Soul Calibur II is the sort of game I used to love. Used to.
When I was in my teens, I was all about fighting games. I was one of those kids that had Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II and Street Fighter II Turbo on SNES. I played the heck out of the first two Mortal Kombat games as well.
Then, around 2010 or so, I REALLY got into fighting games again. It started with rekindling my love of Street Fighter II. I remember picking up the Turbo port on GBA and just being obsessed. It was long before I got wrapped up in the hype for Street Fighter IV (and again, bought three - or was it four? - versions of the damn game).
Then all bets were off. Me and some friends started doing fight nights online each week. We were playing everything. Mortal Kombat 9, Marvel Vs Capcom 3, Blazblue, Street Fighter X Tekken, King Of Fighters XIII, Dead Or Alive 4, Soul Calibur IV, and on and on.
During this era I was fairly into the Soul Calibur games. I mean, they weren't my top tier figthers (those were all Capcom games). But they were probably mid-tier. Right there with your Tekkens and so on. I liked Soul Calibur just fine. I mean, I must have because I had all of them up through SC5.
But in the years since, I've mellowed I guess. In my 20's and early 30's I was really into arcade games. Fighters and shmups were my go to. Now that I'm 40, I don't know. The one fighting game that I really feel compelled to go back to time and again is Smash Ultimate. Maybe I'm basic now? Maybe my taste has just become more refined, and I like the idea of focusing on the one I enjoy the most?
At any rate, tonight I revisited my dusty copy of Soul Calibur II on Gamecube. I remember back in like 2009 that I was pretty into this one. Not that the GCN was especially known for its fighting games. But this was a stand-out on the system. Each version of SC2 featured a different exclusive fighter. PS2 had um... someone from Tekken I think? I forget, and I'm too lazy to confirm. Xbox had Spawn, which is kind of cool. But GCN had Link and I think that makes it the clear winner among the ports.
Link makes sense, stylistically. He's got a sword and shield. It works.
Anyway, the positives first... this game still looks mostly great. I played it on GCN through HDMI and enabled the 16:9 resolution in the menu and, yeah it looks really good. I'm always pleasantly surprised when pre-HD games offer a 16:9 option. It's definitely appreciated anyway. The music in the SC series has always been solid as well.
Now onto gameplay. Look, the SC series is pretty good in that department. It's got some fairly technical sparring in 3D. To me, it's on par with the likes of your Tekkens and Virtua Fighters. It's probably GREAT if you want to spend the time. I just don't really have it in me to get good at these games anymore.
I was able to pretty reliably button-mash my way through most matches in arcade mode, and made up to the end boss pretty easily, but he wrecked me hard. The issue is that I don't really know what I'm doing. I kind of guess/remember that there's a horizontal slice, a vertical slice, a kick, and a block. I've got that. But I'm just no good at piecing it altogether in an ellegant way. So it's ugly to watch.
Like I said, this is the kind of game that I used to love. Now, I just can sort of appreciate it for what it is. For me now, fighting games are Smash > Street Fighter/Capcom stuff > Dead Or Alive if I'm in the mood for a 3D fighter. And that's about all the room I've got to get into fighters and learn (and retain) the moves enough to enjoy them. Which is okay, I think. I'm just not the same arcade dude I used to be.