September 22, 2000
Namco became the fighting specialists in the early days of the Playstation with the Tekken series, which sold in huge numbers in both Japan and Europe/America. Soon after the release of Tekken 2 Namco stunned the world with Soul Blade, the prequel to Soul Calibur. This was a truly breathtaking fighting game with weapon based combat.
Soul Calibur, which uses the Playstation based System 12 board in the aarcades is a more refined version of Soul Blade. The graphics are crisper and the gameplay slightly faster. Namco have promised that with the advantages of the Dreamcast's technology over the arcade board the Dreamcast version of the game will include enhanced graphics and will include new modes of play. Some of the new modes not found in the arcade include Team Battle, Time Attack, Survival, Mission Battle, Museum and the all important Practice mode.
Another key feature of the Dreamcast game is the internet content. Players will be able to upload their best times and results to Sega's web sites to compare scores against other players around the globe. Namco are also adding in a full computer generated intro as well as other CG sequences which can be unlocked in the Museum mode by players winning streaks during the game.
This is an important release for Sega. If Soul Calibur can sell as well as I expect it will, then Namco will see the Dreamcast as a viable system and continue their support. As the March poll on Dreamcast Australia has shown, most people believe Namco is crucial to the success of Dreamcast.
Soul Calibur will be released in Japan in early August and will be released at launch in America and slighly after in PAL territories. This game will be a welcome shot in the arm for Sega's system, especially in Japan where the system is struggling slightly.