Virtua Fighter (series)
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|Virtua Fighter franchise|
The official logo of the series
Genki (VF3 DC port)
Tiger Electronics (Megamix Game.com and R-Zone ports)
TOSE (Virtua Quest)
|Platforms||Arcade, Saturn, 32X, Windows, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Master System, Game.com, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Virtual Console, Xbox 360|
|First release||Virtua Fighter
|Latest release||Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown
June 5, 2012
Virtua Fighter (Japanese: バーチャファイター) is a series of 3D competitive fighting games created by Sega studio AM2 and designer Yu Suzuki in 1993, and receiving four main sequels since. The first game is widely recognized as the first 3D fighting game ever released.
The basic gameplay involves two combatants needing to win two of three rounds, with each round being 30 seconds long or more. If a character is knocked out (or falls out) of the ring, the opponent wins the round. A fourth round is necessary if a double knockout (both players knocking each other out at the same time) occurred in a previous round and the match is tied one round each. In this fourth round, players fight on a small stage wherein one hit equals victory. Its control scheme is simple, using only a control stick and 3 buttons (Punch, Kick, Guard); however, through various timings, positions, and button combinations, players unlocked a bevy of moves for each character. Traditionally, in the single-player mode, the player runs a gauntlet of characters in the game (which may include one's doppelgänger) all the way to the final boss.
In 1998, the series was recognized by the Smithsonian Institution for contributions in the field of Art and Entertainment, and became a part of the Smithsonian Institution's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology Innovation. The arcade cabinets are currently kept at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
The brainchild of AM2's Yu Suzuki, Virtua Fighter was released in 1993 as an arcade game using hardware jointly developed by aerospace technology firm Lockheed Martin and Sega dubbed the Model 1. It is considered the first polygon-based fighting game. It introduced the 8 initial fighters as well as the boss, Dural.
Virtua Fighter 3 came out in 1996, with the introduction of Taka-Arashi and Aoi Umenokoji. Aside from improving the graphics via use of the Model 3 (such as eyes on characters that followed opponents), the game also introduced undulations in some stages and a fourth button, Dodge, both of which altered the gameplay. Virtua Fighter 3tb in 1997 was the first major update in series history, implementing tournament battles featuring more than two characters (though not simultaneously as in Tekken Tag Tournament).
Virtua Fighter 4, which introduced Vanessa Lewis and Lei-Fei and removed Taka-Arashi, was released on the NAOMI 2 hardware in 2001 instead of hardware from a joint collaboration with Lockheed Martin. Additionally, the game also removed the uneven battlegrounds and the Dodge button from the previous game. The title is consistently popular in its home arcade market. Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, released in 2003, was the first update to add new characters, these being Brad Burns and Goh Hinogami. Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned, an upgrade to Evolution, was released in the arcades in early 2005.
Virtua Fighter 5 was released in Japan on July 12, 2006 for Sega's Lindbergh arcade board and introduced yet two more new characters, Eileen and El Blaze. Similar to its predecessor, two revisions were later released. Virtua Fighter 5 R, released in 2008, saw the return of Taka-Arashi while introducing a new fighter, Jean Kujo. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown was released in arcades in 2010, now utilizing the Sega RingEdge arcade board.
The transition and quality of the Virtua Fighter arcade games to the home console have varied due to hardware differences, with some being the result of rushed development.
The first Virtua Fighter was ported to the Saturn in 1994 (1995 outside Japan), just months before fellow 3D-fighter Tekken was released. However, the port suffered due to flickering polygons, floaty controls, and inferior graphics compared to the arcade. The game was unfortunately rushed onto the Saturn to make the early launch date of the said game console, and little time was given to optimize the game. A port was also developed for the 32X system, which included an exclusive tournament mode. While it was considered the weaker of the two systems, the 32X version was considered the superior port. An updated version for the Sega Saturn, Virtua Fighter Remix, was made to make amends for the previous release. This version, developed by Sega AM1, included improved graphics and was mailed free to registered owners of the system.
Although the Saturn's Titan board was inferior to the Model 2, the port of Virtua Fighter 2 on the Saturn for Christmas 1995 was considered faithful to the arcade original. While the game's 3D backgrounds were now rendered in 2D, resulting in some scenery such as the bridge in Shun Di's river stage being removed, the remainder of the game was kept intact. It became the top-selling Saturn game in Japan. Virtua Fighter 2 was also remade as a 2D fighter for the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1996, omitting characters Shun and Lion. Virtua Fighter 2 was also re-released on the PlayStation 2 as a part of the Sega Ages series.
A port of the original Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 2 with enhanced graphics were also released for the PC.
The only port of Virtua Fighter 3 was for the Sega Dreamcast by Genki (instead of AM2) with Virtua Fighter 3TB in 1998 for the Japanese release of the console. Although the Dreamcast's NAOMI hardware was superior to the Model 3, the Dreamcast port was considered to be inferior in terms of graphics. Many blame a rush job to make it for the Dreamcast's Japanese release as the reason for this issue. Additionally, the Japanese release did not include a proper two player mode (a second player had to jump into a one player game instead of a proper option on the title screen), although this was fixed for the American release in November 1999.
Following Sega's exit from the hardware market in mid-2001, Virtua Fighter 4 was ported by Sega to the PlayStation 2 in 2002. Outside of a slight downgrade in graphics, the port of the game was considered well done. This port was followed by Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, an update that added two new characters as well as a host of game balancing tweaks, in 2003. Evolution was immediately released under the PlayStation 2's "Greatest Hits" label in the United States, which lowered its initial sticker price.
With the 2003 PlayStation 2 release of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution arriving in time for the series' 10th anniversary, a remake of Virtua Fighter, Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary, was released exclusively on the PlayStation 2. While the music, stages and low-polygon visual style were retained from the first game, the character roster, animations, mechanics and movesets were taken from Evolution. In the previous PS2 release of Virtua Fighter 4, a button code would make the player's character look like a VF1 model. In Japan, the game was included as part of a box set with a book called Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary: Memory of a Decade and a DVD. The box set was released in November 2003 and was published by Enterbrain. In North America, the game was included within the home version of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, and in Europe it was only available as a promotional item; it was not sold at retail.
Virtua Fighter 5 was released for the American PlayStation 3 on February 20, 2007. The PlayStation 3 port is considered extremely faithful to the arcade original, due in part to the arcade hardware (based on Sega Lindbergh platform) and PlayStation 3 hardware sharing NVidia-provided GPUs of comparable capability. In December 2006, Sega announced that an Xbox 360 port of the game was due the summer of 2007. It was released in October 2007 and contains the additions of online fighting via Xbox Live, improved graphics, and gameplay balances from the newer revision of the arcade game. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown was released as a downloadable title for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in June 2012, with online play available in both versions.
Sega's 8-bit consoles, the portable Game Gear and the home console Sega Master System, as well as the 16-bit Mega Drive/Genesis are not capable of internally displaying polygonal, three-dimensional graphics (Mega Drive polygonal racing game Virtua Racing relied on the Sega Virtua Processor hardware co-processor). To still be able to profit from the franchise's success, Sega created two-dimensional ports for those systems in 1996. A 2D-version of Virtua Fighter 2, which featured graphics that somewhat resembled the original 3D game, was produced for the Genesis. A 8-bit game, called Virtua Fighter Mini, based on the 35 episodes long anime series of Virtua Fighter was also created for the Game Gear and released in North America and Europe as Virtua Fighter Animation. The game was later ported to the Master System by Tec Toy and released only in Brazil.
1996 also saw the release of Fighters Megamix for the Sega Saturn, a crossover that pitted the cast of Virtua Fighter 2 against the cast of Fighting Vipers as well as other characters in AM2-developed games. Megamix served as a home preview to Virtua Fighter 3 in a few ways, as the game featured the dodge ability found in VF3 and the Virtua Fighter characters had their moves updated to those found in VF3. Some stages and music from VF3 are also in the game. The Virtua Fighter Kids versions of Akira and Sarah appear as hidden playable characters in the game, the character Siba, who was omitted from the first Virtua Fighter also appears as a hidden playable character, and the moveset of Virtua Cop 2 character Janet was based on VF3 character Aoi Umenokoji.
In Japan, the curious Virtua Fighter Portrait Series, wherein each character in the series had their own Saturn CD showcasing various poses of the fighter, was released around the same time as well. People who collected all the discs could send in their proof of purchases to get a special Portrait CD of Dural.
The Dreamcast game Shenmue, also developed by AM2/Yu Suzuki, was called Virtua Fighter RPG in the early stages of development and features a Virtua Fighter-like fighting system and in-game Virtua Fighter memorabilia (such as capsule machine toys of the characters). Suzuki has said numerous times that he used the series' main character, Akira Yuki, as the main influence in the main character Ryo Hazuki. Throughout the game and its sequel, there are several characters whose appearances and fighting styles closely match those of the Virtua Fighter series.
Virtua Quest, a simplified role-playing video game (which was also known as Virtua Fighter RPG) with new characters aimed at the children's market, was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2004 and the PlayStation 2 in 2005. The Virtua Fighters had their incarnations from Virtua Fighter 4.
Recently, both Sega and Namco have shown interest in a possible cross over between Virtua Fighter and Tekken. This crossover would combine all the characters and fighting styles from both games, but any other inclusions are unknown at the moment.
The following is a list of titles in the Virtua Fighter series:
- Virtua Fighter – Arcade (1993), Saturn (1994), Sega 32X (1995)
- Virtua Fighter Remix – Arcade (1995), Saturn (1995), Windows (1996)
- Virtua Fighter 2 – Arcade (1994), Saturn (1995), Mega Drive/Genesis (1996), Windows (1997)
- Virtua Fighter 2.1 – Arcade (1995), Saturn (1995), Windows (1997), PlayStation 2 (2004), Xbox 360 (2012), PlayStation 3 (2012)
- Virtua Fighter Portrait Series – Saturn (1996)
- Virtua Fighter Animation – Game Gear (1996), Master System (1997)
- Virtua Fighter Kids – Arcade (1996), Saturn (1996)
- Fighters Megamix – Saturn (1996)
- Virtua Fighter 3 – Arcade (1996)
- Virtua Fighter 3 : Team Battle – Arcade (1997), Dreamcast (1998)
- Virtua Fighter 4 – Arcade (2001), PlayStation 2 (2002)
- Virtua Fighter 4 : Evolution – Arcade (2002), PlayStation 2 (2003)
- Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary – PlayStation 2 (2003)
- Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned – Arcade (2004)
- Virtua Quest – GameCube (2004), PlayStation 2 (2004)
- Virtua Fighter 5 – Arcade (2006), PlayStation 3 (2007)
- Virtua Fighter 5 Online – Xbox 360 (2007)
- Virtua Fighter 5 R – Arcade (2008)
- Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown – Arcade (2010), Xbox 360 (2012), PlayStation 3 (2012)
Characters in Virtua Fighter By Title
|Character||1||2||3||4||4: Evolution||5||5 R||5 Final Showdown|
- ^a Siba appeared in the prototype stages of Virtua Fighter but was omitted from the final game. His portrait appeared on some arcade cabinets mislabeled as Akira. His only in-game appearance so far is in the AM2 spinoff crossover game Fighters Megamix.
Virtua Fighter is often considered to be the grandfather of 3D fighting games, with each iteration being noted for advancing the graphical and technical aspects of games in the genre. Even to this day, many 3D fighting game series such as Tekken and Dead or Alive were influenced by Virtua Fighter . And while, sales-wise, the series has often fallen behind the other titles (partly due to being released on underperforming consoles Sega Saturn and Dreamcast), the main games have always remained critically acclaimed titles.
In particular, its fans note its more realistic, "tournament rules"-style gameplay (for instance, a loss can occur when a character is knocked out of bounds), which differentiated the first iteration from other fighting games at that time. It is also applauded for its depth, as each character has plenty of moves and strategies to learn, and that each character plays differently from the others. Additionally, the game is also known for its balance across all characters, such that a good user of one character can have a fair match against another good user of any other character.
The developers of the game have also been considered rather meticulous, as shown by their removal of Taka-Arashi, the reason being that the hit detection was too difficult to calculate for the character in comparison to other characters. The producers also held strong on their refusal to add an online mode to console versions of the games; because the gameplay relies so much on timing, any lag would ruin the experience, as expressed by VF5 producer Noriyuki Shimoda in the February 2007 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly when speaking of the PlayStation 3 port of VF5. Eventually, with the Xbox 360 release of VF5, Sega decided to add online capabilities via Xbox Live.
The success of the Virtua Fighter series resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series 7 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include, "First Polygon Based Fighting Game", "First 3D Fighting Game", and "First Fighting Game for a 32-bit Console".
According to Eurogamer: "One of Yu Suzuki's most enduring creations once christened every round of new arcade hardware, was a pioneer in 3D graphics and helped establish online fighting. All the while, beneath those achievements emerged a game of exceptional depth and nuance."  1UP.com opined: "Due to its innovation, Virtua Fighter not only influenced competitors' games -- it basically created a genre. Technically, every 3D fighter that came after it owes Virtua Fighter for establishing that a 3D fighter could work. Even today, Tekken still takes inspiration from Sega's series." Game Informer's Andy McNamara stated: "It has always been my opinion that the Virtua Fighter series is the most intense and balanced of all the 3D fighters on the market. Its control scheme is intuitive, its pacing perfect, and its depth unmatched." IGN ranked Virtua Fighter as the 25th greatest game series of all time, explaining that "no other 3D fighter has equaled VF in terms of difficulty and depth."
Jacky Bryant and Akira Yuki appear in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing as partners competing against other Sega characters in races.
- "Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary Hits Japan". IGN. Ziff Davis. 10 October 2003. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection Interview (IGN)
- http://games.kikizo.com/features/sega_am2_vf5_videointerview.asp SEGA-AM2 Interview: Virtua Fighter 5
- Robinson, Martin, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown Review, Eurogamer, 13 June 2012.
- Leone, Matt, Essential 50: Virtua Fighter, 1UP.
- McNamara, Andy, Virtua Fighter 5 PS3 Review, Game Informer.
- IGN Staff, The Top 25 Videogame Franchises, IGN, December 4, 2006.
- Richard Mitchell, "Virtua Fighter's Akira playable in Dead or Alive 5", Joystiq, Mar 5th 2012. Retrieved June 8th, 2012.
- David Hinkle, "Dead or Alive 5 enters the retail arena on September 25", Joystiq, June 5th 2012. Retrieved June 9th, 2012.,
- Stephany Nunneley, "Dead or Alive 5 Pai Chan and Gen Fu Announced via Famitsu" VG247, Sept 12th, 2012. Retrieved Sept 17th, 2012.