Monday, August 29, 2011

PAX 2011 Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown

PAX 2011 Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown

"VFer Looking to Challenge other VFers." If I put up a classified ad during PAX, it'd probably sound a little something like that.
SEGA gave gamers a chance to play the latest in the popular fighting game series during the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle (Aug.26-28), and though Virtua Fighter may not be as big in North America, as it is in the Japan, the fans are just as enthusiastic.

When I caught the news on the SEGA BLOG that two arcade machines, were being brought in from Japan, and were playable (free) during the entire PAX weekend at Gameworks, I admit I was ecstatic.
In fact, everything else at the expo took a back seat to Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, which required no PAX badge to play. I was itching to get to Seattle so I could get some rounds in, and to see what sort of competition would show up. Were there any Virtua Fighter fans out there PAX? And like a blinding kick to the face, I soon discovered there were.

Not since 2008, during a trip to Tokyo for TSG, have I played head-to-head Virtua Fighter 5 against an opponent in the same room. Online gaming on the XBOX 360 just isn't the same, and the Penny Arcade Expo isn't really known for being much of a Virtua Fighter scene. It still isn't, but SEGA brought something special this year, with an event outside the convention centre.
Situated in the main floor of the arcade, the machines were easy to miss if it wasn't for a few banners, and models. (There were two other Virtua Fighter 5 non-Final Showdown machines on the second level of Gameworks, but they were not free)
I stopped by on the Friday afternoon, and as expected there wasn't a big crowd around the machines, except for a few hardcore members of the forums. Most people travelled from other cities just for this game. Saturday night however was the opposite, being it was the SEGA party at Gameworks, VF5FS was a main attraction.
As usual with all versions of Virtua Fighter, things change, enough to take notice. VF5FS has changed quite a bit in terms of command input, dodging, throws, and general tuning. I personally find it frustrating when my favorite critical moves and combos have been shuffled around. VF5FS feels like a new game, refreshing for veterans, and more approachable for newbs interested in getting into it. That's not to say the game has been dumbed down for newer players. VF5FS is still quite complex, which makes it all the more satisfying when you learn how to play it.
Though, the best part of about going to PAX is the people, and in this case, it was the other Virtua Fighter fans. I really enjoyed the arcade vibe. Some of the really high-level players were nice enough to offer up some tips, and advice, and for the weekend it was like Seattle had an actual VF scene, if only for PAX. (Shouts to Chanchai!)
I honestly cannot wait for this game to hit the arcades officially in NA, as well on the home console in Summer 2012. It will be interesting to see how this game is marketed, as well as the reaction it will receive. Will Virtua Fighter finally catch on in NA? Even if it doesn't but remains as a game for specific fighting gamers, I'd still be very pleased to play it.
Check out the Live-stream from the event and some pics!

Watch live video from IPLAYWINNER on

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