Tony Coles over at Eurogamer recently wrote an excellent retrospective for Sega’s Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution. The first iteration of Virtua Fighter 4 was released five years after the previous installment, but brought with it a host of new features and changes that quickly endeared it to the community. Evolution would introduce two new characters (Brad Burns and Goh Hinogami) and subsequently go on to be accepted as one of the best fighting games ever created.
Coles explores the history of the title and the legacy it’s left behind, offering a perfect representation of the highly-technical gameplay that has kept fans coming back for more ever since the series began in 1993. We’ve included a short excerpt below, but be sure to visit Eurogamer to read the entire piece.
Virtua Fighter has always been the scholastic choice, thanks not only to the richness of its characters and movesets but also the way they interact with each other. Eccentricities and idiosyncrasies abound, as signposted in Virtua Fighter 2 by the marvellously weird styles of Shun (drunken master) and Lion (whiny mantis). As each iteration added two new characters per sequel, the roster grew into one of the most diverse in any fighting game and every single one has astonishing depth. It’s also astonishing that the entire lineup is beautifully, wonderfully balanced. For any two characters in battle, every move has a corresponding counter-move. Common fighting game concepts such as tiering characters by their ease of dominance barely have any relevance.
As the series’ mascot, Akira may be Virtua Fighter’s Ryu, but he’s no scrub choice. In fact, there aren’t any scrub choices in Virtua Fighter; even renowned cheap-shotter Lau has his weaknesses, vulnerabilities and technically demanding moves. In keeping with the series’ spirit, Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution saw this rigorous balance reach new heights – and so did the game’s level of technicality. Akira’s rhythm was always unique, but in Evolution he felt almost impossible to get going. He’d been more accessible in previous versions, but here he stood as a symbol for everything that Virtua Fighter celebrates – study, rigour, momentum, aggression, flair, expression.