Virtua Fighter Mini

Game Gear

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


Virtua Fighter Mini (J) [!]-03.png (3265 bytes)It's weird to think that while we were entering into an era of 3-D gaming, the Game Gear and Master System were still alive and well in various parts of the world. They were popular enough to warrant their own versions of Virtua Fighter that late in their life, and even more amazing, they're a joy to play. The Game Gear version was first (the Master System was the port) and the better of the two.

Virtua Fighter Mini changes the standard arcade mode. Instead of taking on each fighter one-by-one, you'll be taken through a story. Defeat a fighter to make them selectable. If they're beat, they're taken out. If you lose them all, it's game over. It's a system that forces the player to learn each character since they'll most likely come into play.

Transferred to the Game Gear, the involving gameplay is intact. Remarkably, combos come off naturally, albeit with some timing differences. It's naturally simplified too with some repeating animations. Their effect on the combat is minimal. The easy to grasp yet deep two-button scheme is untouched, and the flow of the fight is definitely similar to the full-fledged arcade game.

Virtua Fighter Mini (J) [!]-04.png (3448 bytes)AI is strong, and at some points, it's definitely debatable if it's too good. The CPU will annihilate anyone not completely familiar with every move available, and that's just the second fight. Later battles are even worse. Relentless (or cheating depending on your view) blocking and counter attacking isn't just its strategy; it's all that it knows.

The only thing keeping players coming back after being brutally assaulted are the graphics. Bright, clean, and respectful to the game's 3-D roots, Virtua Fighter Mini even attempts to mimic the camera by zooming in on the action when fighters move in close. It's a feature that can be turned off, and after seeing the sprites in a pixilated mass up close, you'll likely skip this feature from now on. Still, given what the system is pushing, it's a nice trick to see it pull this switch off flawlessly without a single skip in the action.

This lost entry in the series should be memorable for those who have played it. It's the only straight portable translation of the game ever produced, and that in itself makes it worth trying. Hardcore players will shun this one when they learn not even intricate combo has made it, while casual fans will appreciate the work and feel.


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Last updated: Thursday, December 08, 2005 10:50 PM