I needed an excuse to write about SoulCalibur (iOS / Universal). I could have reviewed it, but it has been out for ages so that felt a bit pointless. It’s on sale for 2 weeks (from today, Friday 22nd November) which seemed like a justifiable reason to talk about it, seeing as how it’s one of the most expensive iOS games around at its full price and has been criticised purely because of that. I love SoulCalibur and I think it’s the best fighting game on iOS.
Ivy is the main reason I love the game, and not just because of the skimpy outfit. When I first started playing she was the only character I would use, until I gave in to the temptation to unlock more than one other additional character, which meant beating arcade mode with different fighters. There is even a Game Centre achievement specifically for performing Ivy’s Summon Suffering move. You can practice the move as much as you like, but you need to perform it in a proper fight for the achievement to register.
That’s what you have to do. This is the achievement:
Apart from the high price (when it’s not on sale!) SoulCalibur on iOS also gets some negativity directed at the touch controls. I don’t understand this, because they’re great. The 8-way pad is as precise and responsive as you could ever want and, in control options, the buttons can be moved around and there’s the additional option to add multi-function buttons such as A+B and A+K, which make the more complicated moves easier to perform.
The game is visually very appealing, with detailed characters and backgrounds plus some simply stunning animation and effects. Although there is no story mode, or a mission mode (from the Dreamcast version of the game), you do get Arcade mode, Time Attack, Survival and the very entertaining Extra Survival (first hit wins each bout) and the Bluetooth VS mode. There’s a museum with an AI battle theatre and an exhibition theatre with a separate sequence for each character who beats arcade mode.
Practice mode has several options, such as choosing whether or not your opponent does anything. The command list shows the button sequences for each move and you can select any move to watch the character perform it, together with a visual guide to the button presses to accompany the action.
Arcade mode at the default settings is not too hard. Whether you spend time learning the more impressive moves is really down to personal choice, as it’s not difficult to beat Arcade mode with basic moves and fairly quick reactions.
New characters and arenas are unlocked by beating Arcade mode with different characters. There are 9 extra characters to unlock and 3 extra arenas. If you’re going for speed, it’s quite possible to get through Arcade mode in around 4 minutes, in fact there’s an achievement for beating Time attack within 4 minutes, so it won’t take too long to unlock a decent selection of new characters.
If you’re interested in getting a fighting game for your iOS device, SoulCalibur is a very easy recommendation. If the normal price has always put you off, maybe because you weren’t sure about the controls or you thought you wouldn’t get value for money from the game, it’s on sale for a couple of weeks at less than half its usual price, down from £10.49 (which I paid and have never regretted it) to £4.99.
Of course, it isn’t perfect; there’s only the Bluetooth option for multiplayer and there’s no progress syncing between devices. Also, the game doesn’t display full-screen on a 5th gen iPhone or iPod Touch and it won’t run at all on a 1st gen iPad. However, apart from those mostly technical issues, I can’t think of anything else to complain about.
Although there’s no story mode, you do get a few pictures and a bit of a closing comment or punchline when a character beats Arcade mode. Ivy’s ending is well rounded, ha ha ha. And that’s pretty much it; it wasn’t a review, even though it looked like one. If you decide to get SoulCalibur while it’s on sale, I wish you a lot of fun with it!