Virtua Fighter 3This could be the game that makes or breaks the Saturn
Release: TBA 1998
It's been official for quite some time now. Virtua Fighter 3, currently the flagship of Sega's arcade line, is arriving on the Saturn. The controversy surrounding its conversion has arguably been the most heated debate in the history of the 32-bit system, for many reasons. Sega has begun squashing those rumors, one by one. The recent release of Fighters Megamix has demonstrated that VF3's gameplay could be captured without sacrificing speed or depth. Various branches of Sega have confirmed that Virtua Fighter 3 is not only possible, but that it will be comparable to the arcade versions. Surely gameplay is important, but that leaves the most critical question still unanswered: How is Virtua Fighter 3 gonna look?
The biggest draw for Virtua Fighter 3 has always been the graphics. Since Dural morphed out of the pool of mercury early last year, much has been made of the Model 3's 1 million texture-mapped, light-sourced polygons per second graphics capabilities. It is undeniably the most powerful 3D game board in production.
Compare that to the Saturn's available geometry engine. Without light-sourcing or texture mapping, it can produce 500,000 polygons per second. With texture-mapping, 200,000. With light-sourcing, even less. This doesn't include features such as Z-buffering, anti-aliasing, or trilinear interpolation, which Saturn designers hadn't even counted on. Even the Nintendo 64, the most powerful 3D system on the market, can only generate 160,000 polygons/sec with Model 3 level effects.
How then, will Sega bring it to the Saturn without significant degradation in graphics quality?
It appears that the hardware upgrade route is looking more and more likely. A Sega Europe executive, in Mean Machines Sega, gave an interview which revealed an upcoming graphic card/CD combination. It was retracted immediately, but sources inside Sega Europe still list it as a possibility. Sega Japan has also announced an upcoming hardware device, rumored to be this same graphics card. Sega America will admit that it's been considered, but "it's up to AM2 to make the final decision."
In the end, there will be no way to gauge Sega's final decision except through production. Saturn graphics with perfect gameplay at the cost of mind share, or arcade-perfect conversion for increased costs and a hardware add-on? We'll know soon. AM2 will be making a public statement on VF3's conversion status in March. SaturnWorld will have the results.
Since the VF3 promotional movie has proven popular to people, check it out here.
Large Download: VF3 Movie (13588 K)