Two interesting pieces of news emerge about the imminent Soul Calibur IV; firstly, it is confirmed that noted Mai-Otome character designer 久行宏和 / Hirokazu Hisayuki has designed one of the extra characters, above, looking to be another supernaturally inclined character, an oni if I’m not mistaken.
The next piece of news is rather more speculative: we have a report that the extra characters will take the form of pricey downloadable content, though this is still very much unconfirmed.
The source for the DLC rumour is a self proclaimed Namco insider posting online (highly, highly dubious, though the claims themselves are credible enough); he claims that the extra characters will all have download fees, and so will parts for creatable characters, and even their extra costumes will have to be bought (more erotic costumes will be pricier). Prices given are in the ¥1,000-¥1,500 range, for the Japanese market obviously.
I would have expected to have heard about such a scheme earlier, but it seems obvious for Namco to include some kind of DLC functionality, which would logically imply buying extra characters, stages, costumes, modes, etc. What else could they sell, after all? A very interesting rumour.
Back to confirmed information: This means that SCIV now has designs by no less than five noted artists; the earlier mentioned Gantz creator 奥浩哉 / Hiroya Oku has his, Air Gear mangaka 大暮維人 / Oh! great his, Keroro Gunsou’s 吉崎観音 / Mine Yoshizaki another, and finally Gundam mecha designer 出渕裕 / Yutaka Izubuchi also brings one to the table. An all star team, or a mish mash of opportunistically selected ringers?
You’ll also notice that there is something of a gender imbalance apparent amongst the extra characters, with all being female.
Couple this with the strippable characters you may have heard about, and we have a game which appears to be playing on some quite prurient tastes (not that I’m complaining – what annoys me is the inclusion of Star Wars characters).
I think I’d have to conclude that the Soul Calibur series has finally lost its creative focus (I always respected their efforts to tie everything in to a mythos, unusual in the genre), though I’ll refrain from final judgement until I’ve played it.
The source for all this.