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Analysis Retro Into The Nicheverse (Of Retro Gaming): Program 1 (Cyber Troopers Virtual-On) PART 1

Aug 28, 2019
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Hey everyone. A while ago I decided on doing some extensive write-ups of various niche games, particularly from
the 1990s. Games that I feel are very interesting and of high quality, but might be forgotten, misunderstood, or both.
The initial idea was to focus on just SEGA's various Saturn output and while I am indeed starting with such a game, I've
decided that it would be a disservice to limit the scope to just that. So I intend to expanding the idea to cover other
niche games of certain appeal from other platforms and content makers.

You can expect more write-ups of this quality (with improvements) on games from Saturn, PS1, N64, 3DO, arcade, Neo-Geo,
SNES, MegaDrive, PC/DOS and others. In fact I already have a few ideas for what the next write-up or two will focus on.
Some may also focus on series of games rather than simply individual efforts, if deemed a better fit to do.

My goal with these is to provide detailed analysis and coverage on these games in terms of their objective and subjective
qualities, market performance, their reception at the time and current-day, and a look into the various cogs of the machine
that helped them see release into the market, with some critical analysis into those and the factors within that could've
impacted performance and perception of the releases. With that said, these are ALL games that I have a pretty good level of
respect for; some of which are even among some of my favorite games ever made. I'm focusing on quality choice cuts here, so
uh....no Action 52 or Bubsy 3D stuff is planned; sorry to the fans of those (that said, I haven't 100% made up my mind there,
but if I start covering games of that ilk, it might be spun off into a different type of write-up series).

So with all that said...let's get started!



[CYBER TROOPERS: VIRTUAL ON]

>DEVELOPER:
SEGA AM3 (later known as Hitmaker)

>PUBLISHER: SEGA

>RELEASE DATE: 1996 (Arcade)

November 29, 1996 (Saturn, Japan)

November 8,1996 (Saturn, NA)

1996 (Saturn, Europe)

>UNITS SOLD: ~ 652,587 (estimate and speculation; please read section "Regional Distribution" for more)

>REVIEW SCORES:

Computer and Video Games: 100/100 (January 1997, Saturn)

All Game Guide: 90/100 (1998, Saturn)

DefunctGames: B+ (April 9 2005, Saturn)

Ultra Game Players: 8.6/10 (January 1997, Saturn)

Game Informer: 8.5/10 (September 1996, Arcade)

Gamepro: 80/100 (Feburary 1997, Saturn)

Edge: 80/100 (January 1997, Saturn)

Next Generation: 80/100 (Saturn)

EGM: 79/100 (January 1997, Saturn)

Gamespot: 57/100 (October 31 1996, Saturn)

>OST SAMPLES:



>GAMEPLAY SAMPLES:



>OVERVIEW: Cyber Troopers Virtual On, more commonly known as Virtual-On, is an area-style mech combat game released
in arcades on SEGA's Model 2B CRX hardware platform in 1996, with a Saturn port to all three major regions later that
same year. The game was designed by SEGA's AM3 arcade team, under the direction of Juro Watari (Virtua Athelete,
7th Dragon III) and Manabu Washio (Le Mans 24Hrs), with production handled by Hisao Oguchi (Doki Doki Penguin Land).

In the game, the player takes the helm of a "Virtualoid", and is tasked with doing battle against a single opponent
in one of several playing fields under a time limit. The game is famous for its twin stick controls systems in the
arcade version which, while presenting a learning curve, would come to be the favored method of play for those taking
the time and displaying the skill set to learn them. To accommodate such players in the eventual home port, SEGA released
the Twin Stick peripheral for the Saturn, providing near 1:1 recreation of the arcade version's input control system.

In many ways, Virtual On can be seen as a spiritual evolution of games such as Atari's T-Mek and Namco's Cyber
Sled. Both of these games had a vaguely similar theme of militarized/mechanical arena-based armed combat, but utilized
vehicles rather than mechs. Virtual On would take that basic concept and expand on it with a pacing and fluidity that
had become refined with 2D fighters such as Street Fighter, and some 3D fighers such as Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and Battle
Arena Toshinden.

While the series has had periods of inactivity regards new releases, it has seen several of them, the latest on Sony's
PlayStation 4 console. Many of the concepts introduced here would be refined and/or changed in the various follow-ups
to come. The series also has a product line of figure models, soundtracks, light novels, and audio drama CDs, many of
these primarily or exclusively in Japan.

>GAME MECHANICS:

[Controls]


It probably helps to focus on the game's arcade controls, as they reflect how it was meant to be played.

Essentially, the game made use of two identical yoke-style command joysticks, the sort you'd see with
PC flight simulators for example. Each joystick provided eight-way directional movement, as well as two
buttons: a trigger (used to fire your weapon), and a button on top of the stick. This button is known
as the Turbo button, and its basic functionality is to allow your virtualoid to dash in the indicated
direction when moving.

The most unique part about the controls for the arcade version of the game is in how the twin sticks
effectively turn the Virtualoid into a piece of heavy labor machinery, such as a forklift for bulldozer.
If both sticks are pointed in the same direction, the Virtualoid will move in the indicated direction.
If, on the other hand, one stick is pulled back while the other is pulled forward, it will turn in the
forwarding direction. Pulling both sticks apart will make it jump into the air, and pushing them towards
one another will make it prone as it fires away.

In terms of facing the opponent, since there is ever only yourself and a singular foe (like in other
fighting games), there is no need for manual re-centering of your Virtualoid to face the opponent; various
actions such as dash-firing (firing your weapons while dashing) and jumping enforce auto-correct on their
own. This brings it in line even more with fighting games conceptually, as needing to manually face the
opponent would have likely slowed down the pace of the proceedings as well as run counter to other
design philosophies within the game.

[Systems]

Combat in Virtual On can be viewed in three congruent parts: Ranged Combat, and Close Combat. In both
types, you have three different types of weapon classes: Left, Center, and Right Weapon. These are
available at all times and may differ depending on your chosen Virtualoid. They will automatically
switch between Ranged and Close Combat mode functionality as you enter and exit triggering proximity
with the opponent. The in-game HUD (Heads Up Display) also provides additional visual feedback for when
these modes are active, such as the lock-on ring target around the opponent changing to dual rings when
in Close Combat mode.

Like in any fighting game, there are health gauges for you and the opponent that decrease when you take
any form of damage. There are various counter weapons and defensive maneuvers which can be taken in order
to avoid or minimize the amount of damage you receive. Likewise, when you actually land attacks on the
opponent, a HIT! icon appears on the screen as visual confirmation.

[Objectives]

This one should be fairly obvious: the main goal is to defeat the opponent by the end of the match, either
by having more health once the timer reaches zero, or obliterating their health before they can do the
same to yours. The Arcade mode functions like a typical fighter's, with increasingly difficult and challenging
opponents to face off against before meeting up against the final boss.

Versus Mode carries the same win conditions as the Arcade mode, except in this case the opponent is controlled
by another person. This can lead to some really neat aspects of high-level play if both players have a mastery
of their chosen characters and game mechanics, and I'll be providing some examples demonstrating this below.

>HIGH-LEVEL PLAY:

Here are a few videos of gameplay segments from various players showing off some of the game's high-level techniques:



Unfortunately these are the only two that I can find for the first game online. Searching Youtube, there are TONS of
high-level tourney footage for the sequel, Oratorio Tangram, but this is meant to focus more on the first game so :p

>1CC (ONE CREDIT CLEAR) STRATEGIES (IF APPLICABLE):

If you've always wondered into what 1CC strategies are applicable with the game showing mastery of its skill mechanics,
you can get a feel for that in some of this video below:


>LEGACY: By and large, roughly anywhere you look the game seems to enjoy a healthy amount of respect within the
retro gaming community, and is spoken of favorably by many retro game reviewers who have done more recent reviews
of the game. A few review/impressions/retrospective samples are provided here:



While it enjoys a very niche following, the game did go on to spawn several sequels, the latest being a release
for Sony's PlayStation 4 video game console. And as some would say, it is better to know your niche and serve it
well, than spread yourself too thin, lest you satisfy no one.

>MARKET PERFORMANCE (DIRECT, SECONDARY, FANDOM):

Good (Direct)

Good (Secondary)

Very Good (Fandom)

[Key Range: (Highest) Excellent, Very Good, Good, Okay, Bad, Very Bad, Poor (Lowest)]

>REASONS:

>Objective Qualities?:


At the time of its release, Cyber Troopers Virtual-On was seen as a very unique and inventive
take on the arena combat genre, merging it with concepts derived from the then-hot versus
fighting game genre popularized by Street Fighter 2. Even aside of the cleverness of its
idea and presentation, in objective/technical measures the game was highly well-received at
its time, and is still seen as quite objectively impressive today.

Thanks to the power of the Model 2 arcade hardware, the initial release was able to retain
a constant 60FPS refresh rate. Pop-in is virtually non-existent, and unlike home consoles of
the time such as PS1 and Saturn, you won't see any texture distortion or shakiness in the arcade
game. Sound is very clear and concise, with high-quality sample rates and distinct sound effects
for the various weapons, Virtualoid movements, and great sound mixing so that sound effects, vocal
tracks and music are distinctly clear while mixing together properly in a way befitting of a
high-end 3D arcade release of the mid-'90s.

Physics for the Virtualoids, from the sense of heaviness to artistic liberties taken to
apply tasteful agility and sense of movement, velocity, gravity etc. fit the game like a glove,
feeding back into the system game mechanics to strike a balance of just enough verisimilitude
to provide suspension of disbelief while having a high level of kineticism for the fun factor.
Projectiles are fast and pack a punch, and have enough variety in their visual distinctions so
that the player won't confuse one shot type for another after just a bit of familiarity is obtained.

The Saturn version, given the hardware the original game had to be scaled down to, is a very
solid technical accomplishment. It halves the framerate to 30FPS (vs 60 for the arcade release) while
scaling down on some of the graphical detail., but otherwise is similar. Parts of the arcade game that were
full 3D models were changed to 2D bitmap images, similar to techniques utilized in the Saturn port
of Virtua Fighter 2. Despite this, the actual Virtualoids themselves have comparable polygon
geometry to the arcade release, and stylistically everything still comes together more or less in line
with the arcade release thanks to smart technical decisions making good understanding of the Saturn's
unique hardware (both in its strengths and weaknesses).

Controls are where things can get a bit dicey with the Saturn version (though nowhere near as much as
the Windows release). The game itself is very responsive and in line with the arcade version, but the
method of controlling one's Virtualoid will vary greatly depending on if they have the Twin Sticks peripheral
or not. Without it, the player will have to make due with the Saturn's controller, which isn't exactly
the best fit for a game like Virtual On (for starters, it lacks analog sticks). It's technically possible,
but not the preferable way to play it on that system. Thankfully, Twin Stick peripherals can still be found
on sites like eBay and other aftersale markets, for reasonably affordable prices.

>Release Schedule?:

The arcade version of Virtual-On saw a worldwide release in 1996 for SEGA's Model 2 platform hardware.
An exact month of release date was not recoverable in time for this writing, but we can assume that it
saw release in Japanese territories at least a few months ahead of Western distribution. 1996 saw a good
number of heavy-hitting arcade games release that year: Bust A Move, Cruis'n World, Daytona USA Special
Edition, Dead or Alive, Die Hard Arcade, Killer Instinct 2, Metal Slug, NBA Hangtime, San Francisco Rush, Street
Fighter Alpha II, Time Crisis and Virtua Fighter 3 being just some of the releases.

As such, arcade goers weren't particularly starved for lack of content, especially if they wanted
something fighter/combat-orientated. Regardless, very few (if any) other arcade releases had the humanoid
mecha aesthetic hook mixed in with arena combat and fighting game principals Virtual-On did, which would
have helped it stand out from the crowd, provided arcades could afford cabinets.

Being that the initial arcade release had such a unique setup, deluxe cabinets were more or less pushed
by default, these of course costing more than single cabs, and requiring more floor space. Even so, this
would have still kept the game easily affordable compared to, say, Virtua Fighter 3, which was powered by
SEGA's then-new very powerful (and prohibitively expensive) Model 3 arcade hardware. Arcades looking for
a unique fighter/combat game and in taste for something of a SEGA variety likely were more tempted to pick
Virtual-On over something like Virtua Fighter 3, though it's debatable if it matched uptick of games such
as Dead or Alive (and very likely did not). After all, humanoid mechs may be cool, but jiggling tits are
even cooler (and much sexier ;).

The Saturn port would see some of its own release congestion by the time its release was upon manifest.

>Marketing?:

For the arcade release, there were at least two specific flyers created for the game. The first of the two to
be discussed is located below:



So, in what ways does this flyer communicate known qualities of Virtual-On? Well for starters, the advert
does use some visual cues to indicate the human-like nature of the game's Virtualoids, via having a male and
female graphic that transition from human to robot via a gradient effect. In sci-fi, there is usually some
designation between robots, androids, and cyborgs. Robots generally range from things with very vague human
body identifiers as part of some aspect of their design, but usually are very non-human (often more vehicular
and abstract) in their design, built 100% from the ground-up.

On the other hand, androids also share a similar pure mechanical build from the ground-up as robots, but
are much more human in appearance, and often in terms of behavior (capable of mimicking human logic ration-
ality, emotions, and in some cases even consciousness). The Virtualoids in Virtual-On adhere most strictly to the
concept of androids in practice, but the themes of robot-like design are very much identifiable too (in terms
of the fact they are much larger than humans, while androids tend to also be human-sized).

However, this particular flyer also could be interpreted by the average person as selling them a couple of
cyborgs. Cyborgs, in sci-fi, generally are depicted as humans who have undergone cybernetic/robotic modifications.
So essentially it deals with an organic being ingraining robotic and mechanical parts into/onto themselves. In
terms of visual reception, though, this doesn't exactly mesh with what the game's Virtualoids actually are. They
are not humans who have been modified into giant mechs. They aren't even giant mechs with human pilots! So there
may've been some subset of people in arcades (particularly in America; this is a Western flyer btw) who might've
expected some more cyborg-like out of the game's characters going off the flyer's image, and could've been jolted
when that didn't turn out to be the case.

With that said, the text in the lower-left hand corner does clarify that the Virtualoids are indeed robots.
There is also another visual theme at play here: virtual-reality. Of course, the game's name itself plays on
such a theme, but this flyer also gives the impression the game could be about humans stepping into a virtual
robot/mech combat arena. Whether that is meant to be taken in the game's context or transcend to the player
experience is mainly left interpreted by one's own judgement, but we can assume both contexts were framed in
the flyer as seen here.



The 2nd flyer, seen here, is immediately identifiable as being more informative, featuring much more text that
describes the general nature of the game and its game mechanics, play controls etc. In-game screenshots provide
a visual context for curious operators and players to see what the action will look like when they jump into
the fray, and further hints that this may've been a flyer meant to sell the game to arcade operators is seen in the
lower left-hand corner, via measurements for the twin-cabinet itself. This may be a less flashy flyer, but for
operators, it does a very good job of telling what the game is.





Meanwhile, here we can see some of the Saturn flyer and advert material used to promote the game. One thing
noticeable right off the bat is that, in terms of aesthetic, these have aged a lot better than the first arcade flyer
starting this section off (particularly the Japanese ones; then again, Japanese game flyers and adverts are generally
better/cooler than Western counterparts, especially for '90s games. Extends to box art/casing designs etc. too).
They're also more stylized and tonally seamless in the art and text blending together. There are those, such as the
2nd graphic, which do a great job giving primer introductions for the playable cast, as well as their general strengths
and weaknesses regards combat tools. Game mechanics are provided, all while, again, staying stylistically consistent.
They even advertise the Twin Stick peripheral!





Adverts were also produced for the NetPlay version of the game too; seeing as how this version stayed exclusively
in Japan, these adverts never saw circulation in the West. This one mirrors the regular release's Japanese Saturn
flyer/advert in terms of style and information, with said information being altered in parts to specify NetLink
functionality and compatibility.

As for television advertisements, here is one that can be readily found:


This ad was for the Japanese Saturn release; in addition to the usual mid '90s "edgy" (I personally hate the term,
but it'll do for now) style, it does a pretty good job on selling the kineticism of the game's high-octane action, as
the young boy whips his room into a whirlwind of windy destruction simply by playing the game. An exaggeration of
reality, sure (if the game caused this IRL you can bet it'd of never seen release), but it gets the message across
all the same.

Here is a promotional piece for the game, also from Japan. The music has that slap-bass happy heaviness typical
of a lot of '90s arcade games, and keeps at a high tempo with regular pacing. It sounds pretty mechanical in terms
of precision, fitting the game's theme. The various Virtualoids are shown off throughout; one could almost take this
as a concept for the attract sequence of the arcade game.

>Reviews?:

At the time of its release, Virtual On garnered favorable reviews from the gaming press, especially the
arcade version, in large part due to its excellent visuals, as well as its sound gameplay. The Saturn
port was received just as well, with the notable exception being Gamespot, who did not view
the Saturn port as favorable despite reviewing it twice (Saturn and Windows ports reviewed). Lack
of home-orientated content (as well as the controls not feeling suited to the Saturn controller) were
listed as chief reasons why.

The Windows version did not fare as well with critics at the time, having a fairly mediocre review
aggregate average.

[Mobygames Aggregate Average (Critics)]: Arcade N/A, Saturn: 82/100, Windows: 3.4/10

Computer and Video Games (CVG) (Jan, 1997): 100/100 (Saturn)

Thunderbolt Games (Apr 24, 2009): 100/100 (Saturn)

Shin Force (Jan 06, 2000): 92/100 (Saturn)

All Game Guide (1998): 90/100 (Saturn)

neXGam (2004): 86/100 (Saturn)

Defunct Games (Apr 09, 2005): 85/100 (Saturn)

Game Revolution (Jun 06, 2004): 83/100 (Saturn)

SaturnGamePro (US) (Feb, 1997): 80/100 (Saturn)

Next Generation Magazine (1997): 80/100 (Saturn)

Edge (Jan, 1997): 80/100 (Saturn)

Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) (Jan, 1997): 79/100 (Saturn)

Mega Fun (Dec, 1996): 75/100 (Saturn)

PC Joker (Jun, 1998): 67/100 (Windows)

Video Games (Dec, 1996): 65/100 (Saturn)

GameSpot (Oct 31, 1997): 57/100 (Windows)

GameSpot (Jan 21, 1997): 54/100 (Saturn)

---------

..continued in post below...
 
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........(con't from the OP)

>Comparative Contemporary Releases?

At the time of Virtual On's release, there weren't much any mech games *quite* like it. There were many,
to be sure:Iron Soldier and MechWarrior instantly come to mind. But these were games more focused on slower,
deliberate pacingand a heavier military-strategy element, not high-octane action. 3D arena-based combat games
were also pretty popular atthis time, with names such as T-Mek and Cyber Sled being at the top of people's lips
for the time. These games are perhapsstylistically closer to Virtual-On, but again, are not exactly comparable.
Rather than using mechs, these games used vehiclesinspired by military grade tanks and the such. It can also be
said that these games would later inspire the likes of titlessuch as Twisted Metal, which is also, at most, only
vaguely related to the likes of Virtual-On.

Due to being quite a unique arena-based game compared to the aforementioned titles, it is difficult to say if
the existenceof such games had any perceivable impact (positive or negative) on Virtual On's reception or market
performance. If we canextrapolate its comparison to versus fighters, then its time of release would have put it
in contention with titles such as Virtua Fighter 2, Tekken 2, Battle Arena Toshinden, Zero Divide (which also
features mechs, fwiw) etc.

With a game like Virtual-On having such an uncommon meshing of genres that were themselves still coming to a point
of maturity (in terms of relative genre standards and expectations), it is possible that the game's concept caused
some confusion with some people who were fans of those genres and concepts separately, yet had experience them blended
together quite the way a game like Virtual-On did. To some of these individuals, it's highly likely that even if they
had multiple 5th-gen systems (or at least a combination of PS1 and Saturn), the idea of mechs moving around like fighters
in an arena environment with fast-paced action, combined with the very unconventional controls (even when retrofitted for
a game pad), likely compounded in at least some of them turning way from such an offering. Combined with the Saturn port's
lack of home-orientated content (certainly when compared to other combat-orientated games that were arcade ports at the time,
such as Tekken 2), it could've been a factor in some deciding to pass on the game's home release, regardless of what the
actual market performance was.

Thankfully, whatever weirdness came off as intimidating of the game at its initial release (I should know; seeing an
arcade machine of this in the mid '90s as a kid was both pretty cool and perplexing. It just made me opt for something
like SF EX, Tekken, or DOA instead, all of which were at the same arcade) has more or less vanished these days. Due not
only to iterative updates in the IP (which continue even to modern day), but also due to modern-day games that take a lot
of inspiration from it, such as Nintendo's ARMS (2017) and EA's For Honor. Arena-combat fighters with high kinetic action
and a mixture of close and ranged combat aren't nearly as alien a concept in 2019 as they were in 1995, but the genre has
the likes of games such as Virtual-On to thank for setting the foundation, and iterating upon it with several updates.

>Regional Distribution?:

In America, Virtual-On saw release only as a twin cabinet design, which likely would've made it a bit more expensive
for theaverage American arcade versus single cabinet designs. The look of the arcade cabinets in America is close enough
to Daytona USA twin cabinets to suggest that SEGA (at the very least) might've modified Daytona USA cabinets for suiting
Virtual-On, or basing the Virtual-On cabinet designs off of Daytona USA. Which makes some sense, considering how popular
Daytona USA was in Western arcade markets even two years following its debut. Europe's cabinet is more or less the same
as the American model.

Japan saw a few other cabinet variations for the game, however. In addition to the more standardized twin cabinet (which
in Japan's case was more fashionable, using a different divider visor panel and hood panel design), Japan would receive
a candy cab variant in the "Versus City" (two Astro cabinets set back-to-back to each other) styling. Korea, for its part,
also received a twin cabinet design mostly in line with the Japanese one, but having an altered coloring design scheme.

Given the additional number of cabinet variations for Japan, we can presume that Virtual-On's arcade performance was
stronger in Japan than other regions. Given Japanese arcades were faring better during this period, and Virtual-On as a
game concept likely resonated more with Japanese arcade and gaming audiences, it's a safe conclusion to take. The lack of
any single-cabinet designs not only would have re-emphasized the game's calling as a competitive multiplayer game, but
also made the average cabinet cost more prohibitive than games with single-cabinet designs. Therefore in places like America,
the game mainly saw uptake in higher-scale arcades and public establishments, such as movie theater lobbies. Though maybe you
could've came across a bowling alley or two with a machine in there ;).

Market performance for the Saturn and Windows versions of Virtual-On are difficult to obtain. One of the few sources with
any numbers is VGChartz, who only provide a rough estimate for the Japanese region sales, totaling around 420,000. Numbers
from other regions are not provided; however it's probably safe to assume that the lion's share of software sales of the
version would be in Japan. Simply adjusting relative to the Saturn's market performance in America and Europe, assuming the
ratio of purchasers was the same to Japan's, that'd of given the NA region version sales of around 142,857 (keeping to a 1:14
ratio similar to purported Japanese numbers). For all other regions, we could assume it sold about 90,000 units (same 1:14 ratio).

That would cap the game's Saturn port to sales of about 652,857, which assumes total system sales of 9.26 million, and an
exact ratio split in all territories similar to Japan. However, it's very likely that number is too high, because the ratio
splits would not have been the exact same in all territories. Nonetheless, it's likely safe to assume the Saturn version of the
game sold at least between 500,000 - 550,000 on the low end globally...assuming it saw evergreen sales in the global markets for
a couple of years after its release on the platform. Windows sales are almost impossible to track down, but it's safe to assume
the total number as something of a footnote compared to the Saturn figures.

With all of that said, it does call into question of actual regional distribution printings of the game, and whether the
total number of sales seen outside Japan were due to market factors of consumer taste and/or unfamiliarity (a few possibilities
on that front have been presented in this posting), or if printing numbers were intentionally kept low relative to gauging and
readings of Saturn market performance in global territories at the time of its release on the platform, and scaling the decided
printing numbers (and thus, affecting marketing budget accordingly) based on those variables.

>Target Platform Genre Fanbase Cultivation?

This one can be answered by simply looking at the ratio of game types released on Saturn at the time of Virtual-On's
port, particularly in terms of arcade ports, fighters, competitive arena combat games, and what number of those (if any) were
mech-themed.

The Saturn was home to many arcade ports, so the assumption would be that there were more than enough people of that persuasion
on the platform for the game to appeal to, particularly considering said Saturn port released a year after the arcade version.
Both arcades and the Saturn were a popular home for fighting games at the time of the game'said relevance, of both the 2D and
(especially) 3D variety, making a good nest for a title like Virtual-On to rest in. Regards to competitive arena combat games,
things get dicier. The Saturn's presence with this genre was no particularly strong: Destruction Derby is one such game but by
all metrics was an inferior port of the PS1 game. There is also the Quarantine port, but this was a Japanese exclusive and suffers
many graphical and control issues. So,needless to say, if Virtual-On were positioned as an arena combat game either in terms of
marketing or in perception from potential owners, it either may not have been seen as favorably on Saturn (given the poor reception
of the other two notable examples), or for others, may've been seen as very intriguing considering it fared much better than the
Destruction Derby and Quarantine ports on the platform.

Arcades, however, are a bit of a different story. Both Atari's T-Mek and Namco's Cyber Sled were very well received in arcades,
which gave room for a game like Virtual-On to carve a presence in the scene as well, as the genre had good rapport in arcade markets
for the time. The humanoid mech theme, however, may've been more foreign to Western audiences at the time (keep in mind prior to
this the most exposure majority of Westerners had to mechs was Robotech); the popularity of humanoid mechas would not become more
mainstream in the West until anime's rise in the late '90s/early '00s (primarily thanks to Toonami and Pokemon), and franchises
such as Gundam and Macross became more mainstream, but these were well after Virtual-On's market-relevant release timing on in
arcades and the Saturn.

One should also consider that games like Cyber Sled did also receive home ports of their own, such as for the PS1 (I remember
renting Cyber Sled for my PS1 as a kid after getting a system as a present). Cyber Sled might be one of the better direct
comparisons for Virtual-On; they have some stylistically similar quirks and present their combat in an arena environment.
The main difference (at least on the surface) is that Cyber Sled uses vehicular objects rather than humanoid mechs. The game
saw a PS1 port just shy of a year after its original Japanese release, and presented four additional characters over the arcade
counterpart as well as a "texture-mapped" mode as an option.

By comparison, the Saturn port of Virtual-On did not add any additional characters, but did add in a few extra modes no
present in the arcade original (as well as online play via NetLink, though this was Japan-only). In regards to humanoid mecha
games featuring direct head-to-head combat as their focus is concerned, the only immediate comparisons that springs to mind in
reference to Virtual-On's release (on arcade and Saturn) would be the Zero Divide series and Cyberbots.

Zero Divide comprised of two games, featuring humanoid mechs fighting in a more traditional Virtua Fighter/Tekken
type of setup. These were both home-exclusive releases (the first one on PS, the second on Saturn), meaning that in terms of
technical visuals they did not measure up to the arcade version of Virtual-On, nor the arcade versions of Cyber Sled or T- Mek.
However, these were games specifically built from the ground-up for home platforms and designed within their constraints as a
direct result. They do not focus on ranged combat, so they can be pictured as a Virtual-On/Tekken with the characters being
humanoid mecha skins.

Cyberbots is a Capcom fighting game released in 1995, as a spirtual successor to Armored Warriors, a mech-themed side-scrolling
belt beat'm'up from a few years prior (which remained arcade-exclusive). It is a 2D fighter so it utilizes sprites rather than
polygons, and has a more traditional fighter setup. However, it does incorporate ranged combat, via as projectiles, which can
additionally be customized as "slots" in a load-out for your chosen fighter (the player selects their actual human character, and
mech components separately, leading to many potential combinations) before the start of a match.

>Neat Tidbit

As I was finishing up this article, a post went up over on the website Arcade Heroes making mention of a Japanese Virtual-On
preservation project
. The effort, launched by Japanese hotel Ryokan Mokujin, is being ran through Japanese crowdfunding website
Campfire, and it's set to be an arcade arena/museum dedicated solely to Virtual-On.







The campaign hopes to raise 50 million yen (aka $450,000 USD), and have about 5 million yen raised so far. A lot of time still
remains to see them hit their goal, and I have to admit, as crazy as this is it also sound really awesome. I personally don't
know if they will have the other Virtual-On games present, but chances are they will be featured as well.

............

I hope you all enjoyed this deep dive into SEGA's Virtual-On; hopefully for the fans of the franchise it was an accurate and
respectful piece, and for those curious to know what it's about and its history (at least for the first installment), this was an
informative read. I leaned a LOT about this game and the IP as a whole while doing this article, and would love to have an arcade
cabinet of the game myself one day. There really isn't that much out there like it, even to this day.

Hopefully this tides you all over while I decide what game to focus on next. I want to keep going with relatively niche, possibly
misunderstood or unknown gems, and really dig into what they're about, how and why they fared at the time across multiple categories
the way they did, and see how the games are viewed nowadays by their respective communities.

No matter what, my goal is to be as fair and considerate as possible, and see the games from the perspective of those who both
understand and don't understand them. Those who love them, and those who aren't quite as fond. With optimistic outlooks, it's possible
to both honor these games and give them their due, while possibly seeing if others on fence or dismissive on one hand are intrigued to
give them a look.

That's it for now; see you next time!

(...as for any hints on what I might be considering for the next LTTP, all I'll say for now is, it's a PS1 series and involves pigs)
 
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Enjay

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Good cause the last thing this place needs is another wanna-be blogger with pretentiously titled threads that are just lttps. And that game sucked anyway. sega should just quit trying to make video games and just focus on making video game soundtracks cause it's the only thing they're competent at.


But if I did one on a game you actually liked you'd be singing a different tune. Fuck off, can't stand idiotic fanboys like you.
just call it an lttp. I busted romhack's balls for pretentiously titling his lttps too and he did games I like, took it better too. Hold your liquor better. I didn't feel this thread or my reply was bumpworthy.
 
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Good cause the last thing this place needs is another wanna-be blogger with pretentiously titled threads that are just lttps. And that game sucked anyway. sega should just quit trying to make video games and just focus on making video game soundtracks cause it's the only thing they're competent at.


But if I did one on a game you actually liked you'd be singing a different tune. Fuck off, can't stand idiotic fanboys like you.
 
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just call it an lttp. I busted romhack's balls for pretentiously titling his lttps too and he did games I like, took it better too. Hold your liquor better. I didn't feel this thread or my reply was bumpworthy.

Not everyone has to afford you the same type of decency especially when you come at them with libel and insults right off the bat. Grow up with that, tough titties et. al. You opened with a rude comment so you got served with what you gave out, that simple.
 
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Damn... I'm sorry we let you down.

GAF only wants PS5 hype rn...

With that said, played it a shit load both times I was at Magfest. Destroyed a bunch of people then some scrawny looking Ready Player One kid comes on and annihilated me... smh

ANYWAY, music is fire and for mech design it's Hajime Katoki's best work. Good game, fuck the haters.
 
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I had some time to chill out and think it over, and I guess I can put the posts back up. But I have to get all the media links again first.

Should have it posted back up tomorrow. Sorry if I was being a drama queen :/; don't want people to feel obligated to engage, that isn't fair. Guess that was just the social media affect getting the better of me for a moment (it can be pervasive...not in a good way).

But yeah sorry for the bs, I'll put the write-up back in tomorrow.
 

Enjay

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I had some time to chill out and think it over, and I guess I can put the posts back up. But I have to get all the media links again first.

Should have it posted back up tomorrow. Sorry if I was being a drama queen :/; don't want people to feel obligated to engage, that isn't fair. Guess that was just the social media affect getting the better of me for a moment (it can be pervasive...not in a good way).

But yeah sorry for the bs, I'll put the write-up back in tomorrow.
😭👍
 
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Is there any way a mod can change the title for me to "LTTP: Cyber Troopers Virtual-On"? E Enjay was a bit rude but they might have a point about the title. Was just trying to be kinda clever with it is all.

Anyway if one of you could change the title for me I'd greatly appreciate it.
 

cireza

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A bit surprised to read it is 60fps on Saturn. I have a Saturn and this game, and don't remember it being so smooth. I would have said 30fps instead. Not even sure that there are any full 3D games with complex environments that are 60fps on Saturn.

You should ignore Enjay (add to your ignored users).
 
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A bit surprised to read it is 60fps on Saturn. I have a Saturn and this game, and don't remember it being so smooth. I would have said 30fps instead. Not even sure that there are any full 3D games with complex environments that are 60fps on Saturn.

You should ignore Enjay (add to your ignored users).

No, you're right; it's 30 on Saturn. Arcade version's 60. I'll check real quick and make sure I didn't imply 60 for Saturn version.
 

Enjay

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A bit surprised to read it is 60fps on Saturn. I have a Saturn and this game, and don't remember it being so smooth. I would have said 30fps instead. Not even sure that there are any full 3D games with complex environments that are 60fps on Saturn.

You should ignore Enjay (add to your ignored users).
Virtua Fighter 2 ran at 60 fps on Saturn not sure how complex the backgrounds were.
 
S

SLoWMoTIoN

Unconfirmed Member
Good cause the last thing this place needs is another wanna-be blogger with pretentiously titled threads that are just lttps. And that game sucked anyway. sega should just quit trying to make video games and just focus on making video game soundtracks cause it's the only thing they're competent at.


Oh great videogame appraiser what company makes better games than Sega?
 

Alexios

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Great and fun game but freaking hard. Of course the usual idiotic posters wouldn't know a good game if it hit them in the face. Lovely Saturn port though the arcade version is obviously superior (duh, arcade machines were so much more powerful back then). Awesome sequel/Dreamcast port too. I haven't watched high level plays, I wonder if experts manually rotate their robots a lot, I still rely on the boosting (and jumping, but less so) automated rotation way too much, they'd probably humiliate me. Conventional gamepad modes on the home versions make it easier to play but also a bit pointless, it's much more fun to play with the Twin Stick control scheme (even if you just emulate that with a modern dual analog controller rather than have the actual Twin Stick). Saturn is home to great 3D (and 2D!) robot/mech games, from Virtual On to Gungriffon 1 & 2, to a cool 3-part Gundam game, to AMOK and MechWarrior 2 (ok this one's not great) among plenty others worth looking into. The Gungriffon games are probably my favorite (II actually has a modern-ish shooter control scheme with the Twin Stick but I love the first too, I think if they had looked at MechWarrior and made PC style sequels they'd have been amazing, the Xbox and PS2 games we got were bleh and kind of pathetic sadly).
 
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Alexios Alexios The GG games are also pretty well-known from that time period. They look really fun, basically kinda like Atari's Iron Soldier games but with better graphics and faster gameplay. I don't know as much about the Gundam games; when it comes to Gundam and 32-bit games I'm usually occupied by the versus 2D fighters they released on PS1 (which IIRC were spiritual successors to the SFC Gundam fighter, which is very fun).

ASL2 is a lot like the MegaDrive/SFC games on steroids. Amazing 2D sprite work and really solid mechanics and gameplay structure. Probably a bit on the hardcore side though, even for those used to the 16-bit versions (which I'm not particularly great at whatsoever xD; granted, I haven't tried learning them too much either due to time constraints).

When it comes to Virtual On, the first game laid the foundation IMO but the series seemed to strike its modern-day flavoring and more widespread name recognition with Onatoria Tangram. I think that's when I first actually heard of the series in a capacity where the name clicked with me (I might've came across the first game in an arcade before that, but I didn't "play" it play it back then; it would've impressed me as a kid though while trying it out and going around the arcade for as many games I could until I ran out of money and had to ask my dad for more xD)
 
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Thanks for the re-direct!

I have VOOT on Dreamcast and Force on 360. Is it worth getting the Saturn version or waiting on getting the Compilation for PS4???

I love using Fei-Yen the most due to her speed and Special when she goes below Half her HP. (Golden Form).

I played with Twin Sticks once at a Convention, and honestly...it is the superior way to play it. The Dreamcast Controller makes it ridiculously awkward and difficult!
 
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Thanks for the re-direct!

I have VOOT on Dreamcast and Force on 360. Is it worth getting the Saturn version or waiting on getting the Compilation for PS4???

I love using Fei-Yen the most due to her speed and Special when she goes below Half her HP. (Golden Form).

I played with Twin Sticks once at a Convention, and honestly...it is the superior way to play it. The Dreamcast Controller makes it ridiculously awkward and difficult!

Figure that the PS4 compilation would be more convenient, but that also depends on if there's a Twin Stick peripheral for it. Seeing they had another Virtual-On release for it like two years ago I'd hope a peripheral like that exists xD.

Yeah, this is the kind of series where it practically begs for custom controls. It's kinda like Steel Battalion in that regard; you can try using a regular controller but it's gonna be a hell of a readjustment.
 
Dec 25, 2018
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Figure that the PS4 compilation would be more convenient, but that also depends on if there's a Twin Stick peripheral for it. Seeing they had another Virtual-On release for it like two years ago I'd hope a peripheral like that exists xD.

Yeah, this is the kind of series where it practically begs for custom controls. It's kinda like Steel Battalion in that regard; you can try using a regular controller but it's gonna be a hell of a readjustment.

There is...by Tanaka via a crowdfunding website! But the Cost of it is like....£100/$125 so it will cost a pretty penny.

I wonder should SEGA decide to get this over here to get ATLUS to promote a Limited Edition with Twin Sticks of different colours depending on which Cyber Trooper you like? (Blue for Temjin, Pink for Fei-Yen), I would absolutely get behind this series if they did that and I always wanted an Arcade Cabinet for it! :D

Oh and here's an online friend of mine's matches with his friend. I rarely talk to him now but what a Video he has put up!!!


Edit: I actually own the VOOT OST! Got them cheap on eBay Canada! :LOL:

Another one.

 
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There is...by Tanaka via a crowdfunding website! But the Cost of it is like....£100/$125 so it will cost a pretty penny.

I wonder should SEGA decide to get this over here to get ATLUS to promote a Limited Edition with Twin Sticks of different colours depending on which Cyber Trooper you like? (Blue for Temjin, Pink for Fei-Yen), I would absolutely get behind this series if they did that and I always wanted an Arcade Cabinet for it! :D

Oh and here's an online friend of mine's matches with his friend. I rarely talk to him now but what a Video he has put up!!!


Edit: I actually own the VOOT OST! Got them cheap on eBay Canada! :LOL:

Another one.


Always nice to see some head-to-head footage of people enjoying these games. Was this you guys playing this on 360 (IIRC OT got a release on Live Arcade right)?

$125 for a Twin Stick is kinda pricey, but I've seen arcade sticks pushing north of $300 so in that regard it's actually pretty affordable I guess xD. But I'm wondering if you can use them for, say, flight sims too? That'd be nice for the versatility.

Since we've been talking mecha all this time, I'd personally enjoy a Gundam x Virtual-On crossover type of game with the Virtual-On gameplay and some scenario campaigns based on something like G Gundam. Some kind of G Gundam/Virtual-On type of dream match tournament with its own storyline would be pretty cool imo.
 
Dec 25, 2018
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Always nice to see some head-to-head footage of people enjoying these games. Was this you guys playing this on 360 (IIRC OT got a release on Live Arcade right)?

$125 for a Twin Stick is kinda pricey, but I've seen arcade sticks pushing north of $300 so in that regard it's actually pretty affordable I guess xD. But I'm wondering if you can use them for, say, flight sims too? That'd be nice for the versatility.

Since we've been talking mecha all this time, I'd personally enjoy a Gundam x Virtual-On crossover type of game with the Virtual-On gameplay and some scenario campaigns based on something like G Gundam. Some kind of G Gundam/Virtual-On type of dream match tournament with its own storyline would be pretty cool imo.

I am not in that video. :LOL: It's on the Dreamcast I think? The guy does mods to games sometimes as you see with the 2nd Video with the Close Attacks only Ruleset (no one can use weapons).

I have Force on 360 and it is certainly a lot of fun, but the problem is you have to do a 2 vs 2 game on that game.

It was $200 back when Force came out on the 360! :LOL: I really want one but the Dreamcast and 360 Twin Sticks are too much money. As for versatility, I don't think they are designed for Flight Sims but I think they CAN be modded to be used on other games and consoles from what I remember.

That would have worked but we got "A Certain Magical" series instead, and to be honest...that game is purely a Points Based system on who can KO the most....and you can KO most CPUs with Melee attacks if you are fast enough from what I have experienced playing it. Gundam should have been the Anime that was crossed with the series but perhaps Toby doesn't want their precious Mecha series being mingled with another, however VO DOES show up in a few Super Robot Wars games.

If you could have a look at my recent thread here! https://www.neogaf.com/threads/10-games-that-should-have-been-on-the-neo-geo-pocket-colour.1519219/ I think you would be into it! :)