Video Game: Virtua Fighter

Promotional image for the 20th Anniversary showing the Art Evolution of Akira Yuki.
Virtua Fighter is a Fighting Game series produced by Sega's AM2 development team. Debuting in the arcades in 1993, it is notable for being the first truly successful 3D fighting game franchise, paving the wave for the likes of Tekken and Dead or Alive.note 

The game's story is about the dealings of the mysterious corporation, Judgment Six (J6) who holds the World Fighting Tournament as a front to create the ultimate fighter. The game's star is Akira Yuki a Hot-Blooded martial artist seeking to fight worthy opponents and perfect his fighting style. A major recurring storyline in the game is with J6's involvement with some of the other competitors. Kage-Maru's mother, Tsukikage, is turned into Dural, the final boss of the series. Sarah and Vanessa are both kidnapped by J6, the latter used to make the newer version of Dural after Kage saved his mother.

Compared to other fighting game franchises, Virtua Fighter doesn't have much focus in its storyline. This is partially due to trying to make the combat mechanics more realistic and the depth in the characters' fighting styles as a whole and the moves they use. Virtua Fighter is known for the balance of its characters between each other. The series is also notable for being one of the few fighting game franchises to preserve its character roster throughout every entry, adding new fighters without removing anyone. The sole exception was Taka-Arashi, who was retired in Virtua Fighter 4 due to the difficulty of integrating the sumo wrestling style into the new engine, only to return in Virtua Fighter 5R.

The main lineup consists of:
  • Virtua Fighter (1993, Model 1) (1994, Saturn) (1995, 32X)
  • Virtua Fighter 2 (1994, Model 2) (1995, Saturn) (1997, Windows PC) (2004, PS2) (2012, PS3/Xbox 360)
  • Virtua Fighter 3 (1996, Model 3)
    • Virtua Fighter 3tb (1997, Model 3) (1998, Dreamcast)
  • Virtua Fighter 4 (2001, NAOMI 2) (2002, PS2)
    • Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution (2003, NAOMI 2) (2004, PS2)
    • Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned (2004, NAOMI 2)
  • Virtua Fighter 5 (2006, Lindbergh) (2007, PS3/Xbox 360)
    • Virtua Fighter 5 R (2008, Lindbergh)
    • Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (2010, Lindbergh) (2012, PS3/Xbox 360)

Related games in the series include.
  • Virtua Fighter Remix (1995, ST-V/Saturn) - A re-release of the first Virtua Fighter that features updated texture mapped graphics.
    • Virtua Fighter PC (1996, Windows PC) - Features the original and Remix-style graphics.
  • Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series (1995-1996, Saturn) - A series of CGI gallery discs featuring image songs for each character. Ten main volumes (one for each member of the VF2 roster) were sold in Japanese retailer, while the eleventh disc (which covered Dural) was only given away as a mail-order by sending the spine cards for the other ten discs to Sega.
  • Virtua Fighter 2 Genesis (1996, Genesis) - An official 2D demake.
  • Virtua Fighter Kids (1996, ST-V/Saturn) - A version of VF2 starring chibi versions of the cast.
  • Virtua Fighter GG Portrait Series (1996, Game Gear) - Similar to the CG Portrait Series, but features the Kids versions of characters. Only had two volumes: one for Akira and another for Pai.
  • Virtua Fighter Animation (1996, Game Gear) - A 2D tie-in to the anime series. A version was released for the Master System in Brazil.
  • Fighters Megamix (1996, Saturn) - A crossover with Fighting Vipers. Based on an abandoned Saturn port of VF3.
  • Virtua Quest (2004, PS2/GC) - A 3D action RPG spinoff.
  • Virtua Fighter: 10th Anniversary Remix (2004, PS2) - A retraux version of VF4 Evolution done in the same graphical style as the first game.

A 35 episode anime aired in Japan from October 2, 1995 June 27, 1996. Only the first 24 episodes were dubbed into English, though the entire series has been dubbed in Spanish, Italian, and Arabic. An OVA titled Virtua Fighter Costomize Clip was also released in 1996, consisting solely of animated music videos set to songs from the Virtua Fighter image song album Dancing Shadows. The OVA is incredibly obscure, but the music videos can be viewed here.

This series provide example of:

  • All There in the Manual: The plot and character biographies, they are never featured in the games.
  • Alternate Continuity: Virtua Quest.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Vanessa. Tall, muscled, and a skilled grappler. Not to mention gorgeous.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Virtua Fighter 4 was the first fighting game to feature accessories for your fighter that did not affect the fighter's stats in any way (even if you gave them weapons).
  • Animal Nemesis: Jeffry's constant battle with the "devil shark".
  • Anime Hair: Akira, Jacky, and Goh. Brad's is almost there.
  • The Anime of the Game: Though it's a Pragmatic Adaptation, it's pretty well received.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Lei-Fei. He seeks to become stronger, and wants to steal Lau's style then kill him to increase his strength.
  • Badass Grandpa: Shun. Despite being more than double the age of most of the roster, he kicks just as much ass. Lau is approaching this as well, with noticeably graying hair in later installments.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Pai pulls one off to save her father Lau from being killed by Lei Fei.
  • Boobs of Steel: Vanessa. Large chested and physically the strongest female.
  • Boring but Practical / Simple Yet Awesome: The series in general when compared to most other fighting games. The VF games eschew any kind of super meter or gimmick, and instead have relied on fleshing out the core mechanics over the years, making it a very deep game.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: This is part of the process of making Dural. It also happens to Sarah, who is a candidate for the same process. It's likely happened to Goh and Jean as well, when they were younger.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, during the game over countdown, Taka stares up at the players and begs them to continue.
  • But Not Too Black: A particularly egregious example in Vanessa going from Virtua Fighter 4 to 5.
  • Button Mashing: Depends who you play as, and whether your opponent knows the mechanics. You can be punished severely for this practice, even by the AI.
  • Canon Foreigner: Liu Kowloon, Eva Durix and Oni-Maru from the anime series.
  • Cain and Abel: Sarah and Jacky when Sarah was brainwahsed by J6.
  • The Charmer: Brad.
  • Chef of Iron: Lau. He enters the tournament to get enough money to open a restaurant.
  • Chickification: To some degree, Sarah in the anime.
  • Chinese Girl: Pai and Eileen. Pai is more traditional, with ox-tails and standard kung fu, but Eileen's monkey style and outfits still qualify her.
  • Chrome Champion: Dural. She appears as an entirely chrome nude woman.
  • Combos: A staple of the genre.
  • Comic-Book Time: From 4 and onward, birth dates were no longer given for the character.
  • Costume Porn: In Virtua Fighter 4 and 5.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Dural is comically overpowered.
  • Cool Mask: Kagemaru and El Blaze, being a Ninja and a Masked Luchador, respectively.
  • Darker and Edgier: The second season of the anime, compared to the much more light hearted first. The characters are older and their designs are changed to match, becoming less cute and rounded. The plot is treated more seriously and contains less comedy as well.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Vanessa, even though her hair is white.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown has two examples:
    • Training mode includes an animation frame counter that displays how long it takes for a technique to execute, as well as how much of an advantage you have after a successful hit or guard. Usually, this kind of feature is available only to the developers, who would use it to tweak moves to make them faster or slower. This trope is notable because no other fighting game before Final Showdown has a frame counter.
    • You can configure your buttons at the character select screen. A much-appreciated feature for tournament players.
    • See Jiggle Physics below to see how far the dev team thinks.
  • Difficult but Awesome:
    • The series is widely recognized for being one of the most complex and difficult to get into in the fighting game genre, but it is also arguably the most well-balanced amongst its characters and a perennial tournament favorite. While the game has tier lists, a low-tier character can easily best a high-tier one with practice and skill. The difference is nowhere near as pronounced as in other series.
    • Akira himself. Despite being the main character, he's, ironically, generally considered one of the hardest characters to master in this already difficult to master game. That said, he consistently tops tier lists.
  • Ditto Fighter: Dural is the Goddess of them. She has several moves that belongs to other characters.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Sarah and Jacky have developed far different moves and backstories over the course of five games.
  • Downloadable Content: The costume packs in Final Showdown. If you bought the PS3 version early, you got everything
  • Drunken Boxing: This is Shun's fighting style.
  • Drunken Master: Shun. He has a move where he takes a swig; certain moves are only available after having taken so many swigs.
  • Edge Gravity: Averted. Despite being the first major fighting series to use Ring Outs, there is nothing stopping you from meandering over the edge and costing yourself the round. Later installments did include physical walls, however.
  • Evil Albino: Goh is an J6 assassin who is very pale skinned.
  • Excuse Plot: Due to the lack of in-game references, the machinations of J6 end up becoming this when you play. None of the characters even have endings.
  • Facial Markings: Wolf has them. He is Native American.
  • Faux Action Girl: Sarah is this in the anime.
  • Fragile Speedster: Pai, Aoi, Eileen, and Lion. All are quick but can't take much damage.
  • Genki Girl: Eileen. She acts like a monkey in many of her poses.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: In Final Showdown, one of the customisation pieces is an Egyptian mask with glowing red eyes Kage Maru and El Blaze also have unique face pieces which have the same effect.
  • Gratuitous English: While Jeffry, Jacky, Sarah, Vanessa, and many other characters do, in fact, speak coherent English, some of their win quotes seem awkward:
    Jacky: "I've done handcuffed lightning!" (This is actually half of an out-of-context quote from Muhammad Ali, which goes "I done handcuffed lightning, put thunder in jail...")
    Sarah: "Even good guys blow it..."
  • Hot-Blooded: Akira.
  • Idiot Hero: Akira in the anime, a far outcry from his "Ryu clone" game persona. But it still works.
  • Image Song: Aside from the stage music for each character, image songs were produced for the first game, the second game, and the anime. The second game's image song album Dancing Shadows even got animated music videos for some depicting individual characters' backstories.
  • Impending Clash Shot:
    • A downplayed version (due to it being a Long Shot) appears in the fifth installment between Eileen and El Blaze. where we get an half non-Evil Overlooker in the background and the rest of the cast in the middleground spectating the fight.
    • The Virtua Fighter 5 opening features dozens of character match ups.
  • Incest Subtext: In whatever media they appear in, Jacky always seems just a little too close to his sister Sarah. One of the most blatant examples is in an animated music video of Jacky's theme song that has a flashback of him and Sarah playing together at a beach. Not as children, but as adults, and Sarah is wearing a pretty skimpy bikini. Anyone not familiar with the characters could easily assume they were lovers.
  • Jiggle Physics: Virtua Fighter 5 uses this. The breast size and the type of clothing the female character wears actually affects the amount of jiggle, making this a much more realistic and well executed example than most. The only character this doesn't effect is Eileen, the youngest girl in the cast. Inversely, Vanessa, who has Boobs of Steel, jiggles no matter what she wears.
  • Jump Physics: In a series steeped in deep technical gameplay with a focus on realism, it took the fourth game to finally stop the characters from leaping like they're affected by the moon's gravity and not Earth's.
  • Kyu and Dan Ranks: The series introduced them from part 2 on. Until 1st dan, those will be gained by experience points, afterwards with victory points. Once the player reaches 10th dan, it's possible to acquire even higher rankings with the titles (High King and Emperor being the highest in Virtua Fighter 4 and Champion in Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution.
  • Large Ham: The narrator in the anime.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Respectively Pai and Sarah.
  • Magical Native American: Wolf.
  • Masked Luchador: El Blaze.
  • Mega Corp.: Judgement Six.
  • Mighty Glacier: Wolf, Jeffry, and Taka-Arashi. Both Wolf and Jeffry use grappling moves, while Taka-Arashi is a sumo wrestler.
  • Ninja: Kage-Maru.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: El Blaze is a pretty clear clone of real life luchadore and WCW/WWE wrestler Rey Mysterio.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Sarah has one during one of her winposes.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Alexander, Sarah's pet flying squirrel from the anime).
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • All English-speaking characters sound American, regardless of origin. Equally all the Asian characters speak in Japanese.
    • Lion is French, but he sounds more like a loud American teenager.
    • Jeffrey has more emphasis on the Scary Black Man rather than an Australian Scary black man.
  • Numbered Sequels
  • Old Master: Lau and Shun.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: J6 again.
  • Professional Killer: Goh and Jean.
  • Professional Wrestling: Wolf and El Blaze.
  • Psycho for Hire: Goh and Jean.
  • Retraux: Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary, which is Virtua Fighter 4 with the first game's blocky polygons and soundtrack.
  • Rank Inflation: After reaching 10th dan, players can revieve titles (see Kyu and Dan Ranks). Tropes Are Not Bad in this case.
  • Ring Out: In the very least the Trope Codifier for the fighting game genre, if not the Trope Maker.
  • The Rival: Wolf to Akira.
  • Scary Black Man: Jeffry.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Akira gets this with Pai a lot, but only outside of the games. It's extremely prevalent in the anime and even comes up in the American comic. Borders on Official Couple.
    • Akira and Sarah was also teased in the anime, before it started teasing Sarah and Kage.
    • In addition to that, Jacky and Pai are ship teased on two separate occasions when they travel together without Akira, first being thought of as a couple on a honeymoon, and then confronted by paparazzi in the second season who think they're having a secret affair, since by that point they've become celebrities.
    • In the actual games, Aoi/Brad is teased in one intro and one of Brad's special item wins.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: When developing the early games, Yu Suzuki required the development team to learn martial arts. This helped make the moves realistic, and the style utilized by each character is a very close approximation of it in real life, with a few liberties taken for the sake of fun. For example, many of Jacky's moves utilize Wing Chun techniques, which were the foundation of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, as opposed to simply copying moves from Bruce Lee's movies, and ends up being much closer to actual Jeet Kune Do than the average Bruce Lee Clone.
  • SNK Boss: Dural...though she doesn't spam powerful attacks.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Vanessa... snapping necks while laughing
  • Spin-Off: Virtua Quest, a 3D action-beat 'em up featuring the cast of Virtua Fighter 4 as fighting data in Cyberspace.
  • Super-Deformed: Virtua Fighter Kids, also a Spin-Off Babies.
  • Tech Demo Game: One of the tenants of the franchise which got more defined as time went on. In particular, the first one just showed the viability of a 3D polygonal fighting game at all; and 3 includes elements such as stages with much more clearly defined limits and angled floors, along with costume pieces that can be knocked off most of the fighters, to say nothing of Dural's new reflective design.
  • Technician vs. Performer: This series is the technician to every other fighting game's performer.
  • To Be a Master: Akira.
  • Tsundere: Vanessa.
    • Aoi to Brad too, if you read their backstories.
  • Victory Pose
  • The Voiceless: Dural.
  • Updated Re-release: Each game in the series had their fair share of software revisions, but it wasn't until VF3tb that Sega started releasing full updated versions for each entry. Most notably, VF4: Final Tuned and VF5R were arcade exclusives and never had home releases.
  • Warrior Monk: Lei Fei - which also technically makes him a Bare-Fisted Monk as far as we know, though it doesn't matter since this is an unarmed-combat series.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Aoi.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: In 5, the DLC packs gave most characters the option of having brightly coloured hair, in Final Showdown everyone gets it.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Lau.