Review by IcePak

"After a rather lacklustre port of Virtua Fighter on the Saturn, can AM2 do the classic sequel any justice?"

When Virtua Fighter 2 was released in the arcades in Japan back in 1994, it quickly became the best 3D fighting game in existence. Though it’s sequels may have eclipsed this legendary game, Virtua Fighter 2 still remains a favourite of many people around the world, and the Saturn version still lives up to this reputation 6 years after it’s original release on Sega’s ill-fated machine.

What originally impressed people about VF2 on the Saturn was the graphics. After several poor arcade conversions on the Saturn, including their own Daytona USA, AM2 delivered a coin-op conversion that blew away the competition and still does! The Saturn had been getting a bad reputation from day one, and considering that almost all of the arcade-conversion on the system looked very poor compared to their arcade brethren, it was no surprise. But then the gaming Gods released VF2 as the second of the 1995 Big Three and it’s still considered one of the best looking Saturn games, even compared to some of the third generation titles like Panzer Dragoon Saga!

The game runs at a super-smooth 60 frames per second and never skips a beat. Then there’s the high-resolution graphics that are almost jaw dropping to look at. In fact, minus a few details here and there, what you have is an almost arcade-perfect conversion. As mentioned there are a few details missing here and there, like the bridge in Shun’s stage, but once you get into the game and see how smooth it runs you won’t care or notice. The characters themselves have a huge amount of detail put into them and they move so fluidly that you’d almost swear they were real people moving on your screen.

The sounds in all the Virtua Fighter games have been brilliant and this conversion is no exception. All the punches and kicks sound just right and it almost sounds like there are people duking it out in your living room. There is one problem with the sound however – the speech samples are quite fuzzy and they don’t use the power that the Saturn’s sound chip is capable of. However, they still suffice.

The music comes in two flavours – the original arcade tunes, which sound better on the Saturn version, or the remixed tunes, which AM2 especially made for this version. The newer tunes have utilized real instruments so they sound a better than the original tunes with a bit more feeling and clarity in them. The style of the music is Japanese rock, and it definitely suits the gameplay perfectly.

But the gameplay is where the game really shines. It has so much depth to it that you could spend years upon years trying to master just the one character. Now whilst it’s sequel does have more depth, there is still plenty of gameplay and fighting techniques to learn here.
What really makes Virtua Fighter 2 shine in the gameplay department is the amount of attention paid to keeping the fighting styles realistic. The fighting styles used in this game are based on real-life fighting styles, and you’ll notice this just by looking at the character’s stances. Each one stands in a certain way relating to their respective fighting style, which looks great and adds to the realism.

All of the characters have different fighting styles, but some of them do share the same or similar styles of fighting. However, each of these characters utilise their own physical attributes to their advantage and adapt to the style this way. So whilst Lau uses his strength more, Pai will use the same style, but use her more agile figure to perform speedy attacks, and this all makes for a much more interesting, in-depth and balanced game.

Using the standard Saturn control pad is probably your best bet for playing this game. The Analogue pad is too bulky to allow moves to be pulled of fast enough, and the Virtua Stick is best left to those who have mastered the art of the game in the arcades, or prefer the feel of an joystick over a directional pad. You have your three standard buttons for Guard, Punch, and Kick, and then you have another five buttons on the pad to assign button combinations such as Punch and Kick, or Punch and Guard, making it easier to perform some of the more complex moves.
As if the amount of depth in the gameplay wasn’t enough AM2 have added a ton of new modes and features for the Saturn version.

Other than the standard Arcade and Versus modes, there is now an all-new Team Battle mode which allows you to select a team of up to five fighters and play against the same size teams whether they be computer controlled or against a second player. AM2 later adopted this rather unique and cool mode into the second version of VF3 – VF3 Team Battle.

Ranking Mode lets players get as far as they can into the game without being beaten, then once they finished or are beaten, they are given a ranking by the computer based on how well you played. This is a good way to learn how to work on your technique and find out what needs working on.

There is also Expert Mode and this adds a whole new layer of depth to the game. What happens is that the computer will observe how you fight and learn how to counterattack your moves from this, thus making it harder to win. This is actually makes the game very realistic, and teaches players to vary their tactics more than they usually would. Anyone who can beat this mode on hard difficulty more than once can truly consider themselves a hardcore VF2 player, and it’s those players that will get the most out of this mode.

Watch mode allows you to pick two computer-controlled characters and watch them duke it out against each other, which can be interesting and it allows player to observe moves and techniques that are unknown to them, or shows potential situations in which they are best used.

Perhaps a few more of the mainstream modes such as basic Training Mode and a Survival Mode would have been a nice inclusion too, and they might give beginners more to learn from, but as the game stands, there are plenty of modes to keep even the most hardened player busy for more than a few months at the minimum.

There were two different versions of Virtua Fighter 2 released in the arcades and both versions are selectable on the Saturn version. Version 2.0 was the standard version, whilst the second version, 2.1, improved on the solidity of the title, by making the game slightly more balanced. This included changing the effects of some of the moves and the timing taken to perform them.

Whilst Virtua Fighter 2 is probably the greatest 3D Fighting game to grace the Saturn, it has to be said that it might not suit everyone. It is an extremely in-depth game, in which players need to spend endless hours learning and perfecting their moves. If you would rather be able to jump straight into a fighting game and play it for five minutes every now and then, then Virtua Fighter 2 may not be your cup of tea. Even so, don’t disregard VF2, because it is an addictive game, and if you are willing to put the hours of practice into it that it takes to become good, you won’t be disappointed.

Visuals 10 / 10
These are probably the best graphics you’ll see on the Saturn. High-resolution graphics, running at a super-smooth 60 fps – what else could you ask for?
Audio 9 / 10
The sounds are brilliant and the music definitely suits the style of gameplay, but the voice samples are a little below par.
Storyline 8 / 10
There’s only a basic guide to the character’s history in the manual, but it’s a fighting game so it doesn’t really need an in-depth storyline to keep players hooked.
Gameplay 10 / 10
The most in-depth fighting game next to VF3tb! It will take player AGES to master the moves of just one character, let alone all of them. And it’s extremely fun ad addictive at the same time.
Lastability 10 / 10
As if the game didn’t have enough depth to keep players busy, AM2 include plenty of modes and options to keep everyone happy.

Overall 10 / 10
One of the best coin-ops hits home and does so in style. There is lots of depth and lots of fun to had with this title. This masterpiece is definitely a classic.

Recommended For
If you like fighting games then you simply must own this! In fact if you own a Saturn you’d be crazy not to own it!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/23/01, Updated 07/23/01


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