You’re looking for some new games to kill some time and you see a game named ‘Virtua Fighter’. You’ve only vaguely heard of Virtua Fighter but you know its a fighting game and decided to give it a go. Plus the guy on the front cover looks suspiciously like Ryu from Street Fighter. So you pop the game in, picking the Ryu-looking fighter. Ryu was always been one of the easier characters in Street Fighter to use so this guy should be a safe bet plus he’s on the cover so he’s gotta be good right?
You don’t really know the controls of this game but when the round started to start hitting some buttons hoping for the best but, very quickly, things are not going your way. At most you can pull-off a weak two-hit punch combination, a slow kick attack maybe and crouching kick and a elbow attack. Why is this character so slow? Your opponent seems to be much faster than you. This character sucks.
–Many’s first experience with Virtua Fighter
10 Years Too Early
Akira Yuki is one the most unique and best fighting game characters around. He’s doesn’t follow the rules; he beats to his own drum. The Ryu look-a-like?. Yes! He will also be compared to Ryu in the Western world and there’s no getting around that. No one but Ryu is allowed to wear a hachimaki it seems despite the fact that it’s a common thing in Japan. In fact Akira doesn’t even do karate but a form of Chinese Kung Fu.
Akira also fights to be the greatest martial artist he can be but while Ryu is humble Akira is cocky and arrogant. He main ‘catchphrase’ is him telling his opponents they train another 10 YEARS before they’re ready to face him. And he’s meant to be the good guy…
If VF games actually bothered to include subtitles in their games his personality would come across better. Still, I’m sure the Japanese get it. Poster boy characters like Ryu or Liu Kang, tend to be beginner characters with simple characters allowing newer players to ease into the game without too much trouble. Well f**k that. Akira’s the exact opposite!
Akira’s is known for being the hardest character to pick up in the game. In fact he’s arguably the most hardest fighter to learn in the entirely of fighting games. The execution needed to perform some of his moves are darn right frightening. Akira is slower than most of the VF cast and doesn’t have your typical Virtua Fighter “P,P,P,K” combo string either but in the right hands Akira fights like a god.
He doesn’t have multiple-hitting combos but hits like a truck. The field is filled with booming thuds and shaking screens when Akira stomps around the stage on the offense. He has a huge arsenal of advanced techniques such as parries and guard breaks that other characters do not posses.
Put simply, Akira is not for beginners. Still, when you come on against an Akira player online, you know you’re in for something. Any one crazy enough play as Akira either doesn’t know what he’s doing or knows exactly what he’s doing and you should be worried. A perfectly timed Tetsuzankou can take off almost half an opponent’s health. And that’s just one hit!
The VF Barrier
The uniqueness of Akira. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? While, Ryu is a stepping-stone for getting better at Street Fighter; obtaining the skill to just to play as a Akira is a goal to strive towards. But the beginning paragraph was an example of one of the many problems Virtua Fighter has with reaching out to new players. I’ve seen that particular scenario happen a lot. A lot of the time newcomers naturally flock to Akira just as they would do to Ryu or Ken.
But Akira not being beginner-friendly does lead to much but frustration and a bad reflection on the game itself. To be fair Virtua Fighter does a terrible job of telling you this. Another unusually trait for a protagonist is that Akira is almost always the sub-boss in arcade mode. A lot of people won’t reach that far so it’s unlikely that they’ll see a good Akira in action.
I’ve seen some suggestions that Akira’s commands should be simplified in order to encourage new players to use him. The problem with that is he’s already a powerful character somewhat balanced by the difficulty of performing his moves.
The best thing to do is simply to clearly inform players from within the game that he’s a difficult character to use. Just show a “Difficulty level” icon for each character of the select screen. It is pretty important information after all. All they have to do is make it clear that Akira is a expert character and that someone like Jacky Bryant or Lau Chan is more suitable when started off.