Virtua Fighter (1993)
Arcade, Saturn, 32X, Windows, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Master System, Game.com, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Virtual Console, Xbox 360
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 2 was released in 1994, adding two new fighters: Shun Di and Lion Rafale. It was built using the Model 2 hardware. 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 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. Virtua Fighter Animation on the Master System. 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.
- 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 4: Final Tuned– Arcade (2004)
- Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary– PlayStation 2 (2003)
- 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)