for my first game of 2012 i finished up my time with the sega saturn classic virtua fighter remix (although i did check out the original virtua fighter as well). i had gotten a sega saturn specifically to play historic games like this one, and i’ve also been trying to work my way through some of the major fighting franchises that i’ve ignored thus far. for a run-down of the gameplay and a comparison of the arcade and sega saturn releases, check out this article.
as most people know, virtua fighter is notable for being the first 3-d fighter. although it gets lauded for being “revolutionary”, as with the atari 2600’s adventure it feels like people are confusing “revolutionary” for “first of its kind”, although maybe it’s just the power of hindsight that makes the progression seem so inevitable. anyway, there’s clearly a lot of nostalgic love floating around for the game. this revisit at thunderboltgames.com seems fairly typical, and in 2006 EGM voted it as #20 in their list of “the greatest games for their time”. the entry at 1up’s similar 2004 list goes into greater detail about what was noteworthy about the game, namely the focus on realism.
with all the historical context out of the way, i have to say that i found that by modern standards the game feels incredibly dull. i don’t mind the large command lists of games such as soulcalibur too much in general, but the “difficulty” level of virtua fighter just wasn’t enjoyable. i’m not completely sure why that was; maybe it’s the overall slowness of the game. according to 1up the game relies “more on strategy and technique than memorization”, but even after playing through the arcade mode several times i still didn’t find much to interest me. for one thing, as with my experience with soul blade, i find the emphasis on following every attack that leaves your opponent on the ground with a follow-up attack (the latter of which does a disproportionate amount of damage compared to other attacks) to be a completely pointless combo. the ease with which you knock opponents out of the ring also doesn’t feel as fair as in the soulcalibur series. the focus on “realism” makes the game less flashy and eye-catching, but i think that was only a mild deterrent to me. i can’t help feeling that there’s something i’m missing in terms of enjoying the game, but i just couldn’t bring myself to suffer through the clunky gameplay any more even for the sake of video game history appreciation, and so i’ve set it aside for now and probably won’t be dipping into the rest of the series anytime soon. not the greatest start to 2012, but glad to be able to cross this one off the list.
some virtual virtua fighter links:
– entry at wikipedia
– thorough moves list at virtuafighter.com
– fairly barebones entry at virtuafighter.wikia.com; if anyone’s interested i spent most of my time playing as jacky. (yeah!)