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DaedHead8 avatar 2:40 PM on 07.23.2009  (server time)
Virtual-On: Oratorio Tangram Review

Before I review this game Iíd like to share one of my fondest video game memories. I was only 10 years old when this story took place. My mother worked at RPI (the same college my brother and I currently attend) and there was an arcade there in the student center. My parents took me there quite often and I was also allowed to go whenever my mom was working. So even though I was young I was somewhat of a regular there. Anyways, I was in the arcade one night with my father and brother and I was playing one of their newest machines, Virtual-On: Cyber Troopers. I was doing quite well against the computer when a college kid came up, put his quarters in and challenged me.

I was intimidated, this had happened to me numerous times on the Street Fighter machines, I would be playing single player when some college kids would show up, challenge me, beat me and subsequently tell me to get in line. So I figured this new fighting game wouldnít be much different. And at first it wasnít.

My opponent was tough; he nearly got a perfect on me in the first round. But in the second round he changed his strategy; he stopped playing a rushdown game and started turtling me. He dodged what moves he could and hid behind the walls in the level to try and confuse me. Once I caught on to his strategy I was able to catch up and win. The third round was brutal, he took off nearly half my life bar in the first couple seconds and I thought it was over. I managed to dodge and get in a few good dash attacks and finally we were both within one shot of death. He immediately dashed away, seemingly intent on turtling again, but I was on to him. As soon as his dash ended and he was behind a wall I jumped and pulled both my triggers, launching my slow but powerful center weapon. Game over. I had beaten someone more than twice my age at a game I was playing for the first time. I looked over and Iíll never forget his face. It was then that I noticed that not only were his friends watching but also my brother and father. It remains the only time Iíve ever drawn a crowd while playing an arcade game. Iíve been addicted to Virtual-On ever since.

So that brings us to the latest release in the Virtual-On series, the port of the DreamCast game, Oratorio Tangram. Because my little story went on a little longer than expected, Iím going to try and keep this short. I imagine that anybody still reading has played or at least knows about Virtual-On so Iím going to talk about this game strictly as a port. I own the DC version of the game so I feel Iím qualified to do such a thing.

As a straight port I really couldnít be happier with VO:OT for the XBLA. It looks and feels exactly like the DreamCast version. It even has the DreamCast VMU on the character select screen, which is where you can load your custom colored Virtuoids. Going above and beyond the normal port, there is an enhanced graphics mode which I actually use. Usually when they include these things they make the graphics looks like shit but in VO:OT they really smooth out the rough edges of the game and make everything look really sharp. I canít promise that everyone will use it like I do but a few of you out there (especially those with HDTVs) will really appreciate this addition.

The controls are great as well. There is a new control scheme that works really well for the 360 pad. There are also two twin stick setups for the traditionalists out there but I found them hard to use. Rumor has it that Hori is making a Twin Stick arcade setup sometime next year, so thereís that to look forward to as well.

The online play is another big selling point for the game. Itís smooth as butter with no noticeable lag at all. The only complaint I can think of is that the ranked lobbies are kind of hard to get in to but once youíre in a game, everything works as it should. The community is kind of small and full of 5 Star Generals with thousands of wins to their record (probably why my record is 1-11) but in my experience there are always a few people to choose from when youíre playing.

This game wonít be the one to permanently take you away from Street Fighter IV or BlazBlue but it is a really deep game if you want to dig in. I canít recommend this game enough to fans of 3D arena based fighting games or just fans of giant robots in general. At 1200 M$ points you should definitely trial it first, to make sure everything is to taste, but if you enjoy that, you shouldnít hesitate to download the full thing. Also, the achievements are stupid easy in this game, if thatís your thing.

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