Virtua Fighter Remix
If You Needed Any Further Proof that pc games are getting more and more 'arcadey' by the day, then here it is - Virtua Fighter Remix for the good ol' IBM compatible, complete with 'Sega' stamped all over it in a fifty-four foot typeface. Flippin' 'eck, Tucker.
That's it, it's time to fix a coin slot to your pc, whack it in the corner of your local chip shop, and stand well back as a crowd of baying truants fills it brim-full of 2op pieces. Sega's Virtua Fighter is something of an arcade legend, y'see. It was the first title to feature realistic, smoothly animated 3D polygon fighters, and was an instant success here, there and everybloodywhere - especially in Japan, where 98 per cent of the population can now perform a triple uppercut combo with their eyes closed and one hand tied behind their back. More recently, Virtua Fighter has put in an appearance in living rooms the length and breadth of the entire land, courtesy of Sega's 'Next Generation' console, the Saturn.
Now, some of you may be wondering exactly what the Remix bit in the title stands for. Don't worry - the soundtrack hasn't been replaced by a naff 12-inch version of Paul Hardcastle's 19 (although there's plenty of "destruction... of men in their prime" on offer). No, no, no... the Remix bit indicates that this game is sort of halfway between Virtua Fighter I (fairly basic-looking polygons) and Virtua Fighter 2 (lush, textured, highly detailed fighters). Feast your eyes on the screen-shots and you'll see what I mean.
It's impressive stuff. The action is fast and smooth, with no sign of flicker or slowdown. If you've already seen this game running on a Saturn you'll be relieved to hear that this pc incarnation not only runs just as smoothly, but it lets you get a good look at the characters, too - unlike the console version they fill up the majority of the screen. On the full detail setting (which really shows off by dolloping a coat of Gouraud shading over the top of it all), it looks stunning, especially in the 'night-time' stage set on top of a skyscraper where the two fighters are lit from below. And to top it all, it runs under Windows 95, which means you can switch between the game and that dull old spreadsheet thing in the blink of an eye - an experience so dazzlingly porno it made my head spin around just thinking about it. So that's the good news.
And the bad news?
Well, um... Er... Look, I like beat 'em ups - I like them a lot, and in two-player mode I wholeheartedly love them. I get all sad and trainspotty about them, downloading faqs and learning the moves, that kind of thing. I've reduced my poor hands to a mass of calluses and sores through repeated performances ofZangiefs Spinning Piledriver move in StreetFighter II. (I'm still shit at them though.)
Anyway, I have to admit that I never really got into Virtua Fighter, neither in the arcades, or on the Saturn. Why? Well, it's pretty hard for me to put my finger on exactly what's wrong, it's a combination of things: the animation looks a little unnatural at times, the special moves aren't exactly intuitive and are tricky to learn - you have to press a button to block instead of just pulling backwards, and the fighters sometimes seem to react quite slowly. Minor niggles, yet when combined they form one medium-sized beef. Alongside the three-dimensional splendour of Virtua Fighter Remix, favourites such as StreetFighter II and Mortal Kombat 3 may look like the videogame equivalent of a cardboard cut-out theatre production of Enter The Dragon - but when it comes down to the gameplay stakes it's they who are the victors. In other words, top marks for visuals, slightly lower marks for content. And that's that.
Virtualand's most wanted
Be on the lookout for the following felons. If sighted, do not attempt to apprehend them. Contact the police and then stand back and watch as the Virtua gang kick 'em silly. Because they're cowboys. On the steel horse they ride. And they're wanted (waaaante-eh-eh-ed). Dead or alive.
Akira is an expert in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Thuggery, and Spinach (he learnt about the 'orrible green stuff during a day trip to a farm in his schooldays). He's particularly good at close range and has a wide variety of uppercuts and elbow attack moves.
Pai's a nimble little vixen capable of flooring even the most assured fighter with a devastating flurry of itty-bitty punches. When not fighting in the virtual arena, she likes to unwind by slowly tearing the heads off gerbils. (And for added entertainment you can try to give her a good whack and laugh as her hat flies off.)
Jeffry's a pretty cumbersome fellow, but don't let that put you off. He's the strongest of the fighters, and can perform a frightening array of bone-splintering throws. On his days off, however, he can be found down the local docks, wearing a little pleated skirt, charging sailors 50p a time for some 'executive relief. Allegedly.
Lau is actually Pai's father, so watching him scrap with her is a little unsettling - especially if he throws her to the floor and does a double stomp on her head, which he does a lot.
Kage suffered from dreadful acne in his youth and wears a mask to cover up the appalling collection of bobbles and pits that makes up 90 per cent of his face. As you might imagine, he's a pretty angry guy. He's also a ninja who performs some of the game's slightly more ridiculous moves, such as leaping in the air and landing on his opponent head first. Now that's downright stupid.
Jacky is Sarah's brother (see below). This is all getting a little like Neighbours, really (perhaps Kage stays in their house?). And Lau is the horrible bloke next door who keeps telling them not to play the music so loud whenever they throw a party. Jacky's much the same as his sis, only a little less effective.
Wolf wears his own variation of Adam Ant's 'Prince Charming' make-up throughout the game. The similarities end there, however, as Wolf is less likely to be found singing about ridicule being "nothing to be scared of" than he is to be snapping your arm in three different places at once.
Download Virtua Fighter Remix
Getting a little bored with your pack-in copy of Virtua Fighter? Get ready for the upgrade of the classic: Virtua Fighter Remix'. Basically this is the original VF with improved graphics, new music and killer new throws. The texture-mapping on the polygons is gorgeous. Now characters like Sarah look more realistic like VF2. You'll even see animated expressions on their faces. Also, the selection screen has comic book artwork, a vast improvement over the polygon profiles from the original.