Soul Calibur for the iOS Review

The B Sharp

[08] Mercenary
Well, January 19th is here and with it comes the original Soul Calibur for the iOS. It comes at a pretty hefty price of $11.99 (and that's with the game on sale). Luckily, I had an iTunes gift card left over from Christmas and made the plunge. The result? Eh...

Let's get the superficial stuff out of the way. The game looks quite good on my iPhone. Models are clean and sharp, and while the game doesn't run at 60fps it still looks pretty in motion. I've noticed slowdown in some stages (most prevalent on Mitsurugi's stage), but it doesn't hurt gameplay much.

There isn't much to say on the sound department. It looks like all the music and sound effects are there, and as was the case with the original there is only one language option.

Now for the presentation of the game. The menu is setup nearly identical to the Dreamcast's setup. To choose from option to option you slide and you have to hit small text on the screen. It's not terrible, but I wish NamcoBandai would have increased the size just a little bit.

Characters are unlocked by repeated play throughs, just like the DC, and the game has some of the extras from the the DC: Exhibition and Battle Theater. Sadly, the awesome gallery with oodles and oodles of sweet art is gone.

Let's cut to the chase, though... How does the game play? The good news is that it feels like Soul Calibur. Despite the occassional slowdown, I was able to play the game and perform most combos with no problem. Normally, I loathe touchscreen controls for games not designed for them. However, the controls were very responsive and felt better to me than they do in Street Fighter 4 for iOS. There is one major (and I emphasize major) problem, though. Simultaneous button presses are very difficult to perform, for me at least. To even perform a simple throw, I had to dedicate two fingers to the task. NamcoBandai seemed to have realized the issue and you can put a macro key in the options mode. Unfortunately, most likely due to limited screen real estate, you can only have one macro button set.

How's the multiplayer? Guess what... there isn't any! Yup, no local multiplayer, no online multiplayer. Nothing. No multiplayer in this fighting game whatsoever.

My verdict: I'm glad I didn't actually spend money, while at the same time regretting the purchase. Mediocre controls and no multiplayer kill most of the value. Considering that Mission Mode from the Dreamcast was also axed, there is little incentive to play single player unless Arcade mode and Survival mode are your things.

... all that for $11.99 (for a limited time!)

I would like to say that NamcoBandai does plan on adding additional game modes, but as the game is right now... pass.


Was this on a iPhone 4 or 4S?

I tried it on iPhone 4, iPod Touch 4th Gen and iPad 2 (wont install on original iPad as its not supported). The app is universal but difference on each platform is definitely noticeable. On both iPhone 4 and Touch 4th Gen, there's slowdown during gameplay. On the iPad 2, its very smooth without any slowdown. I'd imagine its similar on iPhone 4S due to dual core A5 like iPad 2. The controls are easier on the smaller devices and multi-touch does work but the virtual button layout is kinda've difficult to work with simultaneous button presses if you're trying to tap say with only your thumb.

[Update: Should have dug into it more, but in the options menu under controller settings you have 2 controller presets and also the ability to customize the layout. I was able to move the buttons closer together or re-arrange them entirely however you see fit. It would have been nice if you could also change the diameter size of each button. There's also a slider to adjust the transparency level of the virtual controls all the way to point of making them entirely invisible if so desired. You could also set button bindings in which case a new button will appear. So now with the customized layout, I can play this a lot better. Still, tactile controls will always be better but this is on a mobile touchscreen device. I could opt for one of those suction cup sticks however.]

For the most part, they did a surprising and pleasant job porting the game over. Some graphical details like effects rain (which was one of the highlights from the original if you remembered back then) is missing. Yes, biggest gripe is no multiplayer. But overall, they did a fantastic job porting the game over. Same raspy mono sound and voice effects. Even replay between rounds is there.

Whether or not NamcoBandai plans on adding additional content remains to be seen since they do state that additional modes are planned in iTunes. That said, you be the judge if its worth it for $12USD. (not sure what it will retail later or sell at if discounted) I think the price point is fair but compare to other games in iTunes may be too much. Yeah I'm sure people will complain and say you can get it on XBLA cheaper, sure. But that's not portable and price impact is arguably redundant... If anything, I'm sure the best platform would be the upcoming Vita without any compromises if you want to wait for that possibility. Just be happy, you got choices.


[14] Master
Played it on iPad with a friend. This is a hell of a game and is definitely worth the money, especially since it's universal.


[08] Mercenary
Yeah I bought it myself. Its nice the graphics and sound effects are the same from dreamcast. The only flaw I would say that its impossible to do combinations (A+B, A+G etc). So you really cant do some of the moves. You may have trouble with the joystick when it comes to moves as well. But its really good. Feels good to be reunited again


[09] Warrior
I didn't have any problems hitting multiple buttons on my ipad.

I am very sad about the lack of multiplayer though.


[08] Mercenary
Would bring life back to SC for me if they did and support online multiplay. HopeN they decide to update SC for i0 cause it's still the best 3d fighter they have