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Virtua Fighter

Genre: Fighting Developer: AM2 Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1-2 Released: 1995

I will never be able to forget the first time I saw Virtua Fighter in the arcade; it took my breath away. The cabinet was HUGE and always full with people, so much so that I hardly got to play it. SEGA managed to port this popular fighting game to this doomed console, but is it worth putting those damned metal clips on your Genesis again? Maybe…

As with all one-on-one fighters, the objective of the game is to beat the hell out of your opponents into submission with style until you reach the last fight, and then beat the hell out of that thing as well. But Virtua Fighter has a different element. The “ring” is just how you’d think it should be: if you fall out, you lose, if your opponent does, do I even need to explain?

Ok, so the amazing (for their time) polygonal fighters of the Virtua Fighter arcade game were going to be a match for any console, and the Mushroom-that-Could, the 32X, tries very hard. There had to be certain changes; much of the shading has been lost, and the backgrounds look even flatter than they did in the arcade version. Having said that, what has been sacrificed has in turn left the best parts intact. The characters move along at a very fluid pace, and all their individual frames of animation seem to have been retained. The animations on the faces of the characters at the character selection screen have also, thankfully, been retained. So the big creepy grins and raised eyebrows as you select each character are all there for you to enjoy.

The sound is a mixed bag. The arcade sounds have been reproduced well enough, but are far from flawless. All the grunts and screams, and that wicked sound that you make as you do a three-punch-and-spinning-roundhouse-kick combo is still there, and the somewhat catchy music is all there too.

Virtua Fighter remains a three dimensional fighter, and therein lies one of its greatest strengths. It revolutionized the fighting game scene when it hit the arcades, and all those great features are present in the 32X version. For example, you can adjust the ring-size! With eight characters to choose from, each of whom is largely based on the same character model, but has some cool moves that differentiate them from the others, you have scope to find one or two that best suit your playing style. I have read online guides that say that there are HUNDREDS of moves per character, and while I’m sure that’s true, I feel that the average player will only master about eight or so per character, and use those at the expense of all others.

The control is very faithful to the arcade original, and the really ANNOYING “space jumping” that ticked me off about the arcade original is also here. You jump and your character seems to float across the screen not only INSANELY high up in the sky, but also really really slowly. It’s like The Matrix or something. Plus, the majority of your character’s attacks don’t seem to be that easy to pull off in the air; they seem to wait for dramatic effect until they are about to land before going into that drop kick you wanted them to pull out about fifteen seconds ago. When you’re on the ground, however, the action is really intense. Awesome combinations of punches and kicks, spinning kicks, leg sweeps and so on can be pulled off with just a minimal amount of button taps.

The replay value of this title will be higher if you get friends to come over to play. However, for all the work they did in porting it over to the 32X, there really is one other version of this title that compares to the arcade original (Saturn). For what you’re getting it’s worth what it should cost you (at most $15). It’s a fair rendition of the arcade, and is definitely playable. It is not arcade-perfect, but I don’t believe any of the home consoles available at the time this game out for would have been able to do any better than the 32X. It’s not the arcade-perfect port I had hoped for, but I don’t think it was a waste of money at all. If you have a Saturn than that version may be the way to go, since it is VERY CLOSE to being arcade-perfect. If you’re a Virtua Fighter fan or own the 32X then get this! It’s a very good game, and for one of the first 3D fighters to be released on a home console, it’s a very impressive effort, but it won’t make the world stop turning.

SCORE: 8 out of 10

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