The History of Sega Fighting Games
Page 12 of 19
 
After the failures of so many of its own titles, Sega of Japan decided that it had to build on the Virtua Fighter franchise and stop producing mediocre fighters if it wanted to be successful in that market, and told Sega of America that Eternal Champions was not as good as the Virtua Fighter series and would not be allowed to compete for Saturn gamers' dollars and attention.


"Sega of Japan, buoyed by its first ever console success in the Japanese marketplace, believed that it knew what was best for the Saturn and the company's future."

Surprised and displeased, Sega of America attempted to rally support for Eternal Champions, which it viewed as an American fighting series that was not competitive with the established 3-D Virtua Fighter games, and moreover was a success with American audiences which had ignored Virtua Fighter. Sega of Japan, buoyed by its first ever console success in the Japanese marketplace, believed that it knew what was best for the Saturn and the company's future.

Virtua Fighter was released for the 32X in the fall of 1995, and Virtua Fighter 2 was released for the Saturn in both the United States and Japan in time for the holidays. Questions persisted in the media over a number of small graphic touches that made the arcade game look so special, including 3-D background objects such as a bridge over the players' heads in the old drunken man's stage and fences and stone pillars in other stages, and Sega claimed to be trying to find ways to duplicate the effects on the Saturn. Shortly before the game was released, Sega indicated that the deadline for home arrival had made it impossible for the programmers to solve polygon performance issues on the Saturn, and that the game would be released without the special effects but with all of its gameplay intact.

Virtua Fighter 2 on the Sega Saturn
The conclusion was fine for most people, including ravenous Japanese players who bought the game up in droves, but left some American gamers (many in the media) wondering just how weak the Saturn was as a game machine.

Despite its shortcomings, many magazines treated Virtua Fighter 2 with kid gloves because it played quite well and looked and sounded close enough to the arcade version, and Sega had so often been chastised by the press that magazines just cut them a break. Despite the fact that the game offered little in gameplay innovation and less in graphics innovation when compared to the similar hit PlayStation games Toshinden and Tekken or even Virtua Fighter Remix for the Saturn, even the most critical American magazines mysteriously lauded VF2 as "revolutionary." That game, and two others released by Sega of America, gave the company a major shot in the arm during the critical Christmas season, a season, however, that Sega still lost to Sony and the PlayStation.

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