What happened to Virtua Striker?

What happened to Virtua Striker?

When it comes to football-themed video games it is impossible not to mention one of the fathers of the "modern" ones, namely Virtua Striker. The game of SEGA, with its three-dimensional graphics and the classic arcade setting, where the players performed any type of stroke simply through the use of a few buttons, depopulated for years in cabinets all over the world, before the decline of the coin market. -op, giving life to a series that has now become historic.

A saga that, thanks to Dreamcast and GameCube which hosted the only console conversions of two titles of the franchise, also arrived for some time in the homes of many fans, but which despite the fame achieved, it did not succeed to keep alive until the present day.

Let's rediscover the Virtua Striker series in our specale.

What happened to them ... is a regular column that tries to bring to light those franchises that for one reason or another have fallen by the wayside, telling their story, with the hope of seeing them again sooner or later on our screens.

The first 3D football

The first 3D football It was back in 1994 when in the cabinets with the SEGA Model 2 card, the same one used for Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter 2 and SEGA Rally Championship, Virtua Striker made its shocking appearance. "Shocking" because up until that moment a football game with a similar level of detail had never been seen, with the camera following the action, zooming in or out the shot at the various moments of the match, "big" and "realistic" athletes ", resembling the real counterparts despite the lack of official licenses and entirely built with polygons. All in a three-dimensional context that as a whole made use of texture mapping: Virtua Striker was in fact the first football title to use 3D computer graphics.

The game of SEGA was pure arcade fun, of those without frills: the salient features of the sport most loved by Italians were taken up in order to make them spectacular and usable to any type of user eager to play a couple of minutes at a time against the CPU or a friend, games of only one half, until you even get to face the secret team, that FC SEGA that lined up the programmers of the series.

Everything was executable with three buttons: one was used for passing (or for the abused "killer" slip in the defensive phase), one for long balls (or for crosses that were activated automatically when the player was in a position parallel to the penalty area) and one for shots, both low and high (headers, scissors or flying shots), which could also be loaded for more powerful shots. Finally there were the commands to shift the team balance, that is offensive / normal / defensive.

The first modern cast game Despite the many flaws, especially in terms of artificial intelligence and gameplay, with the referees who they could not warn or expel the players, the central defenders often leaving unmotivated on the opposing attacker, the feeling of not always having total control over their virtual athletes and a certain ease in scoring by shooting or from the trocar using teams with powerful shooters (the famous Best Goal from midfield), or with a header from the small area eight crosses out of ten from the side limit, Virtua Striker achieved a huge worldwide success, and the row at his cabinet to be able to play, in every corner of the planet, is it kept for months always very long.

Small curiosity: in 2013, Virtua Striker was made available for Xbox 360 and PS3 via Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, unfortunately only on the Japanese market.

Virtua Striker 2, the most beloved

Virtua Striker 2 In 1997, SEGA decided it was time to bring a sequel to the game and launched Virtua Striker 2 on the market. The title obviously took up the arcade spirit of the first chapter, but based this time on the more powerful Model 3 card, it enriched the formula with some extra options, such as greater control over the team's attitude on the pitch, more offensive or more defensive to according to needs, and above all with a notable technical leap in terms of graphics, animations and playing fields, which are wider and more detailed. Some defects of the previous chapter remained, such as the lack of movement of the teammates without the ball, which often prompted the user to play "ball forward and pedal".

As the unusual attitude of the players persisted. often withdraw from the race towards a ball addressed a short distance from them, even going back, but in principle the game liked and obtained the approval of the fans, to the point that for many of them it is still the best of the series. Particularly popular was the addition of other secret teams, namely Royal Genky and MPV Yuki Chan. The latter was so crazy that he deserves a speech in himself. To unlock it, you had to press the central button of the cabinet during the team selection screen following a precise sequence. In order: Yugoslavia, USA, Korea and Italy, so as to form the word Yuki with their four initials.

The crazy characters of the MPV Yuki Chan lineup The MPV Yuki Chan lineup was, as mentioned before, one of the craziest characters ever to appear in a video game, so much so that it lined up a mariachi, complete with a crashing guitar, a polar bear, a transparent ghost with the heart in evidence, a yellow "thing", several Eskimos and a snowman as a captain. The delusion.

Virtua Striker 2 will still be released by significantly updated editions in terms of code or teams (one more or less option, one team instead of another, and so on), from the '98 version , up to a first console port entitled Virtua Striker 2 ver. 2000.1, for SEGA Dreamcast. To have a "real" new product in the series, it was necessary to wait until 2001 and Virtua Striker 3, released as a cabinet, this time based on the SEGA NAOMI arcade system. It will also be the second and final game in the series to be converted to consoles.

Virtua Striker 3 and Virtua Striker 4

Virtua Striker 3 In 2002, after an updated edition for coin-op in view of the then imminent World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the title arrived on GameCube by Amusement. The home version offered the beauty of 64 national teams (plus some extra special teams), thirteen different stadiums and a Road To World Cup mode (instead of Arcade mode) complete with a retreat and a match between holders and benches. It was the first game in the saga to provide multilingual support and pre-match substitutions, between the first and second half, plus an editor to enter the original names of the players and modify the physical and technical characteristics of the players.

Another novelty was the replacement, as a bonus team, of Royal Genki with FC Sonic, which lined up the famous SEGA mascot with, Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose, several Chao and Dr. Eggman. But otherwise it was the same as the cabinet counterpart and all previous chapters of the saga, including strengths and weaknesses. In this sense, the developers had slightly improved the movements without the ball of the user's teammates, divided the races into two halves as in reality and implemented more severe referees and cards, but nothing particularly upsetting. So much so that as per tradition the actions that followed one another on the field were not the best in terms of variety and originality. In fact, most of the time we proceeded vertically hoping for some defensive blunder of the opponent or some rebound favorable to our attackers.

Virtua Striker action In any case, despite everything, even this third episode regular managed to conquer a good share of users, albeit smaller than in previous years. The coin-op market had already begun its slow but inevitable decline, while fans of football videogames on consoles sought productions capable of offering greater realism and more game options, thus orienting their interests increasingly towards series like FIFA. and PES.

SEGA, however, did not give up, and in 2005 released, on Triforce card, a fourth and final chapter that constituted the swan song of the saga. Virtua Striker 4 presented several new features, from the implementation of a fourth button useful for shooting, which added new possibilities to the gameplay, to the option to make replacements even during the game, as in the domestic edition of Virtua Striker 3.

Virtua Striker 4 Finally there was an extra match that was added to the canonical formula "eighth-quarter-finals-semifinal and final". But with that fourth official chapter, as mentioned, the final word (definitive?) Was written on a series that, in addition to initially inspiring the developers of other series that later became famous, has been able to give many hours of fun to millions of fans over the years. bars and arcades, through epic challenges against the CPU, acquaintances or complete strangers, helping to make new friends or "ruin" (for a while, the time to dispose of the anger for a scissor goal).

A saga that is part of a way of conceiving videogames in a different way than today, of an era that no longer exists and that perhaps, also for this reason, is remembered with affection. Today, to keep alive the flame of passion in all those old fans who grew up with tokens, Best Goals and various insults against the very strong and feared Nigeria of the game, remains the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: The Official Videogame, which among the disciplines proposes a football session considered by many to be the spiritual heir of Virtua Striker. With the hope that SEGA can reconsider and start from here for a future chapter.

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