Okay, so I went back and played through some Soul Calibur 3 for context, and Seong Mi-na’s moves are totally different there. Earlier I mentioned that learning her moves in 2 was easy because of my experience with 1 and 3, but apparently the third game had nothing to do with that. Using her in the third game was actually surprisingly awkward and kind of started to give me a new appreciation for Soul Calibur 2. Not enough to counteract the endless gimmicks, poorly communicated things, and general wonkiness, but I definitely hate it slightly less now that I know that it’s one of the rare ones that include all my favorite Seong Mi-na moves.
I lost track of the chronology here
I recorded a lot of these videos at once with the intention of writing about them later, but the barrage of other games has left me scratching my head a bit as to which ones technically come before which. That means that my character’s class/level/whatever in weapon master mode might vary between videos.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about my least favorite stage. There are a lot of bad stages with stupid requirements (such as enemies who have so much health that you have to get a ring out on them to win), and I’ll definitely be bringing a few of those up, but this stage in particular seems to have been designed to drive me crazy. In it, you have to beat five characters in a row. That’s nothing particularly noteworthy in and of itself, as there’s another stage that forces you to beat seven in a row, but the thing is that you’re on a timer and every enemy will go out of their way to waste your time. Lengthy grab animations, dodging around so that you can’t kick them off the ledge, that kind of thing. Taki in particular is the worst, because she’s designed to block almost all of your attacks here and then combo you afterward. Mostly, this stage just comes down to luck. Oh, and you have to do it multiple times.
You have to do many of them multiple times
This is the stage that forces you to beat seven people in a row. Also, their health restores over time and yours doesn’t. The thing about weapon master mode, however, is that winning often requires leveraging certain weapon effects. The most valuable ones to use are those that can damage enemies even when they’re blocking and weapons that restore health when you hit enemies, and you can see me using the latter in the video. It still takes a few tries, but this honestly isn’t one of the bad stages. What I actually want to point out is that the stage doesn’t turn blue after finishing it. Instead, it remains red and forces you to go through it again. With stages like this one or those that only require beating one or two opponents, that’s not a huge ask. Unfortunately, it also happens with dungeons that can consist of 20-30 fights and lots of loading screens between them that add up. Finishing a long, tedious trek through a dungeon only to have to do it all over again for some random reason is awful, and this obviously affects both the original game and HD remaster.
Here are some of the gimmicks
This is an incomplete list of gimmicks the game throws at you. There are also the ones where you or enemies start with half health, someone’s health is going up or down (sometimes this happens randomly in a single mid-dungeon fight, screwing you over because you were busy fighting instead of monitoring your health), enemies are sped up, winds blow everyone around, ice causes a lack of friction, earthquakes happen every few seconds, and other such groan-inducing stupidity.
Of course, there’s the “you get beaten if you get knocked down once, but enemies can be knocked down all day and survive” gimmick. For a single fight, this is palatable. Having to win three fights in a row like this is pure agony.
Then there are the stages that switch up your characters. Don’t know Assassin’s moves yet? Too bad! Guess you’ll have to learn on the fly! Given the weapon master mode’s focus on using the specific character best suited to a task, it makes no sense for the game to randomly take control of this out of your hands and force you to clumsily button-smash your way to victory with someone you’ve never used before.
Other stages throw their hands up in the air and go “screw it, we’ll just make the enemy invisible except for their weapon.” How do you block an enemy you can’t see? You basically don’t. Just smother it with attacks, which is actually the best way of getting through 99% of Soul Calibur 2’s stupid gimmicks. You just find one or two moves that enemies have trouble blocking and spam them like crazy.
Finally, there are the stages where you have to fight certain parts of Charade. The legs are especially difficult to beat because a whole bunch of attacks are too high to hit. This is pretty much the same problem that Oddjob in N64’s Goldeneye posed.
This problem only affects the old version
One of the benefits of the HD version is that the increased resolution allows for much more clarity in the visuals. The final boss (and one of the tougher enemies in weapon master mode) is Inferno, and his stage takes place on an infinite plane. That means no ring-out victories. The problem with fighting him on the PS2 version is that the low resolution causes the ground’s fire effects to blend in with his fire effects and obscure attack cues, turning everything into a busy mess. This is presumably true of the Gamecube and original Xbox releases as well, though I don’t really remember much about the Gamecube version, and I never played the original Xbox version.
Pretty sure I finished weapon master mode
I had a head start on the PS2, but little things like the better clarity made certain stages more reasonable on the HD remake, so I decided to clear every stage and turn the entire map blue to see what happens. As it turns out, nothing. You don’t even get an achievement for it, and that’s the laziest form of recognition there is to begin with. The closest thing is getting an achievement for buying all of the weapons because certain weapons can only be purchased from certain places, which requires making process on top of lots and lots of grinding for gold. Honestly, I don’t see the point if you don’t get anything special for finishing the harder second round of weapon master mode. This whole thing has been a colossal waste of time.
I can’t test multiplayer, sorry
I refuse to buy the imaginary currency that is Xbox Live Gold. Even if free games come attached (though I’ve read that the Xbox One games go away once you stop paying), the whole thing is a huge joke, and I refuse to play along for the privilege of having some 13 year-old throw inaccurate racial slurs at me. Consoles are great for things such as physical media/used games, but this cult of paid online that traps people in an ecosystem by holding their “free” games hostage while convincing them that the shakedown is necessary and for their own good? Absolutely embarrassing.
Hey, I recreated that bug in the HD version
In the last progress log, I showed off a bug where the “earthquake” effect remains in effect permanently on the results screen and mentioned that it occurs even in the HD remaster. I finally got video of this, and even found a stage where causing it to happen is pretty consistent. Basically, you have to end the fight at a specific time when the quakes are happening, and they happen frequently enough in this stage that it’s easy to pull off. Eventually I figured out that two Seong Mi-na cartwheels followed by a kick are timed perfectly for this (assuming they aren’t blocked).