The Future of VIRTUA FIGHTER

It’s Virtua Fighter’s 20th anniversary, the granddaddy of all 3D fighting games, which first stormed across our arcades in December 1993 but I’m surprised Sega even remembered to be honest. It’s not like Sega are known for using their vast catalog of franchises these days. VF was a big deal in the 90s but can you still say the series is still going on strong today?

VF 20th

So far all we’ve really got is this snazzy logo. I appreciate VF1-polygon Akira but is this it? Namco will go big on Tekken’s upcoming 20th. Believe that.

Virtua Fighter’s Final Chance?

Virtua Fighter is simply not as popular as it should be considering that fighting game popularity as a whole is at a all time high. The latest VF game was Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (an updated version of the original Virtua Fighter 5) was released in the summer of 2012. It has one of the most solid game engines around but again it’s not as popular as it should be.

VF5: Final Showdown was originally only released in Japanese arcades in July 2010. Meaning it didn’t get a worldwide release for two whole years. Why did that take so long? If the game was available worldwide from 2011 it would have been a lot more successful. That year there was no direct competition. No other 3D fighter was released in 2011 but Sega decided wait until 2012; the same year Tekken Tag Tournament 2 dropped. Tekken, an already more popular franchise, was marketed a lot better, stole the spotlight. It seems Sega aren’t confident in their premier fighting game franchise anymore.

VF5 Final Showdown – One of the best fighting games around yet its one of the least popular ones around.

Stubborn Arcade Origins; Stuck in the 90s.

Admittedly Virtua Fighter is not the most marketable franchise around but that’s Sega’s fault.  The VF games have always been solid, fighting game experiences (only Tekken comes close to its in-depth fighting system) but the series has always lacked aesthetic appeal and flash. VF is infamous for its bare-bones content for its home console versions. It was originally was an arcade game but it still thinks its one and for that’s it’s now suffering.

Since day one, the VF series’s home ports have been rushed, plagued with lazy presentation, bare-bones content and a reluctance for move away from its arcade roots. Lack of content may not be a big deal in the arcade but people expect more content when they spend £40 for a home console game. On the other hand Tekken always had very good home ports as Namco always made that extra effort.

Virtua Fighter’s use of polygons revolutionized the the entire gaming scene in 1993 but you cannot keep relying on removing visuals for your franchise.

Time has moved on since the 90s and outside of Japan the arcades industry is dead. In Japan, VF still stands toe-to-toe with Tekken in terms of popularity but that’s certainly not the case in the west. Maybe that’s always been the case from the start but when games like Persona and Skullgirls are more sought after than Virtua Fighter then it’s a f**king problem.

The future of Virtua Fighter

For years fans have been thinking of ways to improve VF’s popularity. Put simply, if you’re not a hardcore fighting gamer you really have no business playing VF. Really, there’s nothing here for you other than a excellently deep gameplay system that most wouldn’t fully appreciate anyway. That needs to change.

Contrary to popular belief Virtua Fighter does have a storyline, it even had its own anime series, but it just doesn’t bother to using it in it’s latest games. Now I’m not expecting a full-on story mode for Virtua Fighter 6 but give us something, Sega. Maybe a gallery mode contain extensive character biographies, a stage edit mode like in VF2 and maybe provide even subtitles for foreign language speaking characters. Simple stuff really.

Virtua Fighter has always been a quality game but its lack of flash and content are holding it back.

Will we ever get another Virtua Fighter game? It’s took 6 years for us get a update to 2006’s Virtua Fighter 5. A new VF game for the next-gen consoles perhaps? Personally, I don’t think the franchise is dead at least not in Japan anyway but elsewhere it’s hanging on a lifeline and has been doing so for some time. If this 20th anniversary celebration has done anything it’s re-assured me that Sega does have future plans for the franchise. Still, the VF series is not has popular as it should be and Sega need to change that. Happy 20th Virtua Fighter!!

Happy Birthday Virtua Fighter!!

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7 thoughts on “The Future of VIRTUA FIGHTER

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  3. The Virtua Fighter series is great; overall I’ve enjoyed each of the games I’ve played, including the 5th one (played on a friend’s PS3). I kind of like the straightforwardness of the game to be honest–just jump in and fight, everything controls well, and there’s a great set of characters to play as. I suppose therein lies part of the issue when it comes to marketability–there isn’t a lot that makes the series stand out anymore.
    Sega has fumbled with a lot of their classic franchises unfortunately; I do hope that they’ll get back in the swing of things soon.

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  4. I played vf 5 fs for awhile, the offline AI isnt good enough to really teach you the game and the online is simply too hard esp the japanese players, it really requires a huge learning investment that many are not prepared to undergo, i know I wasnt anyway, i did like to think I was good against the computer with my Shun di moves but taking it online was just too brutal so I gave up, it truly is a wonderful game franchise though, when you can use Shun di effectively it is simply a beautiful thing to behold, and all the love and care they put into the creation of the characters is quite metaphysical in execution, i wish I had more time to master it,

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    • Not just Shun Di, but Jean, Elieen, Akira, Jacky, Jeffry, the whole bloody cast! Anyone is so unique their individuality really shines in the hands of top players.

      I agree with you though. Sega needs to bridge that gap between the novice and the hardcore. But I don’t have my hopes up. =/

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