Virtua Fighter

REVIEWSega's Virtua Fighter is the first ever fighting game to feature fully 3D polygonal graphics. In 1993, Virtua Fighter was Sega's rare, beautifully-polished gem in arcades, standing out from the crowd with its revolutionary visuals and unique style of gameplay. At the time, most fighting games were known as robust, colorful and  "cartoony"... along with most other 2D video games in general. Thanks to VF's undeniable uniqueness, arcade-goers around the world were wowed by the depth of Virtua Fighter's graphics and the unique 3D gameplay. Even though some might say the fighters in VF1 look more like "stacks of blocks" than actual people, Virtua Fighter was indubitably a visual achievement in 1993 (and several years later on consoles).

Kids of today will never know how groundbreaking those graphics were in '93.

Unlike some fighting games of the era, Virtua Fighter featured noticeably "realistic" martial arts animation, revolutionizing the genre. The characters of VF feature their own fighting style, although a lot of basic moves are shared among all fighters. Characters fight inside an open square ring and for some reason are able to jump INCREDIBLY high (and can stay in the air for quite a long period of time). "Ring Outs" were introduced in the fighting game world for the first time. If a fighter is knocked out of the ring, even if he or she still have life left, they will lose the round.

Each character in Virtua Fighter offers a unique style of fighting, whether it's Karate, Jeet Kune Do, Kung-Fu, or Pro-Wrestling. While there are obvious likeable qualities of these 9 ambiguous fighters, their personalities don't quite "shine" like their colorful 2D counterparts in other top fighting games. Virtua Fighter also lacks any type of in-game narrative, as it would seem Sega banked on the idea of "drawing in" players with the action and visuals alone. Clearly, Virtua Fighter's characters speak louder with their fists and feet... (a trademark that would follow the series throughout many sequels). Several characters in Virtua Fighter wear hats and other articles of clothing which can be knocked off of them during the fight... Revolutionary stuff for the time!


Polygonal count... ummm... 16? Combined? lolz.

FUN FACTS: 23 years after Virtua Fighter's original arcade release, unused characters were discovered through data-mining. As we already know, "Siba" was a cancelled character in VF1, but it seems his original code has his name as "Majido". There also appears to be an alternate version of Akira Yuki who looks like he could be an early Kazuya or Jin Kazama. And finally, there's "Jeff" who strongly resembles P. Jack!

Is it possible that some of these unused character designs are indeed early versions of TEKKEN characters? It's definitely "possible," as some of the original Virtua Fighter designers reportedly went to Namco to work on TEKKEN 1 and TEKKEN 2. In any case, this is a very interesting discovery indeed from long-time fighting game enthusiasts! Perhaps in the future we'll learn some actual facts about these cancelled characters.

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Page Updated: July 28th, 2018
Developer(s): Sega AM2
Publisher(s): Sega
Designer(s): Seiichi Ishii          (Lead Designer)
Yu Suzuki              (Director)
Platform(s): Arcade, Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, Windows
Release Date(s): Nov. 1993                 (Arcade)
Nov. 22nd, 1994    
( Saturn)
May 1995                
( Saturn)
Oct. 20th, 1995      
( 32X)
                         ( 32X)
Aug. 31st, 1996      
( PC)
Characters Akira Yuki, Jacky Bryant, Sarah Bryant, Kage-Maru, Lau Chan, Pai Chan, Jeffry McWild, Wolf, Dural, Siba (unreleased)

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Featured Video:

Related Games: Virtua Fighter Remix, Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Fighter Kids, Virtua Fighter 3, Virtua Fighter 4, Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution, Virtua Fighter 5, Virtua Fighter 5 R, Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, Fighting Vipers, Fighting Vipers 2, Fighters Megamix, Last Bronx, Tekken, Mortal Kombat 2, Super Street Fighter 2

Gameplay Engine  8.0 / 10
Story / Theme  5.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  8.5 / 10
Animation  9.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.0 / 10
Innovation  9.5 / 10
Art Direction  6.5 / 10
Customization  5.0 / 10
Options / Extras  4.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  7.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  7.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  8.5 / 10
Characters  6.5 / 10

 7.9 / 10

 Review based on Arcade version


Final Words: In 1993, Virtua Fighter presented a simple yet solid 3D gameplay system which won over the hearts of many arcade-goers in the early/mid 90's. Props to Sega for being ballzy enough to take the first (arguably awkward) step into the 3D polygonal-based fighting area. The risky move paid off... as Virtua Fighter definitely stood out from the crowd and paved the way for many future 3D fighting games series to thrive in the mid/late 90's (and still to this day)! 

When all was said and done, and the "awe factor" of VF's 3D graphics wore off... Virtua Fighter's bare bones gameplay system could only offer so much replay value (as compared to its "dynamic and colorful" competition n the 2D realm). Like many others, I still heavily preferred the style of 2D fighting games in 1993/1994, but found myself putting quite a few dollars into that VF machine. Some years later, I found myself growing more fond of 3D fighters with the release of the TEKKEN series and many great Virtua Fighter sequels. In retrospect, I have great respect for what the original Virtua Fighter accomplished.
~TFG Webmaster