Thursday 30 October 2008

Virtua Fighter Mobile

Hi folks, sorry I've not posted here for a while, but after making a triumphant return to contributing on this hallowed site, I stupidly fell down the stairs and dislocated my shoulder, so my posting abilities have been very limited! I did get a new phone recently and of course my first thought was "What would it be like for gaming?" I decided to treat myself to a download and was thrilled to see Virtua Fighter was listed amongst the games on offer.

I pride myself on having every incarnation of Virtua Fighter (I know Nebacha is gonna say I don't have the anniversary edition - so I mean available for me to play...) so I had to get this. It's a buzz to see VF on my phone, although if I'm honest, it's only passable as a gaming experience. I have previously really enjoyed playing games on my mobile, Prince Of Persia Mobile was sublime and addictive. But VF is just OK-ish. I might change my mind if I have a little more success with the game, I'm getting my arse kicked!

Anyhoo, I'll let you have a look at this more comprehensive review by Spanner Spencer from the excellent Pocket Gamer website.

"Even after all these years, Virtua Fighter still feels like a technological wonder. It was nigh-on inconceivable, when the game first appeared, that a one-on-one beat-'em-up could exist in three dimensions, let alone one as slick and realistic as this.

Now the mobile platforms are breaking through into similar territory as the arcades did back in 1993, and it's time to see how well they can handle a full-on 3D fighter. And what better way to test the concept than with the sophisticated and playable king of all 3D tournament brawlers, Virtua Fighter?

Certainly in appearance, Southend has excelled. The polygons are fewer in number, but considering the differences in screen size between the arcade original and this mobile conversion that's really no issue at all. More important than polygon count in this game is the animation, as that's what really brought the original Virtua Fighter to life.

The liquid smooth realism of the way the fighters performed their kung fu was only a part of it, however. They bobbed, weaved and blocked accurately – adding an air of authenticity that it took other games years to recreate, and some still fail even today. The mobile adaptation has clearly paid close attention to this important detail, and the nuances of each character are very visible, despite their miniature renderings.

"The other important factor and expected sticking point is in processing power, of course. When tested on a Nokia N81, Virtua Fighter mobile struggled to keep up with the lifelike pace of the fighter's movements – particularly during the chained combinations of punches and kicks that most characters use in abundance. Despite the dropped frames, however, the game speed remains constant, so although you might miss out on some of the animation sequence, the bout itself never loses a second.

It comes as something of a surprise that such a glaring problem has been lessened by a system apparently designed to handle an underpowered handset. The occasionally jerky animation isn't such an issue when you're not also waiting for the system to recover from excessive calculating – button presses still register and as soon as the animation becomes more tolerable (when a character is laid out after a flurry of attacks, for instance) the game picks up immediately where the animation left off. That's not to say skipped frames are a feature, but the inherent problem is handled extremely well.

The original Virtua Fighter did a sterling job of allowing simple combinations of buttons and joystick movements to perform some terrific moves, and this simplicity does a world of favours for the mobile adaptation. The keypad acts as a directional controller as per standard, with button '5' being used (surprisingly, but effectively) for blocking, while '7' and '8' work as kick and punch respectively, and the bottom row of buttons perform a dual function: Punch + Kick, Punch + Guard and Kick + Guard. This was added to the console versions of Virtua Fighter to make use of all the available buttons on the controllers and to help players unknot their fingers a little, and continues to help the mobile game's combinations immensely.

This isn't a game for everyone, though. By today's standards it's pretty shallow, and anyone who doesn't appreciate Virtua Fighter for its nostalgic value or place of honour in beat-'em-up history won't find a great deal to slake their pocket gaming thirst, so it has to lose a point or two for all round gaming appeal. Virtua Fighter fans, on the other hand, will enjoy seeing Pai, Akira, Jackie, Lau and the others in their original, untextured costumes."

1 comment:

NebachadnezzaR said...

What a terrible idea you have of me, I didn't even think of saying that :P

In that video the game doesn't look that bad, but then, a mobile game can vary a lot depending on the phone, and besides that there isn't a single decent beat em up on mobile phones yet.