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Virtua Fighter 4
  PS2FightingUC  
  opened by paleface at 17:05:39 01/12/20  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Fighting; reg=NA]
           
Still a unique, and I think worthwhile, entry in the Virtua Fighter series. While the PS2 version is interlaced, and has no anti-aliasing, and looks super-jaggy and pixelated as a result, it has an AI mode where you can create and train your own AI characters--and even coach them through the game's single-player modes, or fight against them yourself (and they're separate, rather large files, so you can even trade them to your friends).
 
4 is, in fact, where Sega AM2 went all-out to make Virtua Fighter a great single-player experience. The menus are really cool, and even customizable--hit the D-pad left or right in the game options menu to change the wallpaper!--there's a super-extensive training mode that does a good job of teaching you the many, many intricate moves for each character--and other menus even track which moves your AIs haven't learned yet--and the game introduced what would, in the follow-up, Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, be known as "Quest Mode," but here, in its pure form, is simply called "Kumite."
 
Kumite pits your customizable player character--you gain wearable swag from winning fights--against what feels like a limitless number of named, customized, maybe slightly behaviorly variant AI characters, each with their own rank and skill level; beat enough of them at your own or higher ranks, and you gain a rank yourself. Win or lose, though, the game goes straight on to the next fight, so it really feels like an endless series of matches against a sea of different opponents, at around your own skill level. It's...basically exactly what I want to be doing in a fighting game.
 
Later VFs, starting with VF4:Evolution, rename Kumite and break "Quest Mode" up into separate bunches of virtual arcades, so you have to drop out of fights from time to time to go find a new locale with opponents better suited to your changed skill level. Those games also add more variety to the action in terms of occasional tournaments and things to play through, but they lose the ultimate immersion of VF4's uninterrupted Kumite battles.
 
Back in the day, the fact that, if you lose too many fights in a row, you can lose rank, ended up intimidating me; if I went too long away from the game, I would feel I had lost a bit of the skill level I'd built up, and so I would be likely to lose a rank if I tried jumping back in. In the end, I mostly would just throw an AI character of mine into Kumite and leave the game running, checking in on them from time to time--best "screen-saver" ever. : )
 
VF4 does not force you to have the lightbulb-style hit flash FX light up the characters when they strike each other: it's an option you can leave off--later VFs, including VF4:Evo do not let you turn the flashes off. I'm prone to photosensitivity, so I appreciate 4 giving you the option!
 
If, like me, you don't really like the side-step evade/dodge mechanic introduced to the series in VF3 (at least here it isn't on a separate, fourth button like it was in 3), you can even train an AI and not teach them side-stepping, so you can then go fight them for dodge-free battles. This did, however, prove chancy: the first AI I taught, a Lei-Fei, seems to be almost 100% evade-free; the second, though, a Wolf, evades like mad; I didn't teach it to him, so either AIs naturally come with some minimal evade knowledge--and they definitely self-reinforce knowledge of a move the more they succeed in using it--or he learned it from an AI during the overnight Kumite session I put him through for necessary skill and rank improvement. And unfortunately, while you can tell an AI not to use a certain attack if you catch them using it, evades/dodges do not seem to be moves the AI will understand you to be discouraging, so, once they know to evade, nothing can stop them from trying it again. : P Ah well.
 

 

 
 
  paleface 18:06:06 01/12/20
           
VF4, with the hit flash turned off, is nice and non-flashy except for two things: there's a crumbling Roman ruins stage with lightning flashes lighting up the sky--reminiscent of Sarah's stage in VF2--and a white screen flash just before each fight actually begins.
 
If I'm sticking to Kumite I can just quit out if I hit the lightning stage randomly, so that's all right; the white pre-fight flash is more annoying--it's gone in 4:Evo, although there of course you can't turn of the hit flash FX...--but if I remember, I can just keep my eyes closed until the announcer actually calls the fight to begin. : P
 
  paleface 00:17:29 10/31/20
           

 
Shun Di is the character I'm playing in VF4 now, and I've only just realized that his "drink meter" not only unlocks extra moves--I knew that part but was sort of ignoring it--but actually boosts his overall damage output, up to +40% at its max of 40 drinks; it's a ridiculously powerful boost and it means I pretty much have to play the drinking game if I've going to compete in Kumite--without it I've pretty much been stuck around 1st dan rank. ; )
 
And the thing is, the AI can be really dumb about it: you can use hcb to lay down, then use GPK to drink, but now at +3 to the drink meter instead of the usual +1, and the AI might just be standing there flailing its arms and legs over your reclining form, instead of just kicking you or jumping on you; sometimes it does, but sometimes it lets you get really powered up. Some AIs make it tough though because they tend to attack low anyway--like Lau and Lion, it seems. So it really skews the way the whole game plays.
 
I already had to stop playing Vanessa, Wolf, and Kage-Maru in 4 because of the way some of their moves tilted the game too much against the AI, and eh well hopefully Shun's drinking thing doesn't get too old, otherwise I'll have nobody else left that I want to play in 4. : P
 
  paleface 13:54:12 01/02/21
           
Gosh darn it I got the motion written wrong: it's *hcf* to lay down for drinking with Shun. : P (hcb is his handstand, which is quite a bit different! And I should probably learn how to use it properly...)
 
  paleface 20:06:20 03/30/22
           

 
Forgot the controller settings were stored per character file! = o Although that'll actually help for what I want to do, which is disabling my usual G+K button just for Vanessa, to remove any temptation I might have to abuse her broken-in-Vanilla flying spin kick.
 
Some of those punch/kick combos I was hitting with Jacky were fun, particularly the crazy bP-fP ones, but most likely they are not safe on block and will get me destroyed against higher level AI (oh yeah and they sure did against that 9th or whatever dan Akira at the end) and thus cannot replace the my absent-in-Vanilla bread-and-butter forward+punch,punch,kick Evo combo. The hair-trigger DOUBLE down-forward+Kick (oh my gosh I still subconsciously double-tap dfK! = ooo) makes one of my other like three and a half reasonably reliable attacks from Evo too dangerous for my silly self to use against the higher level Kumite AI; and the fourth most, the dfG+K axe kick, feels slightly weaker here... So that leaves my weird Jacky pretty much just P+K,K, which would get real boring--so while Vanilla is a nice place to visit--yes the attack animations are clunkier, but there's a nice VF3tb-style snap to them--I'll probably have to stick to Evolution Jacky for the most part.
 
Which is too bad because I really prefer the stage lighting here, and the lower rank AI in Vanilla seem to put up more of a fight than they do in Evo, where they're by and large entirely forgettable. The Kumite AI doesn't crouch or fuzzy bob in front of you as you're getting up like the Quest AI does, which is nice. The 9th dan Akira I fought otherwise felt pretty similar to a Quest AI. Aois felt maybe a bit tougher here--they've still got that big two-hit neutral kick, for one thing.
 
Oh of course here you can fight in quasi-Quest Kumite in your VF1 model, which for some reason is NOT allowed in Evo's Quest mode, argh argh argh sigh.
 
  paleface 20:40:15 08/24/22
           

 
In his previous outing, this Akira had been at 490 wins, 187 losses, Champion rank--still 72% win ratio, but one rank and 200 matches behind where he started in this episode. I don't know where those 200 matches went! = o That's about how many matches fit on one of these 8+ hour episodes, so eh hm I guess I must've tried another one and not had the video file come through intact (probably forgot to press record ; ), and then completely forgot about the whole thing!
 
In the first Dural match in this session, Dural has 1 win (and zero losses)--so probably I ran into her for the first time in that lost session.
 
Dural did not appear during the periods in which "Boom Town" had been demoted to Champion rank--so it appears that you must be at least Adept rank in order to face Dural. I have not been able to find this noted anywhere else on the internet.
 
According to GameFAQs, beating Dural in Kumite unlocks her for use in Vs Mode (I haven't checked this). It also seems to mean that she stops challenging that character in Kumite.
 
About a quarter of Boom Town's losses in this session were to Dural. In 4.5 hours of Adept rank play until she was defeated, she challenged him 15 times, or 3.3 matches per hour; at roughly 25 matches per hour among all challengers, that means she challenged about once every 8 matches.
 
0:18:09 - "YS" Emperor Dural
0:26:34 - "YS" Emperor Dural
0:44:36 - "YS" Emperor Dural
0:54:23 - "YS" Emperor Dural
1:29:07 - "YS" Emperor Dural
1:54:40 - "YS" Emperor Dural
2:10:24 - "YS" Emperor Dural
2:14:35 - demoted
3:04:18 - promoted
3:09:51 - "YS" Emperor Dural
3:27:46 - "YS" Emperor Dural
3:43:20 - "YS" Emperor Dural
3:58:53 - "YS" Emperor Dural
4:36:59 - "YS" Emperor Dural
4:48:40 - "YS" Emperor Dural
4:59:51 - demoted
6:25:25 - promoted
6:27:28 - "YS" Emperor Dural
6:41:01 - "YS" Emperor Dural
 
  paleface 22:38:37 11/20/22
           

 
An Adept Pai Chan AI in Kumite mode of Virtua Fighter 4 on PS2!
 
And in all that time at Adept rank and above, no Dural! HM. I wonder if her win percentage at 71% is now too low to qualify. She was Adept with a 73% win percentage the one time Dural challenged her, a few episodes back now. Akira was 72% when he was getting Dural.
 
  paleface 22:04:47 12/18/22
           

 
Pai hadn't seen Dural since the first time FIVE EPISODES BACK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZw-v2xPiHo&t=14890s , when her win percentage was 73%; I'd been thinking maybe you needed a certain win percentage as well as being rank Adept or above to have Dural challenge you--she challenged Akira EVERY EIGHT MATCHES or so until he beat her--but no, she just hadn't shown up for a long time, but she finally did again here.
 
And stomped Pai pretty hard! Pai took a round off Dural but only because Dural juggled Pai out of the thing but touched the floor first. ; ) Although I suppose the last round was fairly close.
 
Anyway, Pai isn't really stable at Adept rank, but it seems to be the one she keeps coming back to--and she doesn't look likely to beat Dural any time soon--especially if Dural only challenges her once ever what three episodes or something--so I'm going to call it here for Pai.
 
  paleface 21:23:20 02/13/24
           
Download added: 11_pc_vanessa.jpg (140276 bytes)
  "Vanessa in PCSX2 internal 4K w/ FXAA & 4xRGSS"
 

 
Playing Kumite as Vanessa Lewis in Virtua Fighter 4 for PS2, and comparing it with Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution, both running in PSCX2!
 
Forgot you can play Kumite without a data file--so I was doing that for a few minutes before I realized it, with no rank up or winning items; faced some higher kyus, maybe helped by a win streak.
 
The flickering effect on the walls of the Aquarium (Pai's stage) in the emulator only happens in the first round. Doesn't happen in the version of the stage in the Underground fighting arena in Event Square in VF4E. There is a bug entered about it for PCSX2 https://github.com/PCSX2/pcsx2/issues/5893 -- sounds like it's a floating point math issue; emulating the precision necessary to fix it would slow down the emulator, although it sounds like someone found a work around, which may be made into an optional patch (in PCSX2 you activate game patches simply by checking the box for the one you want on the Patches tab of the Game Properties window in the emulator).
 
A crazy string of promotion matches that took me from 7th kyu to 3rd kyu in eight minutes (and there was a fifth consecutive one but that was against a 1st dan Lei-Fei who toasted me) just had to happen right as I wanted to log off and hit the hay, didn't it? How do these VF Quest sessions always know?!
 
VF4E looks significantly murkier in the emulator due to its built-in PS2-resolution anti-aliasing.
 
I'm noticing now that there's a huge difference in AI between the two PS2 VF4s. Vanilla's Kumite has always been far harder than Evo's Quest mode, even on the harder of the two Quest difficulty settings--I've hit the named ranks with I think at least two characters in Evo, whereas I've only reached 2nd or so dan in Kumite!
 
But more than that, there's a big difference between the two games in how the AI fights. In Kumite, the AI is hard because it fights really well--it defends well, and attacks at the right times and distances. In Quest, it gradually becomes apparent that a lot of the eventual difficulty--and it doesn't start getting kinda tough until at least 2nd dan or so--is due to the Evo AI's blatant input reading, robotically perfect counter-attacking, and hyper-speed fuzzy guarding; in other words, it sure feels like VF4 Vanilla's AI is just real solid at fighting*, whereas Evo's has to cheat.
 
* I haven't got nearly as far through Vanilla, and I wouldn't be surprised if it has its share of cheap shenanigans; but it sure doesn't have to resort to them to beat me! So I feel much better about the fighting in Vanilla; it's just good, meaty fighting! But it also must be said that there are a few glaring flaws / broken things in Vanilla: the CPU can't avoid Vanessa's P-plus-K flying spin kick https://youtu.be/otK41Sg0J9E , which she can simply spam at them nonstop if she wants, and the CPU absolutely refuses to block versus Wolf, presumably to make it hard for the player to use his throws on them--but it makes them act really weird against him https://youtu.be/cWUzbqgHT8k .
 
So Vanilla looks better and fights better than Evo. Do I try to stick with it? It's a bit weirder, and so relentless that in the past it has simply scared me off. ; D Basically I have to be able to play Kumite knowing that it will beat me more than I beat it, and that I will likely never even get close to clearing the mode! ^ _^ But dang it's some solid fighting; VF never really managed that in any of the other versions I've played, at least for single-player: don't know about 1, but 2's muddy character physics are horrible https://youtu.be/7bSi-s_QeFQ , 3tb's AI can't defend sweeps https://youtu.be/7SvDE_LUlQs , Evo's is blatantly cheap to the point where, in the end, you (well, I ^ _^) can only use one or two moves against them without getting instantly countered with a maximum combo every time https://youtu.be/yZO8Lnw5hFE , 5's can't defend against throws https://youtu.be/WjzLs7uHIKw , and Final Showdown's defense folds under pressure https://youtu.be/1shyoAEY68M .
 
Maybe brutal 4 is the one!
    
 
references:
· Virtua Fighter 2 (PS3)
· Virtua Fighter 3tb (DC)
· Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (PS2)
· Virtua Fighter 5 (PS3)
· Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (PS3)
· Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown (PS4)

 
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