Virtua Fighter 2 (バーチャファイター２) is a fighting game developed by Sega AM2 and published by Sega as is the direct sequel to Virtua Fighter. It is, as the name suggests, the second game in the Virtua Fighter series, and was originally released for Sega Model 2A CRX arcade hardware in 1994.
Virtua Fighter 2 was known for its breakthrough graphics and animation, rendering 3D characters and backgrounds with filtered texture mapping and introducing motion capture animation technology to the game industry.
Virtua Fighter 2 follows the same rules as its predecessor, being a 3D versus fighting game with three buttons, ring-outs and an emphasis on real fighting techniques and complex movesets. The game is faster than its predecessor, both in a faster-paced style of play, and the fact it runs at twice the frame rate of its predecessor (60FPS vs. 30FPS, leading to more responsive controls).
Momentum-based damage (i.e. charging at an enemy deals more damage than attacking while standing still) was introduced with this iteration, and Virtua Fighter 2 also pushes the move count from roughly 700 in its predecessor, to around 2,000 (noting of course the addition of Shun and Lion). The includes the ability for some characters to sidestep attacks, and thus make better use of the 3D surroundings. Gravity is still low in in Virtua Fighter 2, allowing characters to jump much higher than the average human being, but is toned down from its predecessor.
From a technical standpoint, Virtua Fighter 2 uses fewer polygons than the original Virtua Fighter, with detail instead being represented by textures. Backgrounds are more detailed, with elements represented with polygons rather than just the flat 2D backdrops of its predecessor. Shun's stage in particular is notable for taking place on a moving raft, with the fighters passing under bridges as they fight. Some stages also have added effects - in Sarah's, a strong breeze causes long hair to float realistically.
If a character fought themselves in the original Virtua Fighter, player 2 would be given a different palette so the two fighters could be distinguisable. In Virtua Fighter 2, characters receive an entirely new set of clothes which have been modelled differently (although do not affect the gamelay). If siblings Sarah and Jacky fight, a special arena is loaded.
Like its predecessor, the normal arcade mode sees the player fight all other opponents in a set order; Lau, Sarah, Shun, Pai, Lion, Jeffry, Kage, Jacky, Wolf and Akira, culminating in a match against Dural. Dural's fight takes place underwater this time, meaning movement is slower and gravity is lower.
Virtua Fighter 2 features all the characters of the previous game, plus two (or three) more:
In the arcade version of Virtua Fighter 2, players indirectly do battle with a character made up of letters while inputting their initials in the high score screen. In the home versions of the game, it is possible to play as this fighter. The "alphabet character", who has no official name, merely borrows movesets from other fighters. The letters making up the character change as time progresses.
Virtua Fighter 2, much like its predecessor, was very successful for Sega (particualrly in Japan), demonstrating cutting-edge graphics which made good use of Sega's Model 2 arcade platform. This hardware was able to run the game at 60 frames per second at a high resolution without slowdown, and was able to compete against the likes of Namco's Tekken and other Virtua Fighter arcade derivatives which were beginning to emerge by this point.
Upon release, the Virtua Fighter 2 video game arcade cabinet cost £6000 for arcade operators. For players, the arcade game cost £1 per play.
The Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2 sold 1.7 million copies in Japan. In addition, it sold at least more than 500,000 copies in the United States, (200,000 selling in December 1995 alone) adding up to at least more than 2.2 million units sold in Japan and the United States.
Virtua Fighter 2 was re-released as Virtua Fighter 2+1 (2.1) in Japan. This version features re-tweaked gameplay, slightly enhanced graphics and the ability to play as a newly-designed Dural. This version was also released as Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 16: Virtua Fighter 2 (with other tweaks) for the PlayStation 2. It is also possible to switch to the 2+1 gameplay mechanics in the Saturn and PC versions, but none of the other features are updated.
Virtua Fighter 2 was brought to the Sega Saturn in 1996 with extra modes and a CD soundtrack, at the expense of graphical fidelity and polygon counts. The Saturn version is widely considered to be one of the better looking games for the system, despite having to sacrifice the 3D backgrounds of its arcade counterpart. This version was the basis for a Windows PC port in 1997.
The Saturn port allows for the arena size to be adjusted down or all the way up to 82 metres, being the only game in the series, other than Virtua Fighter Remix, that has such options. The energy meter is also adjustable (to the point where it has no meaning), leading to what some have called "sumo match" modes, where players can only win by knocking their opponent out of the ring.
Virtua Fighter 2 was considered a technical feat for its time, running at a full 704x480 resolution (704x512 in PAL regions; both more than the Model 2 version) while aiming for 60FPS. To compensate, the Saturn version features no lighting - all polygon faces are rendered with the same brightness level, although the texture work goes some way to mask the limitations (as does the fact most of the game takes place outside in the daylight). The game also still casts shadows on the floor, albeit simpler ones than its Model 2 counterpart.
The most notable omission in the Saturn (and PC) versions are the 3D backgrounds, which are now rendered in 2D similar to the original Virtua Fighter. This would be a long-standing issue in most fighting games for the Saturn and PlayStation, where polygons are hard to come by and are better utilised improving the character models instead. Later titles such as Fighting Vipers and Last Bronx would start to find ways of overcoming the problem, and many of the stages would be made more accurate in Fighters Megamix.
The decision to simplify the backgrounds leads to some notable omissions in the Saturn port. In the arcade, Shun Di's stage takes place on a large raft moving down a river, occasionally floating underneath stone bridges, while on the Saturn the arena is static and takes place on the shoreline of the river. Wolf's stage also misses the cage surrounding the arena (something re-introduced in Megamix (and to a lesser degree in Virtua Fighter Kids). The reflective floors of Dural's stage are also missing in the Saturn port.