Virtua Fighter 3 is the third game in the Virtua Fighter series of 3D fighting games by Sega-AM2 and Yu Suzuki. Originally released as the first title for the Sega Model 3 arcade board in 1996, the game was highly praised for its advanced graphics engine, featuring an unprecedented amount of environmental and character details. Some of the graphical advances introduced by its groundbreaking 3D graphics engine include specular shading, T&L lighting, cloth physics, particle effects, inverse kinematics, facial animation, eye movement, and multi-sample anti-aliasing.
When the game was unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show in early March 1996, Computer and Video Games described it as "the most astounding display of video game graphic muscle ever in the history of this industry." The E3 demonstration in May 1996 left an equally strong impression on spectators.
An updated version of the game, Virtua Fighter 3tb ("team battle") was released in arcades in 1997; this version was later ported to the Dreamcast console by Genki in 1998.
Virtua Fighter 3 played very similar to prior titles in the series, with the exception of the addition of a fourth button, Dodge. By combining the button with various movements on the joystick, a player could attempt to evade attacks made by their opponent.
Another major gameplay change is that now, for the first time in the series, the stages featured stairs, slopes, and even walls, contrasting sharply with the previous flat, wall-less environments in previous Virtua Fighter games.
Two new characters, fan dancer Aoi Umenokouji and sumo wrestler Taka-Arashi, are introduced in Virtua Fighter 3. While Aoi has appeared in every entry since her debut, Taka-Arashi was sidelined until Virtua Fighter 5 R.
In the updated "team battle" version of the game, players could make teams consisting of different fighters and use fight against other players' teams, not entirely unlike King of Fighters.
There was also an option to fight in the first-person perspective in Virtua Fighter 3tb. It was interesting to try, but not at all practical considering the quick nature of fights.
Sega Model 3 arcade hardware
Virtua Fighter 3 served as the debut title for the Sega Model 3 arcade system board, which at the time of its release in 1996 was the most powerful gaming system released up until that time, and it would remain the most powerful gaming system up until the release of the Dreamcast console and its Sega Naomi arcade counterpart in 1998.
The technical specifications for the Sega Model 3 (Step 1.0) arcade hardware used for the game. It consists of three boards: the main CPU (Central Processing Unit) board, the graphics/video board, and the ROM (Read-Only Memory) board. It was also possible to add an optional MPEG sound board to improve the audio.
- Main CPU (Central Processing Unit) processor: Motorola PowerPC 603e (32/64-bit) @ 166 MHz
- Instruction performance: 235 MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second)
- Floating point performance: 332 MFLOPS (Million Floating-point Operations Per Sec)
- GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) processors: 2x Lockheed Martin Real3D/Pro-1000 (64-bit)
- Floating point performance: 1000 MFLOPS?
- Sound CPU: Motorola 68EC000 (16-bit) @ 11.3 MHz (2 MIPS)
- Sound chips: 2× Yamaha SCSP / YMF292-F / FH-1 128-step DSP (Digital Signal Processor)
- Interfaces: MIDI, FM synthesis, PCM, DAC
- Features: 4-channel surround sound, 64 voices, 64 PCM channels, 16-bit PCM audio
- Sampling rate: 44.1 KHz
- Main RAM (Random Access Memory) memory: 8 MB RAM @ 66 MHz
- Backup RAM: 64 KB
- Audio RAM: 1 MB (512 KB on each SCSP sound chip)
- Audio ROM (Read-Only Memory) memory: 16.5 MB (on SCSP sound chips)
- Graphics ROM: 64 MB
- Resolution: 640 x 480 pixels, non-interlaced (progressive scan), Z-buffering
- Colours on screen: 16.78 million (24-bit colour)
- Geometric performance:
- Geometrizer: 2,000,200 triangle polygons/sec, 1,000,100 rectangle polygons/sec
- Renderer: 60 million pixels per second
- Textures: 16 million coloured textures per second
- Graphical capabilities: Texture mapping, trilinear filtering, mipmapping, specular reflection, Gouraud shading, flat shading, anti aliasing, alpha blending, perspective texture mapping, trilinear interpolation, micro texture shading, high-specular Gouraud shading
- Video: Full color texture mapping, tri-linear interpolation, micro texture, shading high-specula gouraud shading , fix shading, flat shading, texture & edge multi layered anti-aliasing (multi-sample anti-aliasing), lighting effects, parallel light, 4 spot light, pin spot light, special effect zoning-fog, 32 levels of translucency
- Special effects: Zoning fog, 32 levels of translucency, clipping, model & texture LOD, fade in/out, 4095 moving models
- Lighting: Parallel light, 4 light spots, pin-point light, specular shading, T&L lighting
- Other features: Cloth physics, particle effects, inverse kinematics, facial animation, eye movement
Optional MPEG sound board
- DSB1 hardware:
- Sound CPU: Zilog Z80
- Sound chip: NEC uD65654GF102
- DSB2 hardware:
- Sound CPU: Motorola 68000
- Sound chip: NEC uD65654GF102
- Features: MPEG streaming audio support, play back music in stereo, stream mono music from left and right channels separately
Home console ports
A home port of Virtua Fighter 3 was originally announced for the Sega Saturn but was never released. According to popular legend, two different versions of the game were developed by Sega AM2, but both were rejected for release by Sega, who had decided to abandon the 32-bit Saturn in favor of the Dreamcast. While it is not known if there are any prototypes of Saturn VF3 floating around, countless websites devoted to tracking down unreleased videogames contain phonebooks worth of information on the ill-fated title, and many hope that the game will someday be leaked to the public. It is speculated that the game would've looked and performed very similar to the Saturn version of AM2's Shenmue, which was also canceled and later released on the Dreamcast.
While AM2 was busy working on Shenmue and the Saturn version of VF3, Sega contracted Japanese developer Genki, most widely known for their Tokyo Xtreme Racing series, to create a version of VF3tb for the Dreamcast. Genki reprogrammed the game from the ground up for Sega's Naomi arcade board (roughly the arcade equivalent of a Dreamcast) using as many of the Model 3 version's resources as possible, then ported this version to the Dreamcast. As a result of this porting method many elements of the home port were changed drastically from its arcade counterpart. Most noticably, the graphics took a huge hit on the Dreamcast, with character models having a lower polygon count, certain arenas having very noticable enivornmental glitches, and, in the original Japanese release, glitchy character shadowing.
The Dreamcast version of Virtua Fighter 3tb was meant to be a launch title for the Dreamcast in the US, but extra development time was spent fixing many of the Japanese version's bugs. The port was hugely successful in its native Japan but less so in the US, where the arugably more-polished launch title Soulcalibur outsold VF3.