By Alexander Bevier in PAX 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm
The game was being updated regularly in its native Japan, but American Virtua Fighter fans have simply had to deal with Super Street Fighter IV and Mortal Kombat until Sega decided to bring one of these updates over.
Now, Sega isn't just porting the updates to the states, they're bringing all of them over in a shiny downloadable package encapsulating all the updates and the final fine-turning of Virtua Fighter 5. They're calling it Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown.Over the last few years, it seems that Virtua Fighter 5 has fallen off the the fighting game radar for anyone who isn't a die hard fan. It's a great game, but why release an update title today? I spoke with Patrick Riley, Director of International Production at PAX 2011 to answer some of my questions.
"The community's always been passionate about Virtua Fighter and we know we have this core community," he said. "And we didn't release Virtua Fighter R, [a 2008 update of the game], but still wanted to at the right time. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is the final update to the Virtua Fighter 5, and decided it's time to bring out a new version."
Final Showdown adds a cornucopia of new features to the game. Many aren't announced, but there are two new characters. One is a French karate champion, and the other's a sumo. The arcade version rewrote and optimized the entire system to make it more accessible while still being one of the deepest fighting games on the market. Other additions include updated lights and animations.
In 2011, fighting games have returned to the casual gamer's mind. Titles like Mortal Kombat and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 has made fighting games cool. How is Sega addressing these new gamers who aren't familiar to Virtua Fighter?
"We have our eye on those other successful products, and want to bring similar features to our game. We've been hearing a lot from the community. There are a lot of people happy we're releasing this. I think Sega has learned that communities are important to fighting games, and we want to foster it as best as possible. I can't speak for the marketing guys [in regards to bringing VF5:FS to EVO], but it's definitely something we have our eye on."
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is still about a year down the line, with a projected summer 2012 release on XBLA and PSN. More information will undoubtedly drip out of Sega as we wait.
A revised, more accessible Virtua Fighter 5 is a big deal. Many new people will be able to explore the vast depths of the game's beloved mechanics now that it's easier to fall into the game. And, with Capcom releasing their own plethora of fighting games, it's good to see Sega dusting off Virtua Fighter for these new gamers looking for something with a few less Hadoukens.