Sunday, March 22, 2020

Virtua Fighter II (Sega Saturn, Arcade, 1995)

It's about time I covered a game that was on Sega Saturn. Or played a Virtua Fighter at all. It's pretty sweet.



The character select has your usual suspects: Akira, the Ryuesque main character. Pai, the cute lady. Lau, the martial-arts master. From there we've got... a Russian wrestler, Kimbo Slice, a ninja, Sarah (no doubt the EGM ad frontwoman), a Super Saiyan, Heihachi??, and that one prissy boxer from the Special Cup in Super Punch Out. Well, no.

The first thing that jumps out is how stiff the controls are. This game does not have the kind of quick-res jumping and dashing of other fighting games. What it does have is a 3D space where you can circle your opponent, and a polygonal world that was revolutionary in 1995 if not as good-looking as its 2D counterparts.

Sarah kinda looks like all of the female fighting game characters of the 3D era. Tekken and Battle Arena Toshinden etc all had a blond lady. She's probably a government agent too.

The three-dimensionalness of this game seems to be the source of most of its appeal. The fighting itself is slower and less complex than the great 2D fighters of the time. Later Virtua Fighter titles ramp up the speed at least.

A WINNER IS YOU. That's gotta be pretty much it for this game. I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY...that we've got this one in the bag.

Shun's stage is easily my favorite, because it has you on a floating raft going down a river. There's a lot of cool stuff going on in the background.

The music here is also tremendous (more on that later). I also appreciate that the bridge casts a shadow. It feels as much like a "real" setting as a game could at the time.

I finally meet my match when I face myself (Persona music intensifies)

It's a showdown! Who can maintain their Horse Stance the longest without getting tired? WHO IS THE TRUE MASTER OF THE MARTIAL-ARTS?

...turns out my clone is, as she gives me a proper mauling.

……...repeatedly. This isn't gonna work. And this is only stage four out of like ten!

I'm gonna need a miracle. I'm gonna need...

...Jeffry. They say he's got a flying-butt attack with significant power and knockback capabilities. Maybe with THAT I'll be able to win some fights!

Unleash the Flying Butt Slam! POW!

Wow, this...this is REALLY good for ring-outs. It does a decent amount of damage, but it's slow enough for the CPU to block it most of the time...which still pushes them significantly far back. 3 of these in a row can usually cause a ring-out if you time it right. This is a game changer!

Cue the montage music! It's time for a Flying Butt Slam montage.

Why fight with hands and feet when you can...

...FLYING BUTT SLAM?

Shun gets the better of me momentarily! Dammit!

FLYING BUTT SLAM! RING OUT!

Pai gets a win on me. The Strategy isn't foolproof.

What's that, you say? Jeffry is BACK!

Try Next Stage!

This guy utilizes the ancient art of Snake Style. So far, no one has managed to-

-FLYING BUTT SLAM! Flawless Victory!

This is bad. It's a mirror match, which means HE TOO has the Flying Butt Slam.

EGAD! HE...HE GOT ME.

I mean, even with my foolproof strategy, this game gets tough towards the end. Kage in particular took a bunch of tries.

...You son of a bitch!

ALMOST GOT HIM...

YEAHHHH. I'll take a "win" where I can get one, when it comes to fighting games.

FLYING BUTT SLAM RETURNS.

After the fight, Jeffry fell off the platform too. Good thing it doesn't count.

FLYING BUTT SLAM MAYHEM!

RING OUT!

LIVE TO WIN!

Wolf is this big Siberian badass who does suplexes. This is so 90's. Makes me want to play Final Fight.

Even though Wolf may be a suplex-throwing beast, the Flying Butt Slam is like Time. No man can escape it.

No man except maybe Akira, the de-facto hero-character of the game. He's like the long-lost third brother of Ryu and Ken. The brother everyone forgot about, like Seth.

He has me on the ropes...until I UNLEASH THE FLYING BUTT.

Akira is more or less the final boss, though there's a "bonus stage" against the T-1000esque Dural. It's a one-off fight that you have one chance to win. I hate this. Ehrgeiz does the same thing; fail against the final boss and you have to play through everyone else to try again.

This stage is underwater, meaning your movements are significantly slower and floaty. This makes it a bit more difficult to administer the Flying Butt, since it's easily intercepted.

Damn T-1000! I won't let Skynet win!

Skynet won. Well, that's it for the one-off fight. I would have loved to keep trying and win that "bonus round". I can't say enough how much I dislike that game mechanic.

Credits roll, and that's it for this game. It's a cool game, iconic and hip. I can see where numerous other games derived ideas from it.

The bad boy of Sega's game development division, the General Zod to Nintendo's Super-Miyamoto.

Another sort of bonus round follows where you beat up letters to enter your initials. The letters won. DAMN BONUS ROUNDS.

Music time. I like Shun's theme a lot. I know I heard this in the past. Sounds vaguely Mana-ish...if Mana were on Sega hardware.

Wolf's theme has a bit of an Ehrgeiz vibe to it, like Godhand's theme was loosely based on it.

As the guy on the cover and the last (normal) fight, Akira gets a bit of an epic theme. The shift at :50 is tremendous, and could fit right into a Mega Man X series game.

While I'm at it, I also plowed through Virtua Fighter 5, and it was a considerable improvement.

Here's the run for that one, which was short and sweet. Did I win the "bonus round" this time? Why aren't they just final bosses, dammit? Regardless, it was cool to finally experience some of this series.


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