Virtua Fighter Review

Virtua Fighter box art arcade

Intense 3D fighting in a true arcade experience.


Virtua Fighter is the original arcade fighting game that pretty much started the 3D fighting hype – as one of the first 3D fighting games released in the arcades, it sure has broken some new ground. The game has been a huge success in Japanese arcades and has been the catalyst for other 3D fighting game series.

The Game

The game is played from a side view like any other fighting game, but thanks to the fact that the characters and environments are rendered with 3D graphics, you can use that 3D aspect for side-stepping and the camera will follow through seamlessly.virtuafighter4

No time is wasted with story-lines here. Once you insert a coin and press the start button, it fires up the character selection screen. Rounds are fought in a standard one-on-one setup inside a confined ring – if you step outside the ring, you lose the match immediately.
Another player can join the game at any time, and the standard arcade mode will then be postponed to make room for the versus battle.
The default setting is set at matches of two rounds, but can be adjusted in the cabinet settings.


What makes Virtua Fighter unique is its easily approachable but yet deep control system. The panel has three buttons used for fighting; punch, kick and guard. With various combinations of these three buttons and the stick you will be able to pull off throws, follow-up attacks, grapples and punch-and-kick combos. The game sports hundreds of moves across these characters, and another hundred hidden moves and techniques are there for you to discover.

Even though the controls are easy to understand and easy to play with, there are certain situations when they feel somewhat clunky. For example, if you happen to catch your opponent off guard and he has his back turned to you, you may think you got the perfect opportunity to land a nasty blow on him but instead it may happen that he glides away from your attack only to turn around and hit you before you have had a chance to recover from that previous attack.


The game has eight different playable characters, each with its own fighting style and special moves. They are pretty believable characters, too. That is to say that there is no fireball throwing going around here. The fighting that occurs in this game pretty much resembles realistic martial arts with some exceptions here and there like the flying-high-kicks. The game has everything from lightning fast ninja kicks to heavyweight wrestling and seeing the various fighting styles go up against each other makes for an amusing game.
You’ll notice that the various characters have some similarities – their basic punches and kicks are very similar, and the same is true for jumping punches and jumping kicks. But beyond that they are completely different experiences to play.
These are the fighters;

  • Akira Yuki – a Kung Fu teacher from Japan.

  • Pai Chan – a movie star from Hong Kong, fighting with Ensei-Ken.

  • Lau Chan – a cook from China, fighting with Koen-Ken.

  • Wolf Hawkfield – a professional wrestler from Canada.

  • Jeffry McWild – a fisherman and wrestler from Australia.

  • Kage-Maru – a Ninja from Japan.

  • Sarah Bryant – a college student from USA, fighting with Jeet Kune Do.

  • Jacky Bryant – a Race car driver, fighting with Jeet Kune Do.

The game discourages the mindless button mashing play style and instead requires players to play strategically and with a certain rhythm. Knowing when to attack and when to guard will be an important lesson to learn here. Time is a factor to take into consideration too. The rounds are pretty short, so there is no time loafing around or playing too defensively – unless you are aiming to win on a timeout.

Playing against the CPU at the default difficulty setting will ramp up in difficulty notable in the fourth match, and will become harder from there. Of course, it all depends on your skill. If you are a master at the game, you could easily down just about any CPU controlled opponent, but otherwise the last few matches could cause some major frustration. The harder difficulty settings in the cabinet will actually lower your total health and make the ring smaller – and yes, it makes the game a whole lot harder for sure. I’m just not sure if that’s the preferred way of doing that.

There are some minor issues in the game relating to attacks that look like they would land on your foe but instead goes right through. Sometimes when the fighters come too close to each other, you can see them being jerked apart from each other. While it doesn’t interfere with the players intended actions, it can look ugly. The camera may surprise you sometimes as it changes view points when it sees fit. Luckily these issues are all very minor.

The game eschews score based ranking boards, and instead focuses on time based ranking and number of wins versus other players. It may be a little too basic, but then again all games need not be mindless score hoarding.


The graphics may be lacking in detail – but all that is made up for with the fluid character animation. The bodily motions of the characters and the fighting itself mimics reality closely – considering that no motion capture was used in the creation of the game, they sure have done a fantastic job at animating all these moves and interactions between the characters like grapples and throws. Seeing the game in motion is a neat treat and thanks to the dynamic camera effects it looks very lively.
Some kicks and throws look extremely painful and the game has lots of snappy moves to help make the fights look dangerous – and it works!


Virtua Fighter comes with a truly iconic soundtrack. It has a distinct style and sound that quickly sticks and greatly helps in characterizing the game as a new hot arcade fighter game. Each fighter in the game has its own accompanying music, some of which are upbeat and cheery while others sound more stern. There’s a nice variation and some of the songs are nothing less than brilliant. Overall, the voice acting is good too. Each character has his or her own quotes that they’ll say when they win a fight, and there’s a fair share of other exclamations too that keeps the fights alive.
The sound effects of the kicks and punches are good too.


Virtua Fighter sports deep fighting mechanics, complete with throws and combos set in a confined ring. This is in many ways a winning concept and has pretty much set the standard for other 3D fighting games. The battles are heated – one critical moment after another shapes the final outcome of the fight, and that’s the way its supposed to be in an arcade fighting game. All in all, this is a memorable experience that really shows its best qualities in the versus mode. There’s nothing like the rush of facing a real meat-and-bones challenger.

Developed By: AM2
Published By:
Version Reviewed:
Players: 1-
Also Available On: Saturn, 32X, Mega Drive, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC


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