Virtua Fighter (video game)
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (November 2014)|
North American arcade flyer of Virtua Fighter.
April 1995 (Remix)
JP November 22, 1994
NA May 11, 1995
EU July 8, 1995
JP July 14, 1995 (Remix)
NA October 1995 (Remix)
EU October 27, 1995 (Remix)
JP October 20, 1995
NA October 1995
EU November 30, 1995
Windows 95 (Remix)
NA August 31, 1996
|Arcade system||Model 1, ST-V (Remix)|
|Display||Horizontally oriented, 496 × 384, 8192 palette colors|
Virtua Fighter (Japanese: バーチャファイター Hepburn: Bācha Faitā?) is a 1993 fighting game created for the Sega Model 1 arcade platform by AM2, a development group within Sega, headed by Yu Suzuki. It is the first game in the Virtua Fighter series, and the first arcade fighting game to feature fully 3D polygon graphics. It has been ported to several platforms, including the Sega Saturn, Sega 32X and Microsoft Windows. It was a launch game for the Saturn, and served as the pack-in launch game in North America.
1UP listed it as one of the 50 most important games of all time. They credited Virtua Fighter 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.
The Virtua label indicates that the onscreen action takes place in 3D. The images were created using wireframe and flat-shaded quads. Beyond 3D, it retained the staple of multiple characters, each with their own distinctive moves.
The player faces all eight characters (including a duplicate of the chosen character) in a pre-determined order, followed by a fight with the game's boss, Dural. Each fight is a best-of-three match, and the player has three ways to win: knocking out the opponent, forcing him/her out of the ring, or having more health left when time runs out.
Unlike other fighting games of the early 1990s (such as Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat), the game relies on a control stick and only three buttons, Punch, Kick, and Guard (block) although different situations and button combinations led to a vast variety of moves for each character. The game is highly regarded for its in-depth fighting engine and real world fighting techniques, and was considered revolutionary upon release.
- Akira Yuki—A kung fu teacher from Japan, fights with (bajiquan).
- Pai Chan -- Martial arts movie star from Hong Kong, fights with ensei-ken (mizongquan).
- Lau Chan—Pai's father and a cook from China, fights with koen-ken ("Tiger-Swallow Fist").
- Wolf Hawkfield—Professional wrestler from Canada, fights with professional wrestling.
- Jeffry McWild—Fisherman from Australia, fights with pancratium.
- Kage-Maru ("Kage") -- Ninja from Japan, fights with jujutsu.
- Sarah Bryant—College student from San Francisco, CA, fights with jeet kune do (Sega changed her fighting style to "Martial Arts" in Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution).
- Jacky Bryant—Sarah's older brother and a race car driver also from San Francisco, fights with jeet kune do.
- Dural—A gynoid-like creature. Dural is the game's boss character and is also Kage's missing mother. She fights with a mix of all the other characters' styles.
An Arab fighter named Siba was planned, and his character model even appeared on some Virtua Fighter arcade cabinets (though, in some cases, Akira's name was placed under his portrait). He was ultimately dropped, but later appeared in the Sega Saturn Fighters Megamix game.
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Virtua Fighter Remix
Virtua Fighter Remix was an update of the original Virtua Fighter with higher-polygon models, texture mapping and some gameplay changes. It was given free to all registered Saturn owners in the United States via mail. It also had an arcade release on the ST-V (an arcade platform based on the Sega Saturn) and later ported to Microsoft Windows as Virtua Fighter PC. The game was developed by Sega-AM1.
Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary
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.
In an early preview of the arcade game, the October 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly hailed Virtua Fighter as a demonstration of "just how far video games have come in the last eight years." EGM made particular note of the advanced graphics, how the camera moves along different axes depending on the fighters' location, the use of multiple viewpoints in the instant replay, the high quality of the gameplay, and the smoothness and realism of the animation.
It went on to become one of the highest-grossing arcade games of all time in Japan. The console port, which was nearly identical to the arcade game, sold at a nearly 1:1 ratio with the Saturn hardware during the Japanese launch.
On release of the Saturn version, Sega Saturn Tsūshin scored the game a 38 out of 40. Famicom Tsūshin would score the same version a 36 out of 40 five months later. In a review of the Japanese release, GamePro praised the retention of the fighters, moves, varying camera angles, and controls of the arcade version, as well as the improved voice and sound effects and home version options, and concluded it to be "one of the best games ever bundled with a system". Their later review of the North American release was similarly laudatory, but remarked that Tekken and Battle Arena Toshinden for the soon-to-launch PlayStation were even better. Electronic Gaming Monthly were more subdued in their reaction, but two of their four reviewers commented that it was nearly identical to the arcade version. They scored it a 7.875 out of 10. Edge rated the Saturn version 9/10, stating "Saturn Virtua Fighter has all the pulling power of the arcade version, including the swooping, gliding game camera, the stylish polygon characters, the totally convincing animation and the compulsive gameplay...[The graphics] were impressive enough in the original, but on the Saturn, under the kind of intense scrutiny you can never give a game in the arcades, they emerge as simply astounding...It's arguably the first true 'next generation' console game, fusing the best aspects of combat gameplay with groundbreaking animation and gorgeous sound".
Sega Saturn Magazine gave Virtua Fighter Remix 5 out of 5 stars, saying that it fixed the glitches and graphics of the original game while maintaining the already excellent gameplay. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave Remix a 7.25 average. The reviewers praised all the game's improvements, but most of them concluded that it was still not worth buying for players who already owned the original game. Famicom Tsūshin scored the Virtua Fighter Remix version of the game a 35 out of 40, and the Sega 32X version of the game a 30 out of 40.
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the 32X version a 7.625 average, calling it an excellent conversion given the system it's on, but dated next to the graphically superior Saturn version and especially Virtua Fighter Remix, both of which had already been released. GamePro also noted that the 32X version suffers from more slowdown and fewer polygons than the Saturn version, as well as "tinny sound quality", but praised the additional options not included on the Saturn version and rated it as an overall strong port.
Virtua Fighter dispensed with sprite-based graphics, replacing them with flat-shaded triangles rendered in real-time, by the Model 1's 3D-rendering hardware, allowing for effects and technologies that were impossible in sprite-based fighters, such as characters that could move in three dimensions, and a dynamic camera that could zoom, pan, and swoop dramatically around the arena. It has been credited with both introducing and popularizing the use of polygon-based graphics in fighting games.
A journalist commented in Electronic Gaming Monthly that, at a time when fighting games were becoming increasingly focused on violence and shock value, the popularity of Virtua Fighter demonstrated that fighting games focused on gameplay were still commercially viable.
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 former producer Ryoji Akagawa and chairman Shigeo Maruyama, the PlayStation was originally being considered as a 2D focused hardware, and it wasn't until the success of Virtua Fighter in the arcades 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 polygon characters, and the creation of Lara Croft, in Tomb Raider. The game made a cameo appearance in the anime series Ben-To.
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Ryoji Akagawa: If it wasn't for Virtua Fighter, the PlayStation probably would have had a completely different hardware concept.
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- Virtua Fighter at the Killer List of Videogames
- Virtua Fighter Remix at the Killer List of Videogames