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[11] Champion
I'm going to tell a little story. This is about my journey with the eponymous series from which this website draws it's name. Back in the day, long ago, things were very different for me. It almost seems like a separate lifetime honestly. My first encounter with the series was on the Sony PS1 with a little game called Soul Blade also known as Soul Edge. I had always liked fighting games the best and being very familiar with Tekken among others and very keen on these newer 3D style fighting games as opposed to the older 2D Streetfighter style games I took to this quickly. It was a game like Tekken but with weapons the combat being less clunky and far more graceful.

Of course this was not Soul Calibur proper. A PS1 era game it lacked the intuitiveness and full 3d movement of what would follow but at this point there was no way to tell. The vibe this game created with it's weapons as well as the eponymous Soul Edge the characters all strove to acquire for various reasons that would be a corrupting influence to all especially the inherently corrupt boss character of the title who bore the sword Cervantes named for the eponymous writer of what is widely regarded as the first modern novel was instantly compelling in ways that would stay with me to this day not entirely unlike the corrupting influence of the cursed sword and these things I would never forget even if the game itself was less memorable if only in it's gameplay.

I had a SNES and later the PS1 rarely having time or money to visit any kind of arcade venues which would always be a special experience but for me so this series would remain in the eminent domain of consoles. My old next-door neighbor meanwhile had every Sega console known to man and when the Dreamcast appeared so began my experience with the Calibur series proper. This is where I learned the game proper. A lot of people, some might say purists, insist on arcade sticks for fighting games and for any other game I might agree. 2D games made for the domain of arcades for instance when transferred to controllers have a way of ruining hands and fingers eventually even controllers themselves favouring a more frantic style of gameplay that is not necessarily less measured but the differences between a game like Marvel Vs Capcom and Soul Calibur are obvious to any player.

Until recently I've never had my own arcade stick and for years I played MVC3/UMVC3 with a controller. One ruined PS3 controller later and the game began to fizzle out the bar between the highest levels of play and the more mid to low range was very stark. Recently I tried Street Fighter V having bought it long ago around the same time I bought a PS4. At that time I was out of sorts and I bought lots of games simply because I could and it would be years before I would even attempt many of them some even still yet to be played. But I decided to try SF5 again more recently to see how things had gone. Instantly I realised the controller simply wasn't going to do here as my now older hands seemed far less able to cope with the repetitive strain.

As it happens this was shortly before Christmas last year and at that time my brother bought me an arcade stick. Instantly I took to it like an old arcade game but sadly SFV had proved disappointing not so much in it's gameplay which was indeed fairly excellent as usual but in the fact they were trying to use it to bludgeon me into spending more money unable to unlock anything without playing online and after winning my first and only match I finally acquired some 'fight money' with only a thousand or so wins just like it to go before I could unlock my first character but I digress. Massively. No thanks.

Going back to the original story I could only ever play the original Soul Calibur with my friend on his Dreamcast among my other friends which was fun but provided little opportunity for mastery which changed when the PS2 came along with Soul Calibur 2. Like a fish to water I took to this now able to see everything it had to offer for myself on my own time and it was rather a lot to recall all at once but again I quickly reached a plateau. I would fight my friends sometimes although more and more they would become less willing as I was always seeking a challenge to improve further. By the time we started playing team battle them having the maximum number and me limited to just the one it had started to become a bit silly.

So of course as with all things we began to move on. Although my friend, no longer next-door, had Soul Calibur 3 though I tried it once or twice I never got into this like I had the previous game and my next proper experience with the series would not happen for many years. Mid generation I found myself the recipient of another Christmas gift this being a PS3. One day I was in town and I stopped to look around the local Game outlet (like Gamestop but in the UK) noticing Soul Calibur 4 for something of a bargin. I did not hesitate. It was the first game I bought myself for the console. This game did present a challenge that was new and fairly unexpected after having gone around the basics of the gameplay in single player I discovered online matches.

Many people at the time wanted to complain about them but I never quite saw it that way. I was not blind to the foibles of the gameplay in the online setting but instead of seeing it as something to complain about nonetheless choosing to play I saw it as it was simply a renewed challenge. A new plateau to reach. With this brought the online interactions with others that eventually led to me joining this very site as I was curious to see how other players reacted to these new challenges and generally enjoyed the idea of being able to discuss the series with the like-minded which is to say fellow fans of it.

Of course as many of us are no doubt aware online has never been looked upon too fondly by any fighting game community really for what are perhaps obvious reasons. Perhaps not. Who actually cares to tell in any case once again I plateaued but shortly would follow the announcement of a new title in the series which at the time it had been a general belief it would end with SC4 and so my interest in it was renewed for another term so to speak. However the release of SC5 would prove to be somewhat disastrous with mixed feelings all around regarding changes to gameplay, characters, lore and the far less fictional tsunami that hit Japan around the time.

Claims it was rushed out among other things circulated and the game never quite recovered from it's stigma however the community persevered. While I myself never favoured this game over the older titles I did appreciate it simply for what it was but this was never going to be enough and I plateaued faster than I ever had before. Even as SC4 was seemingly at it's end I was still enjoying it however and had found here another plateau I had yet to reach. Within the community are tournaments and with SC4 I had found myself drawn to this perhaps greatest of challenges the games could ever present.

Sadly as SC5 marched on my will for this was greatly dulled as it seemed the actual challenge here was something else. Something more like a vain battle of egos that is utterly insular with a few people playing the game in the background the game having become something like that. A pointless struggle that has no real winners only losers as the real battle here was always within. I discovered that to win this battle was mere willpower having no requirement to play the game at all in reality which had become more like losing to me. The idea of finding myself forced to do things I no longer enjoyed only to satisfy some vain sense of superiority was in no way attractive. As a famous movie once said of nuclear war the only winning move is not to play.

Instead I tried a new tactic in confronting this new challenge. Video making with the facilities for this provided by SC5. I thought why not have my cake and eat it? Even if it means I no longer have it I'm damn sure going to eat this cake I paid good money for. So it became like a test. A test to see what would prove worthy if anything. Even myself. Was any of this worth my time? Was I worthy of anyone's time? Could it ever be worth sitting down and playing this game like I had so many times in the past enjoying it simply for what it was and nothing more? There was only one way to find out.

Sadly though at first I found some support in the community this slowly fizzled out until I was left with only one or two still enjoying what I was doing and eventually distracted by other things, probably far more important things but that would be a matter of perspective, these also disappeared. So here is where my story ends. Although I continued to run along with the series for the sake of the release of the newest game we've now long had SC6 I could never bring myself to once again indulge in this unabashed figurative carnage that I had so willfully allowed to unfold in the past.
Thanks for listening.
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[11] Champion



[11] Champion
The thing about liars is, when it comes right down to it, it's like the Highlander. There can be only one. Oh and it's all lies. Let's not forget that little shit nugget.
On that note Highlander for Soul Calibur guest!