THey took out the best feature? I'll Pass and keep playing my DC version instead.

n3ck
n3ck

Still getting this over the new one, i prefer to play fighting games with a bunch of mates round, rather than online.

MKgmr
MKgmr

no online = no fun :((( but anyway, good to see another classic game on XBL

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

Loved this game to death on my Dreamcast, but will not be picking this up because of no online play. I will just wait for IV and that will hold me over until '09 when Street Fighter IV comes out!

sunnystarz
sunnystarz

no on-line play? what a bunch of crap... i'll just wait for SC4

andalore
andalore

ahh memories...havent played this in aaages

SpartanTnT
SpartanTnT

Looks promising, I'll probably get it.

DarKnite32
DarKnite32

thats great its going to the xbox live, but i hope that it will also go on the psn....... don't hate!

ScionofEntropy
ScionofEntropy

Pretty good deal for one of the highest-rated fighting games of all time. I haven't played this yet, so once I get the console, I'll have to get some MS points to pick this up.

-GhostMLD-
-GhostMLD-

800? thought it was 1200. In that case, not bad value.

Olaf1023
Olaf1023

I understood when they said not online, but no Mission Mode...come on. I guess when they said it was the Dreamcast version, the were just talking about the graphics and Cervantes. Oh well, I'm still buying it. Hopefully they will have a DLC pack for Online Multiplayer and Mission modes.

gamecubepad
gamecubepad

Awesome. IMO opinion this is the best version of Soul Calibur made. Can't wait to pick it up.

kos1085
kos1085

I have played soul blade not the original soul caliber for the dreamcast. i may get this game when its released.

danopix
danopix

Never played it before. Looks like a probably fun and cheap game to screw around with for a while. I will definately buy it. Looks good in the screen shots anyway.

Miss_Wacy
Miss_Wacy

id rather buy a dreamcast for this game, the 360 d pad is just terrible

Lepuke
Lepuke

Lack of online does not bother me, but the missing mission mode, as cheesy as the stories and objectives of some of the fights in that feature was does.

fishnpeas1
fishnpeas1

NintendoWarrior no online? no mission mode? I'll pass Ditto - I'll continue to play it on the DC thanks :)

edhc44
edhc44

@ KokutenNagaki You clearly haven't played it in its heydays. I own all 3 main SC games plus Soul Edge/Blade and although I play SC3 against friends more oftenly (and only because they think the same way you do), the original comes to a close second (and it is still my favorite among all of them).

edhc44
edhc44

Ok, you know what? I've had it, this SC XBLA version sucks! I still own my Dreamcast (as I still own every gaming system I've ever bought) and I have Soul Calibur on it. Mission mode is out (probably due to size constraints), they haven't upgraded the aspect ratio to 16:9 and the main flaw: NO ONLINE?I The only reason to buy it is not going through the hassle of setting up my Dreamcast every time I wanna play it. And clearly that's not reason enough. I've said it before: I'm not a XBLA Gold Member. But I'd upgrade to Gold without a flinch if I could play this game online. I've always wanted to know how my skills rank up to those of the best players around the world. I'm by far the best in my "area", but that's not saying much.

Sam-os_IMP
Sam-os_IMP

still have this on dreamcast, whats the point. Im glad they did not put online in. Laggy matches where newcomer noobs can think they pwn? no thank you.

p00phead
p00phead

i am so downloading it but one question how much space will it take up

roryk666
roryk666

elektrixxx ? so what is ur reasoning for skipping sc4? simply because u dont like this port? wow... makes a lot of sense

elektrixxx
elektrixxx

16:9 and online what I want, so unfortunately I'll have to skip on this one. I think I may skip SCIV for Street Fighter IV as well.

osxgp
osxgp

I know people are asking why get this, but look at Nintendo's game list for downloads. Without the classics, we wouldn't have the games we have today.

osxgp
osxgp

Wise move by Microsoft. This is one of the best fighting games ever made.

starfoxmcleoud
starfoxmcleoud

Awesome, but I still play the original on my Dreamcast and fight against some friends. Would still be pretty nice to get on the HDD so I can tote it along with all the other arcade games and take it to a friend's house without having to take the Dreamcast. Rather disappointed that there's no mission battle mode.

Calmed_Fury
Calmed_Fury

no storyline makes this seem worthless

KokutenNagaki
KokutenNagaki

Why would anyone buy this? It is totally obsolete compared to the other Soul Caliber games. Can nostalgias alone save this?

ivanfred
ivanfred

Ugh, deadstarr and peeweeshift are probably right. Soul Calibur 4 might be the definitive fighting game for PS3 this year.

lanmanna
lanmanna

I can't wait for this and Vigilante 8 Arcade!

mitu123
mitu123

MPK, thanks for telling me that, I still can't wait for for it.