As part of the 20th Anniversary celebration, we take a look back at of all things Virtua Fighter. From its inception in Japanese arcades back in 1993, major events, console ports, off-shoot releases, publications and media, all the way through to the present day, relive (or discover!) some key moments and milestones in Virtua Fighter's proud and illustrious history.
Virtua Fighter ChronologyVirtua Fighter is released in arcades
1993 ~ 2013- Celebrating 20 years of Virtua Fighter!
link to original page (Japanese)
Released with Sega’s new 3DCG ‘Model 1’ arcade board. When integrated with the same cabinets used for games such as Super Megalo 2 and Astro City 2, Virtua Fighter created a huge buzz as the world’s first true 3D fighting game. Virtua Fighter became a smash hit with gamers, and ushered in a new generation of 3D rendered games.
GameSpot Athena opens in Tokyo
The arcade that would become home to the Beat Tribe Cup opens in Machida, Tokyo.
_______________________________________________Virtua Fighter is released on the Sega Saturn
Virtua Fighter is ported as a launch title for the Saturn.
Virtua Fighter Maniacs guides go on sale
A very highly regarded publication, Virtua Fighter Maniacs was the first guide that provided frame information for a fighting game.
National ‘Virtua Fighter- Final Battle’ tournament is held
September 1994 marked the first national Virtua Fighter tournament. After the qualifying rounds, the development of Virtua Fighter 2 was officially announced to the roar of the crowd.
Virtua Fighter 2 is released in arcades
The second installment in the series featured the ‘Model 2’ arcade board. The frame rate was increased from 30 to 60 frames per second, and the characters demonstrated a greater degree of flexibility. 2 characters were added to the roster; Tōrōken practioner Lion Rafale and Suiken master Shun Di made their first appearances in the series.
Virtua Fighter 2 becomes a social phenomenom
Virtua Fighter 2 proved to be a record-breaking smash hit, and created enough attention to be featured in newspapers, magazines and on television.
The first ‘Athena Cup’ tournament is held
The event was held at Gamespot Athena in Machida and featured 9 teams.
National ‘Virtua Fighter Championship- Eternal Battle’ tournament is held
Click here for Athena Cup / Beat Tribe Cup Chronology
The event featured Virtua Fighter, Virtua Fighter 2 and Saturn’s port of Virtua Fighter. Kashiwa Jeffry (JE) won the VF tournament, Kyasao (KA) won the VF2 tournament and Deshi Sarah (SA) won the ladies tournament.
6 players are awarded the title of ‘Tetsujin’ (Ironman)
Shinjuku Jacky, Ikebukuro Sarah, Kyasao, Bunbun-Maru, Kashiwa Jeffry and K.K. Yukikaze are officially recognized as Sega Tetsujin, and become revered amongst Virtua Fighter players.
Virtua Fighter Remix is released in arcades
An upgraded version of Virtua Fighter, this game had improved texture mapping for its character models.
Virtua Fighter Remix is released for the Sega Saturn
Also sold bundled with the console, which was labelled as the ‘Sega Saturn 1 Million Campaign Box’.
Virtua Fighter 2.1 is released in arcades
A system re-tweak of VF2 that addressed balance issues in versus matches. PK no longer knocked down on hit, and staggers became easier to struggle out of.
National ‘Maximum Battle’ tournament is held
A VF2 tournament that Kansai player ZAN’ANI (AK) won. Tetsujins Shinjuku Jacky, Ikebukuro Sarah, Bunbun-Maru and K.K. Yukikaze made a grand appearance and electrified the crowd.
Virtua Fighter 2 is released on the Sega Saturn
VF2 became the first Saturn game to sell 1 million units. Total sales reached 1.5 million.
Virtua Fighter animated series is created
The series was broadcast on TV Tokyo and consisted of 35 episodes.
Virtua Fighter Kids is released in arcades
A version of Virtua Fighter 2 with super-deformed characters featuring enlarged heads.
Virtua Fighter Kids is released on the Sega Saturn
A console port. The Saturn version included programmable button sequences to allow players to test and use pre-made combos.
Virtua Fighter 3 is released in arcades
Developed using the new ‘Model 3’ board, Virtua Fighter 3 featured vastly improved graphics. Two new characters were added to the cast; Aoi Umenokoji, a woman who used Aiki-jujutsu, and Taka-Arashi, a Sumo wrestler. A fourth ‘Escape’ button was also added, along with uneven stage terrain. The system itself went through several improvements.
Fighters Megamix is released on the Sega Saturn
A 3D fighting game that featured the cast of Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers. It included game modes from both titles, and featured the ‘escape’ maneuver and several new moves from the characters of Virtua Fighter 3.
National/International ‘Morinaga Angel Cup’ tournament is held
The first major tournament for Virtua Fighter 3. In the national tournament, Kyushu player Yanaga Sarah (JA) won the under 20 division, Kyasao (KA) won the over 20 division and Chan’ane (SA) won the ladies division. The ensuing battle between the winners was called the ‘Japan Championship’, in which Yanaga Sarah was the victor, earning the right to represent Japan. The following international tournament saw some of the best players from around the world participate, with Korea’s ‘Akira Kid’ Shinz (AK) emerging as the ultimate champion.
National ‘Battle Koshien’ tournament is held
Another major tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 3. Chubu/Hokuriku area player Kurita (TA) won the event.
Virtua Fighter 3tb is released in arcades
A tweaked version of VF3. An option to create mixed character teams for versus battles was added, and several adjustments to the games system and the characters were made.
Virtua Fighter 3tb is released on the Dreamcast
A console port of Virtua Fighter3tb, released on the Saturn’s successor, the Dreamcast. Bonus content included a History Mode, where players could view the promotion videos for previous Virtua Fighter games.
Gamespot Athena in Machida changes its name to ‘Beat Tribe’
In line with the change, the following Athena Cup tournaments are renamed as ‘Beat Tribe Cup’ tournaments.
The first ‘Beat Tribe Cup’ tournament is held
The location for the first inaugural BT Cup is Club GIO, in Ichikawa.
Click here for Athena Cup / Beat Tribe Cup Chronology
Virtua Fighter 4 is released in arcades
Developed on Sega’s ‘NAOMI 2’ arcade board. With VF.NET’s network and card system, rank battles, match statistics and character customization become possible. New characters are introduced; Shaolin Kung-Fu master Lei-Fei and Vale Tudo expert Vanessa Lewis join the cast but due to integration difficultiesVirtua Fighter 3’s Taka-Arashi is omitted.
Virtua Fighter 4 is released on Playstation 2
Until now a title exclusive to Sega’s game hardware, Virtua Fighter 4 is the series’ first release on another company’s system. The quality remained virtually unchanged, and included new stages and game modes.
National ‘Kakutō Shinseki’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 4. Napoleon (JA) was the winner, and is awarded the special rank of ‘Hōō’ (Phoenix).
A ‘VF Exhibition’ at Hi-Tech Land Sega in Shibuya is held
An event that featured content relating to the Virtua Fighter series, and gamers had a chance to play several famous VF players, who also held title/rank matches. The event ran from April 26 to May 5.
Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution is released in arcades
A new version of Virtua Fighter 4 that featured many new attacks and customization items. A further 2 more characters were introduced to the series; Judo practitioner Goh Hinogami and kickboxer Brad Burns.
National ‘Otenami Haiken 2’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution. Osugi Akira (AK) was the winner, and is awarded the special rank of ‘Gōketsu’ (Hero).
_______________________________________________National ‘Kakutō Shinseki 2’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution. Chō-Minami Akira (AK) was the winner, and is awarded the special rank of ‘Dai-Haō’ (Great Overlord).
Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution is released on Playstation 2
This port included the now highly regarded tutorial mode and attack record function, and would influence the development of future console games.
National ‘Tōgeki ‘tournament is held
An event sponsored by Enterbrain. In the Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution division a 3 on 3 style tournament was played. Team ‘Moralist’(Tsuchikumo (PA), The Guerilla (AO) and GameCenter Arashi (GO) were the winners.
The second ‘VF Exhibition’ is held
The event is once again held at High-Tech Land Sega in Shibuya. Gamers had a chance to play against several famous VF players, who also had title/rank matches.
International “Evolution 2003” tournament is held
An international fighting game event held in Las Vegas, USA. Chibita (LI) won the Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution division.
National ‘Final Tournament’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution. Homestay Akira (AK) is the winner, and was awarded the special rank of ‘Teiō’ (Emperor).
Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned is released in arcades
Utilizing the VF.NET card network system, this version allowed players to select between 2 optional moves to use. It also featured new moves for the characters and several gameplay tweaks, and players could also receive new customization items in the single player Challenge Mode. A new ‘Title System’ was introduced, where the CPU analyzed how people played the game and awarded them with an appropriate title.
Virtua Fighter Cyber Generation- The Treachery of Judgement 6 is released on Playstation 2 and Gamecube
A title celebrating the 10th anniversary of Virtua Fighter. The game is an RPG following the adventures of Sei as he goes up against J6. The game featured several cameos by characters such as Akira and Jacky, who assist in battles and guide the young hero as he delves further into the mystery surrounding the organization.
Virtua Fighter 2 is released on Playstation 2
A port that perfectly emulated the frame rate of the ‘Model 2’ arcade board version. This release included both Virtua Fighter 2 and Virtua Fighter 2.1.
International ‘Evolution 2004’ tournament is held
Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution once again made an appearance at this fighting game tournament. This year, Itabashi Zangief (SH) won.
National ‘Kakutō Shinseki 3’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned. Itabashi Zangief (SH) is the winner, and was awarded the special rank of ‘Tentei’ (Divine King).
Virtua Fighter 5 is released in arcades
The 5th installment in the series featured the ‘Lindbergh’ arcade board. A further 2 characters were introduced; Monkey Fist Kung-Fu fighter Eileen and Mexican Lucha Libre wrestler El Blaze. This game utilized the ‘VF Terminal’, a card system that allowed players to manage their data, get local arcade tournament information and even assist in match-making events. Replays of matches could also be played on monitors with ‘VF.TV’, making this installment of the series particularly well-equipped for tournaments.
National ‘Otenami Haiken 5’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 5. Fuudo (LI) was the winner, and is awarded the special rank of ‘Tenryū’ (Divine Dragon).
Virtua Fighter 5 is released on Playstation 3
This version featured original content such as a Dojo mode for practicing, and a Quest mode where players can visit in-game arcades to fight fictitious opponents.
National ‘Kakutō Shinseki 4’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 5. Fuumin (LE) was the winner, and is awarded the special rank of ‘Shinryū’ (Dragon Lord).
Virtua Fighter 5: Live Arena is released on Xbox 360
Essentially the same as the Playstation 3 release, with the addition of an online mode.
International ‘Evolution 2007’ tournament is held
A Virtua Fighter title returns to Evo after a 3 year hiatus. Itabashi Zangief (SH) won the Virtua Fighter 5 division.
_______________________________________________Virtua Fighter 5R is released in arcades
The characters received several new moves, and the system was tweaked in this version. Two characters were added to the cast; Karateka Jean Kujō and Taka-Arashi, who made his first appearance in the series since being omitted after Virtua Fighter 3.
Sega officially recognizes elite players as Sega Star Players
Replacing the Virtua Fighter 2 era of Tetsujin Players, Sega awards the title of Star Player to powerhouse players Chibita, Fuudo and Koedo. Competitive events where Star Players lay their titles on the line soon follow.
National ‘Kakutō Shinseki 5’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 5R. Tomarion (LI) was the winner, and is awarded the special rank of ‘Seiryū’ (Dragon Saint).
_______________________________________________Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is released in arcades
A new version of Virtua Fighter 5,made more accessible for beginners with easier to understand tactics. Final Showdown went through many system changes, becoming much more than simply a re-tweaked version of Virtua Fighter 5. Twitter is integrated into VF.NET.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360
Featuring an online mode with room matches where up to 8 players can play and spectate. This version also included an offline-only License Challenge mode, where players had to play under unique conditions such as moon physics and being able to cancel all attacks.
National ‘Kakutō Shinseki 6’ tournament is held
A singles tournament featuring Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown. Chibita (LI) was the winner, and is awarded the special rank of ‘Fuhai-Shinwa’ (Invincible Legend).
The final ‘Tōgeki’ tournament is held
This would be the last of a long-running tournament. In the Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown division, team Newton (Koiwai (LI), Kaibutsu (VA) and Zettman (LE) won.
International ‘Evolution 2012’ tournament is held
The Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown division is featured as a side tournament. Fuudo (SH) was the winner.
The 14th ‘Beat Tribe Cup’ tournament is held
The event celebrated the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter. The winners were Family Gyoza Go-nin Mae (Kozou (TA), Mukku (TA), Keisuta (SH), Puuta (JN) and Kanzen Nitaku (WO).
_______________________________________________An official Sega singles tournament for Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 2. Qualifying matches were held around Japan, and the finals were held in Tokyo. The ‘Battle Koshien’ and ‘Morinaga Angel Cup’ tournaments were held with outside sponsorship.
Major Japanese tournaments featuring Virtua Fighter
～Kakutō Shinseki～An official national tournament that started after Virtua Fighter 4 was released. The regulations were basically the same as Maximum Battle, but players could challenge several times at arcade events. At local area playoffs, competitors only had a single shot at advancing so to increase their chances of winning a lot of players travelled to areas that didn’t have many strong opponents. Winners of this tournament were awarded with a special rank title.
～Otenami Haiken～An official national tournament. Qualifying rounds were held at over 30 locations around Japan, and the winners advanced to the finals. Players were able to enter qualifying matches multiple times, a first for a major official tournament. There were also side events where players could challenge well known Virtua Fighter players.
～Tōgeki～A national 3 on 3 tournament, this event awarded prize money to the winners. Event progression started with an arcade tournament stage, then an area tournament stage and then the final tournament itself, like the Maximum Battle and Fighting New Century events. The biggest difference was that even if a competitor lost at the area tournament stage, they could re-enter the contest at a different arcade and start over. Team members were not allowed to use the same character, making this team tournament different to the BT Cup. The final tournament was held in 2012.
～Beat Tribe Cup (formerly Athena Cup)～An event that has continued since Virtua Fighter 2, the BT Cup is a 5 on 5 tournament that pits region against region. In terms of entry, preference is given to competitors who are seeded, have been specially recommended, have satisfactory results at local area cup tournaments, or have enough points acquired in other major events such as the Bay Area Cup. It is not easy to even participate in the event, and the road to victory in the BT Cup is known as one of the most arduous amongst fighting game tournaments. It should be noted that the birthplace of the Athena Cup was Gamespot Athena Machida, and when the arcades’ name changed to Beat Tribe the following Athena Cup events were also renamed as Beat Tribe Cup tournaments.