Thursday 1 April 2021

Finally Revealed: How to Play as Ryo Hazuki on the Sega Saturn!

OK, so it ain't Saturn Shenmue but bear with us here. This is still really dang cool!

As many fans already know, AM2’s Fighters Megamix is an ambitious crossover 3D fighting game for the Sega Saturn, featuring a mashup of iconic Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers characters duking it out for...reasons. For those who are unfamiliar with the game, we have written about it here on the Saturn Junkyard. It even ranked just outside folks' top 10 all-time favorite Saturn titles in our community poll a while back.

Aside from being an all-around excellent video game, Fighters Megamix is particularly notable for its smattering of weird and obscure unlockable fighters, including Bark and Bean from Sonic the Fighters, Janet from Virtua Cop 2, Rent-A-Hero (in the Japanese version), original character Deku, the prototype VF1 character Siba (who was cut from the original game before release), and most notoriously, the Hornet stock car from Daytona USA. And, uh, meat. The game even lets players fight as the AM2 palm tree logo once they've logged in a whopping 84 hours!

But apparently, that isn't everybody…

In a recent Japanese interview as part of the GO SEGA 60th Anniversary series, former Sega arcade/AM2 executive and Fighters Megamix director Hiroshi Kataoka let it slip that, buried deep within the recesses of Fighter Megamix’s code, there is one more unlockable fighter that the community has yet to unearth. Further, it was strongly hinted that this character would go on to be a massive fan favorite in the Sega community, which is especially since you bought merchandise relevant given the recent hubub surrounding certain other infamous AM2 prototypes on the Sega Saturn.

The fact that he is apparently unlockable as an alternate Akira skin also lends some credence to our suspicions, and it was later confirmed that Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki -- or at least a very early prototypical iteration of him -- is indeed a hidden playable character in Fighters Megamix.

Ryo? In Fighters Megamix?! This is cool!

It can't be overstated how monumental this potentially is for the Sega fan community. The fabled Saturn prototype build of Shenmue (a.k.a. Project Guppy, a.k.a. Virtua Fighter RPG: Akira's Story, a.k.a. Project Berkley) has been a white whale for fans ever since AM2 revealed detailed footage from the prototype project alongside Shenmue II. Perhaps one day a former Sega or AM2 employee (who is also a supremely benevolent and all-around wonderful human being) will step forward and grace the world with a playable build of Saturn Shenmue and give us adoring fans a chance to experience it for ourselves in its full 32-bit glory. Unfortunately, this prototype build reportedly ran on an upgraded version of the Saturn (rather than stock hardware), which could pose its own practical challenges to our collective pipe dream. Nevertheless, it would be a remarkable glimpse into the unbridled ambition of a masterful Yu Suzuki-led AM2 team who dared to unravel the seams of the medium to engage players in new ways and immerse them fully in its living, breathing virtual world.

Until then, having the chance to play as Ryo in a 25 year-old fighting game could be the next best thing. However, there is a catch. Unlocking our (baby) boy Ryo in Fighters Megamix is apparently a very time-consuming ordeal and none of us at the Junkyard have had a chance to try it since learning this information a couple of days ago. For any patient and dedicated souls in the community with some extra time their hands, this is how it’s supposed to work:

Similar to other secret characters in the game, unlocking Ryo requires playing Fighters Megamix for a certain threshold of time before be becomes playable. Unfortunately, in Ryo's case, this is double the amount of time it takes to unlock the AM2 palm tree: 168 hours!

Worth it.

Done doing that? Good.

After logging a full 168 hours into Fighters Megamix, simply go into any mode and highlight Akira on the fighter select screen, hold *L+R+B+X+Z simultaneously before selecting the character with either A, C, or Y

* Note: we believe they meant L and R as in the shoulder buttons, not the D-pad inputs.

And after that…?

Let’s get sweaty.

That’s all we know so far. We will follow up with some updates once we’re able to play as Ryo for ourselves. In the meantime, if anyone in the community can unlock Ryo first and share their spoils with the Saturn Junkyard Facebook community, we will be forever grateful for your legendary exploits!

May Segata Sanshiro guide your path.

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