Virtua Fighter V: Final Showdown

Arun Subramanian

Final Showdown presents an unapologetically pure and amazingly deep style beneath its relatively bare bones appearance.

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown

Publisher: Sega
Players: 1-2
Price: $14.99
Platform: PS3 (Reviewed), 360
ESRB Rating: Teen
Developer: Sega-AM2
Release Date: 2012-06-06

Despite the death of the arcade and some genuine lean years for the genre, the past few years have represented a renewed interest in fighting games. As with many well explored genres, there are different styles of fighting games that exist on a spectrum ranging from arcade to sim. While franchises like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter have always contained fantastical fight mechanics with their inexhaustible supplies of magical projectiles and teleportation, others like Tekken have largely constrained themselves to a more subdued approach. But while the fighting game genre has never really included a simulation game in the sense that titles like Forza Motorsport aim to represent driving in as realistic a manner as possible, it's almost certain that the Virtua Fighter series is the closest thing to it.

Virtua Fighter, long more popular in Japan than the USA, is a unique fighting game for a number of reasons. As compared to other prominent fighters, Virtua Fighter is much more nuanced and

deliberate. It's more difficult for the casual observer to detect the styles of play (zoning, rushdown… etc.) that generally define the tactics in the genre. Really, the only observable widespread fighting game convention that it adheres to is the notion of juggling your opponent with strings of hits that they cannot avoid. As such, it's a series that is much harder to get into than its competitors. But its simple control scheme belies an almost inconceivable depth.

Further, in the time since Virtua Fighter 5 came out, the resurgence of the fighting game genre has largely favored chaotic arcade-style mechanics. Most popular fighting game these days tend to incorporate esoteric meters to augment typical offensive and defensive styles of play and allow for late round comebacks. Tag-team mechanics are also very common, tasking those seeking to dig into the evolving meta-game of any given title with attempting to uncover the relative strengths and weaknesses of particular combinations of characters. As a franchise, Virtua Fighter has always eschewed these kinds of mechanics, and as such, it comes across as a relatively Spartan experience. But its pure focus on one-on-one, hand-to-hand combat is thoroughly satisfying for those that can dial into its particular approach to the genre.

The series' most recent full effort, Virtua Fighter 5 was released to acclaim in 2007. As is often true with fighting games (particularly ones that still see arcade versions released in advance of home ports, as is the case with Virtua Fighter), updated versions were released as well, culminating in Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown in early 2011. Now Final Showdown is available as a downloadable title for XBLA and PSN.

In the translation to a downloadable version of the game, perhaps the most innovative single player feature was unfortunately cut. Quest Mode (first introduced in Virtua Fighter IV allowed players to square off against AI that was specifically modeled after prominent VF fighters from the Japanese arcade scene. While some new modes have popped up to take the place of Quest Mode, they're undoubtedly less interesting and don't spice up the single player experience nearly as much. Given how technical a game this is and how full featured the tutorials for more recent Virtua Fighter titles have been, the tutorial mode here seems scaled down as well, perhaps another casualty of the size limitations of downloadable titles.

Despite the fact that Showdown is a refinement of a six-year-old title and that the fighting game genre has seen a fair number of quality titles released in that time, it still manages to hold up, largely due to its incredible depth. The fighting game community's esteem for the title is undeniable, given Final

Showdown's appearance on the roster of the 2012 EVO Championships, the annual juggernaut of fighting game tournaments. There's little question that Virtua Fighter fans will pick this up, if they haven't already, particularly given the budget price and the fact that downloadable titles are easy to buy on impulse. But it remains to be seen whether or not Final Showdown will see appeal among

a more casual fanbase, even those that like fighting games in general. But perhaps at this point, given that the genre has been successfully resuscitated, casual acceptance is not of the same concern as it was a few years ago.

When the modern renaissance of the genre began with the release of Street Fighter IV, a new generation of fighting fans had to be bred. Now that they have been and the genre is seemingly quite popular again, it will be interesting to see how well Final Showdown performs financially. Although the tweaks that have been made to this version of the game are substantive, they are largely under the hood and are noticeable only at a considerably high level of play. Beyond that, as good as the title looks, the age of the core technology driving it does show against the backdrop of more modern fighters.

Nevertheless, Final Showdown presents an unapologetically pure and amazingly deep style beneath its relatively bare bones appearance. There is an enormous amount of gameplay available here for the price of entry.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.