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Soul Calibur: 'Gaming is at the point where one can nearly smell and taste'

Soul Calibur creator talks about the Xbox and how gaming has changed...

With Street Fighter blazing a new trail for fighting games and Mortal Kombat making its welcome return next year Namco fans have no doubt got their fingers crossed for a new Soul Calibur game.

While nothing has been announced yet we're guessing Namco won't let the resurgence in the popularity of fighting games go to waste.

Regardless of the lack of Soul Calibur related news, we caught up with its creator, Hiroaki Yotoriyama, to talk about the Xbox and how gaming has changed over the years...

So what have you been up to since Soul Calibur 2?

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Things have changed significantly for me, especially in the way I'm involved in our product development. For those first five years, I had worked on various products - including the Soul Calibur series - as a producer.

But over the last two years, I have been overseeing the development department in charge of the Tekken series, Soul Calibur series, and the Time Crisis series as a General Manager.

My position has changed from spearheading a development team to the human resources side, trying to bring up new directors and producers to manage the development teams and make sure the workflow is balanced.

And how do you reckon the games industry has changed around you?

The current videogames market is very extreme - some products are achieving great sales, whereas others are simply waiting to fail.

This situation could not be imagined eight years ago, especially since the global economic downturn has limited player's budgets on videogames, driving them to purchase popular sequential titles only.

This situation possibly causes some stagnation in which neither users nor publishers can easily try out new products.

That said, even in such situations some new IP products have been successful by making the consumers recognize their potential and persuading them to pick them up at stores.

Being a developer/publisher ourselves, we would like to keep on taking new challenges without being satisfied with our popular franchise titles in trying to keep the profits stable.

Soul Calibur IV came out in 2008 - and we loved it, but many Soul Calibur fans still consider SCII to be the best of the series. How do you think that sequel compares to the rest?

I believe that Soul Calibur II is one of most ambitious works in the series. We included many of the left out features and revamped what was seen as being confusing from Soul Calibur 1 as much as possible.

It was very challenging to develop the product simultaneously for three platforms; at the time it had never been done before in our history.

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This was also the time when the unique feature of the Soul Calibur world was born by bringing on the guest characters. Soul Calibur II brings back unforgettable memories of the franchise and you might say the soul of the Project Soul team can be felt from the product.

How hard did you push the original Xbox and how did developing for the Xbox compare to developing for PS2 and Gamecube?

Soul Calibur II had been developed on the concept of trying to push everything as much as we could. We even had it running in 720p. We were always aiming to push the original Xbox's hardware capabilities to the limit from the beginning.

I remember that it was very hard to balance out the development since we had to keep the performance equal between the three consoles: Xbox, PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo Gamecube, which all had distinctive features.

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