ighting games sure have come a long way since the mid 90s. Every now and again, it's great to go back to the days when the arcade fighter was king. But some games have aged more gracefully than others, especially when it comes down to 3D fighting games such as Virtua Fighter 2.
Virtua Fighter was hailed at the time of its creation as a king amongst fighting games (definitely not to be confused with The King of Fighters, which is another topic altogether). Where the original game lacked - very obviously, given the era -- in visual finesse, Virtua Fighter 2 came back with much better-looking visuals and the solid game play the the brand was known for: fast, super-technical and ridiculously deep.
Several ports appeared on many different home consoles including the infamously bad Genesis version, the Japanese-only PS2 version via the Sega Ages collection, and the excellent Saturn version, which even well into the sixth generation gaming era (PS2, Gamecube) was regarded as one of the very best games ever. With fluid gameplay and decent design, Virtua Fighter 2 was a winner. There's much depth with the seemingly endless array of moves that are at your disposal, no matter who you choose, not to mention the ability to end a round quickly with a ring-out. With such a long running legacy (which continues today with brand new Virtua Fighter games,) it's no wonder Sega chose to release Virtua Fighter 2 on the XBLA and PSN marketplaces, in full HD.
There's just one problem: the new HD versions play terribly, especially compared to the Saturn version that I'm most accustomed to. Something seems drastically off about how this game handles in a few different ways. There are things I like to do when I'm playing a fighting game. It's called “hitting my opponent,” and that's something that you'll definitely find a little too challenging as you progress through the game, even on easy. I found myself struggling to get through stage five, and stage six was when I called it quits. Beyond the archaic and stiff controls straight out of 1994, It's just impossible to win when your leg goes directly through your opponent and doesn't register. Also, blocking and still getting hit, or launching an all-out offensive that instantly gets countered but can't be countered player-side when the computer does it.
I'm pretty sure there's a condition this game falls into; this game could even be said to have an illness. I'm certain that it's called “cheating bitch computer syndrome,” and I just don't like it.
That's not to say there's nothing good here, though. The game itself is still as well assembled as ever, and playing against a human being via the local versus mode is a lot of fun, as it should be given the level of depth that the core gameplay has. Newly added online matches could enhance the playtime you might get from the game, and online leaderboards are a nice touch. The HD visuals are exceptionally clear and some of the tunage still holds up with me today. Even the trophies are more than manageable. Despite my apparent difficulty, I was able to get 100 percent of the trophies in just a couple of hours.
If you don't have any friends, I would probably advise against Virtua Fighter 2, unless you're buying it for the Saturn. Fighters have come a very long way, and unfortunately Virtua Fighter 2 feels like it was KO'd far too long ago to continue as-is. If you're still in, you can get Virtua Fighter 2 on PSN for a fiver, or on XBLA for 400 Microsoft Points.