The fifth main installment of the Virtua Fighter series, Virtua Fighter 5 continued the trend of using the most powerful arcade hardware at the time to render groundbreaking highly-detailed graphics. It is also the first game in the series to be rendered in a widescreen resolution.
The gameplay mechanics from its predecessor were also fine-tuned, adding new techniques (such as the "Clash System", where attacks can be cancelled out with well-timed throws). It also added two new playable fighters (Chinese opera dancer Eileen and Mexican luchador El Blaze).
Along with the online connectivity and custom player data features of Virtua Fighter 4 (now part of Sega's ALL.Net service), the Japanese arcade version of Virtua Fighter 5 featured an enhanced ranking system and two special dedicated machines: "VF Terminal" (which allowed players to manage their card data) and "VF.TV" (which broadcasts competitive matches to a screen for spectators).
The game later received four minor updates (or "Updates"), one of which (Ver. B) was also released worldwide (on February 2007) without the online features. Along with ports for seventh-generation video game consoles, the game received two major revisions: Virtua Fighter 5 R and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown.
Updates & Ports
The original arcade version of the game received four minor updates (or "Versions"), each adding new character costumes, gameplay fixes, and bonus game modes/events: Ver. A (on October 17, 2006), Ver. B (on December 14, 2006), Ver. C (on July 24, 2007), and Ver. D (on February 6, 2008).
The "Ver. B" version was used as a basis for the PlayStation 3 port, which was released in Japan on February 8, 2007, in North America on February 20, 2007, and in Europe on March 23, 2007. The "Ver. C" version was later used as the basis for the Xbox 360 port, which was released in Europe on October 26, 2007, in North America (as Virtua Fighter 5 Online) on October 30, 2007, and in Japan (as Virtua Fighter 5: Live Arena) on December 6, 2007. Both versions of the game feature a dedicated "Quest Mode" (where players fight numerous fake players from fictional arcades to earn costume parts), while the X360 version features online multiplayer (a first for the series).
On July 24, 2008, the game received a major overhaul in the form of "Virtua Fighter 5 R". It features a new fighter (assassin Jean Kujo), the return of sumo wrestler Taka-Arashi, updated gameplay mechanics, altered stages (including new stage layouts), and a new soundtrack. This also received seven minor updates (from "Rev. 1" in September 10, 2008 to "Ver. C" in November 25, 2009).
The game also received a second major overhaul on July 29, 2010 in the form of "Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown", featuring numerous gameplay changes, altered stages, and another new soundtrack. It received four minor updates, the last of which ("Ver. B", released on March 25, 2015) discontinued the online service.
The "Ver. A" version of Final Showdown was later ported to both the PlayStation 3 (on June 4, 2012) and Xbox 360 (on June 6, 2012), both including online multiplayer. While they do not have the "Quest Mode" of the original ports, they do have character customization (although players need to purchase each character's wardrobe as paid downloadable content) and the option to choose alternate soundtracks from throughout the series. The "Ver. B" version of Final Showdown was later made playable as a bonus in the 2016 game Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.
Virtua Fighter 5 plays like a traditional Virtua Fighter game. There are three color-coded buttons: Guard (green), Punch (blue), and Kick (red). Players perform joystick and button combinations to create strings of attacks, which can be blocked, countered, evaded, or outtimed by a faster attack. The moves are very technical and require much attention to the character's orientation. Each character has a wide array of unique moves, some relying on quick hits and evasion while others relying on strong attacks and throws.
There are two types of Arcade Modes: Normal and Score Attack. Both work pretty much the same: the player chooses a fighter and progresses through the game before a bonus round with Dural. Score Attack, however, always uses the default settings and contains online leaderboards (for the Xbox 360 version).
Standard versus mode that can be played locally or online via Xbox Live (in the Xbox 360 version). This is the only mode other than Quest Mode where players with custom characters can change their rank and earn items. (Online play uses its own separate rankings for ranked matches).
The major single-player mode in Virtua Fighter 5 is Quest Mode, which is a simulation of playing in Japanese arcades. Players use their character data to travel through many arcades, defeating rivals and winning (or losing) tournaments. There are hundreds of rivals to play against, each varying in difficulty, play style and character data (including appearances, emblems, and pre-fight quotes).
The locations include the Home (which allows you to adjust certain settings and check Quest Mode status), the Event Square (where "official" big tournaments are held), and seven arcades, each with over 130 unique computer players varying in ranking. Each arcade has three free units with an opponent. On some occasions, arenas would have small tournaments with prizes of either gold, an emblem, or an item. Defeating all rivals in an arcade in the Xbox 360 version earns an achievement.
- Sega Arena Coast - Easiest. Mostly beginning players.
- Club Sega Downtown - Mostly beginning and intermediate players.
- Club Sega Bay Area - Mostly intermediate players.
- Sega World Route 101 - Mostly intermediate and advanced players.
- Sega World North - Mostly advanced players.
- Sega Arena East - Wide variety of players.
- Sega World South - Hardest. Mostly elite players.
On certain occasions (when the player has reached certain ranks), the Event Square would announce a big tournament. Unlike tournaments from arenas, the player can retry the same tournament over and over until placed in the top three. Tournaments are single-elimination, and players who lose the semi-finals can battle the other loser for 3rd place. Being in the top three of a tournament allows the player to proceed into future big tournaments. (As well as earning an achievement for the Xbox 360 version, with the exception of Virtua Fighter World Tournament)
- Beginner's Try - 8 participants.
- Amateur's Tournament - 8 participants.
- Challenger's Cup - 16 participants.
- Virtua Fighter Championship - 16 participants.
- VF Climax - 16 participants.
- VF Battle Masters - 16 participants.
- Virtua Fighter World Tournament - 32 participants.
- Virtua Fighter World Tournament Finals - 32 participants.
The game's training mode includes three selectable game modes taking place in the Dojo stage:
- Command Training - Against a non-moving Dural, players perform every move in their command list consecutively. (Though they can skip moves if they find one to be difficult)
- Free Training - Standard training mode with customizable settings such as the opponent's character (and who controls it) and which Dojo stage to use.
- Command Time Attack - Same as Command Training, only you cannot skip moves and you are timed. Contains online leaderboards in the Xbox 360 version.
Basic "watch mode" where players can watch replays of previous matches, watch exhibition matches between two computer opponents (including Continuous and Random Continuous options), watch promotional material for Virtua Fighter 5, and view online/offline leaderboards.
Players with custom character data can use the Customization Mode (which is also accessible in Quest Mode) to customize their character's appearance, emblem (icons that show up next to your name in matches), and pre-fight quote.
On certain occasions in VS. Mode and Quest Mode, battles turn into Item Battles, which contain a treasure chest. Defeating that opponent earns the player whatever is in the chest, whether it's gold, an item, or a disc orb. Whenever players collect seven disc orbs, they will receive a special item. Players can use gold to buy new clothing items for their character in the Item Shop.
Each character data in offline mode (and gamertag in online mode) start off as the lowest ranking: Tenth Kyu. As they defeat opponents of similar ranking, their experience bar fills. As they get defeated by opponents of similar ranking, their experience bar drains. When their experience bar is nearly full or empty, they will fight a Ranking Match, which indicates whether winning will promote them or losing will demote them. The ranks are the following (in order):
- Tenth Kyu, Ninth Kyu, Eighth Kyu, ..., First Kyu
- First Dan, Second Dan, Third Dan, ..., Tenth Dan
- Master (must defeat five Tenth Dans in a row to be promoted, lose to one and get demoted)
- Defender (<70% win rate) / Hunter (70%-80% win rate) / Warrior (>80% win rate)
- Enforcer (<70% win rate) / Raider (70%-80% win rate) / Veteran (>80% win rate)
- Sentinel (<70% win rate) / Barbarian (70%-80% win rate) / Gladiator (>80% win rate)
- Protector (<70% win rate) / Assassin (70%-80% win rate) / Vindicator (>80% win rate)
- Guardian (<70% win rate) / Slayer (70%-80% win rate) / Avenger (>80% win rate)
- Paladin (<70% win rate) / Berserker (70%-80% win rate) / Vanquisher (>80% win rate)
- Liberator (<70% win rate) / Destroyer (70%-80% win rate) / Conqueror (>80% win rate)
- Eileen (Opera dancer from China, fights with "Monkey Fist" kung fu)
- El Blaze (Professional wrestler from Mexico, fights with lucha libre)
- Jean Kujo (Assassin from France, fights with karate, added in Virtua Fighter 5 R)
- Taka-Arashi (Sumo wrestler from Japan, fights with sumo, added in Virtua Fighter 5 R and returns from Virtua Fighter 3)
- Akira Yuki (Martial arts teacher from Japan, fights with "Eight Extremities Fist" kung fu)
- Kage-Maru (Ninja from Japan, fights with jujutsu)
- Jacky Bryant (Indy car driver from the United States, fights with jeet kune do)
- Sarah Bryant (College student from the United States, fights with hybrid martial arts)
- Pai Chan (Movie star from Hong Kong, fights with "Lost Track Fist" kung fu)
- Lau Chan (Cook from China, fights with "Tiger-Swallow Fist" kung fu)
- Wolf Hawkfield (Professional wrestler from Canada, fights with professional wrestling)
- Jeffry McWild (Fisherman from Australia, fights with pancratium)
- Shun-Di (Herbal doctor from China, fights with "Drunken Fist" kung fu)
- Lion Rafale (College student from France, fights with "Praying Mantis Fist" kung fu)
- Aoi Umenokoji (College student from Japan, fights with aiki-jujutsu)
- Lei-Fei (Monk from China, fights with Shaolin kung fu)
- Vanessa Lewis (Security guard with an unknown origin, fights with vale tudo)
- Brad Burns (Kickboxer from Italy, fights with muay thai)
- Goh Hinogami (Assassin from Japan, fights with judo)
- Dural (Mysterious gynoid and the game's bonus boss using techniques from all other fighters, only playable as an unlockable in the console versions)
There are three types of stages in Virtua Fighter 5: Open, Fence, and High-Fence. Each vary in size and difficulty to get knocked out of the ring. Open areas are larger and easy to knock others out of the ring while High-Fence areas are smaller and impossible to knock others out of the ring. Each character has their own stage (though in VS. matches, they are randomized or player-selectable)
The Dojo stages are only unlockable in Home versions by completing Command Time Attack mode with any character.
Open (53' x 53')
- Aurora (Sarah Bryant)
- Island (Jeffry McWild)
- Sanctuary (Dural)
- Waterfalls (Vanessa Lewis)
- River (Shun Di)
- Great Wall (Lau Chan)
Fence (40' x 40')
- Palace (Lion Rafale)
- Deep Mountain (Lei-Fei)
- Shrine (Aoi Umenokouji)
- Temple (Kage-Maru)
- Terrace (Brad Burns)
High-Fence (33' x 33')
- City (Jacky Bryant)
- Abandoned Dojo (Goh Hinogami)
- Arena (El Blaze)
- Stone Forest (Pai Chan)
- Snow Mountain (Wolf Hawkfield)
- Ruins (Eileen)