How did I get involved with Virtua Fighter 5? I heard about the game while I was in my sophomore year (AKA, the worst school year of my life) in high school back in late 2006/early 2007. I remember seeing a trailer for Virtua Fighter 5 on YouTube, followed by the gameplay behind it. When I saw the two new characters in the game, I favored El Blaze the most because he reminded me so much of Rey Mysterio Jr.
When I heard that the game was coming out for PlayStation 3, I felt mad at first because the only console I owned during the seventh generation is an Xbox 360. By the time the game came out, I learned that the game didn’t have online. It wasn’t until I learned that SEGA would be releasing Virtua Fighter 5 for the Xbox 360, complete with online play on October 2007.
I get the game months later through GameFly, where I ended up buying it later on. I spent months on playing this game so that I can learn how to play on a higher level. In Quest mode, I ended up using El Blaze the most because I was a fan of professional wrestling. The fact that each character has 4 costumes instead of the traditional 2 brought in more opportunities to customize my character’s costumes.
On my downtime when I’m not playing Quest mode, I go on training mode to do some command training with every character. It gave me a good idea on how I can get familiarized with every character’s move list. At the time while I was in high school, I didn’t own an arcade stick for the Xbox 360 until Soulcalibur IV came out. So I had to do every move on the 360 controller with that terrible D-Pad.
As I played online mode for VF5, that was when I noticed that there were a lot better players than me. I remember playing a top VF player by the name of Rikojjang, hailing from South Korea. He kicked my ass with Akira under so many occasions. Here’s the thing: I knew how to do moves, but I didn’t know how to perform combos at the time. So I stayed away from online and focused more on training mode.
While I was playing VF5, I found out about Virtua Fighter 5 R in 2008 during my junior year of high school. When I checked the game out, I found out that SEGA AM2 added in one brand new character (Jean Kujo) and added one returning character (Taka-Arashii). The fact that Taka-Arashii was returning from Virtua Fighter 3 shocked me because I didn’t think the team would find a way to work his physics in the game. Either way, it was all good. What got me surprised about VF5R is the fact that you can play classic background music from past Virtua Fighter games. During the Aoi vs. Wolf match, they were playing on Kage’s stage with his VF4 music. That was amazing, especially when all characters get new win animations based on their equipped items.
I didn’t get a chance to play VF5R at all, unfortunately. I mean, arcades were dying at the time and it was released only in Japan. But it was all good. During my senior year of high school (still in 2008), I joined a video game club that my school started. Just before Christmas break, I was playing VF5 (along with Soulcalibur IV) with my classmates. After school ended, we started the second week of the video game club, where I had one TV play Virtua Fighter 5, and I had a long line going on. I was undefeated until I faced one of my fighting game rivals (damn you Alex for breaking my streak). I sit back and watched other people play the game, and they enjoyed it. Hell, I even my teacher got into playing it. Good times…
I played VF5 again in 2010 while I was in community college. At the time, I noticed that there was a petition that was going on online about bringing Virtua Fighter 5 R to consoles. I signed the petition, and made a video to spread awareness on YouTube to get this game to the consoles. It wasn’t until I found out by someone in the comments that SEGA AM2 was releasing Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown. When I saw the teaser trailer to Final Showdown, I was mad hype for the game. It even made me want to join the VFDC forums, on which I did.
I remember the April Fool’s prank that they pulled during that same year on VF5FS’s gameplay. The prank was that VF5FS’s gameplay would be like Street Fighter IV’s, on which I found hilarious. Months later, the game was already out in arcades and the gameplay has changed drastically. The combo system and animations were reworked, and the game felt a bit flashier than previous titles. I kept watching the Beat-Tribe Cup series so that when the game came out, I would spend a lot of time on it.
After being in the arcades for about a year, I wondered when the game was gonna come out for consoles. It wasn’t until Fall 2011 when I heard that Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown was coming to consoles as a downloadable title. Feeling hype as hell and wanting to prep myself for this new version, I played VF5 Vanilla again, watched a couple of matches by the VF community on iPlayWinner’s stream, made a beginner’s guide on EventHubs, and watched a lot of tournament play. When the game came out, it felt easier compared to VF5 Vanilla. They even brought back the most technical training mode, complete with frame data and a tutorial. Final Showdown made a lot of changes to the gameplay that I was a fan of, and I set my music to VF3. Customized some costumes, played a lot of online matches… I did a lot with this game right before DOA5 came out.
Although I played DOA5 the most, I would always go back into playing VF5FS. It made several appearances such as SEGA Cup, EVO, Canada Cup, and many more. The community may be small here in United States, but they know how to support it. Hell, I subscribed to NYC_VF and BLACKSTAR’s Twitch channels, and most recently I subscribed to Oneida's YouTube channels since he has great VF content. VF5FS is basically my second favorite game in the franchise, right next to VF3. I hope that this game is backwards compatible so that I can play and stream it on the Xbox One. Maybe in the future…
The game is still being played today, especially with the newly updated Version B that was released back in March. I know SEGA ended the arcade support for VF5FS, but it’s all good. I await Virtua Fighter 6 (and hopefully Lau doesn’t die).
And there you have it, folks. Virtua Fighter Month is complete. I hope you guys enjoyed reading these blogs as much as I did writing them. Have a Happy 2016, and I hope you make this upcoming year a great one.