When Sony obtained exclusive rights to Mortal Kombat 3 in 1995, they effectively delayed the franchise's appearance on the Saturn. Not to be upstaged, Sega made sure when their MK3 arrived it would be the "Ultimate" version. What does that mean? Well for starters Scorpion and Kitana have been reinstated into the roster.
The controls feel pretty much the same with the exception of a dubious new "run" button. Why would I need to run at a guy standing four feet away? Stage backdrops like the barren desert and trashy city street feel uninspired. The riverside-at-sunset location looks nice but could have been lifted from any fighting game. One highlight is the way you can knock your opponent through the ceiling and keep fighting in the new location.
Unlike Mortal Kombat II (Saturn, 1995), Ultimate is generally fluid. One exception is when Shang Tsung changes form, which causes the game to freeze for a good five (!) seconds. Fatalities also tend to stutter, which kind of ruins the moment.
The new four and eight-player tournament modes seem almost as dubious as the new run button. Before each contest a cool match-up screen is displayed, but it's almost immediately replaced by that boring "Now Loading" screen.
Mortal Kombat 3 is still a solid fighter and this Ultimate version is a step up over the standard edition with extra characters and backgrounds. There are also plenty of hidden codes if you're into that kind of thing. After this the series would move to 3D, causing fans to look back at this game in a much more forgiving light. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
You have complete camera control not only during your shots, but during replays as well. The easy-to-use controls allow you to draw and fade at will. Perhaps the best part of this game is that except between holes, load time is practically non-existent, allowing for games to move at a brisk pace.
The audio is outstanding. In addition to the natural-sounding background noise, three announcers intelligently (and often humorously) provide play-by-play and commentary. The English guy is particularly funny. Be sure to set the commentary option to "mixed" for maximum enjoyment.
VR Golf is good, but not perfect. The graphics and animation are rougher than the Playstation version of this game. The fictional golfers look downright blocky, and the two courses are fictional and not too exciting. Finally, putting is far too easy. But despite these flaws, this is one more entertaining golf titles I've played. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
The control scheme is simple enough and the contests are of ideal length (read: short). The packaging makes a big deal out of the "3-D Virtual FieldVision" feature, which apparently refers to the fact that the camera tends to be in constant motion all over the field. Depending on the situation it will zoom in close, swing around, or pull back for a wide shot. Most of the time it provides a good viewing angle, and after a while you won't even notice it. This problem is, the camera positioning also affects the controls! If you're lining up for a shot and the camera suddenly swings around, you need to readjust your aim in a hurry. As a result, novice players will often find themselves passing and shooting the ball out of bounds.
Unlike modern soccer titles, the "shoot" button doesn't automatically aim towards the goal, so it's hard to aim with precision. The goals are awfully small but manned by lazy-assed goalies that allow soft shots to float right over their heads. VR Soccer's play-by-play is professional but subdued. A rich option menu provides so many choices that it's almost ridiculous. When sports games become old, their whiz-bang features tend to fall to the side, and all that remains is their gameplay. Fortunately for VR Soccer, that's good enough. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Virtua Fighter's graphics paled to the Playstation's upcoming Battle Arena Toshinden (PS1, 1995). Worse yet, random glitches made the game look rushed. Win indicators would disappear at random and chunks of fighters' heads would go missing during replays. To rectify the situation Sega took the drastic measure of mailing out Virtua Fighter Remix (Sega, 1995) discs to all registered Saturn owners!
Virtua Fighter serves up eight distinctive fighters including two females. The angular models can be off putting, and their close-ups on the character selection screen look creepy! Upon selecting a fighter they'll break out in a huge grin which looks unintentionally hilarious. Their faces appear so wooden you expect to find Pinocchio as a playable character.
The fighting action is mildly fun with rapidfire punches and devastating roundhouse kicks that will spin your opponent into the air. The three-button control scheme allows you to block, kick, and punch. Throws can be initiated via button combinations. It looks pretty sweet to see Pai perform a silky-smooth takedown, or watch Wolf the wrestler execute a suplex. You can even stomp an opponent when he's down.
One strange characteristic of Virtua Fighter is its high, floaty jumps. Are we supposed to be fighting on the moon?! The jumps aren't very effective, especially when you go sailing over your opponent's head, setting yourself up for a ring-out.
The sparse stages include a digitized beach, forest, and scenic view of Mount Fuji. My favorite is the night stage set on the roof of a building overlooking a sea of city lights.
The modes are limited to arcade and versus. Records are saved for versus mode and you can rank in with best time if you beat the arcade mode. Virtua Fighter isn't bad, but for a game designed to show off the system if definitely feels a bit undercooked. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The ten-person roster offers ample variety including Akira the Ryu clone, pro wrestler Wolf, drunken boxer Shin, ninja Kage, and blonde bombshell Sarah. The character models are sharp but it's the stages that have received the most substantial overhaul. Instead of distant backdrops you're treated to beautifully-layered forests, castles, and stormy temples. These convey a great sense of atmosphere.
The controls are responsive and the list of moves per character just goes on and on. The action feels visceral as you alternate blocks and dodges with devastating barrages of punches and roundhouse kicks. The ring-out concept adds tension when fighters teeter near the edge. The jump move remains floaty, but now you can take small hops instead of one huge leap.
There's a nice selection of modes including arcade, versus, team battle, ranking, and expert. I especially like the ranking mode which evaluates your performance and records your stats. The idea of entering your initials by beating up letters is cute but a little tedious.
The action is a bit on the slow side compared to other fighters, but that measured pace favors good technique over button-mashing. This is a quality title that proved the Saturn could go toe-to-toe with any system. If Virtua FIghter 2's visuals don't blow you away, its rock-solid gameplay just might. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The menu structure and gameplay are virtually identical to Virtua Fighter 2. Besides the severely angular characters, the stage backdrops have been simplified and the voices raised a few octaves. The gameplay feels as stunted as the characters. It's kind of hard to tell what's happening with those big ole' noggins getting in the way. Rapid-fire replays punctuate big hits, but the cute graphics tend to undermine any sense of raw power.
New features include a "combo workshop" which lets you map complex attacks to a single button press (also known as cheating). "Kids mode" lets you trigger moves simply by mashing buttons (also known as Brad playing). These would imply the game was targeted directly as young kids, except the game's ESRB rating is Teen 13+!! Oh irony, you are one rotten bastard. Sega hates you.
Ultimately I blame Acclaim for starting all of this "big head" nonsense in the form of an NBA Jam (SNES, 1993) secret code. That was worth a chuckle or two at the time, but it's hardly worth building an entire game around. Had Sega had their priorities straight they would not have been dedicating resources to fluff like Virtua Fighter Kids. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The fighter selection screen now uses illustrated closeups which look substantially better than those creepy polygon mugs. The graphical upgrade is even more dramatic in the ring. The wooden puppets have been replaced with well-defined character models with faces, muscle definition, and textured clothing. These enhanced visuals put Virtua Fighter on par with Sony's impressive Battle Arena Toshinden (Playstation, 1995).
The three-button scheme feels limiting but I like how attacks deal substantial damage, keeping matches short and sweet. The disc sleeve lists the moves for the characters, but the text and icons are microscopic! And you still have to deal with floaty jumps.
Subtle new touches include the crash of thunder when selecting an option or the "patience grasshopper" message that has replaced "now loading". Virtua Fighter Remix was a worthy upgrade, but it's hard to determine if Sega's move was an act of goodwill... or desperation. You be the judge. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
Control is fair, but could be more responsive. The players tend to move erratically, especially when you use the turbo button. They automatically dive for tough shots, and occasionally make some spectacular plays. The big yellow ball is easy to follow, and a red mark appears where it lands, making it easy to determine if a shot was in or out. Virtual Open's fun factor is only about average, and there are too many pauses in the action. For some reason, you have to page through the game and set scores before EVERY serve. And by all means, be sure to turn those instant replays off, or they will drive you absolutely crazy!
The tennis courts aren't very interesting, with the exception of the looming Earth on the horizon. Huh? Are we playing on the moon?? The game's musical soundtrack includes some ear-splitting rock but also some relaxing jazz tunes. Virtual Open Tennis has great multiplayer support. You and a friend can team up in a doubles game versus the computer, and you can hook up a multi-tap for some four-player fun. Virtual Open Tennis is not a standout title, but it gets the job done. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Moby Games