The Virtua Fighter series is one of the most badass fighting game franchises out there, full of your favorite punch combos, jump kicks and head dives. Put your kick gloves on and punch boots, as we step into the world of virtual martial arts.
Fighting games have always sparked my interest, I remember visiting one of my friends houses and trying to best my opponents, always having a great time doing so. However I was never compelled to own a copy of my own. I knew awesome fighting games were out there, Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, Mortal Kombat and Virtua Fighter, I knew they were worth the play, but they were never a part of my life, until one day.
It was August of 2009, and I just so happen to search for a game on the interwebs, and a trailer for Super Street Fighter 4 hit my face, I was so excited. Upon release I got it with no questions asked, and I played that sucker like there was no tomorrow, after a few months of playing that magic I began to get greedy, I wanted more, I wanted to explore more fighting games, and then I instantly remembered all of the past memories of fighting time with my friends. And I wanted it all.
Of course thinking realistically I couldn’t afford everything, so I had to sit down and think about what I wanted and what was most fondly remembered, after much time I finally had an image of what I wanted in my head, but I couldn’t remember what the game was called, after talking about it, the all kept pointing towards Tekken, and I knew that wasn’t right, sure it looked like martial arts fighting but something was off. After months about being told about Tekken which I was sure wasn’t the memory I had, I finally found it, Virtua Fighter in all of it’s glory, the very first 3D fighting game. One of the best fighting games of all time.
How did I come to that conclusion I hear you ask, well I am less talking about the first game, and rather talking about the 2nd game, you see I can’t talk about one, without talking about the other, the two games are forever linked, and for you to understand what I am talking about, then keep on reading, as I explain why Virtua Fighter 2 is RGG’s this pick for Game Of The Month.
The very second you boot up your Sega Saturn you are introduced to the game in a short cinematic cutscene, showing off how they have done away with the rough blocky look of the first game and smoothed everything out with updated 3D texture mapping to make the characters look so much nicer. So what else has been improved compared to the first game, the frame rate for one. Now I am not the kind of person who cares about my FPS, as long as it runs at a rate that makes the game playable I do not mind, but you can instantly tell that Virtua Fighter 2 runs at a very smooth 60FPS which is a big shock at the time.
The controls are also something to brag about, the first game already has a nice and tight response time to your input which is always necessary for a fighting game, but they somehow managed to improve even more in the sequel, how was that even possible?! Oh, and the music, the tunes they created for Virtua Fighter 2 is perfect for getting your blood pumping, each track sounds like it was inspired by 80s actions films and I am 100% down to clown with that.
Compared to the first game, they added a bunch of new features that still makes playing Virtua Fighter 2 in the modern age a must.
Expert Mode ramps up the CPU to the hardest difficulty, forcing you to think of your feet as the CPU learns your attack pattern, having to come up with new ways to attack in this mode is crucial if you ever want to a chance to see the ending of this mode.
Ranking Mode is and endless mode where they pits you against fighters until you can fight no more, this mode is perfect for training because at the end of your play time, it tallies up everything you did during your time in Ranking Mode, missed punches, your strongest attacks, how many times you jumped, your fastest round and everything in between, if you are the kind of person who really loves getting into the analytics of fighting games then Ranking Mode is right up your ally.
Team Battle Mode is not what you expect it to be, I bet you’re thinking it’s a tag team style battle right? Well that didn’t happen until Virtua Fighter 3. No, in this mode you and your opponent choose 5 characters, and each character fight each other until the person who did the most K.O. wins. I’ll explain it like this, you have character slots of 1 2 3 4 5, you choose which characters go into each slot, and so does your opponent. So now your both have filled positions of 1 2 3 4 5, your number 1 with fight your opponents number 1, whoever wins gets that point, then the number 2 slots will fight each other, and so on until they 5 rounds are over and the results are tallied up to see who won. This mode it good for a room full of people, you can have 10 peeps all choosing which character they want to be, and when it is their turn they can jump in, eliminating the option for multi split cables, I thought it was creative at least.
And Watch Mode, where you can watch the CPU fight itself, I suppose you could place bets on who would win? That’s the only application I can see with Watch Mode.
There are somethings I have a problem with when it comes to Virtua Fighter 2, they aren't anything major but something I still noticed. The stage floors are very confusing, the square that you fight on is rendered fine with the background shapes in place with the background image rotating at a perfect frame rate to match the environment, however the floor is a solid plane with no parallax in place, so it almost looks like you are looking into a void or some other plain of existence while playing, after getting used to it, it doesn’t become a problem for me, but still something that distracts me from time to time.
Something that was taken out that rubbed me the wrong way, is that you can no longer choose another character if you get Knocked Out by the CPU during Arcade Mode, this is something you can do in all other Virtua Fighter games except Virtua Fighter 2, my only guess being the developers wanted it to be more of a gauntlet style arcade, where you choose one fighter and have to win with that fighter to see the ending. It’s just a little inconsistent with Virtua Fighter 2 being the only exception to the rule in the long line of Virtua Fighter games.
Also the Bonus Stage where you fight Dural is now set underwater, and gives the illusion that you are fighting in slow motion, this isn’t a complaint but something I should mention, because only in Virtua Fighter 2 is this underwater Bonus Stage used, the Dural fights in future games are all fought above water, hell in Virtua Fighter 4 she even turns invisible.
All and all Virtua Fighter 2 for the Sega Saturn and Arcade all little gems that deserve to be played if you are a big time fighting game fan. Virtua Fighter were the first steps into 3D fighting and did a fantastic job in setting the stage for something that would later be an industry standard. It maybe a little rusty looking now, but if I had to recommend any fighting game from the past, it’s wouldn't be Tekken, it wouldn't be Dead or Alive it would be this masterpiece.
GET ON IT!