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Video Game / Virtua Fighter

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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 way 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. 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 newcomers without removing any of the established fighters. 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) (2018, PS4 via Yakuza Kiwami 2)
  • 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) (2018, PS4 via Yakuza 6)
    • Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown (2021, PS4) — A Video Game Remake of the fifth game using the Dragon Engine from Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's Like a Dragon series.

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 it can be viewed here.

Akira, Pai, Sarah, and Jacky were playable guest fighters in the fifth Dead or Alive game. Akira, Pai and Dural have also made appearances in Project × Zone, with the first two together as a playable paired unit and the last as a recurring boss. Akira and Pai also return for Project X Zone 2, although Pai is instead a solo unit and Kage-Maru replaces her as Akira's partner. Akira also appears in Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax as a Final Boss with Pai as an Assist Character. He even appears as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, in his blocky Retraux appearance from the first game.

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Examples list - Ready... GO!

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Art Evolution: The picture above could easily serve as an evolutionary chart of 3D gaming. The first game was one of the pioneers in 1993, and the series has admirably kept pace with the graphical advancements over the generations.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the Virtua Fighter 5 opening, Pai pulls one off to save her father Lau from being killed by Lei Fei.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cool Old Guy: 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Virtua Fighter 4 began a trend where the series took on a more realistic and slightly darker tone compared to the more brightly-colored look and somewhat cartoony feel of the first three games (especially compared to the first and original Virtua Fighter). Though it's worth noting that the series still has funny/narmy moments from time to time.
  • 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 is 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 has several moves that belong 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.
  • Dub Name Change: The Latin America Spanish dub changed damn near every character's name note , every other dub kept the character's names as is.
  • 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.
  • Excuse Plot: Due to the lack of in-game references, the machinations of J6 end up becoming this when you play. None of the games even have character-specific endings (not even the console ports).
  • Facial Markings: Wolf has them. He most likely wears them for stage appearance reasons as he's a Canadian born and raised, with the only resemblance to a Native American heritage being that he was a huntsman prior to being a wrestler.
  • Flawless Victory: Called an "Excellent" win in Virtua Fighter parlance.
  • Fragile Speedster: Pai, Aoi, Eileen, and Lion. All are quick but can't take much damage.
  • Foil: After the first game, characters are often introduced to the series in contrasting pairs:
    • 2: Both characters use Chinese martial arts (Drunken Fist and Mantis Style respectively), but Shun Di is a laid back Old Master while Lion is a Hot-Blooded youngster.
    • 3: Aoi and Taka-Arashi represent traditional Japanese martial arts (Aikido and Sumo) and are almost pure examples of traditional archetypes in the nation's culture, the female Yamato Nadeshiko and the male Sumo Wrestler.
    • 4: Lei-Fei and Vanessa are two very different takes on the concept of the Stance System; Lei-Fei requires a solid understanding of how to transition between his multitude of stances while Vanessa can freely choose between two discrete stances. There's also a degree of irony in their personalities; Lei-Fei is surprisingly violent and conniving for the traditionally peaceful Shaolin monks, while Vanessa is a much nicer person than her background as a soldier for Judgment 6 would suggest.
    • 4: Evolution: Brad is centered around smothering his opponents with a relentless stream of strikes, while Goh prefers a more technical game plan centered around throws and counters. Brad is also a Tall, Dark, and Handsome playboy with an eye out for the women competing while Goh is a hideously scarred and pale assassin with a different eye out for the other competitors.
    • 5: Eileen and El Blaze are both the smallest and most acrobatic members of the cast and are both stage artists with relationships to characters from the first game. The former is a cutesy Chinese opera performer who idolizes Pai Chan while the latter is a hammy Masked Luchador who openly challenges Wolf for the championship belt.
    • 5: Final Showdown: Taka-Arashi is a returning character who once again embodies the traditional image of the Sumo wrestler, while newcomer Jean Kujo is a French karateka with a more modern Animesque sense of fashion.
  • 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!"note 
    Sarah: "Even good guys blow it..."
  • Healthy Green, Harmful Red:
  • 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 middle ground 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 a large bust, jiggles no matter what she wears. Amusingly, Dural has jiggle physics, despite her metallic body.
  • 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.
  • Left Hanging: The story (what little there is) was left incomplete due to the franchise losing its popularity to other 3D Fighters and the resurgence of 2D Fighters.
  • Minimalist Cast: To date, there are only 20 fighters including Dural. This is a well-sized roster. But one must recognize that other fighting game series that have ran as long as VF have amassed a large amount of fighters during their run, making the size of VF's roster much smaller in comparison.
  • Mirror Match: When both combatants are the same character, the second one wears clothing in a different color/style. The first two games present the opponents in a fixed order, and no special attention is drawn to the mirror match.
  • Punch-Kick Layout: The control layout of the series mostly involves a single punch button, a single kick button and a guard button. VF3 also had an evasion button, which ended up being removed from VF4 that made evasions done by tapping up/down then returning to neutral akin to sidesteps in Tekken.
  • Put on a Bus: Taka-Arashi, between 3 and 5 R. Other than him, the series is notable for never dropping any character, new or old, a rather unique case for long-running fighting game series.
  • Retraux: Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary, which is Virtua Fighter 4 with the first game's blocky polygons and soundtrack. 5: Ultimate Showdown carries on this tradition with its “Legendary Pack” Downloadable Content which gives the cast VF1 character skins, a VF1-style stage, and a VF1-inspired UI.
  • Rank Inflation: After reaching 10th dan, players can revive titles (see Kyu and Dan Ranks). Tropes Are Not Bad in this case.
  • Repeat Cut: The game shows a replay of the fight-finishing blow, at a more cinematic camera angle.
  • Ring Out: A fight can be won by forcing the opponent out of the arena (or lost, if you accidentally step off the edge yourself). The effort required to beat an opponent this way is similar to depleting the health bar, and is also scaled for high-damage matches that last 30 seconds.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Spin-Off: Virtua Quest, a 3D action beat 'em up featuring the cast of Virtua Fighter 4 as fighting data in Cyberspace.
  • 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 Versus Performer: This series is the technician to every other fighting game's performer.
  • Translation Convention: A somewhat strange variant— Asian characters speak Japanese, everyone else speaks English.
  • 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.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Ultimate Showdown received downloadable costume packs themed around Yakuza and Tekken characters.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Wolf, Jeffry, and Taka-Arashi. Both Wolf and Jeffry use grappling moves, while Taka-Arashi is a sumo wrestler.
    • Beyond that, some of the other non-wrestling fighters use pro wrestling moves in their arsenal. For instance Lau has a jumping chokeslam and his daughter Pai can do a DDT.

Alternative Title(s): Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Fighter 1