Soulcalibur IV: How to Kick Ass

I have recently reunited myself with a long-lost videogame love – Soulcalibur IV. Something not many people know about me is that I actually LOVE fighting videogames. From my Nintendo origins with Super Smash Bros Melee, to Street Fighter, and more recent titles like Injustice, I just love giving someone a good beating – virtually AND metaphorically speaking. It is probably genetic inheritance from the days when my mum and dad used to play DOOM with the cheats to have the immortality bonus and hack people open with a chainsaw – I Promise we are actually very pacifistic people!!! I guess, it is somewhat funny, because in an RPG I’d never play the warrior/tank sort of character. But you know, we all have our quirks.

I first started playing the Soulcalibur series probably much later than most people: Just as I was doing my Masters degree in 2012-2013. Back then I was playing it on the PlayStation, whilst now I am hooked up on the Xbox 360. After 4 years of not having touched the game – or many fighting games for that purpose: I have been very PC based and it’s just not the same… – I found great relieve in knowing I was still sharp with my combos; I just needed some dusting. However, I have noticed a few differences. Some to do with the platform, some just with a chance in preference and style, I suppose?

If you have been reading us for a while, you’d probably know I am actually tiny, and as such I have miniscule hands. I always struggled with PS controllers. They are a bit too wide for me; the length of the edge really digs into the end of my palms and wrists. They are generally not very ergonomically friendly, and they just feel rather uncomfortable. That actually ends up putting a lot of strain on my thumbs and slows down my reflexes and grip which of course in a fitting game completely throws you off-balance. Now, I’ve never been very fond of Xbox either (in fact this is one of the reasons why I’ve always been a Nintendo person; but more of that on a different update). However, I found I just got along much easier this way. I also learnt a couple of years ago from a friend that, apparently – do not quote me on this one – a lot of players in Asia do not actually play fighting games with their thumbs but instead use three fingers to tap on the XYAB combo just like you would with WASD on PC. I have given this a try to suddenly combos I never knew how to do appeared like MAGIC! So, if you are one of those people who wonders “how do they do it” or “how am I supposed to press all those buttons at the same time”, that is how. In general, this has improved my experience, and also changed ever so slightly my combat style.

When I started playing Soulcalibur IV, I was immediately drawn to Maxi: he was quick, and it was all about the relentless raging, combo spamming, button smashing that gave you that quick satisfaction that you had genuinely beaten someone hard and quick. I also grew very fond of Nightmare…something about that massive fist just punching you half the stage away so you can then slash and ring out…There is a simplistic, technical, suave aspect to it, don’t ask me why. But that was how I used to rock and roll. Sure, I did try every single character, that is for sure, but those were my mains if you like. Nowadays, I have gained a finesse that my previous style was lacking (an awful lot I’d say). Whilst I still very much enjoy playing with Maxi and Nightmare, I think that was just an easy way to get into the game. And I have found that for many people who is the case too. Although they have complexity to their combos, they are, at the same time, very straight forward to use: does what it says in the box sort of thing. You do not have to break your brains trying to figure out things like mood swing like with Tyra, or the sword/whip that Ivy uses, and things like Cervantes spins of doom. In any case, I have now grown really fond of Amy – but not Raphael. I find that although his moves are more powerful than hers, they lack the graceful style that Amy sports. I particularly like kicking people with Amy: up, down, to the side, who cares, her kicks are cool. And the rapier offers a lot of versatility. Whether is short strings of attacks, more elaborate combos with grabs and the like…It feels smoother. I am also rather happy with my skills with Cassandra. I think this is because, in some bizarre way, she combines the aspects I like of both Maxi and Nightmare in a more subtle way. She is quick, she has force particularly with her vertical attacks, and she doesn’t feel as delicate as my Amy character would, so if I am going against something rough – like Astaroth and those massive hulks – I feel some faint psychological reassurance. But my most recent discovery has been Seong Mi-na. I have traditionally been clumsy with ranged characters such as Killik (plus OP as hell so who cares to play him?!), or Hild. I never quite managed to get the range and timings right. And I thought it would be the same with her. Nevertheless, she has some really quick moves that feel less of a delayed action than the other two – and her range is not quite the same. It feels like it is more of a mid-range with the possibility into a longer distance keeping, so I have been enjoying my moves with her. Particularly because in the custom character section (which is the main reason why we all play this game, let’s face it…!!!), you can change hers for like a super long plume of doom which is pretty cool.

These are my thoughts on what easily is one of my favourites, non-Nintendo fighting games. So, if you like blowing off some steam and showing the world who is boss, here is some food for thought. And if you too have experienced a change in styles and characters, share it with us 🙂