"So there I was, this guy from a Japanese video game company asking to use the latest, top-secret technology the United States military had to offer and they were like, ‘OK, let’s do it!’"
- Yu Suzuki recalls the tricky process of procuring motion capture tech to develop Virtua Fighter 2.
Last December marked the 20th anniversary of Virtua Fighter
's release, and to celebrate Sega launched a commemorative website
replete with fresh commentary on the franchise from notable Japanese developers.
The interviews were published in Japanese, but a fan of the series has taken the time to translate them into English and publish them to a public forum
They offer insight into the impact Virtua Fighter
had on the Japanese game industry and the fighting game community as a whole, as well as some interesting background on how the series was born thanks to new commentary from Virtua Fighter
director Yu Suzuki.
"To be perfectly honest, I really wanted to do a soccer or rugby game next, but being team sports there were just too many characters to animate and we simply didn’t have the computing power to make it work," said Suzuki, who was eager to work on another 3D game after releasing Virtua Racing
in 1992. "Eventually, it boiled down to a question of what we could do with only 2 characters onscreen, which left us with boxing or another martial art."
And to better animate those characters in Virtua Fighter 2
, Sega turned to the American military for motion capture technology that was yet unknown in the game industry.
"With the collapse of the Soviet Union, America's military simulation industry was placed in the private sector so the timing was perfect. However, our budget for procuring a chip was only around 5,000 yen and the chip they had in a jet fighter simulator worth several billion yen, so settling on a price proved to be quite difficult," said Suzuki.
"They said they could offer a cheaper mass-produced chip that was only 200 million yen, so all we had to do was make up the difference [laughs]. In the end, the game was a hit and the industry gained mass-produced texture-mapping as a result."
You can read more of Suzuki's comments, alongside translations of interviews with notable Japanese fighting game developers like Yoshinori Ono and Yosuke Hayashi, over on the Virtua Fighter forum