Apparently, Darth Vader has an apprentice who will be a key character in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Instead of debuting in LucasArts’ game the Secret Apprentice will make his first appearance as a playable character in both versions of Soulcalibur IV. After reading the press release regarding this cross promotion, I wondered if Namco Bandai was required to include the Secret Apprentice as a condition for getting Yoda and Darth Vader. This would be an astute way for LucasArts to draw Soulcalibur fans to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and a chance for Namco Bandai to pull Star Wars fans into Soucalibur IV.
The Star Wars characters are getting lots of attention in North America. However, other new combatants created by popular manga artists are a draw for Japan. Shura was a designed by Hiroya Oku, the creator of Gantz. Ashlotte was drawn by Oh!great who is also known for his work on Tenjho Tenge. Angol Fear was created by Mine Yoshizaki who developed the iconic frog Keroro. Yutaka Izubuchi, the creator of RahXephon, was the guest artist for Scheherazade. All of the artists and franchises linked to Soulcalibur IV make the game appeal to a broader audience. It’s more subtle than an outright crossover like Mortal Kombat vs. DC, but Namco Bandai is trying to have something for everyone. Well, not everyone, but core fans of particular artist or franchise.
To date, Hilde is the only new character in Soulcalibur IV designed by Namco Bandai.
Images courtesy of Namco Bandai.