Given that it's been nine years since we last saw the series - and some 15 whole years since the last mainline release in arcades - you might well be wondering why there's so much excitement surrounding this week's release of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, a remaster that brings Sega's fighting series to modern platforms (or just one of them for now, at least). What is it exactly about Virtua Fighter that makes it so beloved?
Allow me, a fairly serious fan who's been pining for a return for some time, to try to explain. Virtua Fighter is to fighting games what OutRun is to driving games: accessible, slick and dynamic, just as OutRun sold the teenage dream of getting behind the wheel for a Ferrari so Virtua Fighter is all about pitting poster star martial artists against each other, in both cases something complex distilled down to something intoxicatingly direct. They are both peak Sega.
So it's a delight to see the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio - undoubtedly Sega's premier studio, and in whose games you'll find so much of that old style and swagger - turn its hand to Virtua Fighter's return, even if the project they've been handed isn't quite as grand as some might have hoped. This is a pared-back port of Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, released in arcades in 2010 before making it to console in 2012, albeit gently renovated for more modern hardware.