In defense of Soul Calibur 4’s terrifying Star Wars guest characters
Link fits into the world of Soul Calibur. The elfin little twink fits the list as well as any sword-wielding fantasy hero – and goes up against the likes of the Machiavellian Frenchman Raphael, the inhuman hellspawn Astaroth or the horny gimp Voldo Legend of Zelda The guest character fits right in. Weapons, aesthetics, move-set…everything fits Soul Calibur’s camp-high fantasy world – even if you’re pulling giant bombs from god-knows-where and hurling them across the stage. It just fits.
Do you know what’s wrong? lightsabers. No amount of sci-fi reasoning, magic, or blaming wizards can make Yoda, Darth Vader, and (eurgh) Starkiller fit into Soul Calibur’s war-torn European and Silk Road settings. It just doesn’t track. Why Bandai Namco decided to put the trio of characters in the fourth Soul Calibur game remains a mystery; it hurts both brands, it doesn’t make canonical sense and – more than anything – it’s just all a bit cheesy (or should that be taki?)
And yet I like her. All of them. Even Starkiller and his goofy protagonist face from any ’00s action game. They’re fun as guest characters in a fighting game—a surprisingly low pole, but one that’s very often tripped over and scraped into the ground below (watch it here, Negan).
As playable characters, the fighters offered something very different from the core cast of Soul Calibur. Remember Gon in Tekken 3 – the little dinosaur that nobody could hit, that couldn’t be thrown and that had a ranged attack? Well, because it obviously never learned its lesson, Bandai Namco made all those mistakes, again with Yoda (an Xbox 360 exclusive character first). The little green bastard was ridiculously difficult to hit thanks to a seemingly elastic hitbox, and he could dash across the stage on a whim like a hyperactive Jack Russell… not a dignified Jedi Master.
Yoda was fun to play – if you don’t have an attention span – but a real nightmare to play against. Taking on a Yoda player online always caused a groan, knowing that even your best Hilde was unlikely to land a meaningful combo against a lightsaber and greenskin flurry. The only advantage? The tiresome old man rang his bell mostly after a ridiculous jump from one corner of the arena to the other. No midi-chlorians will save you from that, will they?
Over on the PS3 there was Darth Vader. As the master of Djem So’s lightsaber fighting style, Anakin was a slightly slower attacker than other characters in the game – but the reward was massive damage. He felt more like a Samurai Shodown character than a Soul Calibur character. Using a Force Eruption / Force Cannon mega move to pop off virtually any of his actually useful combos would be enough to easily rip an enemy’s health by a third. Then there’s the Dark Vortex; an extremely fast series of attack-breaking attacks that always resulted in penetrating enemy cover.
For newbies – you know, the kind of gamers who might pick up a Soul Calibur game just because there’s some Star Wars gupf on the cover – Vader was easy to use. His special attacks had easy inputs and didn’t take up too much meter. He taught you bad fighting game habits. And he had very few prods and low-attack auxiliaries, making him a threat to players who actually knew what they were doing.
And that was the exciting thing about him! He was stupid and broken. Both Vader and Yoda were banned from competitive play very early on because – from a fighting game perspective – they were completely broken. Their stories were ridiculous (Vader used Soul Calibur and Soul Edge to boost the Empire’s power, imagine). In terms of a power fantasy in a fighting game, this was brilliant – and rightly so! This is what you get for bringing a lightsaber to a sword fight.
And guess what, if you step back and don your best hat of criticism at GCSE level, you can justify the thought behind the Star Wars x Soul Calibur crossover too. Both series absolutely love a light vs. dark theme, and it underpins pretty much every thread of every narrative both properties have ever flirted with. Yoda and Vader as fateful adversaries doomed to this fruitless rivalry, even when transported to another world, make a kind of perverse sense and adhere to the rules of both universes in an unnervingly elegant way.
The Soul Calibur series has been something of a bastion of guest characters when it comes to fighting games (if you ignore Spawn). Even Soul Calibur 5’s Ezio Auditore was a good fit in his own way…despite those crappy crossbow moves. More recently we’ve had 2B and Geralt – both fit the fantasy and look like it. Heihachi and Devil Jin – both made in more or less the same engine – were good additions to the roster in Soul Calibur 2 and 5, respectively. Even if they were just there to keep Harada happy.
The Star Wars characters were the ebb of the Soul Calibur guest characters, and yet they still made for a fun and undeniably unique offering in fighting games in general. Now that Disney has sunk its company claws into Star Wars, it’s highly unlikely that something like that happened again; intellectual property is now protected in a more responsible way (unless you’re counting that whole Quantic Dream thing…) With that more curated, thoughtful ownership comes less experimental and bizarre crossovers like this one – and that’s always going to be a shame.
https://www.vg247.com/star-wars-soul-calibur-4-guest-characters In defense of Soul Calibur 4’s terrifying Star Wars guest characters