||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (April 2016)|
Genki (VF3 DC port)
Tiger Electronics (Megamix Game.com and R-Zone ports)
TOSE (Virtua Quest)
|Platforms||Arcade, Sega Saturn, 32X, Microsoft Windows, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Master System, Game.com, R-Zone, 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 fighting games created by Sega studio AM2 and designers Yu Suzuki and Seiichi Ishii in 1993, and receiving four main sequels and numerous re-edtionas and spin-offs since. The highly influential first Virtua Fighter game is widely recognized as the first 3D fighting game ever released.
|This section requires expansion. (April 2016)|
Similar to most other fighting games, the default gameplay system of the Virtua Fighter series 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.
The basic control scheme is simple, using only a control stick and three buttons (Punch, Kick, Guard). Through various timings, positions, and button combinations, players input normal and special 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.
The following is a list of games in the Virtua Fighter series:
- Virtua Fighter – Arcade (1993), Sega Saturn (1994, Sega 32X (1995)
- Virtua Fighter 2 – Arcade (1994), Saturn (1995), Mega Drive/Genesis (1996), Windows (1997)
- Virtua Fighter CG 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 3tb – Arcade (1997), Dreamcast (1998)
- Virtua Fighter 4 – Arcade (2001), PlayStation 2 (2002)
- Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution – Arcade (2002), 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)
- Virtua Fighter: Cool Champ – Mobile (2011)
- Virtua Fighter: Fever Combo – Mobile (2014)
Arcade fighting games
The brainchild of Sega 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 eight initial fighters as well as the boss, Dural.
Virtua Fighter 2 was released in 1994, adding two new fighters: Shun Di and Lion Rafale. It was built using the Model 2 hardware, rendering characters and backgrounds with filtered texture mapping and motion capture. on characters that followed o A slightly-tweaked upgrade, Virtua Fighter 2.1, followed soon after.
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 mipmapping, multi-layer anti-aliasing, trilinear filtering and specular highlighting), 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. In Japan, Virtua Fighter 4 was famous for spearheading and opening the market for internet functionality in arcades. VF.NET started in Japan in 2001, and since companies have created their own arcade networks, E-Amusement by Konami, NESiCAxLive by Taito and Square Enix, and ALL.Net by Sega and Bandai Namco.
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.
Console fighting games
The first Virtua Fighter was ported to the Saturn in 1994 (1995 outside Japan), just months before fellow 3D-fighter Tekken was released. The console port, which was nearly identical to the arcade game, sold at a nearly 1:1 ratio with the Saturn hardware at launch. 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. A port of the original Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 2 with enhanced graphics were also released for the PC. Virtua Fighter 2 was remade as a 2D fighter for the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1996, omitting characters Shun and Lion, and later re-released on the PlayStation 2 as a part of the Sega Ages series. 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.
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 complex 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. An 8-bit game Virtua Fighter Mini, based on the anime series 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.
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' tenth 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 titled 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 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. A Xbox 360 port 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. For years, the designers have 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. Eventually, with the Xbox 360 release of VF5, Sega decided to add online capabilities via Xbox Live. 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.
Spin-offs and adaptations
Due to the success of Virtua Fighter 2, a super deformed version called Virtua Fighter Kids was released for the Sega Saturn and arcades in 1996. 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.
A 35 episodes-long anime TV series Virtua Fighter was produced by Tōkyō Movie Shinsha, originally airing on TV Tokyo between 1995 and 1996. The games' manga adaptation was written by Kyōichi Nanatsuki and illustrated by Yoshihide Fujiwara in 1997. In Japan, Virtua Fighter CG 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. In 2014, Sega formed the production company Stories Internationa for film and TV projects based on their games with Virtua Fighter as an animated project.
In 1996, AM2 began developing a Saturn RPG based on the Virtua Fighter series, titled Virtua Fighter RPG: Akira's Story, with Akira as the hero. Development moved to the Dreamcast, the Virtua Fighter connection was dropped and the game became Shenmue, released in 1999. 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.
During late 2000s, 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. Prior to that, both franchises were represented as Mii Brawler costumes in the Nintendo crossover Super Smash Bros., in which Ryu from the Street Fighter series is playable too.
In other games
In Sega's music video game Project DIVA 2nd, Vocaloid Megurine Luka can obtain a Sarah Bryant outfit for gameplay. Jacky Bryant and Akira Yuki appear in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing as partners competing against other Sega characters in races. Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant, Pai Chan, and Gen Fu appear as guest characters in Tecmo Koei's Dead or Alive 5, followed by Jacky Bryant in Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. Akira Yuki, Pai Chan and Dural appear in the crossover RPG Project X Zone, which features characters from Capcom, Namco Bandai Games, and Sega. Akira Yuki, Pai Chan and Dural return in Project X Zone 2 along with Kage-Maru. In Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax, Akira Yuki and Pai Chan appears as a guest boss where Akira is playable and Pai as assist. In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, downloadable costumes for Mii Brawlers appear to be based on Jacky Bryant's modern appearance and Akira Yuki's first appearance.
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. Many 3D fighting game series such as Tekken and Dead or Alive were influenced by Virtua Fighter, and the original Dead or Alive even run on the Model 2 hardware. 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 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. Its arcade cabinets are kept at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, where Virtua Fighter is the only video game on permanent display.
The success of the Virtua Fighter series resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series seven world records in Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008, including "First Polygon Based Fighting Game", "First 3D Fighting Game", and "First Fighting Game for a 32-bit Console". 1UP listed Virtua Fighter as one of the 50 most important games of all time, crediting it for creating the 3D fighting game genre, and more generally, demonstrating the potential of 3D polygon human characters (as the first to implement them in a useful way), showing the potential of realistic gameplay (introducing a character physics system and realistic character animations for the time), and introducing fighting game concepts such as the ring-out and the block button. Virtua Fighter 2 on the Sega Model 2 introduced the use of texture-mapped 3D characters, and motion capture animation technology. Virtua Fighter 3 on the Sega Model 3 further advanced real-time graphics technology, with Computer and Video Games in 1996 comparing it to CGI and referring to it as "the most astounding display of video game graphic muscle ever in the history of this industry." Some of the Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) staff involved in the creation of the original PlayStation video game console credit Virtua Fighter as inspiration for the PlayStation's 3D graphics hardware. According to SCE's Shigeo Maruyama, the PlayStation was originally being considered as a 2D-focused hardware, and it was not until the release of Virtua Fighter that they decided to design the PlayStation as a 3D-focused hardware. Toby Gard also cited Virtua Fighter as an influence on the use of polygonal characters in Tomb Raider.
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 wrote: "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." in 2006, 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."
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