Back in the ’90s when arcades were still alive, several franchises largely defined the fighting genre. Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter lead the 2-D end of things, while Tekken and Virtua Fighter gave shape to the emerging 3-D fighting subgenre.
Virtua Fighter 2 is a legendary fighter because it shell-shocked fighting heads everywhere. Not only did it provide tons of depth to be discovered with hours of experimentation, but it was also a technical marvel, featuring fluid animation at an unflinching 60 frames per second. When we heard Sega was bringing Virtua Fighter 2 to iOS, the nostalgia factor had us buzzing with anticipation. Make no mistake, Virtua Fighter 2 has arrived, but there’s a big fat asterisk next to it that will probably be a deal-breaker for most.
Crouching Tiger, Shoddy Port.
To cut to the chase, this isn’t a port of the game we all fondly remember from the arcades. Sega chose to port over the half-assed 2-D version of the game that was released on Sega Genesis in 1996. That means missing characters, no 3-D arenas, incomplete move sets, and very limited customization options. It’s disappointing to say the least, but we’re going to review the game we have instead of the game we wish we did.
The scope of Virtua Fighter 2 is embarrassing by today’s standards. Featuring only an Arcade Mode and a Bluetooth enabled multiplayer add-on, there’s not much to do here. You can beat the game in 10 minutes, and there’s not even an option to change the CPU difficulty to lengthen things. The control scheme is predictable, with a translucent control pad and the three-button configuration that the Genesis is most known for. Pulling off moves and combos on the buttons isn’t a big problem, but the control pad isn’t as responsive as it should be, particularly on jumps and diagonals. The lack of true 3-D combat removes some of the more contextual attacks and throws that are still ingrained in our muscle memory.
A 2-D game originally designed for Genesis will usually look a bit dated on a Retina display iDevice, and Virtua Fighter 2 is no exception. The game’s performance is smooth enough, but there’s a very muddy quality to the visuals. We wouldn’t go as far to suggest that it’s ugly, but it’s close, especially considering competition like Street Fighter IV.
The moral of this story is to not support quick and dirty ports like this. Any of the latest iOS platforms are more than capable of a true version of Virtua Fighter 2. If you’re desperate to have some version of Virtua Fighter on your phone, this might be an acceptable scratch for that itch. Otherwise, this game is nothing exceptional. There’s nothing like the real thing, and this crappy port brings even more credence to that saying.