Retro fighting on XBLA and PSN.
This week we are going to be reviewing a legendary game which was created by the AM2 team, who are legends themselves in the fighting world, and thanks to SEGA it has a fresh lick of paint and has been HD-afied to freshen it up. So will Virtua Fighter 2 stand the test of time and be worth the 400msp asking price to be a knock out? or is it just going to be a ring out?
SEGA have given some of their classic fighting games a HD face lift, sort of, and they have hit the Marketplace with a bang, seeing remakes of Fighting Vipers, Sonic The Fighters and Virtua Fighter 2 entering the ring for another round. Though will these classics from yesteryear stand up next to the likes this generations fighting elite like Streetfighter and Tekken?
Virtua Fighter 2 was originally released in 1996 on the SEGA Saturn (though hit arcades in 1994) and was a huge hit, really showcasing the power of the Saturn, known for its breakthrough graphics using the SEGA Model 2 arcade hardware which runs the game at 60 frames per second. It also topped the charts and was the highest selling Saturn game of all-time in Japan, selling 1.7 million copies. But that was over 16 years ago and a lot has changed in the way we play fighting games and the way they control.
So how does Virtua Fighter 2 handle on the 360? Well, from the start the game is as slick as ever – fast moving and fluid combat built around learning combos and not just button mashing to win the fight. Virtua Fighter has always been a bit misunderstood as a fighter because of this, as the three-button layout only really works well if you are doing combos, plus add to that some very hard to control fighters like the series poster boy Akira, who is not the easiest to pick if you are just getting started as he is very combo heavy. As for the visuals of the game, they are clean and crisp though the aged 3D polygon look may put some people off. But it should be seen as a style and not that it reflects the way the game plays in anyway. You’ll also find yourself fighting in a host of different backdrops from city back lots and on a barge floating down a river, to under the sea. No two stages are ever the same.
The game has been given an external menu i.e. this appears outside of the game screen and lets you pick modes like Arcade, Offline Versus and Xbox Live battle mode which is new to the game and we will come back to later. From this menu you can also pick the difficulty of the fight as well as length and number of rounds. You can also pick the version of the game you play, picking between 2.0 and 2.1.
2.1 was a Japan only release, and featured re-tweaks to gameplay, slightly enhanced graphics and the ability to play as a newly-designed Dural. It will also change how you unlock achievements in the game, making it easier or harder.
So if that’s how the guts of the games transferred, have the fighters made the port too? All 11 fighters are there, though Dural is still an unlock so you’ll have 10 to pick from right out the box (unless you know the cheat to get Dural). You can pick from the likes of fan favourites Kage-Mar and Wolf Hawkfield, as well as the two new fighters that were added to the game in 1994 who are the aged Drunken Kung Fu master Shun Di and the young French student Lion Rafale who fights with a Praying Mantis Kung Fu style. All the fighters’ move-lists are the same as back in the day and all handle just as you remember.
I found myself using my D-pad on my controller instead of the stick, which I just put down to having spent hours with a Saturn pad on it. But it was very much a trip down memory lane for myself as the stages, fighters and music all trigger memories for me as a 10 year old being stuck on stage 4 of arcade mode fighting (getting beat by Pai Chan). And for me, this is why I loved playing this as it was a highlight of my childhood gaming.
The other modes in the game are where you get the most life out of it once you have beaten arcade mode a few times. Offline versus is for old school sofa fighting with your friends and is just as great fun as before. It also lets you set up a round-robin tournament to find out which one of your friends is the best. Along with this there is the Xbox live mode where you can take your skills online and see just how good you are and test your skills against the best. There is also an online leader board which tracks your wins and losses.
Overall Virtua Fighter 2 is a great game and if you overlook the chunky 3D polygon look, there is a true classic game to be found where you can spend a few hours on arcade mode and a few months online and on the couch. If you’re old enough to remember it, then it’s a must for a walk down memory lane and if you’re new to it, it’s more than worth a look for a history lesson in what a real fighting game is, especially at the asking price of 400msp.
Just one more fight, just one more!