Oh, Virtua Fighter 3… How I had so many fond memories with that game!
In case anyone didn’t noticed, I LOVE Virtua Fighter 3. Out of all the VF games I’ve played, I kept this as my #1 of the series. It was the most unique entry of the series, and often seen as the black sheep of the series by the fans.
How did I get into Virtua Fighter 3? Back in 1996 when I was 5 years old, I remember reading something about Virtua Fighter 3 coming out for Sega Saturn. The game was already out in arcades, so I was really hype to play this game. On the magazine, I noticed that Virtua Fighter 3 had their super heavyweight character: Taka-Arashii. When I first saw that character, I was like “E. Honda is in a Virtua Fighter game? COOL!” VF3 was supposed to be released for Sega Saturn sometime in the future.
It took me a while to figure out that Sega Saturn was performing poorly in North America. Not to mention, Virtua Fighter 3 was released for the Sega Model 3 Arcade System. The Model 3 hardware is too powerful to run on the Sega Saturn. Originally, SEGA was going to release a 3D Accelerator Cartridge so that it could be comparable with the arcade version. Unfortunately, that never happened and the Sega Saturn was discontinued in 1998 in North America and Europe (2000 in Japan).
1998 was also the year when I got my first experience with Virtua Fighter 3. I first played the game at an arcade in Kings Dominion. The game was relatively different compared to the first two games, since the stages have environments such as slopes, terrain, steps, and walls. I also noticed that there were four buttons instead of the traditional three. That is because Virtua Fighter 3 introduced the Evade button in which you could sidestep in the game. Mind you, VF3 wasn’t the first game to have that feature. Battle Arena Toshiden introduced the sidestep feature back in 1995.
Anyway, as I played through arcade mode, I noticed that Wolf’s stage had no ring outs at all. It was an entire desert. And yes: I lost against Wolf since I was using Lion.
Since then, I didn’t know when I was going to be able to play Virtua Fighter 3 again. It wasn’t until 1999 when I heard about the Sega Dreamcast. For Christmas, I wanted to get Sonic Adventure, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Soul Calibur (which I did for the first two games), but I noticed that Virtua Fighter 3 was on the lineup, only this time as Virtua Fighter 3tb. What is tb, anyway? Well, tb is an abbreviation for Team Battle, which the game featured. Of course, VF3tb was released in the arcades back in 1997, so I was completely unaware.
My dad surprised me with two fighting games for the Dreamcast: Virtua Fighter 3tb and Soul Calibur back in early 2000. As I play the game, I ended up using Lau Chan the most when I played the game. His stage (along with his music and his gameplay) was amazing. Then, I started messing with characters such as Taka, Jacky, and many more along the way. The ring outs are hilarious, especially when they drown in water. When they fall in the water, it adds a gargle effect to their voices.
When I played Arcade Mode, I pressed the R button and it went straight to First Person Mode. I thought it was pretty cool at the time, but it got nauseating for me. That also goes for Team Battle Mode (which is the equivalent of Arcade Mode). If you are in a Punch-Out mood, I’d give it a shot. Virtua Fighter 3tb also had a training mode, which was pretty good at the time. It got me familiarized with the characters that I was using and there was no background music. Training in silence really sets me in the mood, especially at night when the lights are out.
With friends and family, I spent an equal amount of playing them in Soul Calibur and VF3tb. I remember one sleepover when I used Lau and I grabbed Taka. My friends were like: “An old man picked up a sumo wrestler!”. I did it about two or three times in which I also learned how to throw in the game. Mind you, I was nine years old.
While people favor Soul Calibur over Virtua Fighter 3tb, Virtua Fighter 3tb will always be my favorite fighter in the series. Even though the game was three years older than Soul Calibur, the game introduced me to Dead or Alive 2 and the rest of the DOA series. Yes, Virtua Fighter 3 as a whole was the black sheep of the series and the Dreamcast port is a barebones port with an added training mode, but I got to give Sega AM2 credit for trying something ambitious with this game. In the game’s defense, it took AM2 a long time to get a console release since the Saturn died in North America.
I love you, Virtua Fighter 3.
Speaking of DOA, I have something to say before I end this blog. A couple days ago, I went to NEC16 right after work not only to watch Top 8 for DOA5 Last Round, but also hang out with the DOA community. JC Akira, an Akira player from Japan, came to US soil and took first place in the game! Congrats to you man, and I hope you visit the States again in the future!
But that’s enough for this post. Come back next time where I talk about my experience with Virtua Fighter 4.