With Soulcalibur V now unleashed upon the fighting game community, it’s time for BGM Mode to take a look back at the series’s epic soundtracks. And that’s not “epic” in the Internet forum sense--the Soul series has always done things on a grand scale, whether it’s the flashy action, the panoramic stage vistas, or even the ultra corny announcer. It follows that the music would be appropriately grandiose, usually sticking to a rich, orchestral sound but occasionally throwing in the odd electric guitar just because.
Let’s start off with Soulcalibur II‘s opening movie for good measure:
It’s hard to name any one song as Soulcalibur‘s main theme, but I like to think that the rising motif in the last 30 seconds of this song would be a fitting, if minimal, candidate.
Although I’m not directly featuring any songs from Soulcalibur‘s often neglected predecessor, Soul Edge, you can hear the older game’s influence in this track. The digital instruments may sound a bit primitive by today’s standards, but they were quite impressive back in 1998 and gave the whole soundtrack a very distinctive flavor.
The predecessor to the ending theme used in later Soulcalibur games, “Path of Destiny.” It’s both calming and triumphant, a fitting fanfare to play after you’ve triumphed over the last boss.
Could this be the greatest character select music ever? All of Soulcalibur‘s character select themes have lacked the immediacy and raw energy of this classic. If you’ve played Soulcalibur II you can probably imagine the flames billowing behind your character’s silhouette just by listening to this.
Soulcalibur II hit consoles in the summer of 2003, just a few months after the Pirates of the Caribbean movie took the world by storm. This track has a similar swashbuckling feel to Klaus Badelt’s groundbreaking Pirates soundtrack, which is an eyebrow-raising coincidence. However, the arcade version of SC2 came out nearly a year before anyone had ever heard of Captain Jack Sparrow, so I like to think that Mr. Badelt was actually just a huge Soulcalibur fan and used this song as inspiration.
One of Xianghua’s Chinese-inspired themes. It’s played as the backdrop to a castle under siege, so the song’s tone is a bit more somber than you might expect for a character who’s normally so energetic.
One of my favorite things in Soulcalibur III was fighting on the capsizing pirate ship, as a storm (complete with waterspouts) raged just off the bow and this song played in the background. Another of my favorite things was kicking my opponent off the ship for a ring out!
Here’s that electric guitar I mentioned. The song is reused from Soulcalibur II and is mostly identical, although it sports a new wailing note at the beginning just for good measure.
I mentioned this one a few installments ago when I featured fighting game music, but it’s so good I’ll do it again. This is a reworked version of “Wings of Despair” from Soulcalibur III, but the drums show some restraint and as a result the track is much more dramatic. It’s the superior version by far, I’d say.
Not content with just guest characters, Soulcalibur IV also featured a guest composer in Masaharu Iwata, who’s more known for his work in the Ogre series and Final Fantasy Tactics. Here he’s created another dramatic theme for Xianghua, with pounding drums and a sorrowful Chinese violin. Also take a listen to “Halcyon Harbor.”
At last, we come to Soulcalibur V, which brings along a huge surprise for any old school RPG fans: Joining the team in this installment is none other than reclusive composer Hiroki Kikuta, who’s most famous for his work on Square’s legendary Secret of Mana way back on the SNES. It’s rare to hear his playful flourishes in a game these days (at least on this side of the Pacific), so I was shocked when Namco revealed he would be working with Project Soul. This track, “Wings of Sorrow,” belongs to newcomer Pyrrha and has more than a few hints of Secret of Mana mixed in.
I’m pretty happy with Soulcalibur V‘s soundtrack so far, although Namco has already released the first set of DLC music packs featuring tracks from Soulcalibur and the original Soul Edge. With more music DLC from the series’s history on the way, are there any classic songs you’re looking forward to hearing again? Let us know your favorites in the comments!