Street Fighter II took the world by storm with fast paced combat and brilliant combos. But Sega wanted to take the world by storm by using 3D technology and so they made something that revolusionised the fighting genre…until it aged faster than that bottle of wine that nobody in the household touches. Virtua Fighter (バーチャファイター Bācha Faitā), developed and published by Sega and was first released in 1993 for the arcades, before getting a Sega Saturn release in Japan in 1994 and the west got it in 1995. The game was created by Yu Suzuki and used a Sega Model-1 system which used 3D-rendering technology to create the game we see today.
Surprisingly if you have the manual for the game (if you have the Saturn port) it has a story, to summarise, it invokes the Imperial Guard in ancient China developing a new Kung Fu technique called the Hakkyoku Ken (The Eight Point Fist), it got a great following that in WW2 this technique was used to create a great fighting army. 150 years later and the only fighting master that still uses the technique is Akira Yuki (who definitely isn’t Ryu), a young man travelling all over the world to find worthy opponents (Oh…THIS IS RYU!). He enters a fighting tournament where anyone with different fighting techniques can take part. Akira, along with seven other fighters remain in the tournament: Sarah and Jacky Bryant, skilled in Sekken Do, Lau Chan and his daughter Pai, Jeffry McWild, skilled in Pancratium, professional wrestler Wolf Hawkfield and Kagemaru…the Ninja.
So the you can play as eight fighters as mentioned above, all you need to do is fight the opponent, win two matches and you can fight the next opponent, do this 7 times to fight a new opponent at the end. The gameplay is mostly fighting, no gore like Mortal Kombat or flashy moves like Virtua Fighter, just plain old, normal, everyday, no question about it, no Super Hyper Street Fighter II, no year, not named after a fighter, not named after a place, not named after the fighter’s finishing move, no Art, Fatal, Mortal! Simple, ordinary, unembelished, unmistakeable, crystal clear, as frank as Frankenstein, as blood as an atom bomb, one common word! It’s bleeding, god darn, sons of gunning, blood bleeding bloody Virtua Fighter!
Yeah, I know I got from the Nerd but the game really is that simple, but each fighter has special moves and they’re more or less look and feel realistic…maybe except for the moon jumping. You only have three buttons, punch, kick and block. The game play is simple but hard to master, even in easy mode it can be a challenge later in the game but around the last two levels did I actually need to learn some techniques to overthrow my opponents, and it’s not too hard to defeat them as long as you know your techniques…until the final boss appeared who teared me a new one. The characters mostly move but don’t always feel the same but they do have different techniques to differ them. So there’s not much more to talk about since I said again, it’s a simple fighting game.
But the graphics are AWFUL, you can count all the polygons in the game, it’s looks so terrible and it’s so dated…and I love it for it. It’s one of those games where you can define what a series is based on it’s graphics, like Mortal Kombat and their near photo-realistic fighters and Virtua Fighter has blocky characters who look very memorable. Heck, you can get an Akira costume for Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, and they still made him blocky, it’s so hilarious and kind of touching in a way.
Overall, it’s a decent fighting game, but I wouldn’t put it up there with Street Fighter II based on simplicity, this is a nice simple fighting game that I can get a kick out of from time to time, the game might be stone age compared to newer fighting games, even Street Fighter II. Virtua Fighter is considered to be the grandfather of 3D fighting games and it has a fantastic legacy, like how the cabinets are stored at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. It inspired the likes of Tekken, Dead or Alive, even Street Fighter had a crack at it at one point, or two. And one more important thing, it if wasn’t for this game, the PlayStation story may have been different since it was originally going to be a 2D console but thanks to this game, they decided to make it a 3D console. It was a huge success and has left a mark in the fighting genre. Thanks Virtua Fighter. Now let’s see how the sequel fares.
You can get it on the Arcade, Saturn, 32X, R-Zone and Microsoft Windows.