It may be celebrating its twentieth anniversary in November this year, but Sega’s classic 3D fighter is a game that’s arguably showing little sign of age. A technical marvel in the '90s both in arcades and at home on the Saturn, the passage of time has done nothing to this game other than prove that it always had the gameplay to back up the visual splendour.
So why would anyone want to play a Virtua Fighter that’s two decades and at least three major releases behind today’s standards? It’s simple – Virtua Fighter 2 is to polygonal fighting what Street Fighter II is to pixel-warriors – a game so refined and so well crafted that everything since looks more like an optional extra than a much needed upgrade.
Virtua Fighter 2’s cast of just eleven characters may look a bit thin but the depth and diversity on display is still tough to beat – you could easily spend months dedicating yourself to just one fighter and still find plenty of new tricks and techniques to try out at the end of it. There’s someone for everyone in this line up no matter your preference for highly technical play, grapplers or lightning fast strikes, and the wealth of moves available allows you to further tailor your chosen favourite to your own style.
So, why would a headline grabbing '90s arcade game be a good choice for a modern handheld remake? The game’s format makes it perfect pick-up-and-play material, with two rounds out the way in a few minutes at the most, so you wouldn’t have to book time off work just to get somewhere with it; yet if you did find yourself with a lazy weekend ahead, AM2’s superior talent ensures that there’s more than enough meat on those beautiful bones to keep anyone occupied until the low battery light comes on. That’s before you bring a friend around or hop online to test out the skills you’ve been practising on your lunch break. The game also only needs three buttons to play - Guard, Punch, and Kick - so nobody would need to play Twister with their fingers just to get a decent grip on the controls.
Sega is obviously doing well out of Nintendo’s Virtual Console userbase – it's hardly releasing all these Mega Drive, Game Gear and arcade ports with painstakingly researched fancy extras just to pass the time, after all; on 3DS Virtua Fighter could find a new lease of life as long-time fans and total newcomers get to look at the game with a fresh set of 3D-equipped eyes.
It wouldn’t be the most straightforward port it’d ever do, but M2 could probably get dogs and cats to put aside their differences if they set their minds to it, and surely nothing deserves a true 3D remake like a game that remains an icon of 3D gaming techinal prowess.
Would you like to see Virtua Fighter 2 in the palm of your hand? Do you have fond memories of the game or is it something you’ve never tried? Let us know in the comments section below.