Welcome back to the Digital Dojo as we explore the style of polygon fighters in Virtual Fighter. This game was transitioned from arcade to consoles starting in 1995 with Sega Saturn, followed by the 32X, and is the first polygon-based fighting game. For it’s innovation the series was recognized by the Smithsonian Institution and became apart of their permanent research collection on information technology innovation in 1998. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History still has the arcade cabinets for future generations to see. So while all of this makes the game sound ground-breakingly impressive, the Virtual Fighter concept is very simple. Pick a fighter to make your way through all of the other combatants in the game, which may also include the classic doppelganger scenario, to reach the final boss. The fighting controls mimic the same simplicity as the game’s concept by using a punch, kick, and guard buttons to form various attack combos. Now the question, as always, is does the game’s martial arts skill hold up to reality?
To answer this we will begin by trying to define the different fighting styles in the game. Any selected fighter can perform distinct attacks defining them along with their uniforms, which are supposed to indicate their styles. However, the minimal variation in what the different fighters can do does not really help to pin-point their form. In-fact, some of the absurdities in the fighter’s unique moves, like Kage’s diving head-butt, makes it look like there are no real styles being picked from and all the fighters are programed based on general martial arts skill.
The programming of these said skills are a bit hit and miss. The truest of the skills are the hand techniques using a basic boxing set to strike your opponent. Cross punches do lack a proper pivot on the back foot however, which robs a striker of power and a bit of reach. This may be a limitation of the new technology the game developed, but certainly not for the time is was developed. After all Kung-Fu had proper pivots on the Atari/NES. As for kicking… while chambering (the start of the kick) and the actual extensions of the strikes look good, there is not a full pivot on the base foot for the round kicks which lead to the following bad things in the real world:
1) Lack of pivot stops your weight from moving forward and therefore deprives the kick of it’s full power.
2) Without a full pivot this kick can not set in front (which it mostly should do yet never does in the game) to advance your position.
3) Poor pivots lead to torn meniscus.
While side kicks in the game look very clean, even on their base leg pivots, spinning hook kicks always return to the original guard stance. While this can give more power, it again does not allow the fighter to advance position which is what you mostly want to use spin kicks for in real life sparring. Overall, while this game may have been a technological break through, I would give it a poor rating for it’s martial arts display. If anyone from the Smithsonian is reading this, you may want to make on a note about that.
Here ends the lesson.