These are interviews from Sega's Virtua Fighter 20th Anniversary Website - 1993-2013. I'll try to get the best ones up soon. Stay tuned.
Original page (Japanese)
“From cardboard boxes to humans; Virtua Fighter is a story of evolution beyond our wildest imagination”
Yu Suzuki (Representative Director of Ys Net Inc.)
Profile: Born 1958 in Iwate, Japan. Graduated with a degree in computer programming from Okayama University’s Faculty of Science in 1983, and joined Sega Enterprises that same year. As director, oversaw the development of hit arcade games such as Hang-On, Space Harrier, Out Run and After Burner before releasing Virtua Fighter in 1993, and remained as the director of the series until Virtua Fighter 3tb. Received the American Smithsonian Institution’s Computer World Smithsonian Award in 1998. In a first for Japan’s game industry, Virtua Fighter became a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology Innovation, with materials and related images permanently saved as a part of 1998’s Innovation Collection. Founded Ys Net Inc. in 2008 and was appointed representative director. Currently serves as a special adviser to Sega.
“3D fighting games can be found where the vectors of market interest and demand meet”
Virtua Fighter is celebrating its 20th anniversary, what’s the story behind the game’s creation?
Suzuki: Well, the roots of VF actually lie in the pit crew of Virtua Racing. The car models were quite simple with very few moving parts, when likened to the joints of an animal you could say that they really only had one kind of joint that we needed to work with.
Virtua Racing was a 3D game, and looking ahead to my next 3D project I really wanted to do a game that required simultaneous multiple joint movements. The hardware we had at the time wasn’t powerful enough for what I originally had in mind, but after finding that I could simulate basic human movement with 30~32 joints we created Virtua Racing’s pit crew as a test subjects.
Which in turn lead to Virtua Fighter, right?
Suzuki: Yes… eventually. To be perfectly honest, I really wanted to do a soccer or rugby game next but being team sports there were just too many characters to animate, and we simply didn’t have the computing power to make it work. Eventually, it boiled down to a question of what we could do with only 2 characters onscreen, which left us with Boxing or another martial art.
So at first you weren’t even thinking about making a fighting game!
Suzuki: Right. Capcom’s Street Fighter II was a huge hit in 1991. At the time a lot of people, us included, were like; ‘Sega doesn’t have anything like SFII.’ The need to have a product to rival SF2 and my own personal interest of recreating human movement in 3D resulted in the idea for our next project; a 3D fighting game.
However, following the success of SF2 over 600 titles were released hoping to ride the genre’s newfound popularity, but none could surpass the benchmark SFII had set. As a result our idea faced a lot of heated opposition, initially. At the very least, I was certain I’d be able to recover the costs of development and I clearly remember begging the top brass to give my project a chance.
Has anything changed since Virtua Fighter became a hit?
Suzuki: Well, we developed the texture-mapping chip for VF1, created VF1 while collecting data in China* for VF2, in ’94 I was a producer for Daytona USA and Virtua Cop; so I was always thinking about what I was going to be doing next, and what new things were in store. I guess basically that way of doing things wouldn’t have changed if VF was a hit or not.
"I was always looking for tools beyond what the gaming industry had; we incorporated medical and aerospace technology into games"
With VF2 you were widely recognized for bringing new technology into the industry such as texture-mapping and motion capture.
Suzuki: At that time, motion capture technology was used only in health care, and we were the first to apply that technology in a game, which was VF2. 3 large companies that provided military simulations were the only ones that were using texture-mapping chips. But, I had an idea so I approached them thinking, ‘Here goes nothing,’ (laughs). So there I was, this guy from a Japanese video game company asking to use the latest, top-secret technology the United States military had to offer and they were like, ‘OK, let’s do it!’.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, America’s military simulation industry was placed in the private sector so the timing was perfect. However, our budget for procuring a chip was only around 5000 yen and the chip they had was in a jet fighter simulator worth several billion yen, so settling on a price proved to be quite difficult. They said they could offer a cheaper mass-produced chip that was only 200 million yen, so all we had to do was make up the difference (laughs).
In the end, the game was a hit and the industry gained mass produced texture-mapping chips as a result.
So in order to get the tools to do new things and implement systems that were more efficient you looked far beyond what the gaming industry had.
Suzuki: That’s right. When there’s a job that needs to be done there are certain things only people can do. If it’s faster for people to do something we’ll do it, but if a machine is capable of doing it I’d rather leave everything up to the machine. If a job requires us to buy some machine then I’d buy it just to get the job done. Ideally, people will do all the thinking, and machines would take care of the rest.
The game software industry at the time was still young and rather small and there wasn’t any kind of management know-how for projects involving 20~30 people. Therefore, we referred to IBM’s management model and developed our company’s organizational theory while developing games.
“Following the wild popularity of VF1 through to VF5 what plans does Sega have for the future?”
The Virtua Fighter series has reached it’s 5th installment, and at the time of VF1 and VF2 you had mentioned that you had a vision of how the series would develop by the 5th game. Could you elaborate on that, please?
Suzuki: With each installment there were things that we couldn’t implement due to technical, budgetary and market needs, so I thought that if we didn’t split the project into 5 parts we’d never get the job done. I guess that was the concept right up to VF5. We didn’t have what you could call a detailed plan by any means, and I think there’s little point in trying to follow such a plan.
However, I knew that I wouldn’t be in charge of all 5 titles. I’m the type of person who thrives on new challenges so I hadn’t even considered doing the same project over the course of 5 games. I had done most of what I had wanted to do by VF3 and I thought it was fitting that someone had taken over the project from there.
Looking at it as a developer, what do you make of the social phenomenon known as Virtua Fighter?
Suzuki: Well, any industry without stars is a pretty uninspiring one, so it was great to see the appearance of Star Players! They really helped to solidify the VF scene and created a lot of hype for the game.
On a larger scale, and utilizing networks and servers it would be fantastic to see competitions for the world’s best players! Imagine a completion amongst 5 million players where the winner really became something amazing. A Star Player in the highest sense, they could be on a par with professional athletes in terms of sponsorship and so forth. The tournament finals could be projection-mapped onto entire buildings, and the whole experience could be a form of entertainment for all people to enjoy. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the whole affair be like a festival of sorts, and something people would strive to be involved in?
Now, I’d love to see more Star Players stepping into the spotlight, and I’d like to see them earning a much better salary than what they’d get slaving away at some dull desk job. Games that give rise to Star Players. That’s what I want to see!
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
20 years has passed since the release of Virtua Fighter in 1993, and the project means so much to me on many different levels. At the time of its release I had heard that the game looked like a bunch of moving cardboard boxes but looking at the latest installment, with truly human-like attributes, it’s truly amazing to see how far the series has come.
When we started out we had no idea how the project would evolve, and I think this evolution has been the most uniquely meaningful point for me. I hope you’ll come back to interview me again for the 25th and 30th anniversary!
*In order to accurately capture the movements for VF2’s attack-reversal animations, Suzuki ventured to China to collect data where he and his development team actually participated in Chinese martial arts training. Dedicated to accurately portraying motion, Suzuki then had all of his designers study the ‘kata’ of various martial arts, the best of which were incorporated into the game.
December 11, 2013
Original page (Japanese)
“We’re not reminiscing about the good old times just yet, even now we’re waiting for the next generation of players to come and participate”
Isamu Yamagishi (VFR Beat-Tribe Cup organizer)
Amongst VF players, everyone knows about the BT Cup, run by Isamu Yamagishi. His first event was the Athena Cup in 1994, and for 20 years since has been a steadfast supporter of the VF scene alongside the players. He can be found at Tokyo Leisureland, Akihabara.
“The very atmosphere of a Virtua Fighter tournament has a vibe like no other. The fact that we held the first ever gaming tournament in the Differ Ariake Arena makes me proud to this day”
The BT Cup has a well-known history, but what made you want to start doing Virtua Fighter tournaments in the first place?
Yamagishi: AT Gamespot Athena, which is in Machida, there was a kind of ‘high score culture’ that grew from people competing for the highest scores for particular games. At first it was a competition for the highest score in Street Fighter II, and from there it naturally shifted to actual player vs player matches that were really popular, and from there we started doing small tournaments. That’s when I got a taste for how exciting fighting game tournaments could be, and shortly after that I held the first Athena Cup.
Why did you make the tournament a team battle?
Yamagishi: Most of the tournaments I had held before, including the Athena Cup, were team battles. Our SFII tournaments were the same. Even when people were competing for high scores it was a team battle in the sense that it was the players against us. The thought of single-player tournaments never really crossed our minds. Actually, we had team and single-player competition in the early Athena Cup tournaments but interest soon waned and we stopped doing it. I guess the players felt that team based competition was much more exciting.
Footage can still be found from those Athena Cup tournaments. Even now, they’re quite a valuable source of information but what led you to start recording the tournaments?
Yamagishi: At that time staff from Gamest (an arcade gaming magazine published by Shinseisha) would come by quite often, and they recommended that I start archiving the tournaments, so I did. For 2D games you can just record what’s on screen and the sound, but as VF is 3D I couldn’t do it with only my 2D converter. I always seemed to run out of time by the tournament start date so then I just recorded everything by handheld cameras (laughs).
Even though the footage is only of the screens one can really feel the excitement in air at those tournaments!
Yamagishi: Yes, the atmosphere was electrifying! There were some very skilled players, and the spectators themselves were having a blast, too. The Athena Cup generated a lot of hype, and I knew that I had to record all of what was going on at the venue, not just what’s happening on the screen. It didn’t matter if the picture quality wasn’t so great, I just really wanted to capture the excitement. I’m also really proud of the fact that we held the first gaming tournament at the Differ Ariake Arena. That venue usually held boxing and pro-wrestling events, so we had power shortage problems a few times… (laughs)
Did you have any trouble expanding from Gamespot Athena, a small arcade in Machida, to having events in clubs and places like the Differ Ariake Arena?
Yamagishi: At the second tournament we had over 100 people turn up so we had some complaints from the neighbors. We only had 3 staff members from the arcade working so that was tough, too. We didn’t pay much thought to recording or keeping any records whatsoever but that know-how came with time and experience. There were more people than we were prepared for, that’s how great the 2nd tournament was. The 4th and 5th tournaments had even greater numbers, but as far as hype goes, the 2nd one was really, really outstanding.
Comparing the tournaments then and now, have the participants and overall vibe changed?
Yamagishi: Well, we didn’t have the internet or cell phones back then so that’s a big change, but the heart, soul and vibe hasn’t changed at all. People cheer when a combo lands, they’ve been doing that since day 1. The regulars from Machida are basically all athletic types so whenever someone’s launched, a combo hits or something they generally make a lot of noise (laughs). I think that’s a big difference compared to 2D tournaments. In 2D tournaments everyone keeps quiet as the players fight for supremacy but with VF tournaments the focus seems to be more on having fun. In a team battle, one player can be strong but maybe the others aren’t, so there’s a chance for all sorts of players to advance. This always makes for exciting matchups leading up the finals. Also VF’s game mechanics and system sees that there aren’t any one-sided matchups so team battles just seemed to fit perfectly.
The time we had a tournament at a club in Ichikawa was great as people could spectate with a few drinks, so by the time the finals came the venue was like a huge party! That event marked a change of atmosphere, I guess. When the venue is fun, people come not just to enjoy VF, you know (laughs). That’s why people who don’t play VF often come to the BT Cup.
“VF played in teams is a perfect match. The finals of a BT Cup are more like a huge party!”
Being at the center of the VF tournament scene for many years, you must have noticed a lot of transitions amongst players.
Yamagishi: I’m under the impression that stars come and go. It seems that with each version new stars appear, but when one player who can consistently win all the time comes along… well, all I can is that HomestayAkira is awesome (laughs). There are of course exceptions to the rule, but each new version brings an influx of new players and I think that’s why the turnout has been so good at the BT Cup.
Things have come to a halt since FS now, and I really hope a new installment is coming soon. I feel like saying to Sega that we’re not reminiscing about the good old times just yet, we’re still active. I’m sure that players are feeling the same way. It’s not easy. Haven’t players and fans of the series been waiting long enough?
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
Well, I really hope Sega releases the next installment of the Virtua Fighter series soon. That’s all there is to say, really. Sega knows there are a lot of people who know the series, and there are players who have been supporting the franchise for a very long time. I’m sure it’s not easy to just put a game out but even if there’s just a few subtle tweaks here and there I’d still like to see a new game released.
I can recall depressed VF3tb fans played believing there would never be a sequel, so when rumors surfaced that VF4 was coming there was an elation I had never seen before, and when we had the final VF3tb tournament a lot of people came to mark the event. It was a highly emotional event, and many people were visibly upset. They were crying. Yes, competitive fighting game players cry. At the time Kurita said it was OK to cry but without a future release the scene will wither and die. So, I will wait the release to come, until that electrifying vibe returns, and that’s what I want to save my tears for.
March 12, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Katsuya Terada (Illustrator, manga artist)
Katsuya Terada was born in Tamano city, Okayama prefecture and became a freelance illustrator soon after graduating art school. He currently works on manga, books, movies and stage art projects at home in Japan and abroad. His noted works include the movies Yatterman and Blood The Last Vampire, and the manga Saiyūki-den Daien'ō. In 2013 a collection of his art spanning 10 years was exhibited at the Kyoto Manga Museum, and he is scheduled to publish various art books in Japan and the US in the spring of 2014.
“I knew a new era had begun the first time I saw it; real feelings associated with 3D movement”
How did you come to be involved in designing the characters for Virtua Fighter 2?
Terada: I had once worked on a project with a man named Kurokawa, who was a publisher for AM2 at the time, and he invited me to check out a presentation he was attending. When I saw the presentation, which involved animated characters moving about on screen, I was completely blown away! These days 3D animation for games is a common sight but back then, having a 3D character respond to your commands in real time was unheard of. I knew right there and then that this was the beginning of a new era.
It was then that Mr. Kurokawa asked for my help on a new project involving 3D characters. When I asked what the project involved he told me that the characters for VF2 had been completed but as the detail in the game had been improved they wanted the characters to have a more realistic appearance. At the time I thought that the way the characters moved and how they reacted to being hit already imparted a great deal of realism, and that making them look as real as possible wasn’t really necessary. Looking back, I had almost talked myself out of a job! I guess I still feel that way about VF2 a little, where the more realistic the characters looked the more diminished the final product would have been, if you catch my drift. But progress is progress, and as the series has evolved I guess my thinking at the time was a little extreme (laughs). Anyway, there was so much potential in VF2 to be unlocked, so I was extremely fortunate to be a part of the project.
What considerations did you have when designing the characters for VF2?
Terada: Well, I really wanted to be faithful to the fans of VF1. If someone’s favorite character was completely different in a new game, that would be a great disservice to the fans. That’s about it, that was a personal goal of mine when working on the character’s design. Deformation is basically simplifying reality, but as the goal was to make VF2 more realistic, I kind of did the opposite. I made sure that the characters showed a natural sense of continuation from their VF1 versions. I found it much easier to work on the project from that concept.
“I got my hands on a cabinet, but when I couldn’t get it into my room I had to let it go”
Do you have any fond memories of Virtua Fighter?
Terada: A story I often tell is of the time Sega lent me a brand new VF1 cabinet as a token of gratitude for working on VF2. I was like, ‘Hell yeah!’ and so Sega had it delivered to my beat-up apartment. Unfortunately the stairway to my apartment was so narrow it couldn’t be taken up to my room, so they loaded it back on the truck and took it back! (laughs) That’s one of my fondest stories.
So you weren’t actually able to borrow it?
Terada: Yes! I was crushed! Mr. Kurokawa called me later and said that he would bring the CPU, controls and screen over to my place. So, for a while, I’d roll out of bed and switch on VF1 first thing in the morning. I had power issues in that apartment so it would take about an hour to fire up, though (laughs). I’m pretty sure no-one else had arcade hardware at home like did at the time. I played it a lot, but since I never invested any money into it I never really got good at the game (laughs). The game itself was really awesome of course, but actually having VF1’s arcade hardware in my hole of an apartment was pretty damn cool, too.
Of the characters you’ve drawn, what are your favorites?
Terada: There aren’t any characters I designed completely from scratch in VF2, including Shun and Lion, who made their first appearances in that game. However, I was given free reign in creating a manga called ‘Virtua Fighter 2: Ten Stories’, which delves into each of the 10 character’s backgrounds. As a result of spending so much time with each character, I can honestly say I like all 10 of them. I haven’t worked on the series since VF2 though, so I don’t hold as much affection for the newer characters as I do for ‘the Ten’.
What future hopes do you have for VF?
Terada: In a 3D game, what I’d really like to see is the skin rippling and tissue deforming when hit by blows. Things that happen in the martial arts should be represented in martial arts games, and I hope developers use the technology available to them to bring that level of reality to games. I don’t think I’ve seen a game like that so far, though. When I first saw VF I thought at how heavy the blows seemed and how much they must hurt, and I’d like future versions of the game expand on that. As an illustrator, I strive to produce things that have never been seen before, an idea I hope to see in video games as well. I’m always waiting for that game that will set a new precedent and blow everyone away, and hope that game will bear the name Virtua Fighter.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
I still vividly remember the impact VF1 had on me when I first saw it. VF was the first true 3D fighting game, and I hope the proud legacy that comes with the name continues. The number of gamers at arcades and even at home seems to be declining, and I think it would be truly awesome if the next installment of VF is the game to bring players back.
Personally, career-wise VF has been a major turning point for me, it has provided me with so many valuable insights and I’m very grateful to have been a part of this amazing series. I really want to see VF continue to grow to greater heights!
January 16, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Yosuke Hayashi (Dead or Alive 5 producer)
Yosuke Hayashi was born in 1979 and joined Tecmo in 2001 and currently works for Tecmo Koei Games’ software division. Hayashi is the leader of Team NINJA and the producer of Dead or Alive 5.
“The game I played the most during my high school days was Virtua Fighter”
Virtua Fighter was released before you set foot into the gaming industry, right?
Hayashi: Yes. I remember excitedly buying a Sega Saturn and a copy of Virtua Fighter 2 when I was a high school student. Being a poor student, I went to arcades from time to time but couldn’t really get into the gaming scene. When VF2 came out on a console it was my first chance to get into VF seriously, and I used to play it a lot with my friends. As I recall, there were a lot of Jacky and Sarah players around me! I also remember reading about strong players in gaming magazines. Those were my first experiences with VF.
Did you play the game a lot?
Hayashi: When I was in junior high Street Fighter 2 came out, and everyone got together at a friend’s house to play it.In high school, it was Virtua Fighter. In our little community in those days it was all about who the strongest player was, so we all developed strong defense and punishment skills quickly. Hitting Jacky’s Punch-High Kick, Beat Knuckle and Somersault Kick would drive us crazy with excitement. I wasn’t the best player then and still aren’t now, but fighting games have always been a part of my life and I’m truly grateful to have worked on a series as great as DoA.
When working on Dead or Alive, were there any influences from Virtua Fighter that made it into the game?
Hayashi: When I joined Tecmo in 2001 they were already making DoA3, and I had a chance to work on it. I played the first Dead or Alive very briefly at a friend’s house and revisiting the game later I realized the button layout was the same as VF. It was then I realized that thanks to VF, DoA came into existence. That realization caused me to look deeper into VF. When DoA3 was released, VF4 was already out in the arcades. There wasn’t a console version of it yet so our development team went out to the arcades to play VF4, which at the time was state-of-the-art, and reported their findings back to us.
Based on that, we thought of how we could produce a game to surpass VF and then proceeded to develop DoA while constantly referring back to VF. Whenever a new version of VF came out we looked at the new character’s move lists and fighting styles, the new stages and so on and updated our database. I said in another interview elsewhere that the snowy stage in DoA3 was influenced by the snowy stage from VF4, and the stage where players get wet is a nod to VF3’s beautiful rendition of water on one of its stages.
So Dead or Alive was built on Virtua Fighter’s foundations?
Hayashi: I think it’s more accurate to say that DoA is more of a counter to VF’s style, in fact we developed some aspects of DoA to be quite the opposite to VF. In VF there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be found in learning the moves and executing them with precision when playing, whereas in DoA great satisfaction can be found in beating your opponent to the punch with your input timing and expertly delaying your moves. We also designed the game so that strings flow together more fluidly when hitting attack buttons.
Recent VF games emphasize flat stages with walls on some of them, but DoA emphasizes stage undulation such as terrain relief, and we try to pack as many entertaining elements as we can into a stage. As you can see, there are many aspects of DoA that we introduced without looking to VF at all, and I think the differences between them will continue to grow with each new installment.
“Making fans on both sides happy, it was a wonderful collaboration”
Tell us more about the collaboration between Virtua Fighter and Dead or Alive 5.
Hayashi: As the producer of DoA5 I really wanted to do something big, as it had been a while since we introduced a new ‘numbered’ version into the series. The button layout was still the same as VF, and as we had looked to VF so much during DoA’s development we approached Sega to ask if they would allow some of their characters to appear in DoA5. They agreed, and we were able to obtain some of VF5’s character models and motion data. It was tremendously exciting to see characters we played in our high school days in a game we were making. In fact, it was exciting for everyone on the team who were of around the same age as us, the ones who understood just how big a deal it really was.
What were the reasons behind having Akira, Sarah, Pai and Jacky appear in the game?
Hayashi: Well, those were the characters I had the fondest memories for when playing VF1 and 2, so it was just a simple matter of throwing my weight around as the producer of the game (laughs). With DoA5U we introduced Jacky into the series although some of the team here wanted to see Aoi or Eileen in the game instead. DoA already has a lot of female characters, and as I learned VF playing Jacky I thought he would be the perfect character to show the DoA fans just what VF is all about.
How did players react to the collaboration?
Hayashi: Before we went through with the plan I thought we first needed to get VF fans to like the idea. They saw it as a project worthy of including VF characters so I’m very happy indeed. As for the DoA fans, I think many of them see DoA as the game to beat VF and seeing their VF arch-rivals stepping onto their turf was accepted by the majority of them. We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from both camps, and I think the collaboration was a great success!
At DoA tournaments, seeing Akira in the finals has made me think, ‘Hey, this is supposed to be DoA, isn’t it?’ but I think this serves to show just how well we’ve integrated VF’s characters into DoA. Seeing VF’s characters doing well in the realm of DoA is really great!
Any interesting things happen while working on the collaboration?
Hayashi: As we were making the game, I couldn’t help but feel that VF’s characters fit best with VF’s game system and rules, and that the system in fact compliments the characters. I had to make sure that the inputs and commands didn’t feel all weird, and I was very conscious of that when integrating VF’s characters into DoA.
A funny thing happened one day when we had a meeting and some of our team weren’t aware that a collaboration was taking place. We demonstrated a match between Kasumi and Akira and one of them shouted, ‘What the hell is that guy doing here?’ and another gravely concerned member pulled me aside and whispered, ‘I really don’t think you wanna be doing this,’ (laughs). I reassured everyone that Sega had agreed to our project and everyone calmed down. Giving the team a surprise like that was pretty cool!
There was another time before releasing DoA5U, when testing the combo challenges we had to see if difficult combos for each character actually worked or not. The command for Akira’s Teishitsu Dantai knee attack is unchanged from VF, where you have to hit K+G and release G within a frame, and no one in the office could do it (laughs). The only staff member who could play Akira properly was on holiday at the time and we had to be able to confirm the combos before the day was out, so we had a few frustrated team members that worked a little overtime that day (laughs).
I guess they got the combos working, right?
Hayashi: Yes, they were able to do them eventually. That Akira-playing team member didn’t know what had happened in his absence but there was a little heat from the other guys in the office for a while after he got back (laughs). There are a lot of fighting game aficionados on the team but when they couldn’t get those combos working I really saw VF’s core concept of asking a lot of its players to reap the rewards it offers. In days where games that let you go very far with simple button inputs seem to be preferable, I thought it was rare to see players have to overcome such a hurdle in order to execute a single move.
By working on this collaboration I’ve been able to experiment with so many things, and sometime in the future, if there was a project suggested by the VF team we would be more than happy to do something with them.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
VF was a game I was hooked on as a high school kid, and even though now I’m working on a different series, I’ve had a chance to work with some of my favorite VF characters on my projects as a producer. This is absolutely amazing to me. For 20 years VF has been an indelible influence in my life, and as a fan of the series I am eagerly looking forward to how the series will evolve in the future. As a fighting game developer we will continue our efforts to surpass Virtua Fighter, and I anticipate that VF will also continue to raise their standards of excellence.
December 26, 2013
Original page (Japanese)
Katsuhiro Harada (Tekken series director/producer)
Namco Bandai Games Inc. Fleet 1st Division, 4th Squadron of 765 Productions. Oh, and game director and general producer of the Tekken series.
“Rather than a fighting game, Tekken started as a study into animating human motion”
You’ve been involved with Tekken since the very beginning. What did you think of VF at first?
Harada: When VF appeared I had just landed a job in sales but was already airing my opinions on Tekken’s development. I was working on promotions at the time but appointed myself to the position of Grand Overseer (laughs). As a part of my job in promotions I remember noting the popularity of VF and giving feedback on how players should have their own ring names.
There were a couple of things behind the creation of Tekken. First, whether we were animating a car or airplane, we knew the future lay in polygon animation so we wanted to pursue that. The second was VF’s influence; we wanted to know how they did the research into human motion. That was perhaps the biggest goal we had for Tekken, rather than whether or not we could make a successful fighting game. Instead of looking at how VF played as a game, we looked at how the actual game was made and how they incorporated human movement into it when we were making Tekken.
So you were influenced by how VF was made.
Harada: Well, it’s been 20 years so I guess it’s OK to say this now, but it wasn’t as simple as just looking at the game and being influenced by the ideas we saw in action. In terms of building the game and human movement know-how there are many basic similarities between Tekken and VF, but at the time there were also quite a few people who left Sega and came to Namco. They had some very valuable insights on polygon animation, and as a result we found new and better ways to do things.
Those people were mostly involved with motion data at Sega, so as a fighting game they had very little influence on how the game actually played. As far as the actual development and production process is concerned, I don’t think we were overly conscious of or influenced by VF but there certainly is some VF DNA in Tekken.
Actually, I think it’s fairer to say that we were more influenced by Street Fighter, for instance there are SF inspired elements such as holding back on the lever to guard, projectile attacks and having non-human characters in the cast.
Was the way VF made different to other games’ development know-how at the time?
Harada: From a game producer’s point of view, it was brilliant that Sega already had the concept of a game engine in action at the time. These days it’s common practice to cut into and work on chunks of a game’s design and existing base platform but in the days when keywords like ‘game engine’ and ‘middleware’ didn’t exist programmers had to work very closely with game designers and planners to hammer out the minutest of details.
From there, the time when game designers could step away from the programmers and work on projects separately marked an epoch-making leap forward in our industry. As I mentioned before, Sega DNA was a part of us so we were able to realize at an early stage just how important this concept was. In Tekken and Tekken 2 we had begun to grasp the general idea, and then we spent a lot of time developing Tekken 3. We basically started over and built everything again from the ground up, and as a result we had an original 3D fighting game engine for Namco.
“Though we are rivals fighting alongside one another, we always hope to see a new Virtua Fighter”
Other than the game itself, is there anything else relating to VF you found noteworthy?
Harada: VF had nation-wide tournaments, events and contests that generated a lot of interest. Compared to Tekken and Tekken 2, Tekken 3 sold really well but there weren't many opportunities to hold hype contests on any great scale.
Looking at the hype behind VF we knew that we couldn't just concentrate on making a fighting game that was fun and looked good, we had to emphasize the need to have something that could really be the center of attention at the arcades. We learned that we couldn't just leave it up to the industry trends to decide the game’s fate, and that games needed following support from the developers upon release. We were determined to bring the same level of support and hype to arcades with Tekken.
Speaking of support and hype, network services such as VF.NET and ALL.Net have been available since VF4. Tekken 5 was also included, right?
Harada: Actually at the time those services appeared Namco were thinking about its own network service, too. Time was a luxury we simply didn’t have and in the end we just couldn’t make it happen. We wanted to introduce a network service by Tekken 4 but the time frame proved to be too tight, so we dropped the idea and started developing the game as a conventional release.
It was then that Sega approached us to see if we wanted Tekken to be a part of their network service. Personally, I thought that would've been a great idea but many people were against it, saying that sensitive data could be lost to another company if we allowed them to get too close so the idea was abandoned for Tekken 4.
After that, we still weren't close to having our own network service so we really pushed the higher-ups to reconsider Sega’s offer to coincide with Tekken 5, and we succeeded. Despite our franchise rivalry was certain that Sega, with Virtua Fighter behind them, were sincere in their offer to share their network service. As a result, Tekken 5 enjoyed great popularity amongst a younger generation of players, just as Virtua Fighter 4 had, and sharing the network server was a great step in fortifying the fighting game genre in general.
When, thanks to ALL.Net, Tekken 5 became really popular all the people who branded me a spy and a sell-out were suddenly jumping up down saying that ALL.Net was the best thing since sliced bread and I was like, ‘Yeah that’s right, you a$$holes.’ (laughs). Now it’s a common sight to see that arcade games released by Bandai Namco Games are a part of ALL.Net, right? Just imagine how far behind Tekken would be in our industry if we hadn’t taken Sega up on their offer.
From a player’s point of view, it looks like there is a bitter rivalry between the two titles, but it seems they are moving forward in the same direction together.
Harada: Yes, we are operating together on a united front, you could say. It could be viewed as friendly competition, but more than that, we strive as VF does to propel the fighting game genre to the forefront of the industry. We both endeavor to make games that will bring excitement to arcades.
The people who develop Tekken and the people who develop Virtua Fighter come from different schools of thought, and a lot of people have said that we’re just out to steal VF’s thunder. However, looking at the bigger picture, if any fighting games do well then we do well also, so everyone tries their best to produce a hit. Good games encourage players to try other titles in the genre.
An interesting difference that sets arcades and consoles apart is that an arcade’s fighting game and video game share of floor space must be protected and maintained. If they aren't, games will lose their appeal and they won’t sell. When a title of a particular genre is lost, that entire genre’s share of floor space is cut. That’s why we, the Tekken team, are eagerly awaiting a new installment of Virtua Fighter.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
From the Tekken team, Happy 20th Anniversary, Virtua Fighter! It goes without saying that VF has had an incredible impact on our industry. Without it, I’m certain that the things I've done and created would have been drastically different, and the way its influence has changed the lives of players and developers alike is truly remarkable! Since it’s a 20th anniversary and Virtua Fighter is a leader in the fighting game genre I think it would be the perfect opportunity to announce a new VF release. It’s what the players are waiting for, and what fighting game developers are praying for. Please make it happen!
December 26, 2013
Original page (Japanese)
Yoshinori Ono（Street Fighter IV producer）
Ono joined Capcom in 1994. He was a sound engineer for Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior’s Dreams/Street Fighter Zero and sound manager/producer on Street Fighter III. Ono went on to become the producer of Street Fighter IV. He has also worked as a producer on titles such as Shadow of Rome, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams and Monster Hunter Frontier.
“VF’s fresh approach, and the feeling of being in the game itself convinced me that Sega was onto something huge”
After starting out as a sound engineer for Capcom, how did you get to where you are today?
Ono: I joined Capcom 20 years ago, worked on several projects and just kind of wound up in this position! (laughs). I set my sights on working for Capcom after playing SF, SFII and Final Fight years ago. I really wanted to be involved in making games like that, and now that I’m here, I feel that my wildest dreams have come true.
What were your first impressions of Virtua Fighter?
Ono: I think VF is the title that truly marked a great leap forward in game making technology. At that time, a unit next to my work station was working on a new arcade system board for Capcom. It wasn’t the successor to the CPS-3, but a different board altogether. They had quite an extensive range of Sega games there, and the guys were furiously analyzing them.
Luckily, I could get my hands on a game pretty much anytime I wanted so I had the chance to spend a lot of time with Virtua Fighter, and spent most nights playing it. VF’s fresh, gimmick-free bare knuckle style and the feeling of being in the game itself left me awestruck. I remember thinking to myself that Sega was really onto something huge.
“Trying to play VF like a Capcom game will get you absolutely nowhere”
Looks like you really spent some time with the game. When playing what impressions did you have?
Ono: The way the game requires players to build on their attacks to create an offensive flow really shows how deep VF is. It’s no exaggeration to say that VF is the game by which all fighting games are measured. Quite often in Capcom titles you’ll see moves that can be cancelled into other moves or into combos. VF matches flow from attack into movement, and then movement to attack and it seemed to me that flow was at the root of VF.
Sometimes in Capcom games you can get away with button mashing, but in VF that will get you absolutely nowhere. You really have to look at how the game plays, and I used to spend night after night playing and analyzing the game.
There were quite a few VF fans at the office so I was lucky to have skilled people to play with. I was lucky at first, but with each new VF release I found it difficult to invest enough time into the series and eventually I became ‘that old guy’ who hung out in the arcade babbling about the game (laughs).
Please share one of your fondest VF memories.
Ono: I think VF was one of the first games I noticed where players had names that were a combination of a Star Player’s name and a character’s name. Area names, character names and martial arts moves’ names became widely known across Japan, and helped VF to develop a strong following in the gaming scene. I really thought that helped to create a player network of fans, which really impressed me.
You’ve been heavily involved with the Street Fighter series, and there are many differences between 2D and 3D fighting games, but did you gain any insights from VF in any way?
Ono: I think the ability to read your opponent well really decides who wins or loses in fighting games. Actually, that applies not only to fighting games, but other competitive games such as card and board games too, come to think of it. I think the question of how much freedom players have to develop their own way of playing can affect a title’s lifespan as a competitive game.
On that point, VF’s diversity of how attacks flow from one move to another gives players a lot of freedom to play their characters with a great deal of individuality. The game also encourages players to make full use of its system, to enable them to become proficient at reading their opponents. These are all invaluable examples to follow and learn from. However, if we copied all that we’d lose the essence of what a Capcom game is, so we’ll just borrow all the good things (laughs). There’s certainly a lot to learn from VF!
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
Well, it’s been 3 years since Final Showdown was released. I’m really looking forward to a new release! I’m sure everyone would love to see some new innovations and content.
February 6, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Kyūshū Virtua Fighters
From left: Fullswing, Malcom X, Tonkatsu, Felix (Bokki Akira joins later)
This interview features Star Player Fullswing, former Star Player Malcom X, veteran VF player Felix and Kyūshū’s young rising star Tonkatsu. Another well-known Kyūshū player joined the interview later on.
“A famous warrior wades into battle, and a risky move costs him the match”
When did you all get involved in Virtua Fighter?
Felix: I’ve been gaming for well over 30 years! I’ve seen people who played VF and VF2 in the arcades, skipped VF3 and returned to the series with VF4, and I’ve also seen VF3 players disappear once VF4 came out. Personally, I’ve played VF since the first game. I mained Akira in VF2 because he was the strongest and coolest looking character. In VF3 I dabbled with Aoi while maining Akira, and then switched to Kage. I got pretty good with him in that game. In VF4 I got a little bored and had a stint with Lau before going back to using Kage.
Fullswing: It’s been about 12~13 years since VF4 came out, right? I spent a little time with VF2 but really got into going to the arcades when VF4 appeared. I’ve stuck with VF since, and haven’t played any other fighting games at all. 12~13 years is a pretty long time, huh? (laughs) When I started out I experimented with Kage and Sarah for a while but soon dropped them for Lion, and have mained him ever since.
Tonkatsu: I started out at 14 years old and now I’m 22, so that’s 8 years. Around the time VF4FT had almost run its course in the arcades. I switched a lot between Kage, Lau and Jacky.
Malcom X: I got into it with VF4 version C, so that’s 12~13 years for me, too. I used Lau, but in VF5 Vanessa was much stronger so I tried her for a couple of months. I went back to Lau soon after but as he was depicted as a weakened old man in the game I switched to Aoi.
Tell us some stories particular to Kyūshū’s VF scene.
Malcom X: Before we get to that, I asked another famous Kyūshū player to come, is it OK if he joins us? I’d like to introduce you guys to Bokki Akira.
Bokki Akira: (joins interview) Hey guys!
Bokki Akira, tell us a little about your VF history.
Bokki Akira: For me it all started with VF1 on the Saturn. I spent ages practicing Wolf’s Toe Kick Splash Mountain. (laughs) I played VF2 at home with friends and that’s when I started using Akira, and with VF3tb we started playing in the arcades. I liked using his reversals so I played as ‘Gaimon Akira’, but after a while a player named Mattari started calling me ‘Bokki (stiff dick) Akira’. In VF4Evo I was playing as Bokki Akira so I guess I’ve been playing for about 10 years. I idolize Viagra-Lau. (laughs) (Viagara and Lau form a pun when written together in Japanese- Mod)
So you didn’t give yourself that name.
Bokki Akira: Why on earth would I choose such a ridiculous name for myself? (laughs) I have lots of good memories associated with the name, though. As for Kyūshū VF stories, I remember lots of good times at Mattari’s place. I used to pester Felix to show me how to fuzzy guard.
Felix: Yeah, we played a lot there, Magnum came quite often too.
Fullswing: When did he start using Jeffry?
Bokki Akira: Magnum taught me how to play Jeffry, come to think of it.
Felix: What exactly did he teach you? All he did was spam that stupid Ducking Low move into a strong down attack. (laughs)
Bokki Akira: Yeah, that’s right. (laughs) That and Jeff’s Middle Hell Stab.
Malcom X: That used to piss off all the players back in the day, like Otsunami using Lau’s 2_3P. He wasn’t so good in tournaments, though. He doesn’t abare as much usually.
Bokki Akira: And then he switched to Brad.
Tonkatsu: Bokki, I’ve heard about your legendary escapades. At a tournament, you backed up and K-cancelled as the timer was counting down and lost the match, didn’t you?
Malcom X: Ah yes, that was at a Sega tournament.
Bokki Akira: Yeah, I had a hell of a fever at the time. I got confused as to which character I was using. (everybody laughs) Sega put up the top 4 playoffs on their site although I begged them not to.
Tonkatsu: So who was your opponent?
Bokki Akira: Puyo.
Tonkatsu: What was going through your mind after the match?
Bokki Akira: Actually, I thought I had won. (everybody laughs) Everyone around me was so damn noisy, though. I’m sure Puyo didn’t know what the hell was going on either. (laughs) You know what? Felix has a story. Tell them about the ‘English Hospital’.
Felix: Oh yeah, the English Hospital, Kurume branch. In the VF3 days, people hated players who would back up too much or play dead. At BT Cup a Jacky player called Igirisu (the Japanese word for England- Mod) did it all the time and people gave him all sorts of shit about it. I was the only one who said it was a legit tactic, and everybody freakin’ jumped on me.
Malcom X: That caused a real ruckus at BT Cup, didn’t it? What did they call him? English Desert? Bedridden and Comatose Desert or something like that? (laughs)
Felix: Both, but because Kyūshū players did it so much they made a rule stating that in a 5 on 5 match only one player could choose the desert stage.
Bokki Akira: Did you use to back up or play dead a lot too?
Felix: Man, I pretty much copied everything that Igirisu did. I wasn’t as adept as he was but I knew the system well enough to win consistently. There were days when we’d play VF at the arcades, go back to play VF at Igirisu’s place and then go back to the arcades again after. VF all day. We never did anything flashy but the matches were never shitty to watch. I remember playing PK Akira at BT Cup and during the match he kept on saying that running away wouldn't win me any matches. (laughs) I was pretty pleased when I beat him, though. Even in the VF2 days backing away from the opponent was kind of frowned upon, and they even had local arcade rules to curb that so of course that didn’t sit well with some players.
“Kyūshū style took the VF world by storm, any hopes for VF’s future?”
So the uproar caused by Kyūshū players at the BT Cup caused the organizers to make stage selection rules.
Malcom X: That’s right. Did you know that so far Kyūshū is the only region that hasn’t won?
Fullswing: What’s the highest position we’ve reached so far?
Felix: Second place. Twice.
Tonkatsu: That’s because we haven’t been at full strength.
Felix: Well if Fullswing and Tonkatsu joined forces next time it’ll be a different story, though.
Malcom X: That’s if they can get over their beef. (laughs)
Tonkatsu: Yeah, I hear that all the time. Anyway, Fullswing’s in Gonta Ōkoku’s team. Honestly though, I don’t think there are any players that would give me too much trouble.
Malcom X: In Kyūshū, Tonkatsu has the strongest rep but in other areas Fullswing is still regarded as Kyūshū’s number 1 player. Tonkatsu plays with his team in mind but Fullswing plays all his games as if they were individual matches, and I think it’s the way he doesn’t let others get in the way of his game that makes him so strong.
(Bokki Akira excuses himself from the interview)
What hopes do you have for the future of VF?
Tonkatsu: I’d be happy if it was only a re-tweaked version of what we have now.
Malcom X: Nah, give us something new.
Felix: Even just some new content would be cool.
Fullswing: Or something even more. Even if it required everyone to start over.
Felix: I don’t think I have the memory for learning new things anymore. Anything other than a crouching dash or something would just be too hard for me now. (laughs) There were differences between VF2 and VF3, and then again between VF3 and VF4. I think it would be cool if they brought back VF3’s uneven stages, though.
Tonkatsu: I wish they’d bring back 0-frame throws, too. I’d like to see the multi throw escape system back as well.
Malcom X: What a pain in the ass! (laughs)
Tonkatsu: I think it comes down to if you want to have an existing version that’s more fun or a completely new game altogether. I think it would be nearly impossible to find the perfect balance of both in the next installment.
Malcom X: If the new game was too hard I probably wouldn’t get into it, but if it was easier then yeah, sure I’d play it. I might bitch about it from time to time, though. (laughs)
Felix: Players didn’t used to have ring names before so I’d find out who I was playing by seeing how the matches played out. These days, if a player doesn’t have their card inserted in the machine you can’t tell if they’re a skilled player or not. It’s like not knowing if you were going to play someone like Fullswing or a complete beginner. I think the game’s system makes it prone to problems because of this, and I think it should be changed so that simply the stronger player will win.
Malcom X: When playing I always hear players saying stuff about me like, “This dude is so reckless!” rather than “Wow, this guy is strong!”
Fullswing: And they’re not surprised when they lose.
Tonkatsu: Yeah and there’s lots of cases where you lose to crazy stuff, too.
Felix: And the other guy is not even trying to be dangerous. (laughs)
What’s been the best thing about playing VF?
Tonkatsu: Meeting people at BT Cup and hanging out with other VF players was really cool. It was great to make connections with other likeminded people.
Malcom X: You can get in touch with people pretty much anywhere, and often they can help out if you’re looking for a place to stay.
Tonkatsu: Players from other areas can tell us about some of the sightseeing spots we may not have found by ourselves, and tell us what’s good to eat and what not.
Fullswing: You can also meet people you wouldn’t usually meet in everyday life.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
Felix: Everyone is expecting to see a new game.
Malcom X: I’m sure everyone will play it.
Tonkatsu: Thing is, everyone’s got kids now so I don’t know if they’ll be able to play 5 times a week like they used to... I’ll still be playing, of course.
Fullswing: Of course we’ll be playing, too. (laughs) People playing no matter what. That’s what I want to see.
Felix: Everyone will play, I’m sure. It’s Virtua Fighter, after all. It would be awesome to see the original Tetsujin players and other legends get in on the action, too.
September 30, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Tōkai Virtua Fighters
From left: Kanzen Nitaku, Puuta, Keisuta, Mukku and Kozou
This interview features the members of Beat Tribe Cup 2013’s winning team, Family Gyōza Go-ninmae, which includes Star Players Kanzen Nitaku and Mukku.
“We got the name for our team from a Chinese restaurant’s menu”
When did all of you get into playing VF?
Kozou: I started with VF4Evo, but really got into the game with VF5R. In Evo I played Lei Fei before switching to Pai, and since VF5R I’ve been using Taka. I didn’t play VF3 at all so Taka was a completely new character to me, I tried him out of pure curiosity and found him to be perfect for me. I did pretty well with him from the start so I’ve been doing sumo ever since.
Mukku: I started out with VF2, and got serious with VF4 vanilla. I mained Lau for a long time. In VF3 Taka was the only character I didn’t use, in VF5R I had some scores to settle with Gifu-area players and chose Taka just to troll them. I played Lau and Taka equally for about a year before finding that I was doing much better with Taka, and switched completely.
Puuta: I played VF1, and then started seriously with VF2. In VF1 I mained Kage and Lau, and in VF2 I mained Lau exclusively. After that I used Kage all the way until VF5 vanilla, and then tried Jean when he appeared in VF5R. I played as Kage and Jean for a while, but settled on Jean as there were no other Jean players around and I felt that he was better suited to how I play.
Keisuta: I got into VF with VF4 ver. C, and used to play at the GiGO arcade in Ikebukuro. Shun was my main character. I dabbled with Kage and Vanessa for a while but Shun was always my main. I had played other 2D fighters before VF, and got into beginner level tournaments relatively early. I main Shun because I like characters that have a unique flair about them.
Kanzen Nitaku: I started late in VF5’s life, and have mained Wolf exclusively. I like big characters in general, and because I couldn’t do evade-MTEs in VF5 I wanted a character that had a catch throw I could use when in a jam. Wolf fit the bill perfectly. I don’t know wrestling that well, but I love Wolf’s long-animating throws; it’s especially satisfying to hit the Giant Swing! (laughs) I’ve always been a fan of the series, and because I like the psychological aspect of the game I got into playing human opponents very quickly.
When did you actually form Family Gyōza Go-ninmae?
Keisuta: We’ve been together 4 years. (as of 2014)
Puuta: 3 years for Mukku, and 4 years for the rest of us. We’ve always gotten along with each other really well, and wanted to enter the BT Cup together.
Tell us how you came up with your team’s name.
Kanzen Nitaku: We considered many names, but settled on Family Gyōza Go-ninmae (Family Dumplings- serves 5 people). It was on the menu of a Chinese restaurant called Ajihei.
Keisuta: We were sitting in the restaurant wondering what to call ourselves when we saw it on the menu and were like, “Yeah, that sounds pretty good,” (laughs)
Kanzen Nitaku: It was perfect for a team of 5 players. A team that we played against twice in a tournament joked that additional servings of dumplings would be too much to stomach. (laughs)
“Jimokuji: The style that eschewed the fundamental idea that strength and winning were paramount; and made our peers despise us”
Then Family Gyōza Go-ninmae went on to win the 2013 BT Cup.
Kanzen Nitaku: Man, people hated us before we made a name for ourselves.
Puuta: Yeah, everyone used to say our style was shitty.
Keisuta: I moved to Tokyo when I was 18, and when VF5 vanilla came out I returned home to Nagoya only to find my old VF friends had moved on. For the longest time I felt like an outsider in my own town, and was pretty much regarded as a heel in my local arcade.
Puuta: Yeah, Nagoya had some pretty fierce area rivalries. It’s kind of like the VF-turf war between Shinjuku and Shibuya players in Tokyo. At an event at the Fantajio Jimokuji arcade there was an entry list that had all the team names on it and we were simply branded as ‘Jimokuji-style’ players. Without any of us having a say in the matter, of course.
Kanzen Nitaku: VF revolves around rock-paper-scissors games but the style we brought to that event completely ignored all that at times, I think it made people watching us think that we had absolutely no idea what VF was all about.
Keisuta: Tōkai players have solid fundamentals and are therefore quite strong, so when we turned those fundamentals upside down and continued to win it frustrated a lot of players there. A few even got quite pissed, some fumed at how they couldn’t win over such an unorthodox style and others refused to acknowledge their losses. We know those players quite well now of course, but back then things were brutally territorial.
Puuta: Thinking about it now, there wasn’t much to like about our style back then. (laughs)
Kanzen Nitaku: Maybe those intense local area rivalries and campaigns were the secret to our strength. When we lost matches it really made us think about how to beat them next time around.
Keisuta: Most of us are really bad losers, except for Kozou, right?
Kozou: I used to get really salty, but now that I’m at a level where I can hold my own against the best it’s easier to say ‘oh, I misread that,’ or ‘well, this guy just played better VF than I did,’. It sucks to lose ranking matches but I can’t blame the game itself for my losses, right? Oh well, winning tournaments is what really matters, though.
Puuta: At the end of the day, the 5 of us just want to win tournaments. It’s OK when we lose casual matches because it just adds to our experience.
Keisuta: Nah, I hate losing casuals, too. (laughs)
Kanzen Nitaku: I had the chance to go to many places to craftily show people what my ‘style’ was all about. I put my Bakuenshin rank on the line and lost it in front of everyone but that, and all the matches before it served a greater purpose; to gather data for the 2013 BT Cup. I pretty much showed everyone that I was ‘free’ to certain things, and of course during the BT Cup everyone came at me thinking I had weaknesses in those situations. But yeah, little did they know, I was ready for them!
Keisuta: Absolutely brilliant! On top of that, you’re able to remember the matchups and what your opponents’ weaknesses were in previous matches.
Kanzen Nitaku: After strategically planting the seeds here and there I was pretty confident things would turn out well.
Puuta: I’m from the Kanto area, so I have a unique perspective on how Kanto players deal with character matchups. For example, I if were to watch a strong player facing Shun I’d watch it, and then tell Keisuta about it when I meet up with him at a tournament. If they were playing Taka, I’d take notes on how they played for Mukku and Kozou, too. Anytime I’m watching casuals in Tokyo I’m basically there gathering data for the team. And as Kanzen said, we want to win the BT Cup so badly we never play our best cards at other tournaments.
Mukku, Kouzo: Shhh man, shut up!
Puuta: That’s OK for you guys, though! (laughs) All your characters need are one good read in the round.
“Each of us had our own role to play, and the result of our combined efforts was ultimate victory”
Kanzen Nitaku: Around VF5R’s time someone told me that Wolf was strong no matter who played him, so strong in fact that people got flamed for using him. I had all sorts of shit thrown at me but I stayed with Wolf through everything. I know how VF5FS Taka, although he’s not the strongest character in the game, gets such a bad rep for being dull. And yet Kozou and Mukku stuck with him no matter what people said, and though I didn’t say anything until we had won the championship that fact made me really, really happy. I’m sure people bitched about them behind their backs.
Mukku: No, nothing was said behind our backs, players bitched to us straight up. (laughs)
Keisuta: Hey Kozou, you flirted with Pai a while ago, didn’t you?
Kozou: Yep. I learned a lot from my time with her, and I still want her in my life now, too. Love me some Pai. Seriously! (laughs)
Kanzen Nitaku: You should convince Keisuta to devote himself to Taka.
Kozou: Honestly, outside of tournaments I’d rather not play as Taka at all. I play him in same-rank matches so it doesn’t look like I’m backing down, though. If I win and I get sighs and fist-pounding from my opponent I think I shouldn’t play as Taka. In those cases I’d rather play as Pai. Mind you, after I stopped using Pai I didn’t exactly go straight back to doing sumo, you know.
Kanzen Nitaku: You were using him before we came along though, right?
Kozou: After the tournament I guess it’s OK to say this now, but yes, although reluctantly.
Mukku: Yeah, I remember.
Keisuta: We were bent on winning the BT Cup but if you had used Pai we probably wouldn’t have made it.
Kanzen Nitaku: You guys (Kozou and Mukku) ended up kicking some serious ass, though.
Kozou: Yeah, well I guess so.
Keisuta: The key men in our team have always been the ‘Two Takas’.
Kanzen Nitaku: Before the tournament Mukku was always telling us to improve our game on the taco stages. He helped the whole team improve so much in that area.
Mukku: I chose to play on taco stages no matter how much everyone whined and complained. (laughs)
Puuta: There’s no doubt he’s the MVP of our winning team.
Keisuta: Kozou is like the team’s battering ram, I’m running support and Mukku cleans up after. That’s the impression I get at least. We all have our roles to play, and I’ve always known that if we each played VF the way we always do we’d win for sure. The fact we could do exactly that at The BT Cup, VF’s greatest stage, is nothing short of amazing.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
Kozou: A new VF! That is all! (laughs)
Kanzen Nitaku: It’s a game everyone’s waiting for. We, the players, would play the game loyally so all we ask is for Sega to show us the same loyalty in return. Wouldn’t a new iteration be a perfect way to celebrate 20 years of VF?
Mukku: There’s certainly the name–value factor, too. These might be difficult times for releasing an arcade game, though.
Keisuta: Well, Kanzen and I don’t play any console or mobile games, so arcade VF is all we’ve got to look forward to.
Puuta: There are so many players waiting for it. A lot of players who have left the series would come running back if a new game dropped.
Kozou: The VF scene in general needs more new players.
Mukku: Especially young players.
Puuta: Even a revised version would be welcomed. More customization items or something like that, anything would be cool.
Keisuta: I know there are financial risks and concerns about losses and gains but I wish everything wasn’t just decided from a purely facts-and-figures perspective. It would have been unfathomable before but now with the cooperation of the BT Cup I hope that things can be seen from the player’s perspective instead. VF is 20-year old brand with an extremely loyal fanbase, and player’s voices should be heard!
August 29, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Hokkaidō Virtua Fighters
From left: Shindō Jacky, Byakko, Hiiro, Kakashi
This player interview features Lau Star Player Shindō Jacky, former Pai Star Player Byakko, former Jean Star Player Hiiro, and Kakashi, a player who only plays in Hokkaidō but is well-known in other areas.
When did all of you get into playing VF?
Kakashi: I started with VF4 ver.B, when I was 17 years old. I saw VF for the first time when I was in elementary school, and although I didn’t understand the system I played around with VF2 on the Saturn. I didn’t really get into VF3 so I spent some time away from the arcades, but when I happened to see how much VF had changed in the time I was away I returned to the series and have been playing ever since.
Hiiro: I got into it seriously after seeing VF4 at a location test. I had tried all VF games, and usually played against the CPU. I would also play other fighting games with friends every now and then. At that time I participated in Virtua Striker tournaments, and when I attended one particular event there happened to be a VF4 location test there. I was blown away by its beautiful graphics and just had to give it a try. I was into kung-fu and Jet Li movies at the time so that led me to play as Lei-Fei, VF’s Shaolin monk. When VF4Evo came out I tried Goh but didn’t have much success with him, so I went back to using Lei-Fei and played as him for quite a while.
Byakko: I’ve been playing since VF1. A local electric appliance store had it on the Saturn they had set up there, and I used to hang out there and play it. As soon as VF2 came out I played that too, but as an elementary school student mashing buttons I didn’t do too well! I played VF3 with my older brother, and my desire to beat him led me to practice the game seriously. I think my win rate improved a lot during that time. At first I played Lau, and mained him until VF4 had almost run its course in the arcades. About the time Shindō Jacky switched to Lau, I dropped him. (laughs) To tell the truth, the time I played as Lau at the Kakutō Shinsekai 3 tournament there was a Pai player called King who went up against Itabashi Zangief in the finals. I really admired the way he played Pai and decided to try using her for myself. He was the reason I ended up switching to her.
Shindō Jacky: The Shindō Sega arcade was only 2 minutes’ walk from where I lived, and I got into VF2 when I was in the 4th grade of elementary school. Pretty early start, huh? (laughs) Even at that age, I knew that the excitement and hype VF2 generated was something special. I was awestruck, and got seriously hooked on the game. In VF2 I played Sarah, Akira in VF3, and in VF4 I started off with Jacky. I was able to enter a national tournament as Lau late in VF4’s life, and I’ve stuck with him ever since.
When you switched to Lau didn’t you think of changing your name to ‘Shindō Lau’?
Shindō Jacky: I really looked up to a player named Shinjuku Jacky at the time I chose that name, and found I couldn’t change it after I started making a name for myself. I didn’t get into VF3 but as high school student I got really serious with VF4, it was perfect timing to get more involved in the game.
Are there any things you feel that are unique about Hokkaidō VF?
Shindō Jacky: I think that a lot of other areas play VF with a strong focus on doing well at the BT Cup, whereas many Hokkaidō players play VF purely for the love of the game. I think that’s what defines Hokkaidō VF, and it’s something I’m very proud of.
Kakashi: We don’t have any major tournaments up here so there aren’t any weird little cliques going on. We get along with each other pretty well. I’ve never played VF outside of Hokkaidō so I don’t know, but a lot visiting players have said that our playing style is quite different. I don’t exactly know what that means, though.
Hiiro, you’re originally from Fukuoka, any thoughts about that?
Hiiro: Yeah, I have to agree that playing styles vary from place to place. Hokkaidō players seem to attack like crazed madmen. (laughs)
Shindō Jacky: Players elsewhere travel to tournaments a lot I think, but so did we. On weekends we used to travel 2 or 3 hours to arcades, right guys?
Kakashi: Yeah, except there aren’t any tournaments here. We’d travel for hours just to play casuals! (laughs)
Shindō Jacky: Yep, if it was less than 3 hours one way, we’d go. To Muroran, Asahikawa, and even as far as Obihiro. We’d all go together, and do a little sightseeing on the way. Recently places to play VF have been becoming fewer, and it’s sad that those little VF road trips are becoming fewer too. They were so much fun.
Arcades are disappearing too recently, aren’t they?
Shindō Jacky: At least there are online versions of the game for consoles, though. Hokkaidō VFers can play with others in other cities and areas, and it’s great when we’re snowed in and can’t get out of the house. We can still mash away! (laughs) The arcade I went to however was almost like a home away from home to me, and it was a great place where we all used to get together and have fun. It was like our little retreat, and it was so cool to meet all sorts of people there.
Kakashi: You could always find a familiar face whenever you went there.
Hiiro: That’s right, without ever arranging to meet there beforehand. Man, it’s so sad to see places like that like disappear.
Kakashi: What we really need is a new game. Even a single screenshot to say that something is in development would be welcomed with open arms.
Hiiro: Well, we’ve been waiting years for something like that already. Personally, I’d be happy if the next Sega game was a new Virtua Striker! (laughs)
Shindō Jacky: My personal theory is that gaming environments change over time but the games themselves don’t change that much at all. Games that were fun when there were a lot of people playing them can still be fun after they move on. I mean, if there isn’t a new VF I hope there’ll at least be some new content, even if it’s new customization items or something. Even that would make current players really happy, I think. I’m not sure what kind of budget constraints the developers have but that’s what the players want, at the very least. And another thing, I hate how old arcade games disappear once a new title is released. Even if the new game was awesome, it’s still sad to see the older games go. I think this goes for a lot games that have new instalments in their franchises.
Kakashi: On that note, I wish they’d make past VF games available for consoles.
Shindō Jacky: Agreed. People loved VF:R and VF:FT when they came out, and I’m sure they would find many fans new and old if they made it to consoles.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
Shindō Jacky: Thanks for the past 20 years, I hope there’s something coming our way soon, though. Akira Yuki and I are only getting older! His winning quote is “Jūnen hayai-n-da-yo!” ("You’re 10 years below my level!") right? Well, it’s been 20 years already! I’ve left Akira 10 years behind! (laughs)
Hiiro: My thoughts exactly! (laughs)
Kakashi: How many years is Akira gonna say next? (laughs)
Shindō Jacky: If we don’t get a new game soon Lau will be history and I’ll have to choose a new main. Hurry up Sega, Lau’s life depends on it! (laughs) A team battle version would be cool. Anything would be welcomed, though.
Byakko: Good idea. VF3tb was great. Bring back team battles.
Shindō Jacky: Actually, you know what? If they don’t plan on releasing a new game I wish they’d just tell us and be done with it, since everyone has their hopes up desperately waiting for something to happen.
July 30, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Kansai Virtua Fighters
From left: Anaguma, Buruha and YOU (pronounced ‘Yor’- Mod)
This interview features Sega Star Player Anaguma, former Star Player YOU and a player regarded by many to be worthy of the Star Player mantle, Buruha. They got together to share their thoughts on VF with us.
“It was exciting just to have people from the other side of town come to our arcade to play VF; there were strong players in every arcade”
When did all of you get into playing VF?
Anaguma: Just before VF4Evo, so that’s 12~13 years for me. I started off with Lau, and then began using Jacky as my sub. People at the arcade I used to go to often said that Jacky suited my playing style better so when Evo came out I switched to Jacky and started using him as my main. If I remember correctly I think I only made to 8th dan in VF4. (laughs)
Buruha: Wow, that’s a late start, I’ve been playing since VF1. I think I was in the 4th or 5th grade of elementary school at the time, and my brother-in-law got me into it. He was about 14 years older than me and I used to follow him around everywhere. He was into games so he used to take me to the local arcades, and that’s where he introduced me to VF. I took part in my first national VF2 tournament when I was still in elementary school. I played as Lau, and used to practice on the Saturn with my trusty Gamest magazine guide by my side. In VF1 I played Jacky, Lau in VF2, Wolf and Taka in VF3/3tb and mostly Wolf in VF4. In VF4Evo I played as Shun for a bit, and when VF4FT came out I got busy with work and didn’t really have the time to play so I stepped away from the game for a while.
Anaguma: You quit that job just as VF5 came out and you made a comeback, right?
Buruha: Yeah, I wandered into the arcade one day and saw you there and knew it was time for me to make a grand return. In VF5 I played Wolf for a while and then switched to Shun. At that time Tenma area players were really strong, and also players from the Monte50 and Mainstreet arcades, too.
Anaguma: Yep, there are quite a few arcades in the Tenma area, and the caliber of talent was pretty impressive.
YOU: I started off with VF2 on the Saturn, and improved pretty quickly with Sarah. After that, the next time I ran into VF was when I played as Sarah at a VF4 location test. I was really into KOF at the time and was waiting for the next title in the series when I happened across that location test. I was impressed by how the game looked and that it had a card system in place. I tried it because I thought it was a novel idea and ended up getting hooked on it. I didn’t really play VF3 much, though.
Puruha: That’s an awesome game too, you know.
YOU: Yeah, I guess. I’ve always played Sarah, but once I tried Jacky at a VF5 location test. I’m sure that in VF5 Jacky was one of the strongest characters in the game but after 2000 or so games as Jacky I found that I was actually much stronger with Sarah after only 100 games. That’s when I knew I shouldn’t be playing anyone other than Sarah, and I haven’t played as anyone else since!
Buruha, you’ve played other VF games extensively, so I guess you’ve seen a lot over the past 20 years?
Buruha: Yeah, a lot happened during the VF2 days. VF4 too, for that matter. There were strong players no matter what arcade you went to back then. Now the stronger players can only be found in certain places but it’s still fun to travel a bit to play them.
YOU: Even here in Osaka city it was exciting to see players from Nanba turn up the arcade here in Umeda, but now the community is so tight it’s not much of a thing anymore.
Was there a real difference between how players from any given arcade played?
YOU: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Buruha: A lot of players from outside of Kansai came to Monte when VF5 and VF5:R were popular, that was when Monte was at its peak strength. Conversely, a lot of local Osaka players couldn’t keep up with their level of play and stopped coming. Monte’s level of play quickly became really, really good.
Anaguma: VF5 was when Kansai was at its strongest; and I think players used to share their tech much more than other areas. We even won the BT Cup.
Buruha: From late in VF5’s life and part way through VF5:FS’ I was in Tokyo. Tokyo has so many skilled players in a lot of areas but Osaka only had Monte, and comparatively we weren’t much of a match.
Anaguma: Yeah there was a time I went to Tokyo with a real gameplan and still couldn’t manage to win many matches.
Buruha: Living in Tokyo I was surprised at how many VF factions there were, actually. I saw them everywhere, from Shinjuku to Akihabara. Kansai VF includes Osaka, Kyoto and Nara prefectures and Tokyo is like all of them rolled into one huge region. A particular thing I noticed there was that it’s bad form to play your sub against your opponent’s main character. We used to do that all the time at Monte but I got all kinds of nasty stares for doing that in Tokyo.
Anaguma: Well, we don’t have the player numbers that Tokyo does, so when a strong player does that here I think it’s just to broaden their knowledge of how that character works. Tokyo also has character specialists for the entire cast, so Kansai and Kyūshū players who use standard characters like Akira, Jacky, Kage and Lau tend to lose outright when we meet them at tournaments.
YOU: A lot of them are free to the more ‘colorful’ players though. Sarah and I brought the pain to those Tokyo players! (laughs)
“Tournaments are what keeps our motivation high, but VF players would much rather win the BT Cup than prize money at another tournament”
Anaguma and YOU, what made you want to become Sega Star Players?
Anaguma: I heard that I could become a Star Player by becoming one of the best players in the Kansai region, so when chances came to put myself in front I took them. I couldn’t do it in Osaka as a friend of mine had his sights set on winning the title here, so I went to Okayama. I fought my way to the Battle Audition tournament and won it to become a Star Player. I must say, making friends from other areas and seeing new people getting into the game are the best things about being a Star Player.
YOU: I was one of the first Star Players, and in my case winning the Otenami Haiken tournament here in Osaka and a few others in Tokyo is how I became a Star Player.
Anaguma: YOU, I was so gutted when you lost your Star Player status.
Buruha: Me too, I even brought my wife along to watch and we cheered you on, remember?
YOU: Yes, of course I remember! I guess I can say this now, but I think winning the first match in that tournament really went to my head. After the match Anaguma said that my game was looking good before going out for a cigarette, and when he didn’t come back by the time the 2nd match came around I felt all alone! (laughs) I played Umecchi in that game, and dropping all those Serpent combos cost me the match. I was exhausted after that. Man, the mental side of VF is really rough on the nerves.
Buruha: Your match against Itabashi Zangief was really good, though.
YOU: Didn’t he win the whole thing? Or did he end up losing to Joseph? I can’t remember exactly.
Anaguma: At the Final Battle Audition tournament I knew I had to win, but I also hoped my fellow Kansai players did well too, of course. Cheering on Kansai players are my fondest tournament memories.
YOU: After losing my status I laid low for a bit, and it’s really interesting to watch how tournaments unfold from the sidelines.
Buruha: Definitely. I made it to Togeki ’09 just in time to catch the finals.
Anaguma: Man, I have some salty memories of that.
YOU: Yeah that tournament wasn’t so great for me either. I think we played pretty poorly in the quarterfinals and then the semifinals, too. In the finals we were 3-0 versus Yūtenji.
Anaguma: YOU the war criminal. (laughs)
YOU: No way! (laughs) That reminds me, whenever people knew that I played fighting games they always asked if I knew about Togeki. When I told them I had participated they were totally blown away! It seems Togeki was more well-known than I thought.
Anaguma: It was the biggest event amongst the 2D fighter game players. The BT Cup is still the biggest event for Virtua Fighter players, even though there isn’t any prize money up for grabs.
Buruha: If the BT Cup was like the World Cup of VF Togeki would be like the Olympics.
Anaguma: I think I was way too focused on the prize money at Togeki, and was worrying about being able to cover my traveling expenses. That’s why I lost. Yeah, I think I’ll stick with that story! (laughs)
YOU: So who’s the war criminal now? (laughs)
Anaguma: It was awesome having the BT Cup and Togeki in the same year. 2 big tournaments like that really helps keep players’ motivation high. Other events like Battle Audition and so on really gave us a chance to brush up our skills before those major tournaments, too.
YOU: Speaking of motivation, we really need a new title or some kind of revised version to keep our spirits up, don’t we? Something to pique our curiosity is the shot in the arm that everyone needs right now.
“It wasn’t until I became a Star Player that I realized just how important casual players are to the game”
Buruha: In my opinion, they don’t really need to rush out a brand new game. After all, it’s the core of veteran players, you know, the guys like us that are supporting the franchise, right?
YOU: I don’t think so. The newbies and casual players are the ones that will keep the franchise alive.
Anaguma: I agree. I guess didn’t really see that until I became Star Player myself, though.
YOU: Who really cares if the core vets even turn out to play anymore? Honing our skills and making it to the BT Cup to win the thing is what we enjoyed about VF the most, but if people just play VF to have a good time then that’s absolutely fine by me.
Anaguma: The players who like customizing their characters and so on are the ones who end up spending more money on the game, not us. The casual player who stops by the arcade on his way home from work to enjoy some games is going to spend a hell of a lot more than a hardcore vet who stops playing one day because he’s bored of waiting for a new game to drop. Hey, speaking of casual gamers, it’s cool how Asapon became a Virtua Girl, isn’t it? She’s brought so many new people to game. I checked out an event that she appeared in, and it was pretty damn good! I’ve never seen so many people asking someone for their autograph before!
(Asapon interview coming soon- Mod)
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
YOU: Hurry up with the next game, already. What else is there to say? (laughs)
Anaguma: I’ll stick by the game as I always have, and will continue to play VF for as long as it exists. I sincerely hope that the series will continue.
Buruha: I want 20 years of my life back from Sega if the series ends like this.
Anaguma: It goes without saying that everyone who’s played VF doesn’t want it to end here, of course.
Buruha: Competitions and tournaments are where it’s at. Yamagishi-san (BT Cup organizer) said it all in his interview. About how he hoped he never saw the day when he was just simply reminiscing about VF. No-one else outside of Sega has done as much for the game as he has. Other games have had substantial corporate backing and produce famous players, though.
YOU: Yeah. At least Fuudo has brought over players from other fighting games. He’s done a lot to generate interest, too.
Anaguma: Well, with the help of professional voice actors and pro-gamers I’m sure we can get something to happen.
August 29, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Tōhoku Virtua Fighters
From left: Tatsuya, Gorilla Kagesuke, Katayama and Yuucha
The Tōhoku player interview features Katayama, a member of 2012’s BT Cup finalists Katayama-Gundan, his teammate and former Aoi Star Player Yuucha, Tatsuya, a player relocated from Niigata and Gorilla Kagesuke, a local legend and well-known player since VF3. Gathered in Sendai, these players represent the best of Tōhoku VF.
When did all of you get into VF?
Yuucha: I got into VF4 after a senior classmate introduced me to the game. As soon as I made a card for Lion VF4:Evo came out.
Katayama: I started near the end of Evo’s run.
Tatsuya: I started with Evo too.
Was there any particular reason for choosing your character?
Yuucha: I just thought that Lion looked the coolest.
Katayama: (looks at Yuucha) I picked Aoi after watching some dude playing as her. I had no idea what I was doing and used to get hammered by everyone.
Yuucha: Some people should just stick with easy-mode characters like Jacky, I guess. (laughs)
Katayama: Hey, I used Lei-Fei after that and he’s not exactly easy-mode, you know. I picked up Lei-Fei because a classmate who was new to VF wanted to use him. I used to teach him combos at the arcade and when he couldn’t get do them I’d take over his game, and I just ended up sticking with Lei-Fei after that. (laughs)
Tatsuya: Characters with reversals are good. How did you end up using Pai?
Katayama: There came a point where I felt I had hit a wall with Lei-Fei, and around that time I met a player named Nekosuke who used Pai. When I asked him for advice he said that Lei-Fei didn’t suit my playstyle and suggested I switch to Pai, I tried her out and found that my win rate improved.
Tatsuya: When I started out I idolized Chibita, that’s why I picked up Lion. Back home in Niigata I played Lion mirrors with Suguru and got crushed, so I decided to drop Lion for Shun. Now Taka is my main.
Yuucha: I started using Aoi because a staff member at the arcade I used to go to used her and he’d always say ‘Aoi is so hot, Aoi is so hot’ and I ended up thinking the same way too. (laughs) As for my sub, I was having better luck with Jacky than Lion but looking back now I think I wasn’t playing VF very well at all. Katayama and I were more into music games at the time.
Katayama: Yeah, while waiting for our turn to play music games we’d play VF.
Yuucha: VF was more like a time-killer for us then. We never got anywhere with those music games but became pretty famous thanks to VF. It’s funny how things work out. (laughs)
Tatsuya: It was different for me, VF has always been my number one game and I couldn’t live without it! I used to travel out of Niigata every week for VF, and went to the Battle Audition tournaments in Ōsaka and Kyūshū.
What are some of your fondest memories from playing VF?
Katayama: Without a doubt, making it to the finals of the 2012 BT Cup and stepping out on the red carpet there. Damn, that was a trip.
Yuucha: I had tears in my eyes! Katayama hadn’t been to many tournaments, but I’d been a regular at the event since was held at Differ Ariake.
Katayama: I think the guys who went to Differ Ariake were actually Sendai’s best players.
Yuucha: At that time there was Dabi, Gorilla Kagesuke, Saru-Dera, Nuruon and I. True to their names, Gorilla, Saru-Dera and Nekosuke were real beasts back then. (saru and neko are the Japanese words for monkey and cat- Mod)
Tatsuya, after moving from Niigata to Sendai did you notice any characteristics of Sendai VF?
Tatsuya: Well, Sendai players are a real friendly bunch. There were a lot of rivalries back home in Niigata. Players wouldn’t talk to each other at all, and when other players showed up at arcades there was a kind of intimidating atmosphere; players would say, ‘So who are you gonna take on first?’ It was almost kind of confrontational at times.
Katayama: Wow. I guess Tōhoku players are much more welcoming, then. However, we don’t take losing to outsiders very well, though! (laughs)
Yuucha: People don’t come this way so often these days, but there was a time I’d be called upon to ‘deal’ with certain visitors! (laughs)
Katayama: It was awesome when I was the most hyped over VF. I’d go to an arcade in the morning, and when it closed at night I’d go to another arcade that used to close at 5 in the morning. I’d go to someone’s house to play VF for a while, sleep a little, and then I’d go back to an arcade the next day. I burned through a whole lot of money during that time.
Tatsuya: That’s insane! Any regrets?
Katayama: I have no regrets about getting into VF at all, but if I didn’t, then I guess it would have been a very different story. I’d still have some money! (laughs) The VF addiction is real. As long as there are people playing and opponents to play against I probably won’t be able to stop.
Yuucha, you’ve had experience as a Star Player, are there any special memories you’d like to share?
Yuucha: I got to travel and sample some great local cuisine! (laughs) Seriously though, I was able to visit places I’d never be able to visit if I wasn’t a Star Player. When I got the title people used to tease me by questioning who I was. (laughs) Before becoming a Star Player I called Sexy Saito worried that it would weird if a little-known player like me won the title and he said that Terazo almost became a Star Player by using Pai, his sub, and he wasn’t that well-known either. For some reason he turned it down though. I don’t think I was playing to my full potential when I became a Star Player but when I did I knew I had to push myself to improve my game even further.
Katayama: The Star Player system is great. Speaking of tournaments reminds me, one time a friend invited me to participate in a tournament and I turned up 30 minutes late, delaying the whole event. Someone uploaded pictures of me at that tournament and everyone used to give me a hard time about it! (laughs)
(1 hour into the interview Gorilla Kagesuke joins the group)
Gorilla Kagesuke: Hey guys, sorry I’m late, it’s been a helluva day. (drinks beer) Ahh, that’s better!
Yuucha: This guy has been into VF for years. I’m sure he’s got a few stories to tell.
Gorilla Kagesuke: Yep, go ahead and ask me anything. Let’s see… for starters, I’ve been playing since I was 14, I turned 32 in March (2014), and I started out with VF3.
Yuucha: And you’ve always played Wolf, right?
Gorilla Kagesuke: I tried a few other characters too, but always end up going back to Wolf.
Katayama: Did you start out with Wolf?
Gorilla Kagesuke: Actually, no. I started out with Kage. I dropped him after they nerfed his Koenraku (6P+G) to Fushin Hizageri (2_6K). Damn, VF makes life difficult sometimes. (laughs)
Yuucha: Why did you switch to Brad in VF4?
Gorilla Kagesuke: What’s up with all the personal questions?
Yuucha: Didn’t you throw your card after losing at a national tournament?
Gorilla Kagesuke: Oh yeah… that… well, I don’t have any comeback for that one! (laughs) I guess I like to entertain the spectators, you know. I got kinda naked at the Kakuto Shinsekai 2 tournament. I got kinda naked and the crowd got kinda amped. At pro-wrestling events some wrestlers go out with a bang and retire on the spot, and I thought that if I snapped my card right there and then I’d be able to make an exit in a blaze of glory. So I snapped my card and tossed it! Someone actually picked it up and returned it to me later though. It was like playing fetch, almost. Afterwards I had the card restored. (laughs)
Yuucha: This guy has all kinds of stories.
Gorilla Kagesuke: There used to be lots of players here in Sendai, not that you’d know. You younger guys have absolutely no clue what it was like in the good old days, do you?
We’d like to hear about Sendai VF in those days.
Gorilla Kagesuke: Of course you would! There was quite a scene here. There used to be ranking battles at the local Sega arcade that had over 100 people turn up to play. Rank #100 had to beat #99 to advance a place, and eventually it boiled down to #2 playing against #1. It was crazy!
Katayama: So what was your rank out of 100?
Gorilla Kagesuke: Number 1. Yeah.
Yuucha: I remember Mask (Do Hidetetsu) saying that in his heyday Gorilla’s reflexes were even faster than Fuudo’s. What do you think about that?
Gorilla Kagesuke: Nah, I think Fuudo was way faster than me. How can you even tell who has the fastest reflexes, though? I’m pretty careful with my timing but it’s not like the other guy is watching me input the commands and reacting accordingly or anything. Anyway, what I was saying was that I was number 1, baby. I’ll still give Fuudo a run for his money now, too. (laughs)
Gorilla, going back to the first question, how exactly did you get into VF?
Gorilla Kagesuke: That’s a fantastic question. That’s the kind of question that really scratches my itchy spot if you know what I’m saying. This is exactly what I wanted to talk about but what really matters is that it’s VF’s 20th anniversary so you don’t need to focus on what players have to say!
Katayama: Man, the mouth on this guy. Make sure you guys get all of this in the interview. (laughs)
Gorilla Kagesuke: OK, got your notepads ready? You should be asking me how VF inspired me. I’ll never forget. I was a third grader at junior high school. I played 2D fighters at the time, and one day VF3 turned up at my local arcade. It was in that huge Megalo 50 cabinet.
I was gobsmacked the first time I laid eyes on it! I remember standing there just staring at it for over an hour. It was completely 3D, and it was amazing, know what I mean? To me, VF4 and VF5 were 3D games built on a 2d framework of sorts, but VF3 will always be more 3D than them! VF3 had uneven terrain in its levels, and as the action went into foreground, background, left and right it was simply stunning to watch. You could still go for ringouts, and combos would change when the players were at different heights on a stage. It really added another dimension to your strategy because you had to be more aware of your ring position. When I first saw it I knew that if there was only one game I could play for the rest of my life it would be VF3. It’s awesome when you find a game like that, right?
For the sole purpose of playing VF3 I worked at a Yoshinoya (a fast food restaurant) nearby and earned \60,000 a month. I used to burn through that \60,000 in less than a week, and that was when one credit was \100. I used to lose 100 times a day because everyone was so good. I battled and battled and battled and when I finally reached the point where I could say ‘Yeah I’m at the top now, fools’ people had moved on from the game. From there I started participating in tournaments at Iwate and Akita and then I traveled around a bit before heading to Tokyo.
You did all that when you were in high school?
Gorilla Kagesuke: No, VF was so awesome I left high school. (everyone laughs) I didn’t have enough money for VF just working part-time at Yoshinoya, and since I spent most of the time asleep at school I said screw it. I took more hours at Yoshinoya and kept playing VF.
So… you really left high school for VF?
Gorilla Kagesuke: Yep. To me, VF was that awesome. I’m sure more than a few people did that too. They probably didn’t go as far as leaving school but some put VF before their jobs, though not many would admit it. VF can be really dangerous! I don’t recommend people give up everything for VF but the status quo now makes me a little sad. I played just to be cool and have the respect of fellow gamers. It was great hearing people behind me whisper, ‘This guy is amazing’. The feeling you get from that keeps you going for back more, I suppose. (laughs) You know when you hit a move and flash a grin at your opponent and it’s like when Rei beat the crap out of Juda on Fist of the North Star and that look on Juda’s face is like ‘Oh, I’m so screwed’… yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. The feeling was awesome, but without that now I can really feel my motivation slipping.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
Gorilla Kagesuke: We need new VF heroes to emerge and get us out of the rut we’re all in. Not just players that are good at the game but players with a vibrant, engaging personality.
Tatsuya: I’d like to see Sega organize some more tournaments.
Yuucha: For people outside of Tokyo it’s hard to keep motivated without regular tournaments.
Katayama: There’s only the annual Beat Tribe Cup.
Yuucha: People say they’ll play leading up to the BT Cup but ending up going without having played at all. (laughs)
Katayama: Exactly. I think tournaments are what all VF players want right now. I’d love Sega to hold an official 3 on 3 tournament!
July 30, 2014
Original page (Japanese)
Tōkyō Virtua Fighters (Kantō region interview #1)
From left: Shu, Chibita, Joseph, Chemuru and Kyasao
The first of 2 Tōkyō player interviews focuses on the generation of players from the Athena Cup days, the predecessor of the Beat Tribe Cup. The interview features 5 players including Virtua God Chibita and former Tetsujin Kyasao, who both became the center of Machida’s VF scene together with Isamu Yamagishi, the BT Cup’s organizer.
“Machida. When magazine writers started appearing, it was apparent that this was the place were the most famous players gathered”
I’d like to hear a little about Machida’s VF timeline.
Chemuru: From the first Athena Cup?
Shu: I think Kyasao is the only one here who is qualified to talk about that.
Kyasao: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Shu: The hell you don’t! (laughs) Your team won the thing! Kyasao is the only one here who was there, I think Chibita’s first tournament was the 4th one in Roppongi, right?
Chibita: That’s right.
Kyasao: He made his grand debut in Roppongi.
Joseph: My first was the 7th tournament.
Chemuru: You’re relatively green, then. (laughs)
Shu: Chemuru, you weren’t in any of the Athena Cup tournaments, were you?
Chemuru: Yes, my first tournament was the 10th Athena Cup. The one at Club GIO in Ichikawa. That’s where I saw all you guys.
Shu: Yeah you would have, we made it to the finals that year. The only one here who really knows about the Athena Cup during VF2 is Kyasao, though. I knew about it only after VF2.1 appeared, and at that time I was attending a prep school in Machida. Thanks to that, I never got a chance to get into those VF night sessions, but I heard they were great.
Chibita: They were night sessions only because Cathy (Kyasao) couldn’t be bothered getting out of bed earlier.
Kyasao: Chibita used to come and bang on my front door to get me up. You know, thinking about the VF scene in those days, I remember things were pretty brutal, much more so then now.
Apparently there were a lot of inter-arcade rivalries back then.
Shu: Yes, that seemed to be the case up until VF3. Those Shinjuku players were pretty hardcore.
Chibita: Machida players generally got on really well with each other though. In Shinjuku they had factions of vet players and newcomers, they were pretty divided even in the same arcade.
Shu: Some of newcomers were really good, though. Guys like Segarū and Tōkyō Megane. They won the Athena Cup before and were part of the new wave of players that appeared when VF3 came out. A lot of the regular VF2 players left the game around that time, remember.
Why do you think there was such a big turnover of players between VF2 and VF3?
Shu: I thought it was because a lot of VF2 players couldn’t adapt to the changes VF3 introduced. There are probably all sorts of reasons though.
Chibita: Maybe also because when VF3 came out no-one else was really good at the game except for Cathy and Kashiwa Jeffry.
Getting back to the question about inter-arcade rivalries, what was the gaming culture like at arcades in Machida?
Chemuru: It was really hard to get to the point where you were recognized as a regular player. You know, to be ‘one of the boys’.
Shu: It was a very hierarchal type of community.
Kyasao: I have absolutely no idea what the hell you guys are talking about. (laughs)
Chemuru: It was OK for you because you were always at the top of the food chain. For us, trying to be part of the ‘in’ group was harder than finding a job.
Shu: Magazine writers from Highscorer and Gamest used to come and they’d be like, ‘So who the hell are you? Have you done anything worth writing about?’ I saw that quite often. I managed a 30~40 streak on the arcade’s Winning Streak board and a staff member approached me. That’s how I got ‘in’.
Chemuru: Yeah, almost everyone who turned up late at night was a writer.
Chibita: When the big guns were the only people playing.
Chemuru: It was pretty cut-throat at times. If we didn’t win we’d get a lot of heat. Only the strong survived there, and everyone else didn’t have any business being there at all.
Shu: Yep, everyone else was worthless. (laughs)
Kyasao: Only really strong players or people with a really good personality could tough it out there.
Why do you think so many people came to Machida?
Chemuru: Most probably because of Yamagishi-san, right?
Shu: Yes, I think so. Also in front of Gamespot Athena Machida there was an arcade called Pressure Castle. Kyasao moved from Hokkaidō and practically used to live there, and that’s probably another reason why people came.
Kyasao: Yeah. I used to set high scores at Pressure Castle, and play versus matches at Athena.
Chemuru: Right up until the time Machida stopped hosting the BT Cup most people hung out at the Scorer arcade, too. They always had the newest games and had been holding mini-tournaments for about as long as Gamespot Athena, too.
Kyasao: Oh, another thing about those writers, back then more than half of those guys writing about VF were from Gamest. I was very anti-Gamest though. (laughs) I became a writer when I was competing at a SF2 national tournament and met Ony, who was a referee there. He introduced me to a writer named Kudochin and a couple of years after that VF2 came out.
Shu: Back to Machida’s gaming culture, apart from VF we all used to go bowling together every month. We had pretty strong bonds outside the game, too.
Kyasao: For sure. One time I put together an Okinawa tour and 20 people came along. We hang out, go drinking and travel together sometimes too. VF isn’t the only thing that defines us, you know.
Chemuru: The Machida crew is not just about gaming. Guys that just play games all day are, well… you know. I feel like telling them to not just play games all the time! (laughs)
Shu: Yeah, we played baseball, too. We used flashy uniforms like the ones on those World Stadium games. World Stadium was the shit, man. I’ve been playing that since ’96. Kyasao has probably been playing for 24 years or so, right?
Chemuru: People absolutely have to play that game. It’s just the right thing to do. (laughs)
Shu: You ain’t human if you haven’t played that game. I still have my old game save file somewhere at Leisureland.
Kyasao: Yeah. It was such a simple game but you could really see people’s true colors when they played it. Issuing challenges, being challenged yourself and so on, things got pretty crazy at times. (to Joseph) Wow, you haven’t said a damn thing all night, have you?
Joseph: Sure I have. Here and there.
Kyasao: You know, I remember all my matches with Joseph very clearly.
Joseph: So do I! I remember playing VF4 vanilla in Shibuya when I lost my Kohaō rank to some Lau player. It turned out to be Kyasao and his 89% win-rate Lau. Anyway, I started going to Machida when VF4:Evo came out, so I feel I don’t have much to say at this point in Machida’s VF history.
Chemuru: Same goes for me too, actually.
Kyasao: Now that you mention it, I remember Chemuru being around. I remember SHU being there when he was still a student, when I went to the arcade in the afternoon I would see him there playing Shun. Thinking back, there were lots of interesting guys at Machida too. Man, I remember there was one Wolf player called FireWolf, who got the name after his cigarette ignited the fake fur coat he was wearing. (laughs)
Chemuru: There was another guy who rolled around the arcade floor like Sonic the Hedgehog knocking people over. (laughs)
Shu: And Yamagishi-san was kind of like the ringleader of all that craziness. By now you guys probably think Machida was some kind of lawless wild west saloon but just remember, it produced Kyasao, the national VF2 and VF3 champion and more recently Chibita, who has won other national VF title.
Chibita: Cathy was the strongest player, so that’s why everyone came to Machida.
Shu: Chemuru, I remember you used to follow Akirameeru a lot.
Chemuru: And Misa, too. Hell, everyone followed Misa.
Shu: There used to be a beast of a player called Misa, and she was quite possibly the strongest female player of all time. She beat me in the finals at a tournament once.
Chemuru: She used to teach you about the game, right?
Shu: Yes, but around that time Machida lost quite a few players too. It was hype during VF2, and then lost steam VF3, especially so with VF3tb. Also, just when VF3 came out Yamagishi-san was busy opening another Athena arcade in Ichikawa. So, the 7th to 10th Athena Cup tournaments ended up being held in Ichikawa, which is in Chiba prefecture. Without Yamagishi-san, Machida VF kind of withered. By the way, the Bay Area Cup is named so because it started in Ichikawa. Because the location was close to Tōkyō bay Yamagishi-san gave the event that name. When the competition came back to Machida the event kept its name, causing all sorts of confusion. I worked with Yamagishi-san quite a lot during that time. To help prepare for the VFR tournament I stayed 4 days at his house, effectively spending all my spring break there.
Chemuru: People left Machida when VF3 dropped but returned with VF4. Things really picked up when the VF2 vets reappeared and got back into the series again in Machida.
Chibita: Machida’s core players really got the VF4 scene pumping.
Kyasao: Yeah, VF4 was really great.
Shu: It was pretty exciting having Yamagishi-san and Kyasao back in Machida. Things kicked into high gear real quick. Basically most players played VF in Shibuya and came to Machida in the weekends. I watched Chibita get his Haō title in Machida, and that’s why it’s known as the birthplace of the Great Overlord (Haō). I also happened to be in Shibuya when he won his Kohaō title, too.
Kyasao: After winning that title he stopped into Gifu on his way to Ōsaka. You did something there, didn’t you?
Chibita: Yep, I recorded a 178 match winning streak.
Shu: When Joseph was still a 4th dan player?
Joseph: Hold up a minute…
Kyasao: Hey, he spoke! (laughs)
Joseph: That was version B, right? I had only played about 2000 games on VF4. I went to the Virtua Expo and Shibuya arcades too but I wasn’t that serious about the game.
Kyasao: If you had been serious you would’ve been invincible! (laughs)
Joseph: Back then I used to go to the Namiki arcade in Medaimae and High-Tech Sega in Shibuya a lot, and I saw Sasaki-san from Famitsu.com. That’s where Kyasao sometimes used to come hunting for me, too.
Kyasao: Everyone who made the effort became pretty good at the game. I noticed Itoshun rising above the crowd quickly, and by VF5 he had become very good indeed. Itoshun and Hauru both worked hard during VF4 but man, watching their matches was a real chore. I was surprised they became as good as they did.
Shu: That’s a rather bold statement, isn’t it? (laughs)
Kyasao: Well when it came to VF5 they were kind of like ‘Oh whoops, where am I?’ weren’t they? (laughs) By the way, when VF4 underwent a version change I lost my team name. I went on a trip to Hokkaidō with Yōrō Kage and tried to register my team’s name at 6am the next morning only to be told it had been taken already.
Shu: I guess someone was trying to show you up or something. (laughs) Team C.Chaps (Chupa Chups) has been around since VF2 though, that’s quite a long time!
Kyasao: Oh really?
Chemuru & SHU: Well it’s your team, isn’t it?
Shu: Kyasao, Chibita and Jyō started that team.
Kyasao: Make sure you get that down in writing. I was one of the original C.Chaps.
Shu: Then Kyasao, Chibita and I took part in a tournament in Yoyogi as C.Chaps. I was 13 and ended up losing to Chinpan, I recall.
Chemuru: Hey when did they stop holding the BT Cup in Machida, exactly?
Shu: Around VF5. I was the runner-up at the Kakutō Shinsekai 4 tournament and the Bay Area Cup was held in Machida the next day. I had to go out to dinner with my wife’s parents and couldn’t attend the event! I managed to find the time to go to the tournament and explain to Yamagishi-san in person and got heckled by everyone there. (laughs)
Kyasao: (to Joseph) Hey, did you even go to Machida? At all?
Shu: I thought Joseph played his weak-ass Akira at Shinjuku’s Nishi Sportsland arcade but when I moved to Yokohama for work I saw him when Chibita was playing at Pasopiard. That was around VF4Evo, I think.
Joseph: Yep, I was at Pasopiard around that time.
Shu: I thought he was from Yokohama.
Kyasao: I thought he was from Yokohama too.
Joseph: Well yes, I’m from Yokohama.
Kyasao: I’m sure we met around VF4. I remember playing Outrun 2SP’s time attack when I noticed some dude, who turned out to be Joseph, playing VF all by himself. I wandered over looking for a match and noticed he was pretty good. (laughs)
Joseph: I remember playing Kyasao in VF4. We never met much during VF4:Evo but played VF4:FT quite often in the Bay area. Late in Evo I hung out with the Yokohama crew, and in the weekends we’d go to Machida to participate in their VF Grand Prix tournaments. When I started racking up tournament points I learned about the Beat Tribe Cup, and later that year some of the guys took me along to check it out. Before then I didn’t know any of VF’s major players. I knew I had a bit of a reputation as a dangerous Akira player at Nishi Sportsland, though.
Chibita: So you’re not a red-blooded Machida man, then.
Kyasao: What was your gamertag at the time?
Joseph: Hamon Tsukaenai Josefu. (Joseph of the Untamed Water-Ripples)
Kyasao: That’s got to be the lamest gamertag ever. (laughs)
Shu: He was pretty damn good though!
Joseph: I used that tag until VF.NET didn’t allow me to renew it for some reason. I thought it was quite edgy. I made a lot of friends at Pasopiard and more after I started playing in Machida, and when Chibita came to Yokohama around VF4:FT I found I had developed quite a network of VF players. During the time when that Grand Prix event I mentioned became popular, I noticed a real surge in the number of people playing in Machida. I think that was when I was kind of accepted into the fold of ‘regular’players, so to speak.
Chemuru: Yeah, I’m pretty sure you were the last one to be recognized as such.
Joseph, as a Star Player did you participate in any official Sega tournaments?
Joseph: Yes, the first one I competed in was for VF5R.
Kyasao: That’s relatively recent.
Joseph: Then, the first Beat Tribe Cup I took part in was the 5th tournament. I didn’t really know what it was all about but wow, the experience was absolutely incredible.
Chemuru: Well, it certainly took you long enough to show up!
“Hungry for victory a former Tetsujin joins the Machida team and enters the Beat Tribe Cup”
In the 2013 Beat Tribe Cup you were members of the Gamespot Athena Machida team, how did you come to be a part of this particular team?
Shu: Yeah, how did we end up entering as Gamespot Athena Machida last year?
Chibita: It was Cathy’s suggestion to enter it. He was in a team of Tetsujins before.
Kyasao: Yep, that’s right. I didn’t think I’d be able to win the cup in that Tetsujin team. Tetsujins are just a vehicle to attract people to the scene, nothing more. I simply wanted to win the damn thing! (laughs)
Chibita: So you decided to enter a Machida team, and put one together quite quickly, I recall.
Shu: Around that time I moved here from Kawasaki. I’d been a part of Kawasaki teams for 2 or 3 years and we did quite well, so when this opportunity arose I decided to join. Chemuru was already in. Man, getting to 2nd place in that Kawasaki team was pure luck, by the way.
Chibita: Hey, that’s still pretty awesome, though.
Shu: Nah, 2nd place is shitty.
Chemuru: Wow, the dude says 2nd place is shitty.
Shu: You get 0 points for 2nd place. The culture is all about scores, and how many national titles you’ve won. That’s just how it is.
Kyasao: So you had already passed your prime by that time, huh? (laughs)
Chemuru: You had to be good at every game to be considered a gamer at Machida. You couldn’t just be good at only one. That wouldn’t get you any cred whatsoever.
Shu: Chibita was really good at Cameltry, if I remember correctly.
Chibita: I won a national title for that game.
Shu: Around the time of VF3 I was into all sorts of games including Battle Garegga, Tetris, World Stadium, Tekken 3, Soul Calibur, and Darkstalkers 3.
What impact has Yamagishi-san had on Machida VF?
Joseph: He’s practically the reason I went there every week.
Chemuru: He was so full of energy. It was like his cells were supercharged or something. (laughs)
Joseph: He had a habit of saying random things like ‘Yeah, thanks for that buddy,’ several times a night.
Chemuru: Yeah, and he’d use all these words I’d never heard of before, too.
Joseph: His little sayings kind of helped me keep my head above water during my school years too. Nobody had a way with words quite like he did.
Shu: It kind of grows on you, doesn’t it? I think I took things too far and spoke in my ‘Machida Arcade Japanese’ at university though. I probably sounded like dork and I wound up not having any friends there! Machida Arcade Japanese is way more fun, though.
Joseph: If you forget the lingo it’ll be hard to remain part of the ‘in’ group! (laughs)
Chemuru: Life just wouldn’t be the same.
Joseph: Yeah, absolutely. Saying shit like ‘Shan-shan’ that no-one else understands. (to the interviewers) Around here it means to calm down or settle your nerves, by the way.
Chemuru: He used to say, ‘Kike! Kike!’ (Listen up! Listen up!) a lot, too. I was like, ‘Listen to what, man?’ (laughs)
Joseph: If he talked like that anywhere else but the arcade people would’ve told him to get lost. (laughs)
Chemuru: All the regular gamers at Machida got caught up in his Yamagishi-isms. Even now, some of the ex-Machida gamers come back to town to hang out and go for drinks.
Joseph: The new generation of players never got to see Yamagishi-san in action during Machida’s heyday. It’s such a pity! It was really something.
Kyasao: Isn’t he like 50-something now?
Shu: I met Kyasao when I was 19 and he was around 23. I think players are generally much younger now.
Kyasao: I’ll tell you one thing, these new guys just don’t have stamina like we did. (laughs)
Joseph: They’re certainly not used to being poked. Yamagishi-san and the others used to call us all sorts of foul names, all the time. It was all in good fun, though. We’d say, ‘Hey, shithead!’ and he’d reply with, ‘Yes? What can I do for you?’ and laugh.
Shu: Good times outside of just playing the game is what’s needed, you know.
Chemuru: Speaking of Yamagishi-isms, it was a kind of revelation when he said that when starting a new game all you needed to survive was rice and miso soup. When I played a game for the first time and didn’t know the names of any moves he used to yell ‘Rice!’ or ‘Miso soup!’. That particular game really only required me to know a couple of moves but after a while I understood how to build my game around them, thanks to him yelling ‘Rice!’ and ‘Miso soup!’ in my ear. I learned to identify that every character has a ‘rice’ move, a vitally important move to master to be able to survive.
Kyasao: He did that in SSF2, too. He’d yell ‘Out!’ for T. Hawk’s heavy crouch punch and ‘Safe!’ for his middle crouch punch, because T. Hawk looked like he was umpiring a baseball game with those moves. (laughs) Honestly I think he’d just blurt out the first thing that came to his mind. It kind of rubbed off on me too; I still do it now from time to time.
Joseph: He knows a lot of those weird VF move names, too.
Chemuru: He seemed to like the names of particular moves, Goh’s Tsuchikumo (66P+G) being one of them.
Joseph: Lion’s Sōji Senpū (P+K), too.
Chemuru: But all circular lows were just ‘Low spin! Low spin!’ (laughs)
Shu: And he couldn’t say ‘Elbow Spin Kick’ so he’d just yell ‘Hiji K!’ (Hiji is elbow in JP- Mod)
Chemuru: But the way he opens the BT Cup is cool though. His ‘And now…Let’s begin,’ gets me every time. Hey are we gonna compete as Machida this year, too?
Chibita: (looking at Joseph) Well, not everyone here is red-blooded Machida, y’know?.
Joseph: Yeah, whoops. (laughs) I don’t think I can be a part of a Machida team, right?
Chibita: You could if someone drops out of the team, but there’s quite a few lined up to fill in already. Joseph may not be Machida but he’s always there cheering us on. That’s pretty cool in my books.
Joseph: Yeah, I’m usually pretty close to the action at the tournament.
Chemuru: I think Machida has the strongest group of supporters at the BT Cup.
Chibita: I wonder what Joseph is gonna do if he runs into us there?
Joseph: I’ll tell Chinpan not to rearrange the team order. Hold up, maybe I’ll just ask Ohsu to take all you guys out instead.
Chemuru: But the vets will love it if there was a Machida team playing. People are already saying they’ll come and watch us.
Message to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
Joseph: I’ve read all the other player interviews and they’ve pretty much already said everything I wanted to say. I don’t think there’s anything more for me to add.
Chibita: I want to play something completely new, not just the same game with a few new moves added.
Chemuru: Especially since mobile gaming is becoming more popular.
Kyasao: I’m still enjoying VF5FS, though.
Shu: It would be great if there were more events like the BT Cup. Finding an appropriate venue would probably be the biggest hurdle, but I really hope this culture of VF continues on. The history behind everything is priceless, and it would be a crying shame if there wasn’t a 25th VF anniversary. On a final note though, I feel bitter thinking of how VF’s 20th anniversary compares to other companies’ efforts.
Joseph: Unfortunately all games seem to have an expiry date, no matter how great they may be. Our VF community has grown to such proportions that we need something to keep people getting together and playing, to ensure our numbers don’t dwindle.
October 27, 2014