This is a metanode on the amazing arcade game, Virtual On. This game is easily distinguished from the rest, two cockpit style seats with twin joysticks to control your VR (Virtuaroid), a giant battle robot. This game is really what I look for in an arcade game. It is fun, challenging, competitive (against other players), great graphics, and almost an infinite number of strategies (unlike Mortal Kombat, where the same combos are recycled with mind-numbing repetition).

Originating in Japan, this game remains extremely popular in Asia, but less so in the West probably due to its complex controls. Two player battles is the real "meat" in the game, after a while the computer is no challenge any more.

Here are the mechs available for use in this game:

Basic Instructions

Each VR has three basic attacks, as well as special hidden attacks. The left and right triggers each fire one weapon, and both triggers together fires the heaviest weapon. The weapons require time to charge, using an undercharged weapon is usually ineffective.

The secondary triggers activate the dash option, a drastic increase in speed for a brief time. When the dash ends, your are helpless for a brief second. A common mistake of newbies at Virtual On is the overuse of the dash.

Jumps can be performed by pulling the joysticks apart. You can then immediately pull them together to cancel a jump, but only if you didn't fire a weapon in the air. Jumping up then quickly down is the most basic evasion manuever in the game.

In close combat, you can execute direct melee attacks. For some mechs this is one trigger, others both. Melee attacks are some of the most destructive in Virtual On, especially Apharmd's Tongfer attack. They also make for some interesting acrobatics, when experts jump, block and circle to try to get one hit, as cowardice in close combat usually is punished (fellow Virtual On players would know what I mean here). The Circle Attack is effective. To execute this, hold both sticks to one side and fire off the melee weapon, you will quickly dash in a circle and attack from behind. Experts have even more advanced moves at their disposal.

This game has an easy learning curve at the beginning, but as I have learned, it steepens VERY drastically as you go on. I have seen experts in the game who are almost one with the game, they obviously play it way too much. I'm just an intermediate/advanced player. Don't look here for expert advice, look in the web instead. This game is all about practice and expecting your opponent's moves. The more you play, the more experience you get and the better you will be. Unforunately, I can't afford it.

For individual information on each mech, click on the links above.

Apparently, as stated in DMans writeup, this started out as an arcade game, but I have never seen such a beast. Perhaps, as suggested by DMans writeup, that is because I am an American. Oh well, the perks outweigh the flaws.

However, I do know of this game's other incarnation: Virtual On: Cyber Troopers (or is it Cyber Troopers:Virtual On? I always see it printed the former way, but the latter sounds better to the ear), Released for the SEGA Saturn videogame console. Unlike the arcade, This version uses a normal control pad: A = left trigger, C = right trigger, B = dash, X or Z = jump, Y = A + C. L rotates left, R rotates right, press them together and you get guard. Unfortunately, this setup makes things like jump cancels Difficult; you must use a clumsy and weird controller configuration. A twin stick was apparently availiable, since the option menu in the game allows you to configure one, but, as above, I have never seen one.

Unless the arcade version was years ahead of its time, the home version has a feature the arcade lacks: NetLink play. A 28.8 modem for the Saturn, called the NetLink, allowed you to play Virtual On against people far, far away. As long as you were willing to pay long distance; the NetLink, despite its name, does not connect to the internet for games (although, it does connect to the internet for web browsing.)

Overall, this game easily ranks among the Saturn's top 5 games, and among the top 5 fighting games of all time. Normally, I hate fighting games (mostly, they are now 'who can execute their combo fastest and most flawlessly before the other guy can move' fests), but this is one of the few that I can't put down. Personally, I think that, had SEGA hyped this game enough, it could have singlehandedly saved the Saturn from oblivion. But this was not to be. If you get the chance to get a Saturn, grab one, and this game. It will not dissapoint.

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