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While every platform boasts exclusive guest characters (PS2 offers ”Tekken”’s Heihachi, and Xbox, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn), who could resist GameCube’s draw: a chance to fight with ”Zelda”’s Link, who can, among other things, mount his opponent’s back while beating him/her with his trusty sword? And though defeating Inferno in the final Arcade Stage may seem easy, it’s just a warm-up for the battles ahead in the challenging new Weapon Master Mode. With seemingly countless missions, weapons, and strategies, ”Soul Calibur II” is the latest and greatest contender in the arena of thumb-numbing fighting.

Originally posted September 5 2003 — 12:00 AM EDT

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