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Virtua Fighter

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Released: 1995

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Sega 32X

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Sega

Pity the poor 32X – while theoretically a sound idea, the Mega Drive upgrade just couldn’t compete with dedicated 32-bit consoles, leading to a short and undignified life. However, it did have some highlights and Sega’s excellent conversion of Virtua Fighter was definitely one of them.

AM2’s arcade classic was the perfect fit for the add-on. The flat-shaded polygon graphics worked to the system’s strengths – it pulled the game off convincingly, albeit with a reduced polygon count. The three-button control system ensured that every Mega Drive pad delivered an equal experience, too. Granted, the music was rather like the arcade soundtrack played through a Stylophone (as Mean Machines Sega accurately pointed out) but overall, it was as close as the 32X could get – and that was close enough.

However, it actually managed to best the existing Saturn version in some respects! In order to get the CD game out for the Saturn’s Japanese launch in November 1994, Sega rushed the conversion. With the 32X game arriving in 1995, a couple of extra modes were added to sweeten the deal: ranking mode, which graded the player’s performance, and tournament mode, which allowed for eight-player brackets to be set up easily. There were also more options, including extra camera angles and arena size adjustments.

Of course, it was too late to do anything about the 32X’s fading fortunes by the time Virtua Fighter came out. However, for the dedicated few that stuck with the system, it was at least a nice parting gift from Sega.