While working on the review for Soul Calibur 6, I couldn‘t help but ponder to myself about Bandai Namco’s power of crossovers. In Tekken 7, we got Akuma from Street Fighter, Geese from King of Fighters, Noctis from Final Fantasy XV and even Negan from the Walking Dead. They were a part of the two Project X Zone games, and let’s not forget that they had a hand in developing Super Smash Brothers for 3DS/Wii U. For as much crossover potential as those games are, we can‘t overlook where it feels it all started: Soul Calibur.
Who would have thought a 3D weapon fighter would gain so much momentum that the 2nd game (or 3rd if we count Soul Edge,) would have had companies throwing their characters into the mix so they can fight it out on the stage of history? After Soul Calibur 6, I wanted to make a fun editorial talking about the potential characters we could see in upcoming titles, but I thought it would be much more fun first to do a quick review of all the guest characters who we have seen throughout the games. Just how many of them were worthwhile additions? Let’s find out.
To start off this list, we might as well skyrocket to what many would argue to be the best one. When Soul Calibur 2 was coming out, we got the announcement it would be available on all three consoles (GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2). As to further propel sales, each version would have a “Special Guest” fighter that would get to fight against the rest of the cast. While we will get to the other two here in a moment, it turns out that the GameCube version sold the most out of the three, and we have a certain Hero of Time to thank for that. As Nintendo star swordsman, Link has had his fair share of fights with Smash Brothers, but Soul Calibur was the game that really let Link shine at what he could do.
Story: The evil powers of Soul Edge had somehow found its way into Hyrule and Zelda tasks Link to find the source and destroy it. He uses his Ocarina to teleports to the other world to stop the resurrection of the Evil Sword.
When looking at Link’s moveset, you could say he shared similarities with his fellow sword and shield users. As we look closer at what he can do though, and we can see just how many callbacks he has to his games. Besides his signature moves, he was also one of the very few characters throughout the series that had a variety of ranged attacks as well with Bows & Arrows, Boomerang and Bombs. Overall, Link in Soul Calibur 2 was nothing short of incredible and many fans hope that the day will come that Link will get to come back to the stage of history.
Can you imagine BotW Link in SC? That would be incredible.
Over on the PS2 version, it was difficult to say who the high riding Sony character was back then. Yeah, you could pick someone like Cloud maybe, but it wasn’t like there was a definitive character with Sony that specialized in weapon combat (at least not back then). Eventually we got our PS2 representative and the PS2 got to enjoy Tekken’s Heihachi punching his way through any who stand against him.
Story: After training in the mountains and getting some R&R at a hot spring resort, Heihachi stumbled upon a fragment of Soul Edge. Upon touching it, he scratched himself and suddenly found himself teleported to the 16th century. Now far from home (as if no longer in Japan or even his own time), Heihachi seeks a way back while trembling with anticipation for the upcoming battles.
It was an interesting choice to make for sure. While you had characters that could technically punch or kick their opponents directly, Heihachi had no weapons on him other than his fists. In fact, if you look at the Armguards he uses in Soul Calibur 2, his “Strongest” is actually him not even using one. For as popular as Link was, many in the community agreed that Heihachi was actually the best of the three guest characters in terms of mechanics. Heihachi’s playstyle did lend itself well to Soul Calibur and it was a delight to see him make a return in the HD release with our final guest character for the Xbox.
As hard as it was to think of a character to represent Sony, can you imagine how much harder it was to do the same with the Xbox? Technically, Halo came out a year before Soul Calibur 2, but it wasn’t like we had a full idea of how the Covenant Elite used the energy sword yet (at least not until Killer Instinct Season 3). Because of this, you couldn’t really do the same thing like Heihachi for the Xbox Version. That was until we go a rather fun inclusion of a character by Todd McFarlane due to an agreement between him Namco for the production of Soul Calibur-themed resin figurines. Not only did we get special character designed by Mr. McFarlane in the game (Necrid), but we also got his lovely anti-hero in the fight too.
Story: Dark lord Malebolgi sends Spawn to the 16th century. Umm… Ok, so the story for Spawn was a touch harder to decipher. His story is almost like Heihachi’s where he is fighting through the 16th century to get Soul Edge. Only difference here is that after Spawn gives up the blade (because he isn‘t going to be anyone’s slave), he finds himself back in his own time.
While we know Spawn for having a variety of weapons using his cape, in Soul Calibur 2, he transforms it into a double-sided axe called Agony. Alongside with his weapon of choice, Spawn can use Necroplasm and can even levitate to launch an attack from above. Spawn made quite the name for himself in Soul Calibur in more ways than one. Including but not limited to being only character to come from a comic, and the only American to ever be in Soul Calibur.
KOS-MOS and Lloyd Irving
So you’re probably saying, “They weren‘t playable in Soul Calibur!” A fair point, but we should at the least address it since they were playable to a certain degree.
It would have been tricky to have all our guest characters come back since Soul Calibur 3 was exclusive to the PS2. That and we got no guest characters at all. That being the case though, Soul Calibur 3 marked the beginning of custom characters. While there was a wide mix of character customization options, there were a few special attires that let players re-create fan favorite characters. These include KOS-MOS from the Xenosaga games, Taira No Kagekiyo from Genpei Tōma Den and Gilgamesh from The Tower of Druaga. So they weren’t in the game as themselves, but at least you could dress up your own character to look like them.
As for Lloyd, our Tales of Symphonia character was actually in the Soul Calibur beat ‘em up: Soul Calibur Legends. We never find out why or how he found himself on Earth, but he could join up with Siegfried in his quest. While Lloyd had a few unique moves from his game, he did technically “Borrow” a few moves from another Dual-Wielding character: Cervantes. There isn’t much else to say here, but I thought it would be nice to give him some credit since he usually is overlooked when we talk about guest characters in Soul Calibur.
Yoda, Darth Vader and Starkiller
When we got to Soul Calibur IV in 2008, the series made the jump to the PS3 and Xbox 360. While many might not have thought much of “Guest Characters,” the ones we got were unexpected. I mean, who would have thought “A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away” was really one galaxy over and a few centuries ago?
Imagine after watching the latest trailer, you hear Vader‘s breathing and suddenly you see Vader fighting Misturugi and Yoda holding off Astraroth. It was crazy to see happen, but fans were… having mixed feeling about it. It was awesome, sure, but many felt like Star Wars and Soul Calibur didn’t mix. At all.
Story: Even from the fair outreaches of a Galaxy Far, Far Away, the power of Soul Calibur and Soul Edge could be felt by the force. Seeking to enhance his powers even further, Darth Vader sets off and also dispatches his apprentice to claim the two swords while Yoda (who was still on Dagobah), also sets off to prevent the soul weapons from falling into the wrong hands.
At the time of launch, Yoda and Darth Vader were “Console Exclusives Character” with the little green jedi going to the xbox 360 and Black Armored Sith going to the PS3. Vader’s secret apprentice from the then-upcoming Force Unleashed game, Starkiller, was in both versions. Later on, players could get all Star Wars characters on either console. All three force users had access to a force meter that allowed them to tap into the force to dish out additional damage.
How do 16th-century warriors even fight off lightsabers?
All three force users all brought their unique charms to Soul Calibur 4. Vader doesn’t strike fast, but he is a damage dealer. When used properly, he can chain together attacks that can devastate his opponent and can use the force to push enemies away and choke them as he picks them up back to their feet. Yoda conversely isn’t as strong but is quick in the air. The problem with Yoda, however, was how he was not only the worst character in SC4, but also how some attacks fly overhead without hitting him because he‘s that short. Poor range, low damage output and pretty slow if he’s just walking around Yoda was lackluster.
Finally, we have The Apprentice. He strikes a middle ground between Yoda and Vader as he is a fast and aggressive mix of the two. While it sounds awesome for him to have Force Lightning, it takes a long time to charge up, uses a good chunk of the force meter and doesn’t really do much damage. Force Levitation let the Apprentice take down enemies mid-air. The character was still fun and for many was our introduction to how dangerous he could be by the time his game rolled around later.
As I wrote in the last section, there was mixed feeling for these three characters. Because of their extra abilities, they got banned out of tournaments. Some may have been more lenient overtime, but the hate for Yoda would stick around regardless. It was a fun experiment but one that fans would pray would never be revisited soon, if not, at all. Also nice to know lightsabers didn’t lob off limbs or chop through 16th-century weaponry.
So in between SCIV and SCV, we got a special PSP version of Soul Calibur IV called Broken Destiny. We did not get any returning Star Wars characters, but Sony was ready to unleash a power house. Enter everyone’s favorite Spartan turn God of War: Kratos. Before he was “Father of Boy,” Kratos, was in the middle of his murdering rampage against the Gods of Olympus.
Story: A survivor of the Fygul Cestemus (the religious cult that brought Astraroth into existence and got slaughtered by him) seeks power to restore his group to its former glory and seek revenge against Astraroth. How does he do this? By summoning a God with a shard of Soul Edge! Thus Kratos is summoned to the new world and immediately kills the guy who summons him. Just like Heihachi and Spawn, Kratos sets off to find the two blades so that he can return to his own time.
Kratos has a range of close and long range attacks with his Chain Blades as well as the ability to fly with the Wings of Icarus. Most attacks were slow, but packed tons of power. When compared to most guest characters, Kratos was actually in the middle (not too overpowered, but far from under). Ironically enough, some of Kratos‘s moveset would carry over to the Double Wielding Lizardman in Soul Calibur 5.
What was probably the most disappointing was that the PSP appearance of Kratos would be the only time he would fight in Soul Calibur. Many would agree that he deserved better and should have been at least a PS3 exclusive. It wouldn’t be the last time he would do a crossover in a fighting game since he would later appear in Mortal Kombat as well as PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Soul Calibur V time and while many would argue the issues of the game, the choice of the guest character was probably the most brilliant out of all the characters up to this point. The reason is that unlike the rest, he is out of that same time period (give or take a century). In the time leading up to the 5th Soul Calibur game, we got to witness the rise of the Assassin‘s Creed series. So much so we spent a solid three years traveling with Ezio in Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood and Revelations. While his story came to its conclusion at the end of Revelations, he had one more story to tell.
Ezio had a wide variety of weapons at his disposal. These included his sword for vertical strikes, the twin assassin blades for horizontal strikes, dagger, crossbow, and the hidden gun. He doesn’t hold any weapons in his idle animation but he pulls them out when he needs to use them. His abilities was on par with Raphael except with fewer evasion options but a wider-range of weaponry. A decent character overall, and a fun addition to the cast despite how many felt burnt out of SCV’s various changes to cast and mechanics.
While Ezio was the one guest character in Soul Calibur V, there was technically one other character we got out of that game. What makes this one interesting is that it is kind of like KOS-MOS considering Devil Jin was never an official character, but had elements in there to say he technically was.
By now, the Create a Character (CaC) was a staple of the Soul Calibur series. What made this CaC fun was how there was another fighting style that players can use simply called “Fists.” Not since Heihachi had we have a character that fought with no weapons and yet considering the series we were talking about, the fit worked perfectly. You could have made Devil Jin in the CaC, but really you could make any character and have them use his fighting style. While having any Tekken character in the game would be fun to see in SC, Devil Jin’s worked perfectly as it not only let players enjoy fighting with their fists again, but players could also grow wings to fly and even fire off eye lasers (including for the Critical Edge).
Because Devil Jin only available through a CaC, there was no involvement in the story like Ezio. I should also note it that Devil Jin was couldn’t fight at tournaments for a time due to character creation and how there was no guaranteed constancy with who the setting would “Create” him since players can alter the character models. For some, he didn’t make too much of an impact, but it was still nice to see another Tekken character in Soul Calibur. Even if it technically wasn’t him.
Geralt of Rivia
Finally, we reach today and our latest guest character from The Witcher series. While I never really got into the series proper myself, Geralt was a brilliant choice as his playstyle lends itself well to the game. Even his inclusion into the world of Soul Calibur was pretty clever too.
Story: Geralt is tasked him to find a Sorceress who is summoning demons and to bring her to justice. Once he finds her, she explains that she was trying to open portals to other worlds and had no intention of any demon summoning. It isn’t long after that her demonstration sends Geralt to the other world where he (say it with me now!) must find a way back home. While they limited his involvement in the overall plot, at least it was something that work well nicely. That and I think this was the first time Soul Edge was not responsible for dragging someone into the world too, so kudo points on creativity.
His fighting style carries over from his games where he carries two swords. While he uses one sword primarily a few of his moves has him using his sheathed sword for additional attack options. To go with his sword, he also has signs to help him in fights. These include Igni to use flame attacks, Aard to repel attacks, Quen to shield himself, Yrden to set a trap and Axii that can let him command his opponent during his critical edge. It is too early to say where he stacks in the roster, but if his appearances in tournaments are any indicator, he will be another fan favorite.
The Soul Calibur series has had a wide range of guest characters that covers just about every media. While they may feel tacked on, there was a lot of thought, time and effort that went into the design and creation of these characters. They were not only a great addition to the cast but also brought their own unique charms and abilities with them so they can be unforgettable while paying tribute to their source material.
Just recently we found out Soul Calibur 6’s next character would be Nier: Automata‘s 2B. It definitely will be fun to see what she will be able to do in Soul Calibur 6 but considering how all we have to work with is her reveal trailer, her story will have be looked at another time. We could see even more guest characters in the season pass we’ve never imagined, but as for what we will get will be anyone’s guess. So much so I will explore what fun possibilities we could see in a future editorial, so be on the look out for that soon. Until then, the one thing we know for sure is how Soul Calibur really had set the bar high for adapting characters into another game (and not just Smash Brothers).
Be sure to check out our review for Soul Calibur 6 to see our thoughts on the game.
So what do you think?
Which guest character has been your favorite? And which guest character would you like to see in a future installment? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more editorials on your favorite fighting games and more.
A special thanks to the Soul Calibur Wiki for some of the information I could find about these characters.