Soul Calibur IV (Namco)

There are few things in life that you recall with a true vivid clarity that imprint themselves on your mind. What these are make you the person that you are. I recall seeing Soul Calibur for the first time at an independent game store in Nottingham some time around the 8th of August 1999. I can’t exactly be sure of the date, but it was a couple of days after the Japanese release. The game was running on a Silver Sanyo TV that was elderly, and had a slot for VHS cassettes beneath its rounded screen. The time was close to 12.10pm. Even at a distance I was stopped in my tracks, and took a deep intake of breath. By 4.30pm that day I had bought the imported Japanese Dreamcast it was running on, and was looking at the large bag behind the counter of Selectadisc. I could not wait to get home.


For a few weeks I carried it around Nottingham to friends houses armed with a copy of Sega Rally in tow. I don’t know why I bothered it never came out of the case. Soul Calibur was stunning, but utterly ridiculous. The characters were odd, with a peculiar pompous sense of “otherwordlyness ” that is almost impossible to place in time or space. Famitsu had given it the perfect score of 40, and it felt justified. For certain the plot was overblown and the voice-overs were ludicrous. It did however contain the “special sauce” that meant you couldn’t put the controller down. Just one more go …

A lot has happened since then, I have become the proud father of 2 children, played Soul Calibur 2 on Game Cube, got married, skipped Soul Calibur III (as it was a PS2 exclusive), and started my MBA. Time is passing, and I half wondered if time would have got the better of Soul Calibur. I was reminded of this on three occasions recently:

Firstly, I said goodbye to three quarters of my vinyl record collection. The collection had lost its meaning for me, whilst I could still recall each time and place that I had bought most of the records, the reason seemed hazy and unclear, and the possessions that I had previously thought were part of my very fibre, we redundant and outmoded. The digital revolution had finally got me, and I had lost my attachment to the physical. George came and took them away in a white hire van, and I didn’t have a single twinge as I said goodbye. This therefore led to the redundancy of my Technics 1210‘s.

I had DJd for years, with varying levels of commitment and competency, and had spent hour after after on these decks. They were the altar to my vinyl worship. A friend of mine who plays drums in a band had dropped an email round asking if anyone wanted to sell theirs, as he wanted to get into DJing. It seemed like the perfect opportunity. The deal was struck, and I drove to St Albans to drop them off. Whilst there I realised that everything had changed as I had more in common with his dad that him, and when I went to his bedroom, it was like a flashback to being 14. I then wished I had taken my shoes off as soon as I’d come through the door. Hip? I don’t think so.

Finally, growing up I had a huge passion for Star Wars, not in an ironic t-shirt kind of way, but a deep affection for the films that was unaffected by the prequels. Try as I might I had always had a problem with Yoda, he was almost 900 years old, 0.66 metres tall and had a predilection for talking back to front. I thought he was smug. He was a tiny authority figure who told Luke what to do. I didn’t like him. I was 10. As I grew up I started to warm to his eccentricities, and he diffused my animosity. It wasn’t until I first played Soul Calibur IV that I finally realised. I’m not Luke Skywalker, Kurt Cobain or Jackson Pollock. I am closer to Yoda, but not nearly as wise.

In short, Soul Calibur IV rocks.  Kilik? I’ll leave to the one trick pony button bashers on XboxLIVE, I’ve moved on.


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