Sometimes, when you’re the sequel to one of the greatest fighting games of all time, you need no introduction and you’re allowed to have repeat praise heaped on your shoulders.
We previously reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of Soulcalibur II in 4Q2010, yet here we are again talking about it in glowing terms for the GameCube version. There isn’t much new to say other than this port is just as beautiful as the PS2 version.
With the addition of Link to the cast for this version, the game is even better. Link fits right in with the proceedings and manages to unbalance the game heavily in his favor. He’s the perfect addition, to be honest.
With a killer soundtrack, beautiful graphics that hold up after 20 years, a deep storyline and superior gameplay to almost everything available on the market at the time, Soulcalibur II is a worthy successor in every way to one of the greatest fighting games ever made.
Collections come a dime a dozen these days. Everyone wants to have a package of their best fighting games and then upsell them for the next couple of generations since the current console might not have backward compatibility. Capcom is no stranger to this, having released several Street Fighter collections over the years. The final game series to get this treatment was Darkstalkers aka Vampire in Japan with the Vampire Collection. For those who are uninitiated, Capcom does make fighting games beyond Street Fighter: Vampire doesn’t get as much due and press as Street Fighter but is just as good. But let’s get into the meat and potatoes of why you’re here: Is the collection any good? I can resoundingly answer yes. It’s everything you’d want of the Vampire series, including games that never made it to the U.S.
Making up the collection are Vampire/Darkstalkers, Vampire Hunter/Darkstalkers 2, Vampire Savior/Darkstalkers 3, Vampire Hunter 2, Vampire Savior 2 and what Capcom calls a hyper version of Savior 2, which pits all versions of the characters against each other. In those five games is a deep fighting game engine with great mechanics and an interesting storyline that invokes monsters of mythology.
The gameplay style didn’t change too much between games but it’s unique and has character enough to encourage even the most hardened street fighter to come back and learn more. There are advanced techniques such as Dark Force and chains to learn as well as movesets that require some controller gymnastics to master. The character design in each of the collection’s games is a bit wonky from the age of Capcom’s overstylized cartoonish era of hand-drawn sprites but it doesn’t look terrible.
The best thing about the series — other than the gameplay — is the soundtrack. Hunter 2 and Savior 2 never made it to the U.S., and Darkstalkers in general didn’t do as well as Capcom would have liked. And that’s why this collection is a must-buy item. You won’t see this in America, and it should be. The games are presented in their original form with all versions available. This package is worth finding and importing.