Soul Calibur II Review – Definitive 50 GameCube Game #18

The series so far: The Definitive 50 GameCube Games.

I’ve mentioned before that a few Mario characters were lent out during the GameCube era to support certain sports titles. Nintendo also dispatched Link, from The Legend of Zelda, to supply a little extra hype for another third party game, Soul Calibur II. His inclusion did more than push sales, Link’s presence is awesome enough to make the Cube’s version SCII the one to get.

Soul Calibur II is the third game in the long running Soul series which started out in arcades and the PlayStation in the mid 90s, and is arguably its peak.

The game eschews the standard flat plane of older fighters, and yet avoids completely free movement in the third dimension as well, allowing players to move around one another, but keeping them restrained enough to be constantly engaged.

The title features a whopping 23 character roster made up of some of the most gruesome dudes and charming ladies in game history.

On the guy’s side, the bo staff wielding Kilik is fun and easy to control, while the grisly Nightmare’s slow moving attacks are especially devastating. For some real amusement though, check out the twisted and contaminated Necrid, the suicidal Yoshimitsu, or the sado-masochistic Voldo.

Not to be outdone, the ladies counter with halberd swinging Seung Mina, snake sword whipping Ivy, and competent sword wielders like Cassandra and Xianghua. For serious players, the, umm, mesmerizing Taki, with her dangerous dual kodachi may be the best pick.

The variety goes even deeper than that though, as each character has a number of weapons to select from that differ in quality and ability.

Of course, the stand out among all the characters is the previously mentioned Link. He may not wind up as a go-to for many players, but his moves are so wonderfully reminiscent of Zelda history that he’s hard not to love. The magic is especially apparent when you see the Hylian wielding weapons like the bow, boomerang, Master Sword, Megaton Hammer, Bug-Catching Net, and even Cane of Byrna. Link could have been a lazy inclusion and still netted plenty of attention for Namco, but they went all out to include items even many long-time Zelda fans may not remember.

All of these characters can be put to the test through the numerous modes that the game offers. There’s the usual Arcade, VS Battle, Survival, and Training modes, but the game really shines with Team Battle mode, and especially Weapon Master Mode.

In Weapon Master, the player fights his or her way through a series of branching levels comprised of varying settings and requirements. Rewards include experience points and money, the latter of which is vital for purchasing game unlockables like art, costumes, videos, and, most importantly, weapons. It’s a the ideal alternative for fighting game fans who may sometimes lack opponents, or just feel like chilling with the game on their own.

A number of characters, stages, weapons, and extra modes are also unlocked by playing through the many modes of the game or simply advancing in Weapon Master.