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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Game Music Showcase: Soul Calibur

Soul Calibur is one of Namco's two signature fighting game series, the other being Tekken. It is the second game in the Soul series, the first being Soul Edge in 1996. The game series then grew out of using different words after 'Soul', and simply went on to become its own line of games, with sequels tacking on a number after the title Soul Calibur. It was released in Japanese arcades in 1998, and then ported to Dreamcast in 1999, and instantly became a smash hit.

The Soul Calibur saga introduced several innovations 3D fighting game genre, in the same way Street Fighter II brought up 2D fighting. Its main success was not just the graphics, but the character movement. Unlike any other 3D fighting game before it, Soul Calibur introduced an Eight-Way Run system for the fighters to move along the third axis more freely, allowing the environment in the fighting arena to be viewed from all angles, and later features multiple environments for characters to bash their way in despite not having free roaming access to different parts of the stage whenever they want. It is also the fighting game series of focus when guest fighters are concerned; featuring characters from different universes altogether, and most of them very unexpected!

Soul Calibur songs have an epic feeling when played on Taiko, as the team chose carefully to pick out only the most powerful sounding themes from the SC games, and they remain some of the most satisfying songs to play in the Game Music genre.


-Soul Calibur series-


 Soul Calibur II (ソウルキャリバーII) ~Brave Sword, Braver Soul~
Taiko 6x3 (144)x5 (181)x5 (320)x9 (471)
Taiko PS2 3x3 (144)x4 (181) x5 (320)x9 (471)
TDMx3 (144)x2 (199)x4 (359)x9 (471)
Taiko 7, Taiko PSP 1, 2x3 (144)x5 (181)x5 (322)x9 (471)
Taiko 8 to 10x3 (144)x5 (181)x5 (322)x8 (471)
Taiko 11 onwardsx3 (144)x5 (181)x5 (322)x7 (471)
 Taiko 6 to 14 (excluding 12 Asia), Taiko 0, Medal 1, 2, Taiko PS2 3, Taiko Drum Master, Taiko PSP 1, Taiko DS 2, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko Wii U 3, Taiko +
Game -> Japanese (和風) -> Namco Original -> Game Music

  Soul Calibur II (ソウルキャリバーII) ~Brave Sword, Braver Soul~
TDM, Taiko PSP 1 (2P)

x4 (290,294) (video)x9 (290,294) (video)
Taiko 11 onwards (2P)

x7 (290,294) (video)
 Taiko 11 to 14, Taiko 0, Taiko Drum Master, Taiko PSP 1

Soul Calibur II is the third game in the fighting game series, released in 2002 for the arcade and then ported to Gamecube, XBox and PS2. Like its predecessors, the game's story revolves around the fighters' individual life stories and how they are related to the Soul Calibur, a holy blade that is iconic to the series, which has been shattered into pieces and scattered across the world in the 16th century. It was critically acclaimed and praised by players worldwide, and so Namco set up a separate development studio for all subsequent games called Project Soul. Composed by Yano Yoshito (矢野義人), Brave Sword, Braver Soul is the background music of the Kaminoi Castle and Sakura-dai Gate stages in Soul Calibur II, and is the main theme of one of the female fighters, Taki.

Its tenure in Taiko had been a great success, with portings to most consoles at least once and remaining in the arcade even after Taiko 0, making it second to KAGEKIYO in terms of number of appearances for the Game Music genre. The secret to its success was the beat patterns, which fit the song almost seamlessly, as if they were meant to be there. The powerful nature of the song made it easy to understand the beats, and was widely accepted by players. Part of this song's most recognizable patterns appears in Taberuna 2000 as well.

Brave Sword, Braver Soul always had a slightly different note order when played with 2 players, but from Taiko 11 onwards, when Ura mode was introduced, activating it leads to an entirely new 2 player notechart, with different combo counts for each player as well. This special duet chart originated from the US Taiko Drum Master, and it has more big notes, though the patterns are generally the same. On Taiko Wii U, the 2-player Ura Oni has its own separate place in the song list, and playing it on single player would give out the 1P patterns.

 Legend of Zelda Theme (ゼルダの伝説のテーマ)
Allx3 (55)x2 (87)x5 (241)x7 (425)
 Taiko 8, 9

The odd one out of the Soul Calibur tunes is a rearrangement of an extremely famous song from another gaming universe. Like the Mario medley, The Legend of Zelda's theme song is instantly recognizable to anyone even faintly acquainted with the name Nintendo. The original game was released on NES in 1986, created by the equally legendary Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. In different times and worlds, the formula has always remained the same; a boy named Link, dressed in the same green garb, has to save the princess Zelda from evil forces, collecting pieces of the Triforce and defeating his nemesis, Ganondorf, to free the kingdom of Hyrule from darkness.

At that era, Nintendo never outsourced any songs to Namco other than the Mario medleys, so, why here on Taiko? The Gamecube edition of Soul Calibur II included Link as a bonus character (thus making the slight remix of the theme property of Namco, but only limited in SCII). In fact, Link does not appear in any other versions of this game, both arcade and console (PS2 and XBox had their own exclusive guest fighters). This trend continued with the later Soul Calibur games, with characters from the Star Wars films in Sour Calibur IV (Darth Vader for the PS3 version, and Master Yoda for Xbox 360) and in Soul Calibur V (like Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series and Ezio Auditore from the Assassin's Creed series).

Had this theme song been released in an English version of Taiko, both the lifespan of Taiko in general and this song in the US would be much longer, but as it stands, due to generic beat patterns and the fact that Zelda is not as popular in Japan as it is overseas, the Zelda theme got the axe after just 2 arcade outings. Quite a pity.

Not to be confused with the limited time download tune Legend of Zelda for Wii U1, which is a 8-bit medley of the original LoZ game's music.

 Soul Calibur III  (ソウルキャリバーIII) New Legend
Taiko 9, Taiko PS2 7x5 (145)x7 (234)x7 (396)x8 (489)
Taiko 3DS 3x4 (145)x6 (234)x7 (396)x8 (489)
 Taiko 9, Taiko PS2 7, Taiko 3DS 3

Released three years after SCII, this was an exclusive game for Playstation 2. The plot is exactly the same as its prdecessor, but it introduced features to the series like the Character Creator and unique Story modes ("Tales of Souls" and "Chronicles of the Sword"). However, the game is also infamous for having tons of bugs and glitches, which were fixed only on the arcade version released later than the PS2 one.

Kilik and Edge's main theme from the 3rd Soul Calibur was composed by Junichi Nakatsuru (中鶴潤一) in 1999. This song features beat streams and a wide variety of 3-hit clusters, which later on were spotted again on the third 3DS game as the first boss fight track, used for both the game's demo and full version battle against the Leviathan.

 Soul Calibur IV (ソウルキャリバーIV) Immaculate Pledge
Allx4 (92)x4 (145)x5 (268)x8 (406)
 Taiko 12, 12.5, Taiko Wii 1

Arriving in 2008 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the fifth installment of the series is the second game not to see an arcade release prior to the home game (with the first being SC III) as well as the first to have downloadable content and online battles, which the lack of was the main complaint that the previous game suffered from.

This Sour Calibur song is the BGM of Thesmophoros' Imperial Garden stage in Soul Calibur IV. Immaculate Pledge was one of the exclusive tracks included with the official strategy guide of the game, composed again by Junichi Nakatsuru (中鶴潤一). Pledge in Japanese is read as 'Soul' in its kanji translation.

This 8* Oni chart involves high energy and many 5 note clusters, and features a powerful rhythm similar to Brave Sword, Braver Soul.

 Soul Calibur V (ソウルキャリバーV) The Invincible Blade
Allx3 (100)x4 (174)x5 (269)x7 (438)
 Taiko 3DS 1, Taiko Ps Vita

A large group of fans held a casual Facebook petition requesting the release of another sequel to Soul Calibur IV, which caught the attention of game director Daishi Odashima (小田島 大師). The fans' pleas were finally heard in early 2010, when Namco began teasing that Soul Calibur was returning in 2010, and then the official announcement the following year.

Released in early 2012, SoulCalibur V is just what fans asked for in years; a complete renewal of the same game formula and characters, keeping most of the features in the last game like online fights and new guest characters. The game's story is set 17 years after the events of SoulCalibur IV, with Sophitia's sons (Sophitia is one of the earliest characters in the series), Patroklos and Pyrrha being the main characters. The two siblings journey across Europe in an attempt to rid Pyrrha of a curse that befalls anyone touching the evil weapon Soul Edge (in contrast to the holy blade Soul Calibur).

Taiko fans had a much shorter wait to try out Soul Calibur V's new song after the game's release, which made its debut on Taiko 3DS and not yet seen in arcades. The song is the theme of Soul series veteran Mitsurugi, composed by Hiroki Kikuta (菊田裕樹). Its Oni mode is between Soul Calibur II and III in terms of difficulty, with good music and a rhythm that is easy to follow.

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