From Sega Retro
Virtua Fighter (バーチャファイター) is a 1993 fighting game developed for the Sega Model 1 arcade platform by Sega AM2, a development group within Sega headed by Yu Suzuki. It was the first game in the Virtua Fighter series, which continues to this day.
Virtua Fighter is often cited as being the first "traditional" 3D fighting video game to be released to the general public, and is the basis for almost all 3D fighting games to follow. There were, however, previous attempts at bringing the genre into 3D - Distinctive Software's 4D Sports Boxing is a polygon-based fighter released for a number of home computers in 1991/1992, however this is strictly a boxing game. Sega themselves had released Dark Edge in 1992, however this merely simulates 3D by clever use of 2D sprites., but Virtua Fighter stands as the first attempt at bringing more complex fighting games into the third dimension.
Polygons rendered are rendered in Virtua Fighter as quadrilaterals rather than triangles, technology which would later be used with the Sega Saturn. Due to the limitations of the Model 1 hardware, images are created using wireframe models and flat-shaded quads - most future games would use textured polygons made up of easier-to-process triangles. Backgrounds are largely static, and the ground surrounding the play area is largely empty to maintain a constant framerate of sixty frames per second.
Virtua Fighter puts characters in a three dimensional arena and has them fight until one is "knocked out", similar to most fighting games. Unlike other games in the genre at the time (such as Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat), Virtua Fighter relies only on a control stick and three buttons, Punch, Kick, and Guard. Simple button combinations will trigger more moves, making what seemed like a relatively simple control scheme far more complex than many other fighters.
Perhaps as a side-effect of its 3D visuals, movements in Virtua Fighter are seen as more realistic than in its 2D rivals. Capcom, for example, used greatly exaggerated and unrealistic moves in its Street Fighter games, however Virtua Fighter is a much slower-paced title, in the fighting styles are modeled on those seen in the real world. Some characters, after recieving damage in certain areas, will lose part of their clothing, for example, Pai's hat.
Unlike other fighting games, Virtua Fighter has "rings" in which to fight, and if a player either walks or is knocked out of the ring, this leads to an instant disqualification.
Main article: Virtua Fighter Characters
Virtua Fighter contains eight characters each employing a different fighting style.
The "lead" character of Virtua Fighter, Akira Yuki is particularly notable as he was a last-minute addition to the game (so much so that early cabinets do not feature him in the artwork at all). He replaced a character known as "Siba", someone who was axed from the game altogether. Siba would eventually become an unlockable character in Fighters Megamix and join the regular cast of characters in Virtua Fighter 3.
Sequels and Re-releases
Virtua Fighter was a reasonable success in the arcades and thus found its way onto several home consoles. In 1993, however, popular home systems were unable to cope with the game's complexity, meaning in most cases users had to wait until 1995 to play a watered-down version. A perfect port of the arcade version of Virtua Fighter does not currently exist.
Across the world Virtua Fighter was made a launch title for the Sega Saturn console, however, being rushed to market it suffers from several gameplay issues. In response, Sega produced Virtua Fighter Remix in 1995, which addresses some of the concerns and textures the 3D models. Virtua Fighter Remix is now the de facto version of Virtua Fighter, and was the basis for a PC port. Due to the CD read-speed of the Saturn, its version of Virtua Fighter has around 5-second load times, but comes paired with a remixed arrange music based off the arcade version's.
A version was released for the Sega 32X, which in Japan debuted after the Saturn. It suffers from lower polygon counts and various other cutbacks, but is otherwise realtively faithful to the original and is often seen as one of the better games for the system.
Both home versions of the game have an added "Round-Robin" tournament mode.
Virtua Fighter was followed by Virtua Fighter 2 in 1994, which sports significantly improved visuals and two new characters.
Main Programmer: Toru Ikebuchi
Main Programer: Keiji Okayasu