Even when staring at the amazing textures of the recently released Virtua Fighter 5, there’s something about the flat shaded polygons of 1993 that has an indescribable visual appeal. The booming soundtrack is memorable, and if you called Sega for technical support during this period, you’d be listening to Jacky’s stage theme when on hold.
Still perfectly playable, the game can hold its own. The annoyingly floaty jumping is a tough hurdle to overcome, and while the technique is definitely a step back from modern 3-D fighters, there’s no way to deny that it still takes practice to master this classic. Many titles from the early 3-D era cannot stand out after this period of time. Virtua Fighter easily passes the modern day game play test.
Facts and notables
Released at launch for the Sega Saturn, the buggy graphics and game play were quickly fixed by a mail-in update, called Virtua Fighter Remix. This new version added textures to the characters, and was also an arcade release.
While the Saturn version suffered, Sega’s ill-fated 32X add-on became the surprising recipient of the best home port. While the character models were stripped down to their bare minimum, the steady frame rate an accurate response time pushed this port over the version on the higher-end hardware.
To promote the release of the 32X version, the company released a now rare promotional package containing a t-shirt and video showcasing the game play.
A Windows PC release was one of the first Sega games in a line up of console ports, including (amongst others) Comix Zone and Sonic the Hedgehog in distinctive white and blue packaging. As an early 3-D fighter, the game required a massive 8MB of RAM at minimum.
A Virtua Fighter arcade cabinet is on display at the Smithsonian Institute Museum.