Virtua Fighter – Sega Megadrive / Genesis 32X Review

Retro Resolution Retro Review
 

System: Sega Megadrive / Genesis 32X
Developer: Sega
AM2 (arcade, 32X)
Year: Model 1 hardware (arcade original) 1993
Year: 32X 1995

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The classic Simpson’s episode Treehouse of Horror VI sees Homer unexpectedly breaking through the 2D confines of his world to appear in the three spatial dimensions of ours, the juxtaposition highlighting the hitherto unnoticed confining nature of the previous reality; Homer’s revelatory sensation is one mirrored by first-time players of Sega’s iconic Virtua Fighter.

Often hailed as a breakthrough for the genre, the Model-1 powered 1993 arcade title dragged the one-on-one fighting game kicking and screaming into the third dimension, eschewing sprites for fully animated quadratic-surfaced mannequin fighters. Whilst rendered entirely in 3D, the action still ensues entirely upon a horizontal plane, much to the title’s credit.  As Bruce Lee once said:

‘Do not deny the classical approach simply as a reaction, or you will have created another pattern and trapped yourself there’

The polygonal nature of the game enables a true paradigm shift in gameplay. Unhindered by pre-drawn animation frames Virtua Fighter’s smoothly realistic movement conveys the satisfying solidity of its fighters, and the bone-crushing weight of their attacks,  whilst allowing a previously unobtainable fluidity and depth of gameplay. The resultant experience appears a different beast entirely from those iconic 2D brawlers Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.

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Virtua Fighter - Sega 32X

Bereft of fireballs and fatalities alike, Virtua Fighter’s strength lays not in what pugilistic purists may bemoan as gimmicks, but in a repertoire of over 700 moves derived from a variety of traditional martial arts, including boxing and wrestling;  training is the key to success as much in the Virtua world as the real.

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Space Harrier – Sega Megadrive / Genesis 32X Review

Retro Resolution Retro Review
 

System: Sega Megadrive / Genesis 32X
Year: 1984
Publisher: Sega
Developer: AM2

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Space Harrier - Sega Megadrive / Genesis 32X

Enter the Dragon

Back in 1984 it was possible to Chase the Dragon and experience a full-on psychedelic trip for a paltry 50 pence, all thanks to Sega’s legendary AM2 team, creators of Space Harrier; this technicolour wonderment provides an early glimpse of magic from Yu Suzuki, author of the yet-to-come coin-op classics Outrun, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Cop, and groundbreaking open-world extravaganza Shenmue.

At my local arcade Space Harrier attracted long queues, being both a spectacular introductory showcase for Sega’s System 16 Super-scalar sprite-scaling technology (long before the infamous SNES mode 7 made such effects ubiquitous) and among the earliest articulated sit-down cabinets. Each credit for the deluxe incarnation cost a small fortune in comparison to contemporary machines and, for the average punter (well, for me at least), yielded a scant 30 seconds of gameplay in return.

In this early example of the rail-shooter the player is cast in the role of the eponymous Space Harrier, rushing into the psychedelic chessboard screen by means of a combined jetpack and laser-canon device. A frankly insane collection of enemies assaults the player, ranging from alien spacecraft to psychotic green heads (possibly modelled upon the mentally-challenged Gizmo doppelganger from Gremlins II. Then again, possibly not).

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