Sega may not be known primarily for their 1v1 fighting games like Capcom or Namco happen to be, but they’ve always had one series in the genre that’s been a solid win for them, Virtua Fighter. Unfortunately, the franchise hasn’t garnered the same level of attention that the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken, or Mortal Kombat have over the years, and after Virtua Fighter 5 was released in both arcades and on consoles back around 2006~11, Sega seemed content to give it a rest for a long while.
If you aren’t really familiar with VF, then it is more realistic than many fighting games out there, with no fireballs or magical attacks. It’s also kind of an anti-Mortal Kombat in that there’s zero gore. The franchise was often a leader in the realm of pushing the boundaries of graphics, from being the very first 3D fighter to later pushing the envelope on techniques such as lighting & shading, texture mapping, normal mapping, etc.
In good news for fans of the franchise, that is changing thanks to announcements like Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown / Virtua Fighter eSports. They’re the same game, just different names for different regions (eSports being the JP version); The game is a remastered version of Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown that uses Dragon engine (the engine used to power the latest Yakuza games). While a lot of attention is going towards the console release (for some reason that I haven’t caught yet, only PS4, not the PS5, PC or XBX/S) this is receiving an arcade release in Japan this next week, as indicated in the post headline. Here’s the new character trailer for the game:
One thing to emphasize is that there is no indication at this time that Sega has any interest in releasing the arcade version out West, although I wouldn’t complain if they proved me wrong on that. For now, Japanese arcades will find it available on Sega’s All.NET P-ras Multi 3 digital download network on June 2nd. It also uses Sega’s Aime system, which is another obstacle in it finding support out West.
While I’m not aware of VF eSports looking to do anything new in terms of graphical techniques like some of its predecessors did, it is noteworthy that this will offer cross-site play – so players at one arcade can compete with users in another. I did read something online claiming it has cross-platform play with the PS4, although the official websites do not mention that at all, just the cross-site feature. Of course, Japan has seen a 4th wave of covid-19 infections as of late, which has extended states of emergency all around the country, so how many locations will be able to run this is unknown (but there must be a few that are open – at least).
Also as a part of the VF hype train, Sega released this Virtua Fighter retrospective video, voiced by Lisle Wilkerson, who does the voice for character Sarah Bryant. As indicated at the end of the video, it looks like more of these will be online soon, next with Virtua Fighter 2:
What are your thoughts on this? While it may not be Virtua Fighter 6, it’s still something and it does have an official arcade edition, despite being restricted just to Japan. Could it find its way to America & Europe? Anything is possible, but VF5 was extremely limited for its international release and any location test would have to do some amazing numbers to warrant production. As it is, I’m not expecting it to show up at Amusement Expo next month (or IAAPA in November), but who knows, we could always be surprised.