Virtua Fighter 3

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Virtua Fighter 3
Arcade flyer
Developer(s) Sega AM2
Genki (Dreamcast)
Publisher(s) Sega
Director(s) Daichi Katagiri
Producer(s) Yu Suzuki
Designer(s) Kazuhiro Izaki
Programmer(s) Tetsuya Kaku
Composer(s) Takenobu Mitsuyoshi
Fumio Ito
Hidenori Syoji
Series Virtua Fighter
Platform(s) Arcade, Dreamcast
Release date(s) Arcade
July 26, 1996 (location test)[1]
September 1996 (wide release)[2]
September 1997 (Team Battle)
Dreamcast (Team Battle)
  • JP November 27, 1998
  • EU October 14, 1999
  • NA October 18, 1999
Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Sega Model 3 Step 1.0
CPU Main: PowerPC 603e[3] @ 66 MHz[4]
Sound Sound CPU:
68EC000[3] @ 12 MHz[5]
Sound chips:
SCSP: 16‑bit, 44.1 KHz, 64‑voice, 4‑channel[3]
Display Horizontal orientation,
640×480 resolution, progressive scan,[3]
60 Hz refresh rate,[5]

Virtua Fighter 3 (Japanese: バーチャファイター3 Hepburn: Bācha Faitā Surī?) is the third fighting game in the Virtua Fighter series of video games. Two new Japanese characters were added to the roster of fighters: Aoi Umenokoji, a beautiful Japanese woman and a childhood friend of Akira Yuki who used a nimble form of Aiki-jujutsu as her fighting style of choice, and Taka-Arashi, a Sumo wrestler from Japan. Taka Arashi would not make another appearance in the Virtua Fighter series until Virtua Fighter 5 R; the series' current producer, Hiroshi Kataoka explained that the removal of Taka in subsequent installments was due to the technical implications of having a substantially larger character.[6] Taka had in fact nearly been cut from Virtua Fighter 3 due to difficulties with his jumping moves.[7]

It was the first arcade game to run on the Sega Model 3 system board. Released in 1996, video game magazines at the time described it as having the best video game graphics up until then, comparing its real-time graphics to pre-rendered CGI of that era.[3][8] A port for the Sega Saturn was announced but ultimately cancelled. However, the game eventually reached home consoles in the form of a conversion for the Dreamcast.


This iteration is the first in the series to have undulation in the stages, such as a staircase in the Great Wall stage, a stage set on top of a sloping roof and a raft constructed of individually moving elements on a bobbing water surface.

A fourth button, the Dodge, was added (the series had previously used only three - Kick, Punch and Guard). Pressing the button with the joystick in neutral or held up makes the character move into the screen (i.e. away from the viewer), while pressing the button with the joystick held down makes the character move out of the screen (i.e. towards the viewer). This 'evasion' technique enables players to dodge incoming attacks, creating opportunities to counter-attack almost immediately.


Virtua Fighter 3 was the launch title for the arcade board Model 3 from Sega. Developed by Yu Suzuki's Sega AM2, it was a revolutionary game from a technical standpoint, with its detailed graphics earning widespread praise. Characters' eyes appeared to track the opponent's position, their muscles could flex and relax, and the fighting arenas featured stairs and slopes.

At the Japanese AOU show on February 21, 1996, Sega displayed semi-playable interactive demos of Lau Chan, Dural, and new character Aoi Umenokoji, who was unveiled for the first time at the show. However, Dural, the robotic final boss, garnered the most attention, due to being made of a metallic surface that reflected the surrounding environment.[9][8] The demo was later unveiled in North America at the ACME (American Coin Machine Exposition) show, held during the 7th to 9th of March 1996.[3] The game was released for location testing at an exhibition hall in Kamata, Tokyo, Japan, on July 26, 1996,[1] before getting a wide release in September 1996.[2]

Yu Suzuki announced a Sega Saturn port at a late 1996 press conference (the same conference at which Fighters Megamix was unveiled), elaborating that AM2 research had been studying Virtua Fighter 3 for the past few months and had at last determined that it was possible to create a Saturn port comparable to the arcade version.[10] To facilitate the conversion, AM2's Research and Development labs spent some months working on a "3D accelerator cartridge" for the Saturn, but the cartridge was canceled for undisclosed reasons. Sega officials nonetheless stated that Virtua Fighter 3 would be ported to the Saturn with or without the upgrade cartridge.[11]

Virtua Fighter 3tb[edit]

Team Battle is an updated version of Virtua Fighter 3, that featured battles between teams of various fighters, one after another is defeated. This "team battle" version was later released on Sega's Dreamcast console, being one of its launch games, becoming one of the best-selling Dreamcast games in Japan. Virtua Fighter 3 was intended to be a launch title for the Dreamcast in North America, but it was delayed. Although it did eventually come to North America, it wasn't nearly as successful as it was in Japan.[citation needed]


Returning Characters[edit]

New Characters[edit]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 79% (DC)[12]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 4.5/5 stars (ARC)[13]
4.5/5 stars (DC)[14]
2.5/5 stars (DC)[15]
Computer and Video Games 4/5 stars (DC)[16]
Edge 8/10 (DC)[17]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 8/10 (DC)[18]
Game Informer 7.75/10 (DC)[18]
GamePro 16.5/20 (ARC)[19]
Game Revolution C (DC)[20]
GameSpot 8.2/10 (DC)[21]
GameSpy 8/10 (DC)[18]
IGN 8.7/10 (DC)[22]
Arcade 10/10(DC)[23]
Consoles + 96% (DC)[24]
Dreamcast Magazine 93% (DC)[25]
Gaming Age B+ (DC)[26]
Gaming Maxx 9.5/10 (DC)[18]
Player One 82% (DC)[27]
Publication Award
Gamest Awards (Winner) Best Graphics
Gamest Awards (Nominee) Game of the Year,
Best Fighting Game

Arcade version[edit]

The May 1996 issue of Computer and Video Games previewed the game's demo that was shown at the ACME show in March 1996, describing it as "the most astounding display of video game graphic muscle ever in the history of this industry." They stated the "disjointedness" of Virtua Fighter 2, Tekken 2 and Soul Edge "is completely gone" and the "characters are so smooth" that "every frame looks almost good enough to be a singular SGI-rendered image, not a polygon construct." They noted "high-res detail" from "every angle, no matter how zoomed in" and transparency, translucency, lighting and shading effects. They praised the motion capture animation of "absolutely gorgeous" Aoi Umenokoji and considered Dural's "morphing from liquid metal" to look more impressive than the T-1000's similar effects in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.[3] The April 1996 issue of Sega Saturn Magazine also compared Dural to the T-1000, noting Dural "looked almost identical" and the "metal surface reflected light from the surrounding" backdrops, which they described as "absolutely breathtaking."[9] The May 1996 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly stated, "Never in the history of gaming has any product ever looked as good as" Virtua Fighter 3, with "astonishing" graphic detail for each fighter, including visible facial expressions, a "lifelike" smile, eyes which follow the opponent, and clothes which move with the wind and change position and shape as the character moves.[8] The June 1996 issue of Computer and Video Games compared the game's graphics to "the most impressive movie special effects" at the time.[28]

Upon release, the arcade version of Virtua Fighter 3 received positive reviews. Computer and Video Games reviewed the arcade version in its November 1996 issue. They stated that the backgrounds "look incredible" and "affects the way the game plays," noting that for "the first time in a one-on-one fighting game, the scenery undulates on some stages, adding to the strategy element of the game." They declared that it "is the best 3D fighting game ever," noting that, with "FULL 3D movement, it finally breaks away from 2D gameplay with 3D graphics, and makes the most realistic and enjoyable fighting game around."[29] The December 1996 issue of Computer and Video Games noted that Virtua Fighter 3 was "Still the most impressive and most played game" at the 1996 JAMMA show.[30] GamePro reviewed the arcade version in its December 1996 issue, praising the graphics for its "level of visual realism never seen before in any game" but stating that the gameplay's recycling of Virtua Fighter 2 features kept it from being "a true masterpiece"; they gave it scores of 5/5 for graphics, 4/5 for sound, 4/5 for controls, and 3.5/5 for fun factor.[19]

In Japan's 1996 Gamest Awards, the arcade version of Virtua Fighter 3 won the award for best graphics. It also came fourth place in the list of best games of the year and fifth place in the list of best fighting games of the year.[31]

Dreamcast version[edit]

The Dreamcast version was also generally well received. Edge gave the Dreamcast version an 8/10, stating "Bouts take place atop sloping downtown rooftops and on flights of steps, in the lapping waters of a desert island and on the Great Wall of China...But Virtua Fighter has grown into a highly technical game since the inception of the series in 1993, resulting in the uneven floors of the third game affecting the movement and attacks of the characters...Where once Tekken's approachable 'one button for each limb' system seemed the way forward for the genre, it limits interaction in a true three-dimensional space. VF's alternative, with buttons for punch, kick, defend and dodge, while perhaps not offering the same scope for multiple attack movements, allows you to control the characters with unrivalled grace."[17]

Gamespot's James Mielke praised the game, awarding it 8.2/10, saying "Virtua Fighter fans will find all they need neatly wrapped in this package".[21] Allgame's Colin Williamson praised the 1998 Japanese release, stating that it was "a dream come true for fighting purists" since "the original Arcade version blew me away two years ago."[14] When reviewing the 1999 English release, however, Allgame's Cal Nguyen compared the game unfavorably with Soul Calibur.[15]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "News: Virtua Fighter 3". Computer and Video Games (174): 10–1. May 1996. 
  4. ^ "Model 3 Step 1.0 at". 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Sega-AM2 Interview: Virtua Fighter 5
  7. ^ "Virtua Fighter 3 Hot News!". Sega Saturn Magazine (2) (Emap International Limited). December 1995. p. 8. 
  8. ^ a b c "Virtua Fighter 3". Electronic Gaming Monthly (82) (EGM Media, LLC). May 1996. pp. 70–71. 
  9. ^ a b "Virtua Fighter 3... At Last!". Sega Saturn Magazine (6) (Emap International Limited). April 1996. p. 6. 
  10. ^ "Virtua Fighter 3 Finally Confirmed!". Sega Saturn Magazine (15) (Emap International Limited). January 1997. p. 9. 
  11. ^ "Whatever Happened to the VF3 Upgrade?". Sega Saturn Magazine (23) (Emap International Limited). September 1997. p. 7. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Virtua Fighter 3 (Arcade) at Allgame
  14. ^ a b Virtua Fighter 3tb (Japanese) (Dreamcast) at Allgame
  15. ^ a b Nguyen, Cal. "Virtua Fighter 3tb Review (Dreamcast)". Allgame. Archived from the original on 2014-11-15. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 
  16. ^ Computer and Video Games, issue 215, pp. 62-63
  17. ^ a b Edge Staff (1998-12-23). "Virtua Fighter 3TB Review". Edge Online. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  18. ^ a b c d
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b Mielke, James. "Virtua Fighter 3tb Review". Gamespot. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Arcade, issue 3, pp. 132-133
  24. ^ Consoles +, issue 84, pp. 88-93
  25. ^ Dreamcast Magazine, issue 1, pp. 66-68
  26. ^
  27. ^ Player One, issue 100, pp. 130-131
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ The Best Game 2: Gamest Mook Vol. 112, pp. 6-25

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