SEGA has just celebrated its 60 th anniversary – happy birthday you mad, beautiful pricks – which seems as good a day as any to reflect on the company’s finest. Maybe it’s OutRun, in all its iconic magnificence, Super Monkey Ball with its minimalist brilliance or perhaps you have been able even examine a little closer to the modern day and employed Yakuza 0 forward as the best use of the bunch. For reasonableness wholly my own, it’s Virtua Fighter 3 that’s my personal pick.

It’s not the most wonderful in AM2’s series – Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown easily takes that crown, furnishing a crisp take over the no-frills pugilism that’s as close to perfection as we’ll get while we endure the indefinite wait for a follow-up – nor is it the most groundbreaking. The original gives that name, shaking up the industry as it did with its military-spec hardware and the move into muscular 3D. You could argue that Virtua Fighter 2 was the series at its most iconic, extremely, capturing the line at the height of its mainstream appeal.

Why Virtua Fighter 3, then? Partly it’s because it captivates a moment in time, when SEGA was still at the peak of its dominance, and when its power was plain to see. This was the debut of the Model 3 timber, breaking handle in impressive way at Tokyo’s AOU show in the early months of 1996 – one of those moments, of which the 90 s had many, where reference is all asked ourselves whether tournament graphics could get much better – asserting that SEGA was at the cutting edge of technology. It’s ground they’d give up over epoch – by the time Virtua Fighter 4 came around on the NAOMI 2, those battlegrounds had apparently moved elsewhere.

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