Virtua Fighter 3

From Sega Retro


Virtuafighter3 title.png

Virtua Fighter 3
System(s): Sega Model 3 Step 1.0
Publisher: Sega
Supporting companies:
Distributor: Deith Leisure (UK)[1]
Genre: Fighting

Number of players: 1-2
Release Date RRP Code
Arcade (Model 3)
¥? ?
Arcade (Model 3)
$? ?
Arcade (Model 3)
£? ?

Virtua Fighter 3 (バーチャファイター3) is the third entry in the Virtua Fighter series, and a direct sequel to Virtua Fighter 2. It was released in 1996 for Sega Model 3 Step 1.0 arcade hardware, as the first game to hit the system, followed by Scud Race.


Virtua Fighter 3 builds on the work seen in Virtua Fighter 2, however unlike its two immediate predecessors, the game doubled up as a technical showcase for cutting-edge Sega hardware (in this case, the Model 3 board).

This iteration adds undulation for some of its arenas, such as a staircase in Lau's stage, a sloping roof for Pai and a raft constructed of individually moving elements bobbing on a water surface. Some stages are "multi-level" (similar to the techniques used in Mortal Kombat III), and while all the arenas in Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 2 were square, stages in Virtua Fighter 3 are a wide variety of shapes. The "ring out" system has also been downgraded - while it has not been removed entirely, some stages have walls, and characters can use said walls to their advantage.

A fourth button, E (Evade/dodge), was added to the P (punch), K (kick) and G (guard) commands of previous titles (although its inclusion was not originally intended[3]). Pressing the button with the joystick in neutral or held up makes the character move into the screen (i.e. away from the viewer), while pressing the button with the joystick held down makes the character move out of the screen (i.e. towards the viewer). This 'evasion' technique enables players to dodge incoming attacks, creating opportunities to counter-attack almost immediately.

Two new playable characters were added; Aoi Umenokoji and Taka Arashi, the latter of whom represented a huge technical challenge due to his size and subsequently failed to appear in Virtua Fighter 4.

With the exception of Dural who has none, characters' eyes in Virtua Fighter 3 are able to move independently from the head, and so can track the opposing player during a fight. Characters also exhibit heavy breathing and more emotion after performing moves, and clothing is less rigidly attached to their bodies, creating a simplified "silk" effect in places. Motion blur has been for attacks, and faces in the game are reportedly comprised of about 1,000 polygons[4].


VF3 Model3 Portrait Akira.png Akira Yuki[6]
After his victory in the second World Fighting Tournament, Akira returned to his home to proclaim his victory. However, his grandfather told him that he hasn't mastered anything from his training. Akira decides to join the third World Fighting Tournament in order to test the results of his training and find out the meaning of "true strength".
VF3 Model3 Portrait Pai.png Pai Chan[7]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Lau.png Lau Chan[8]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Wolf.png Wolf Hawkfield[9]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Jeffry.png Jeffry Mcwild[10]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Kage.png Kagemaru[11]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Sarah.png Sarah Bryant[12]
Although she had been rescued by her brother Jacky in the last tournament, Sarah's memories of her old life had been wiped clean. However, her memories returned to her while she was training. Now Sarah joins the Third World Fighting Tournament, with the hope that her training will advance the memory recollection.
VF3 Model3 Portrait Jacky.png Jacky Bryant[13]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Shun.png Shun Di[14]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Lion.png Lion Rafale[15]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Aoi.png Aoi Umenokoji[16]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Taka.png Taka Arashi[17]
VF3 Model3 Portrait Dural.png Dural
Not playable.



As with its predecessor, work on Virtua Fighter 3 is believed to have begun shortly after the end of Virtua Fighter 2.

Concepts for Virtua Fighter 3 were drawn up and to some degree implemented in advance of the Model 3 board being finalised. In fact, for a while, it appears that Virtua Fighter 3 was literally just an enhanced version of Virtua Fighter 2, with select Japanese journalists being allowed access to what was presumably a version still running on Sega Model 2 code. 100,000 Sega Saturn owners we later given a promotional Virtua Fighter disc with pre-rendered artwork reportedly set to be used in Virtua Fighter 3 - this subsequently evolved into an eleven-part "CG Portrait series" starting with Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series Vol.1 Sarah Bryant[18].

Many of the character models in Virtua Fighter 3 are said to have stemmed from the Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series, with models being converted to Model 3 hardware. Exceptions include Dural who was likely re-built from the ground up, and predictably the two fighters who did not appear in Virtua Fighter 2.

Virtua Fighter 3 was first shown to the public at AOU Show 1996[19]. The game was not readily playable, showing instead a rolling demo of six characters; newcomer Aoi, Lau, Jacky, Pai, Jeffry and Dural[20]. While rendered by Model 3 hardware, the sequences were scripted to demonstrate the advance in technology; with the fighting frequently stopping for a close up of each character's face.

However, to further demonstrate that the game was indeed running on real hardware, four visitors were chosen by Sega to play a prototype version of the game[19] as either Jacky or Dural[20]. The demo was later unveiled in North America at the 1996 ACME show, held during the 7th to 9th of March 1996, and was also brought to E3 1996[21].

Once again character animations were created used motion capture technology. Aoi's traditional Japanese dance animations were motion-captured from a traditional Japanese dance instructor. Aoi and Jeffry were the most difficult characters to depict, with Aoi's kimono proving a programming challenge and Jeffrey's muscle movement being controlled by "muscular control" software[22].

The game was the last in the series until Virtua Fighter 5 R to include Taka Arashi. Hiroshi Kataoka, explained that the removal of Taka in subsequent installments was due to the technical implications of having a substantially larger character. Indeed, the character was nearly cut from Virtua Fighter 3 due to difficulties with his jumping moves.

On July 26th 1996, a private showing of Virtua Fighter 3 was held in Kamata, Tokyo, Japan.[23]

Around July 1996, it underwent location testing at Tokyo Joypolis, before getting a wider release in Japan in September 1996[24]. Reportedly the game was so popular during its initial location test that the average waiting time was eight hours, with people being forced to book slots ahead of time[25].

Location testing

Location tests
Venue Start date End date Comments
Tokyo Joypolis 1996-07 1996-07


The first cabinets in the United Kingdom appeared at SegaWorld London[26].


Virtua Fighter 3 was followed by an update in Virtua Fighter 3tb, and a direct sequel in 2001's Virtua Fighter 4.


Saturn version

Following its arcade debut, it was rumoured that Virtua Fighter 3 would be brought to the Sega Saturn. This was confirmed at E3 1996[21] and then confirmed again the Sega Saturn Senryaku Happyoukai conference on the 8th November 1996 by Yu Suzuki[27] However, given the complexities involved in converting Sega Model 2 games to the system, it was widely expected that converting a Model 3 game would bring significant challenges.

While originally set to use base Saturn hardware[21], it was later decided that an "accelerator cartridge" (of unknown specifications) would be used to give developers access to Model 3-like graphics[28]. This peripheral could then theoretically be used for other conversions, such as Scud Race[28]. Sega Europe's Andy Mee suggested the price would be pegged at around the price of a third-party Nintendo 64 game in the UK - £80, but hopefully lower[28]. The game was originally expected to launch for the Saturn by Christmas 1997[21].

During 1996 a promotional trailer for Saturn Virtua Fighter 3 was released in Japan, and subsequently passed across the world's press. The trailer comprised entirely of pre-rendered footage, with no gameplay shown and no references to dates or price. No in-game Saturn footage or screenshots were ever released to the public during the conversion's development.

By mid-1997, all plans for an accelerator cartridge were seemingly scrapped[29][30], despite initial mixed messages coming from Sega[31]. It is suspected the high costs[31] and the simultaneous development of a console successor to the Saturn were the main factors in the decision.

Virtua Fighter 3 was still being listed in Sega's release schedules by mid-1997, with a vague "1998" release date[32].

Dreamcast version

When the Sega Dreamcast began to make the news, it a port of Virtua Fighter 3 was once again expected, however significant delays meant that it was substituted for the improved Virtua Fighter 3tb. 3tb was a launch title for the console in all regions.

Production credits

Main article: Virtua Fighter 3/Production credits.

Magazine articles

Main article: Virtua Fighter 3/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

VirtuaFighter3 Model3 EU Flyer.jpg
EU flyer
VirtuaFighter3 Model3 EU Flyer.jpg
VirtuaFighter3 Model3 US Flyer.jpg
US flyer front
VirtuaFighter3 Model3 US Flyer.jpg
VirtuaFighter3 Model3 US Flyer2.jpg
US flyer back
VirtuaFighter3 Model3 US Flyer2.jpg
Print advert in Sega Power (GR) #2: "Októmvrios-Noemvrios 1997" (1997-xx-xx)


Main article: Virtua Fighter 3/Merchandise.


Physical scans

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Next Generation (US) NTSC-U
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Arcade (Model 3)
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3 reviews

Virtua Fighter 3

Model 3, US (Deluxe)
VirtuaFighter3 Model3 US Manual Deluxe.pdf

Technical information

In the Dreamcast port, the character model of Aoi Umenokoji consists of about 7500 polygons, with her head alone consisting of about 4300 polygons. In the water stage, the polygon count reaches up to 1.9 million polygons per second, about 32,000 polygons per scene at 60 FPS. Virtua Fighter 3 had the highest character polygon count in any video games at the time, up until Dead or Alive 2 on the Sega NAOMI arcade system in 1999.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Computer & Video Games, "November 1996" (UK; 1996-10-09), page 80
  2. Sega Arcade History, Enterbrain, page 142
  3. Next Generation, "November 1995" (US; 1995-10-24), page 10
  4. Next Generation, "June 1996" (US; 1996-05-21), page 71
  5. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-15 17:14)
  6. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:48)
  7. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:49)
  8. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:50)
  9. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:50)
  10. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:50)
  11. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:50)
  12. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:49)
  13. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:49)
  14. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:50)
  15. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:49)
  16. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:49)
  17. (Wayback Machine: 1997-02-16 09:50)
  18. Maximum, "October 1995" (UK; 1995-09-01), page 114
  19. 19.0 19.1 Next Generation, "May 1996" (US; 1996-04-23), page 14
  20. 20.0 20.1 Next Generation, "May 1996" (US; 1996-04-23), page 15
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Maximum, "May 1996" (UK; 1996-05-30), page 73
  22. File:GameOn US 06.pdf, page 7
  23. Computer & Video Games, "September 1996" (UK; 1996-08-11), page 10
  24. (Wayback Machine: 2012-06-10 00:43)
  25. Ultra Game Players, "October 1996" (US; 1996-09-03), page 18
  26. Mean Machines Sega, "November 1996" (UK; 1996-10-04), page 11
  27. Sega Saturn Magazine, "January 1997" (UK; 1996-12-17), page 9
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Mean Machines Sega, "February 1997" (UK; 1997-01-xx), page 10
  29. File:CVG UK Freeplay 10.pdf, page 1
  30. Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1997" (UK; 1997-08-13), page 7
  31. 31.0 31.1 Edge, "October 1997" (UK; 1997-09-12), page 10
  32. File:SegaSaturnPerfectCatalogue JP 1997.pdf, page 87
  33. GamePro, "December 1996" (US; 1996-xx-xx), page 54
  34. Next Generation, "March 1997" (US; 1997-02-11), page 102
  35. Player One, "Novembre 1996" (FR; 1996-xx-xx), page 40
  36. File:Harmony JP 147.pdf, page 21

Virtua Fighter 3

Virtuafighter3 title.png

Main page | Comparisons | Credits | Hidden content | Bugs | Development | Magazine articles | Reception | Merchandise

Books: Virtua Fighter 3 Command Game Guide (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Act. 0.5 (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Act.1 (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Act.2 (1996) | Prima's Virtua Fighter 3: Unauthorized Arcade Secrets (1997) | Virtua Fighter 3 Official Playing Guide (1998)
Music: Virtua Fighter 3 Sound Tracks (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 On The Vocal (1997) | Kimi ga Inai Yoru (1997)
Videos: CGMV Special Virtua Fighter 3: Geki no Shou "Battle" (1996) | CGMV Special Virtua Fighter 3: Shippuu no Shou "System" (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Maximum Battle (1997) | Java Tea Battle Koushien King of Virtua Fighter 3: King of King's (1997) | Java Tea Battle Koushien King of Virtua Fighter 3: Queen of Queen's (1997)
Events: Virtua Fighter 3 Maximum Battle Morinaga Angel Cup (1997) | Java Tea Battle Koushien King of Virtua Fighter 3 (1997)

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Virtua Fighter series
Virtua Fighter (Remix | PC) (1993-1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 (Mega Drive | Sega Ages 2500 Series) (1994-1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 (3tb | 3tb Online) (1996-1997) | Virtua Fighter 4 (Evolution | Final Tuned) (2001-2004) | Virtua Fighter 5 (R | Final Showdown | Ultimate Showdown) (2006-2021)
Virtua Fighter Kids (1996) | Virtua Fighter Animation (1997) | Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary (2003) | Virtua Quest (2004)
Fighters Megamix ( | Dead or Alive 5 (5+ | Ultimate | Last Round) (2012-2015)
Portrait series
Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series: (1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | The Final) (1995-1996) | GG Portrait: Yuuki Akira (1996) | GG Portrait: Pai Chan (1996)
Virtua Fighter (LCD) (1995) | Electronic Virtua Fighter (199x) | Virtua Fighter (R-Zone) (199x) | Virtua Fighter 3 Win-PC-Collection (1996) | Virtua Fighter (2007) | CR Virtua Fighter (2008) | Virtua Fighter Mobile (2008) | Pachinko CR Virtua Fighter Revolution (2012) | Virtua Fighter Cool Champ (2012) | Virtua Fighter Fever Combo (2014) | Virtua Fighter Pachislot (2014) | Virtua Fighter Battle Genesis (2019)
Virtua Fighter 2 vs. Tekken 2 (199x)
Demo discs
Java Tea Original Virtua Fighter Kids (1996)
Virtua Fighter: Saikyou no Senshi (1994) | Sega Saturn Virtua Fighter Maximum Mania (1994) | Virtua Fighter "Sega Saturn" Image by B-univ Neo Rising (1994) | Virtua Fighter 2 Dancing Shadows (1995) | Virtua Fighter Soundtrack Vol. 1: Shinshou Hassei (1995) | Virtua Fighter Soundtrack Vol. 2: Ryuuko Kaikou (1996) | Ai ga Tarinaize (1996) | Virtua Fighter Soundtrack Vol. 3: Koubou Banjou (1996) | Virtua Fighter Complete Vocal Collection (1996) | Virtua Fighter Kids Sound Tracks (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Sound Tracks (1996) | Fighters Megamix Sound Tracks (1997) | Virtua Fighter 3 On The Vocal (1997) | Kimi ga Inai Yoru (1997) | Virtua Fighter 4 Official Soundtrack (2002) | Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution Original Sound Tracks (2002) | Yuuki (2004) | Virtua Fighter 5 Original Sound Track (2011) | Virtua Fighter 5 R Official Sound (2012) | Virtua Fighter 5 Official Sound (2012) | Virtua Fighter Best Tracks + One (2015) | Virtua Fighter esports Premium Music Collection (2021) | Virtua Fighter (2023) | Virtua Fighter 3tb Online Premium Music Collection (2023)
Virtua Fighter Maniax (1994) | V Jump Books Game Series: Sega Saturn Virtua Fighter (1994) | Virtua Fighter Maniax Replays (1994) | Virtua Fighter Sega Saturn Fighting Manual Vol. 1 for Novice (1994) | Virtua Fighter Ougi no Sho (1995) | Virtua Fighter Maniax for Windows (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Act.1 (1995) | Virtua Fighter Sega Saturn Fighting Manual Vol. 2 for Expert (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Maniax Replays (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Act.2 (1995) | Virtua Fighter Remix Sega Saturn Fighting Manual Complete (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Maniax (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Sega Saturn Fighting Manual Vol. 1 for Novice (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Act.3 (1995) | Arcade Game Hisshou Hou Special: Virtua Fighter Kids (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Command Game Guide (1996) | Virtua Fighter Legend of Sarah (1996) | Virtua Fighter 2 Perfect Guide (1996) | Virtua Fighter 2 Fighter's Bible (1996) | Virtua Fighter 2 Game Guide Book (1996) | Virtua Fighter Graphics "Model 2" (1996) | Tokyo Virtua Monogatari (1996) | Virtua Fighter 2 Sega Saturn Fighting Manual Vol. 2 for Expert (1996) | Virtua Fighter Kids Fan Book (1996) | Virtua Fighter Honoo no Maki: Pai Chan Bukyou Gaiden (1996) | Virtua Fighter Ryuu no Maki: Touken Kairou (1996) | Virtua Fighter Kids Sega Saturn Fighting Manual (1996) | Virtua Fighter Kids Kyuukyoku Hon (1996) | Virtua Fighter Relax (1996) | Virtua Fighter: Arashi no Maki (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Act. 0.5 (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Act.1 (1996) | Virtua Fighter 3 Act.2 (1996) | Fighters Megamix Fighting Master's Guide (1997) | Fighters Megamix Official Guide (1997) | Virtua Fighter 2: Ten Stories (1997) | Fighters Mega Books (1997) | Fighters Megamix Comic Anthology (1997) | Virtua Fighter 3 Official Playing Guide (1998) | Virtua Fighter 3tb Kanzen Kouryaku Dokuhon (1998) | Virtua Fighter 3tb Perfect Guide (1998) | Virtua Fighter 4 Perfect Guide (2001) | Virtua Fighter 4 Yoku Wakaru Haoh Yousei Dojo (2002) | Virtua Fighter 4 Kanzen Kouryaku Guide PS2 Ban (2002) | PS2 Ban Virtua Fighter 4 Perfect Guide (2002) | Virtua Fighter 4 The Complete (2002) | Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution Perfect Guide (2002) | Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution: Yokuwakaru Hisshou Senjutsu Shinan (2003) | PS2 Ban Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution Complete Guide (2003) | Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary: Memory of Decade (2003) | Virtua Fighter 2 Technical Archive (2004) | Virtua Fighter 4 Final Tuned Master Guide (2004) | Virtua Fighter Cyber Generation: Judgement Six no Yabou Kouryaku Navigation (2004) | Virtua Fighter 4 Final Tuned Orange Book: Junkies' Last Stand (2004) | Virtua Fighter 5 Technical Book (2006) | Virtua Fighter 5 White Book: Keep It Real (2006) | Virtua Fighter 5 Black Book: Keep It Moral (2007) | Virtua Fighter 5 for PlayStation 3 Complete Guide (2007) | Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown Masters Guide (2010) | Virtua Fighter no Neppa (2018)
TV and Film
Virtua Fighter CGMV (1994) | CGMV Virtua Fighter 2 (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Eternal Battle (1995) | Virtua Fighter (1995) | Virtua Fighter Special Training Pack (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Wheel of Fortune (1995) | Virtua Fighter 2 Wheel of Fortune The Best Bout (1996) | Sega Official Video Library Vol. 2: Virtua Fighter Kids (199x) | Virtua Fighter 3 (Columbia video series) (1996) | CGMV Special Virtua Fighter 3: Shippuu no Shou "System" (1996) | CGMV Special Virtua Fighter 3: Geki no Shou "Battle" (1996)