After SEGA stopped making consoles back in March 31, 2001 (my tenth birthday), I was pretty devastated that the Dreamcast couldn’t keep up. What would happen with franchises such as Sonic, Shenmue, and other IPs? Better yet, what would happen to Virtua Fighter? Thankfully, SEGA became a third-party developer that focused on making games for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles.
Back in 2002, I had no idea that there would be a Virtua Fighter 4. I was completely unaware that it was out in Japan in 2001 for the arcades. It wasn’t until 2002 when I went online and found out that SEGA is releasing Virtua Fighter 4 for the Playstation 2. At the time, it was so unreal that SEGA games are being released for other consoles like Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox. The fact that Virtua Fighter 4 was going to be on the same console where I played Tekken really blew my mind. I spent the entire time looking at the trailer and I gotta admit: it looked pretty good.
My first encounter with Virtua Fighter 4 was when I rented the game at Blockbusters. As I got the game, I noticed there was only one character that missing from the lineup: Taka-Arashii. Where was he? Why didn’t he appear in Virtua Fighter 4? Now, we all know that the reason why Taka didn’t appear in the game is because the AM2 team had no idea how to make him work under VF4’s mechanics. I didn’t find that out the first time around when I first played.
As I played the game, Virtua Fighter 4 went back to the traditional flat-surfaced arenas, with walls brought over from Virtua Fighter 3 (minus the terrain). Some walls are breakable, some are long, and others are unbreakable. When I saw this, I immediately had Fighting Vipers on the brain as I played it. I rarely got a chance to play more of it, but I was amazed that this game allowed you to customize costumes. How did I know that? I played Kumite mode in which I found out that Pai was wearing something different. I had a lot of fun with using Lau, Vanessa, and Jacky.
I didn’t play much of Virtua Fighter 4, since I didn’t own the game. I mean, I played it through my cousin’s house and rented the game, but that was about it. One year later, I found out about Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution through an old issue of PlayStation Magazine back in early 2003. When I saw this, I was like “Who’s the two new guys? They look cool!”. I was determined to get that game for Christmas. When I watched a review of the game by X-Play, I noticed that they showed the first Virtua Fighter game after the review. But wait, why am I seeing a polygonal version of Aoi? It turns out that this game was celebrating the 10th anniversary of Virtua Fighter, and it was already out in Japan as a separate title. I realized that Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary was included in Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution.
I got the game for Christmas back in 2003. I played the everlasting hell out of it. I spent my majority of the game playing Quest Mode using only Lei-Fei. I customized the hell out of that character since I used him all throughout the game. At the time, I didn’t know that they used noticeable VF players from Japan in this game. I didn’t get a chance to finish it yet, unfortunately. However, it did bring back the original stages from VF4.
After toying around with the main game, I decided to try out Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary. It was VF1 with VF4 Evolution elements. The high jumps were back, the polygonal graphics returned, and there was no sidestepping. However, all the VF characters from the first game to the updated fourth game appeared. I had a lot of fun playing VF 10th Anniversary because it brought me back to a time where I was first introduced to the franchise. Not to mention, I could play the original VF stages or the polygonal VF models of each character on VF4 Evolution’s versus mode.
I had some fond memories with Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution. While they weren’t as good as VF3’s, this game was the most technical fighter out there. It had the most detailed tutorial mode, as well as training mode. I remember this game was a tournament favorite, making appearances at EVO and SBO. VF4 as a whole is an underrated fighter, and is considered to be the best entry of the series.
I recently revisited the game a few weeks ago. Since I gained a bit more experience, the game feels a bit easier compared to how I played it when I was younger.
Before I end this blog, I’d like to share a fun fact about Virtua Fighter 4. During an interview with Yosuke Hayashi (current producer of the Dead or Alive series [Read Spoiler 4]), he mentioned that when he first joined Team Ninja back in 2001 during the process of Dead or Alive 3, Hayashi and the development team would go to an arcade and play a current version of Virtua Fighter 4 as a way to report their findings and to update their database. He also mentioned that Lion’s stage from VF4, Castle, is the main inspiration for the Snow stage in DOA3 in another interview.
So yea… Thank VF4 for DOA3.
That’s it for this entry. Join in next time when I talk about my encounter with Virtua Fighter 5 series. (BTW: I didn’t mention Virtua Fighter 4 Final Tuned because I never had any encounter with the game itself).
Oh yea, and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!