Bandai Namco's Soulcalibur II turns 20 in Japan today. The classic fighting game — a sequel to what many already considered one of the best fighting games ever, Soulcalibur on Dreamcast — launched on 27th March 2003 in Japan on GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2.
But, c'mon, we all know the GameCube version was the best version, and for one big reason — the Hero of Time.
Not only is Soulcalibur II adored by fighting game fans around the world (I and II regularly duke it out for which is the best in the series), but the console versions each brought a specific cameo character to the game in a time where cameo characters were a bit more of a novelty rather than an expectation (Final Fantasy XV's Noctis and Negan from The Walking Dead in Tekken 7? Sure).
The Xbox version gave us Todd McFarlane's comic book antihero Spawn, while on PlayStation 2 Tekken's Heihachi Mishima was playable. Both fun crossover characters, for sure. However, the GameCube got the Link from The Legend of Zelda, and there's no competing with that really.
Link in Soulcalibur II came equipped with everything you'd expect — the Hylian Shield and the Master Sword; a boomerang; bombs; his bow and arrow. It was adult Link just as you knew him, dumped into the fantasy alternate history world of Soulcalibur. And it was beautiful. Link also just doesn't speak — so whenever a character is trying to have a conversation with him in Arcade or Story Mode, well, it's a little bit hilarious.
Brilliant crossover cameos aside, Soulcalibur II is simply an outstanding fighting game. It has a robust single player campaign, tons of characters to play as and unlock, and really fast, tight gameplay. It's easy to pick up, hard to master, and it looks absolutely stunning even today. Really, it builds upon everything that made its Dreamcast predecessor great and polishes it to a fine sheen.
At the time of writing this, only two games in the Soulcalibur series — which started in 1996 with Soul Edge (or Soul Blade) — have been on Nintendo systems: Soulcalibur II and SoulCalibur Legends on Wii. And, despite getting an HD Online rerelease back in 2013 (which has now been delisted from both the Microsoft Store and PSN), Soulcalibur II has never been rereleased on a Nintendo system. That means Link's cameo is stuck on the GameCube.
But we're in the middle of a GameCube renaissance at the moment — Metroid Prime Remastered, Tales of Symphonia Remastered (despite some questionable quality issues), and the Resident Evil 4 remake are all from that era and have been released in the last two months. And recently, rumours of a remaster/collection have once again reared their head. So, please, consider the Switch, Bandai Namco?