Virtua Fighter series

Virtua Fighter series

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

The one-on-one fighting boom had several milestones in the early 1990’s—Street Fighter II’s pioneering gameplay, Mortal Kombat’s digitized graphics and gory Fatalities, King of Fighters’ three-character team play, etc.—but Sega’s Virtua Fighter offered something no one else had in 1993: three dimensions. Using the same polygon-based system seen in 1992’s Virtua Racing, Sega created eight fully-formed characters and set them in a combat ring, testing their martial arts skills in 3-D battle.

Akira, Kage, Jeffry, Wolf, Pai, Lau and siblings Jacky and Sarah each had a distinct fighting style, and the World Fighting Tournament was the perfect setting to test their chops. The traditional fighting game rules of “best of three” matches and timed combat applied, but now that the battle took place in a proper arena, players could also win by “ring out,” forcing their opponent off the edge of the battleground. With only three buttons to press (as opposed to Street Fighter II’s six), Virtua Fighter was easier for novices than most fighters, and curious gamers gave the machine a try.

With so many fighting titles on the market, including Street Fighter II upgrades and a Mortal Kombat sequel, Virtua Fighter got little notice in U.S. arcades, but the game slowly built a tremendous fan following in Japan. Sega fed the Japanese fans’ fever with Virtua Fighter 2 in 1995. With its vastly improved graphics and two additional characters, Virtua Fighter 2 became an even bigger hit than the original in Japan, and American audiences were starting to warm up to the franchise.

In 1996, Virtua Fighter 3 arrived, and once more, the 3-D fighting standard had been raised. The new game added three more characters, retaining the 10 from the first game. The graphics were even more detailed than Virtua Fighter 2, and for the first time, the battle spread beyond a flat ring. The 13 fighters’ battlefields had everything from sand and water to slopes and rocky surfaces, each affecting the manner of battle. Once more, the Japanese audience was hottest on the game, but Virtua Fighter 3 won more than its share of U.S. fans.

Since the original Virtua Fighter’s debut, several fighting games have adapted to the polygon standard, but regardless of how many Tekken and Street Fighter EX titles hit the market, Sega’s revolutionary fighter will always be first.

Arcade Machine Release History

1993 - Virtua Fighter
1995 - Virtua Fighter 2
1998 - Virtua Fighter 3
1998 - Virtua Fighter 3 Team Battle

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