The Lost Content Of Soul Calibur (Now Found!)

Man, I love the Internet Archive's Way Back Machine. It's literally a real-life version of the chronoscope as described in Isaac Asimov's short story, The Dead Past. Well, not quite...but you get the idea. In The Dead Past, the chronoscope is designed to view the real world of the past, as opposed to the internet, but the similarities are there. Also, I just wanted a reason to mention Isaac Asimov because the dude was a freaking genius. If the chronoscope ever does become a thing, I'll be hitting him up to write a guest article for the Junkyard. Anyway, the point of all this is that I was browsing the internet of 1999 with Way Back Machine, with a specific mission.
See, I was trawling Namco Japan's old site looking for the fabled special VMU save file that gave players access to a hidden Voldo costume, but I inadvertently found myself looking through the pages of the old Namco US site, too. Naturally, I navigated to the Soul Calibur sub-site and my, what a treasure trove that is. There are tons of downloadable files, images, guides and walkthroughs for the game, but perhaps the most interesting thing was the desktop themes section. Yes, Namco created some official Soul Calibur themes for Windows 95 and while the files themselves are no longer accessible, these screen shots are...and I thought they were worth sharing.

They're pretty cool, and even change the icons for My Computer and the Recycle Bin to little icons mimicking characters from the game. Ah, Windows 95...they just don't make 'em like that any more. I think I had a Windows 3.1 computer back when the Dreamcast came out, and I specifically recall writing game reviews for my local newspaper on it. Halcyon days indeed. On the subject of the Voldo costume, it only came to my attention when a gentleman called Sunil commented on a post on the Junkyard's Facebook page.

That lead me down another rabbit hole, but not one anywhere near as deep as the recent sojourn into the very bowels of the internet when I was looking for the Dreamcast barber. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, allow me to explain. Apparently, to celebrate the astronomical success of Soul Calibur, Namco Japan released a downloadable VMU file that comprised three mini games, and completing the mini games unlocked a special costume for Voldo.
The following description of the mysterious mini games is taken from a Game Stop Plus article from December 1999, announcing Namco reaching 1 million sales of Soul Calibur:

Namco has officially announced that Soul Calibur for the Dreamcast has sold a million copies worldwide. In celebration of this feat, the company's Japanese web site will let users download new VMU minigames.

Text Adventure: Shenhua's Story lets users play through a mini digital novel with Shenhua as the main character. The Mini-Game 3 Pack features minigames; in one, the player controls Voldo and prevents him from dropping the treasure chest. When you beat the minigames, you will be treated to a surprise.
- Game Stop Plus, December 1999

We have deduced that the 'surprise' mentioned is probably the special costume. What this costume looks like I'm not totally sure, but it's a fascinating little footnote in the whole Soul Calibur saga. I did actually find the page that mentions the mini games (you can view it here) but the link to the VMU file is broken, probably because Dricas no longer exists. It's a shame, but I'm sure somebody out there has this file on a VMU so if you do, please let us know in the comments or on the Facebook group.

Anyhow, I thought these shots of Windows 95 looking like the stage of history were worth sharing. I'm off to read Asimov's Foundation again for 8th time. And so should you.

I've been speaking with fellow gaming type person @sairukau on Twitter and there may be light at the end of this tunnel. Sairuk has been doing more internet archaeology and has assembled a page over at Mame AU detailing the different versions of the Soul Calibur VMU mini-game files, along with download links. At the time of writing, the actual game file is still to be found (only the VMI files have been unearthed, and Sairuk informs me that Blueswirl generates the VMU game files using an XML file...or something), but we'll keep you updated. Note: this is why the Dreamcast community is freaking awesome.

Update 2:
It appears that the files have now been found. Head over to Sairuk's Mame AU mini site detailing the file types here. We're currently working on getting a bootable VMU Tool disc made, and will be endeavouring to play the shit out of these mini-games ASAP to see if we can finally unlock that Voldo costume. If it's just Voldo with a VMU for a codpiece, well...hmm.


Marcelo said...

Wait, wait, wait....
Shenhua???From Shenmue??!!!!!!!!!!

Tom Charnock said...

Probably a typo. Must mean Xianghua.

fanat said...

Have you checked VMU Backup CD? Might be on it:

Also, look on vmu save sites, like this one

RJAY63 said...

The Japanese versions of these mini games gave you two passwords that could be entered on Namco's website for some extra artwork: (not longer working)

Nothing in the English version though.

Sean-Paul said...

wow! I just stumbled across the archived links to these on Sega's old American site. The downloads don't appear to be working for me, but it's still interesting information.