SoulCalibur is a franchise that has been around for over a decade and has seen several releases on various hardware. The latest entry in the franchise, SoulCalibur VI, aims to uncover new secrets from the story of the first SoulCalibur title.
But just how realistic is the fighting in SoulCalibur games? It might come as a surprise, but many of the fighting styles used by characters are inspired by fighting styles from the real world. One such character that uses a fighting style from the real world is Heishiro Mitsurugi. In the game SoulCalibur regular Mitsurugi uses a sharp long blade as his weapon of choice. He makes use of this weapon by practicing a fighting style known as Kendo in the real world. Kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art with emphasis on the use of swordsmanship.
Given the complexity of Kendo and its various rituals that practitioners learn about as they continue to do it, it means that SoulCalibur players get a more condensed version of it, when they play as Mitsurugi.
With this in mind, it means that players get to experience all the exhilarating aspects of Kendo, without having to feel overwhelmed by anything else associated with it. In the game, Mitsurugi always strikes his opponents with his blade by striking forward. This is due to the fact that the front of the blade is the only part that is sharp enough to cut in Kendo.
Unlike SoulCalibur, beginners of Kendo can only make use of a bamboo sword called shinai when practising. This lightweight blade makes it the perfect tool for building up confidence when learning the different ways to strike an opponent. Just like Mitsurugi makes use of several Kendo like moves to strike his opponents from different angles.
Whilst Mitsurugi and his fellow SoulCalibur fighters have the luxury of not being affected by cuts, the same can’t be said of real humans. Which is why Kendo is performed by making use of protective armour that covers critical areas, where a strike could prove fatal or cause serious injuries. Not that poor Mitsurugi doesn’t use armour, since his default costume sees him cover some of his body parts.
What feels the same when looking at how Mitsurugi fights in the game and people practising Kendo is the actual fighting. Whilst beginners of Kendo will no doubt like to take it slow, witnessing advanced practitioners of this martial art in action is a joy to witness in person. In fact, seeing these talented individuals at work feels just as exhilarating as playing and watching others play a SoulCalibur title.
Those who work hard and continue to practise Kendo might even find themselves holding a sharp katana blade like Mitsurugi. These are lighter than expected since practitioners have to hold them for long periods of time. Hopefully it’s the same for the blade that uses in fights Mitsurugi.
There is no doubt that fighting in a game is not exactly the same as when doing it with a fighting style in the real world. Still, it’s fascinating to realise that fighting styles such as Kendo could inspire game developers to create whole games that could capture the feeling of doing these physical activities and perhaps inspire some players to learn more about them.
In the latest entry in the franchise, upcoming SoulCalibur VI, Bandai Namco is introducing some new Technical abilities that make it seem closer than ever to how real fighting styles are used. One such idea makes it possible to counter certain moves in a way that feels similar to how attacks can be blocked in Kendo.
The game also introduces The Witcher character Geralt in a way that fittingly demonstrates his sword wielding skills. It’s even possible for him to make good use of his special Signs powers to gain the upper hand when they are properly used.
Finally, just like in Kendo, SoulCalibur VI fighting also feels more fluid and characters move in a way that makes them feel lighter. It will be interesting to see the reception for such changes once the full game is out.
For now, those that are curious about learning more about Kendo and perhaps even taking part in it can check out the London based Nenriki Kendo Club.
SoulCalibur VI will be out on 19th October 2018 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.