Cyber Troopers Virtual-On, known as Dennou Senki Virtual-On (電脳戦機バーチャロン) in Japan, is an arcade game initially created created for the Sega Model 2B CRX arcade platform by Sega AM3 in 1995.
The release of sequels (specifically the Xbox 360 version of Dennou Senki Virtual-On: Force) has seen this entry in the series retroactively subtitled Operation Moongate (shortened to OMG). While the term is briefly used within the game to describe the plot, it does not refer to itself with this subtitle.
The world is under new management. It is the age of economic feudalism; governments have been privatized, multinational conglomerates have carved the world into enterprise zones and sprawling business entities stretch their tentacles into every sector of public and private life.
The delicate balance of power maintained by the rival trade consortiums was thrown awry when a lunar-core mining survey commissioned by the DN Group uncovered an extensive ruined outpost of incredible complexity and indeterminate age beneath the desolate surface of earth's moon.
The DN Group appropriated esoteric machinery from the lunar ruins and implemented a revolutionary R&D program under the tightest security blanked - OT (OverTechnology) Systems. Years of secret research culminated in the development and release of a new line of neurally-directed combat droids with battleground precision and attack capabilities far beyond any mechanized warriors produced by the competition.
OT Systems gave DN Group a total monopoly, cementing its dominance of the world economy. But, more disturbingly, the internal security programs of the lunar base were accidentally re-armed by DN Group technicians, unleashing virtual pandemonium on the surface of the moon. "Operation Moongate" was initiated to shut down the base before the chaos could extend to earth.
V.C. 00 a. 0 (Present Day)
The battle for control of the moon is underway, with OT Systems combat machines arrayed against the formidable remnants of the lunar complex defense forces. The DN Group forces have numerical superiority but are being tactically outclassed by the experienced droids defending the base. In a desperate effort to recruit talented virtual pilots, the DN Military Support Division has opened a Test and Training program designed to cultivated maximum combat skills in the shortest possible time. As one of thousands of test candidates, you must prove yourself in simulation warfare against increasingly powerful DN test droids before qualifying for the Mindshift into real-time combat in the lunar theater.
— US manual, page 4
In Cyber Troopers Virtual-On, players assume one of eight armed "Virtuaroids" in one-on-one fighting matches (best of three rounds), similar to a traditional versus fighting game. Unlike Sega's previous 3D fighting games however, combat is played from a third-person perspective across a three-dimensional field, and attacks primarily involve projectile weapons. The objective of the game is to destroy all of your opponents in succession.
Cyber Troopers Virtual-On was designed to accommodate a digital "twin-stick" control scheme, similar in part to older arcade games such as Robotron 2084 and Smash TV, but with two buttons on each stick. Each Virtuaroid has three weapons, one activated by the trigger on the left, another by the trigger on the right, and a third activated when both triggers are pressed simultaneously. While most weapons are projectile based, some are close-range attacks, and some double up as both. A second button on both sticks allows the player to "dash" to avoid enemy fire.
In arcade mode, the player takes on each Virtuaroid in-turn. The first five stages are considered part of a training "simulation", with the next three taking place on the moon. Once all eight Virtuaroids are defeated, the player battles a boss, Z-Gradt, which needs to be defeated within the time limit in order to finish the game.
Should the player take too long during the initial simulation fights, he/she will have to fight a mid-boss, Jaguarandi before going to the moon.
Virtual-On supports up to 32 projectiles from each player on-screen at once, meaning a maxiumum of 64.
The Temjin was the first prototype to be developed by the DN Group. This machine was made for stability and performance. An all-around fighting machine, what the Temjin might lack in advanced technologies, it makes up for with its reliability.
Left weapon: Bomb
Right weapon: Beam rifle
Centre weapon: Beam sword
The product of early experimentation with a stronger armored structure, the Dorkas is built slower than other droids, but packs a heavier punch. The long-range and obstacle-clearing power of its hammer attack make it a particularly tough customer in broken-field arenas.
Left weapon: Hammer
Right weapon: Fire ball
Centre weapon: Phalanx
The Fei-Yen is the fastest of the DN Group droids, sleek and streamlined for high-speed maneuverability. The R&D team had to cut back on armor and heavy weapons, but the Fei-Yen is rumored to have a devastating secret attack system for last-ditch defense.
Left weapon: Bowgun
Right weapon: Fire ball
Centre weapon: ♥ beam
Based on the popular Raiden battle-droid, the Belgdor is a slightly more mobile variant with a formidable homing missile system. The Belgdor doesn't have the one-punch KO capability of a Dorkas or Raiden, but it beats them both in speed and jumping range.
Left weapon: Napalm
Right weapon: Grenade
Centre weapon: Homing missile
VR.VIPER II (TRV-06K-H)
Developed for fast tactical deployment, Viper II extends the Temjin prototype to a new level of quickness and agility. Sacrifices were made in the Viper II armor and close-range arsenal, but most machines have trouble getting close enough to hit one.
Left weapon: 7-way missile
Right weapon: Homing beam
Centre weapon: Vulcan
The Bal-Bas-Bow was released well after the other DN Group battle droids, and it represents a new direction in virtual warfare tech-droids. With longer sustained jumping power and next-generation smart guidance weapons systems, the Bal-Bas-Bow may be the newest stage in battle-droid evolution.
Left weapon: Floating mine
Right weapon: Hand bit
Centre weapon: Ring laser
The Apharmd models are designed for use as guerilla shock-troops, with a pair of beam tonfas especially suited for hand-to-hand combat. Turbo speed and sturdy armor make the Apharmd droid a force to be reckoned with on any battleground.
Left weapon: Bomb
Right weapon: Shotgun
Centre weapon: Tongfer
Raiden droids are feared equally for their dual laser cannons and their strontium-alloy armor. If these machines have a weak point, it's a lack of speed and jumping ability, but they don't need to spend much time trying to get out of anything's way..
The success of the arcade game led to Cyber Troopers Virtual-On becoming a well established franchise in Japan, with plastic models, original soundtracks, trading figurines, light novels and audio drama CDs being among the merchandise released in this region.
Virtual-On was an extremely popular arcade game at the time of release, which led to the game being ported to the Sega Saturn with significant cutbacks the following year. The Saturn version makes cutbacks to accommodate the weaker graphical hardware over the Model 2 arcade board, but also adds a variety of modes not found in the arcade version.
For the authentic arcade feel, Sega manufactured the Saturn Twin-Stick, of which the game was bundled with in Japan. While the control scheme can be replicated on a standard control pad, all six face buttons are utilised in addition to and . Conversely, the shape of the Twin-Stick means it is easier for players to understand which actions move their Virtuaroid, and which buttons fire. The Twin-Stick was never released outside of Japan, however plans seem to have been in place at one stage to release the perihperal in North America as a separate product, as it is both advertised and its control scheme listed in the US manual.
The Saturn version of the game aims for a 30FPS refresh rate (half that of the arcade) and uses an in-house engine not reliant on the Sega Graphics Library. Most, though not all, of the underlying code (and to a lesser extent assets) were brought directly from the arcade version. Like Sega's Model 2-to-Saturn fighting game conversions, 3D polygonal backgrounds were replaced with 2D variants. The Saturn version also includes two split screen options, both "horizontal" and "vertical".
In 1997 another verion of the game was released that was compatible with Netlink, like all other Netlink games can now be played over a high speed internet connection with Voip
1997 also saw a Windows PC release derived from the Saturn game, however unlike previous Sega PC games, Virtual-On required a 166MHz Pentium MMX processor to run, which at the time was only available as part of high-end machines. Despite this, the game was unable to hit a stable frame rate with the recommended hardware, and 3D accelerator cards were not supported. In Japan compatibility for said cards was added, though no configuration matches the Model 2 version's visuals and performance (although the PC versions can output higher resolution graphics). In most of Europe, this version went unreleased, with only the United Kingdom receiving a circa 1999 release by Expert Software.
Furthermore, no Twin-Stick-esque peripherals were available for PC owners at launch, meaning players usually had to resort to the keyboard.