I’ve decided to revisit Soul Calibur 5 in order to wrap my head around just why this game is such a fragile lobotomy that gave cancer to every well known Soul Calibur fan that entered the series at #2. Of course, learning that there’s an anti-AI exploit made unlocking custom parts for character creation didn’t hurt either, this seems to be the only reason to own this massive turd of a fighting game. Having calmed down from my rage, I’ve come to find that yeah, it does play a hint better than 3 and 4 outside of the atrociously retarded Just Defend and Critical Edge systems, names that people will immediately become intimidated by as having Just Frame systems in any fighting game not named “Garou Mark of the Wolves” should be abolished for all eternity. But no, the game plays very smoothly if not a tad slower than SC4 which is already slower than SC2. And even worse is when it comes time to find a main character, you’ll find the game’s current cast to be incredibly lacking.

How lacking? Try “Mitsurugi feels naked without Relic Stance” lacking, this coming from a guy who abhors the concept of stances in fighting games. I can’t imagine how the Ivy fans felt considering that everything that was completely broken about her was removed to the point that she might as well have gotten her goddamn tubes tight. Nerfed fails to even begin to describe just what happened to the returning characters Namco had the decency to keep in this game, none of which are named Talim and Zasalemal unfortunately, but they found some eager means to keep Maxi even though nobody likes him. I guess being a Japanese character gives you a free ticket to be in every game even though he goes mostly unused. Unless you’re a ninja in a leotard with bigger tits than Mai Shiranui, but not being anywhere near as slutty as Mai Shiranui so you have to be replaced by what is easily the most FUCKED UP character choice you could possibly conceive.

From the bottom of my dick, Namco, you guys have to be bigger assholes than Capcom. Least they managed to compensate for cutting some fan favorites like oh idk VENOM with other nice substitutes like Doctor strange, you mother fuckers couldn’t even be arsed to put in any character with even a fraction of Taki’s (sex) appeal. And not only that, the character’s personality couldn’t be any worse. Do you like American Valley girls that talk go around spittin about how “boring” everything is as if the Japanese’s definition of what’s “cool” is to make their characters a bunch douch bags and bitches that… oh…. damn I’m off topic.

I’ve come to find that all the characters and fighting styles that DID infact come back have been nerfed in some way, shape or form (with the exception of all the JAPANESE CHARACTERS and Goddamn Nightmare) in favor of, are you ready for this, Competitive balance. Easily one of the most unbalanced fighting games in the world over and after 5 games, they start to care about the retarded tournament crowd who have done their part in damage controlling this game to this very day. Are you upset that Soul Calibur 5 removed it’s various single player modes, something that Soul Calibur has had since the very fucking day it was conceived making it something of a series staple? Well go play a ONE PLAYER game bitches because the concept of “necessity” has reared it’s ugly head in flamewars across the board! Nevermind that even boasting about it’s “Online is the only goddamn thing that matters” mantra into your earlobes means jackshit when the game’s netcode is absolutely trash.

But it’s not even the tourney shit this game desperately wants a pie of. See, the game decides to neuter every returning character in favor of something that I consider to be a recent disease fad. Character uniqueness. What is character uniqueness, you might ask? Well, take several characters in the game and design them with such severe limitations that they absolutely cannot be viable in any way imaginable without playing them a specific way, which might go so far as to be considered a gimmicky character. Case in point

VIOLA! Figuratively and literally speaking, this is the most unique Soul Calibur character in the series. Instead of having close range weapons designed around the concept of “getting” close to your opponets just to deal damage, we just give this bitch a pair of claws and a ball that she can magically warp around the arena to disorientate her opponents. Some might call this a character who specializes in “Space control“, a concept that only Dhalsim players in Street Fighter could hope to understand. IE using the ball to your advantage to keep the distance between you and your opponent since Viola is shit up close. This is considered a character that’s hard to use but might be rewarding if you master her balls. Unfortunately, characters like Astaroth, Nightmare, Mitsurugi and even that bastard Xiba aren’t designed around controlling space and yet they do so in much better ways. How much better? Try “not having complicated commands for controlling the ball” better? Viola is such a piece of shit character, it makes Xianghua look playable. Unfortunately, SC5’s roster is comprised of characters that are literally handicapped in order to emphasize specific play styles. Viola and ZWEI with that wolf… thing is designed around space control, Hilde is about buffering moves (basically, a charge character where you hold certain buttons then release in order to pull off special moves IE not fun at all to play) Xiba, Maxi, and Nightmare are button mashing, Ivy is about stances… wait, sorry, that’s Voldo… I think, you get the idea.

This creates a big problem though. If all the characters are designed to be played a certain way, it removes their appeal tenfold, why? Because it removes them of any viability whatsoever. Having a character designed with severe limitations that the player cannot do anything outside of their intended gameplay style is harmful to the practicality of that character. Take Blazblue for example. This game epitomizes this concept. Every character is designed with a unique playstyle in mind.

Relius and Carl Clover both have control over Stands… I mean “Puppets” which happen to be their wife and sister respectively. As fucked up as it is to fight with a character who uses his own blow up doll as a weapon is sickening in itself, and so is this. These puppets are the true strength of these characters. You can’t do shit of worth without your puppets. But there’s a problem. These things run on batteries, so you have a little gay ass meter above your super meter. And you have to keep an eye on that bitch and make sure you’re not abusing your special moves too often or else you’ll be defenseless for a moment or 2. So you have fighting game characters… where you literally have to stop fighting to conserve energy! Holy nutballs, it’s Skyward Sword’s stamina system! Now granted, Relius has a few moves he can use that doesn’t require any puppet action, but they’re so awful and slow, you might as well not bother.

On the other hand, you have this thing.

Unfortunately, there’s no stink face moves. Mu-12’s entire gameplay style revolves around setting up a bunch of reflector… turret… mirror things and spam lasers through them. While the monkeys who made this game had the decency to give her decent melee attacks, they’ve also had the audacity to make them harder to pull off than setting up mirror turrets. Meaning this is a character that’s built around disorientating your opponent, but is otherwise screwed if the opponent gets to close. So Amma help you if you’re fighting against Taokaka… you know, the cat bitch that’s obsessed with bewbs?

The Guilty Gear series managed to avoid this pitfall by being a ripoff of MVC, only better. Unfortunately, this idea seems to be spreading in Guilty Gear Xrd. Pulling a Namco, these guys decided to cut the roster down to only the characters that have a unique playstyle. Oh sure, they’ve kept the 3 rush down characters (Sol, Ky, Millia thankfully) and maybe Chipp counts too, but everyone else is on that uniqueness crap. Venom with his pull ball traps, Slayer with his high priority interception punches or… something, Potemkin the slow ass charge character, Axl the resident keep away space control guy, Faust with his… weirdness, May with her charge moves and dolphins, etc. The other characters in the series were more or less rushdown combo frenzy characters (my precious… precious Jam) which were all removed in favor of a mild reboot of the series (or because 3D models take longer than 2D sprites… or w/e excuse the FGC uses these days).

I won’t mention Brawl as i’ve bitched about that game enough as it is, but this idea of making characters have unique playstyles is more damaging than it is beneficial. Many people who play fighting games have no patience to learn the nuances of specific characters. IE everyone who plays Street Fighter rushes to that fucking Ken Masters. Why, because his lack of uniqueness is actually a benefit. If you wanted a Ryu that was better up close, there’s Ken or even Akuma.

Here’s an idea, Japan, if you want to make a fighting game with unique playstyles, look at what Capcom does. They IGNORE the concept of uniqueness (and unfortunately saves that bullshit for universal fighting systems or Street Fighter 3) and simply makes characters with unique playstyles WITHOUT handicapping anything else about them. We all know Zangief is shit from far away, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a means of getting around those bastard fire balls from shotonewbs.

Or a better example…

There’s no uniqueness beyond the rad concepts of the characters. Majority of them all can teleport or have some fireball, but they all have different properties. Noob Saibot, that cheap son of a bitch has a teleport that automatically grabs you. Kung Lao has a teleport, but it just gives him the option of 4 different attacks.  Sektor’s teleport is an uppercut while Raiden’s teleport is blazingly fast. You see what I’m saying? The characters may share moves and not be unique, but they have their own definitions. I hope that makes sense. And amazingly enough, even though the characters are all samey in some way…. the game fucking rules! It’s such an odd concept in Japan these days, not trying to be “creative” with characters actually has a positive effect on the games we play and enjoy.

This is also why I recommended Persona 4 Arena in the greatest form of irony. The characters all play the same but they have their own definitions. I don’t think I can explain this any better than going back to Street Fighter 2. See, before everyone discovered special moves, everyone just had 3 punches and 3 kicks. This is how everyone started off playing SF2. In this process, it was known that each character had different definitions for these punches and kicks. Ryu had normal kicks, Chun Li had twenty kicks, Vega could slide kick, that kinda shit. It was very basic in nature and everyone had fun with the game. It wasn’t until characters started to be defined by their special moves that fighting games (at least 2D fighters), started becoming unfun to play with their bullshit command complexity, and 3D games which were glorified SF2’s started to flourish. But that’s aside the point.

She’s so damn country!

At least 2D fighters started getting better after SF4 released, but companies like Namco, Nintendo, and Aksys especially are falling into this trap of thinking unique character playstyles are somehow a good thing for fighting games when all they really do is limit your choices to the most fun and practical characters to use.