Game news Soul Calibur 2: The game celebrates its 20th anniversary, a look at Namco’s bold choice for console versions

Yesterday, July 10, 2022, the arcade version of Soul Calibur II celebrated its 20th anniversary. After the stunning Dreamcast edition of Soul Calibur, Namco sought to continue this success by developing an even more spectacular arcade sequel. Accompanied by Tekken 4, still destined for arcades, the title was finally blown away by a certain Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution. But do you remember the console versions of Soul Calibur II? They had a peculiarity that has remained in the memories!

The big announcement of Namco

At the end of 2002, the Japanese publisher Namco had to make a decision: the new edition of Virtua Fighter 4, titled Evolution, destroyed everything in its path. SoulCalibur II and Tekken 4 fail to shake the mega success of SEGA, so the high authorities of the Tokyo company decide to react by working hard on the console versions of Soul Calibur II. In early 2003, Namco organized a major press conference at the prestigious Imperial Hotel in Yarakucho in central Tokyo. The journalists present then discovered the existence of not only one, but three Soul Calibur II games!

Three characters for three consoles!

To hit hard and try to supplant Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution (which must also arrive on consoles), Namco – voiced by Hiroaki Yotoriyama – reveals that each version has its own new character! In addition to the Necrid fighter, born from the pencil of cartoonist Todd McFarlane, each car hosts an exclusive character! On PlayStation 2, players can play as Heihachi from Tekken. On Xbox, it’s the famous Spawn, once again a creation of McFarlane, joining the cast! And on Gamecube, probably the most emblematic version, it is Link from The Legend of Zelda that players can control and face!

Over time, we finally understood why Link was the most emblematic character while the other two – apart from perhaps Spawn – made less of an impression. In fact, Namco has been trying to get Wolverine for the Xbox version and Cloud of Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation 2 version. For the former, the deal was too expensive for Namco. For the second, however, the agreement was almost concluded and it is only at the end of development that the developers had to find an improvised solution (following the Squaresoft turnaround) and then integrate Tekken’s Heihachi, a license belonging to them.

Soul Calibur 2: The game celebrates its 20th anniversary, a look at Namco's bold choice for console versions

In fact, at the time, Namco had just signed a huge deal with Nintendo to make a future Star Fox and an extensive presentation of the Nintendo / Namco deal had been dedicated with the highlight of Link on Soul Calibur II Gamecube. Therefore, we understand why this release has been so successful and impactful.

Since then, the Soul Calibur series has lost its aura, but do you remember Soul Calibur II and its various characters? For those who have experienced the release (or later), did you have one or more versions?

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