A lovely present from Sega. Released for just $20 in the States, you get a tweaked-up version of VF4, a great game in its own right, with two new fighters, improved anti-aliasing, faster load times, many new and altered stages, and a vast and ingenious quest mode that delivers an unbeatable single-player experience, as far as fighting games go. Oh yeah, and you can play all the characters and stages in original flatshaded super-low-poly VF1 style, though why you'd really want to do that for more than a few minutes out of nostalgia is beyond me.
Two things disappointed me at first: you can't turn off the silly colored lighting flashes when people get hit, as you could in the original VF4, and VF4's curious "AI" mode has been removed completely. Messing with my little AI trainee's mind and watching them learn and grow as fighters was the high point of VF4 for me: fighting-game voyeurism at its best. However, I can see how most VF fans wouldn't have been too interested in it, and it's true that the AI's save files got way too big (600K a pop), so I guess its removal is understandable. And of course it's not like I can't just load up VF4 if I want to go back to it.
Another thing I'm not a huge fan of here is that character records are all tied in to a single save file on only one memory card slot: two per character, and if you want more than that, well you'll just have to remove your memory card and stick in a different one. There's gotta be a better way they can handle that.
So let's talk about the quest mode. I really liked the "Kumite" quest mode in VF4 where you play against a pretty much endless succession of unique AI opponents, gradually going up in rank and gaining items with which to customize your fighter as you win matches. However, it's true that ranking up could be very frustrating at high levels, as losing a single match could undue hours of strenuous battles, and that just going for rank again and again and again may get a bit dull eventually (I didn't play it long enough for that to happen, thank goodness: I'd just leave my AI fighting overnight and pause to watch them whenever I happened to be going past the screen). Well, Evolution's quest mode gives you many, many more things to do. So many that just deciding where to start can be a fairly daunting task for the Evolution newb.
What things? Well, this time instead of just an endless succession of random fighters, you choose various "arcades" located around the city (Tokyo, I think). Each "arcade" is home to a bunch of VF4:Evo players, each of which has their own character and fighting style. Arcades have tournaments, but before the locals will let you sign up for them you'll have to prove your worth by fighting/winning a certain number of times. While you're working on that, you can also take on little "Quest" challenges, such as throwing your opponent a certain number of times, winning five times in a row, or beating a certain character twice. These really add spice and variety to the huge amount of battling you'll be doing to earn R-E-S-P-E-C-T among the virtual arcade elite. The tournaments, of course, are incredibly tense experiences, and winning a tourney gives you a real sense of "I kick ASS!" There are also larger all-city contests where the creme-de-la-creme of the little virtual VF4:Evo world get together for massive bracketed beat-downs.
All the while you're earning money and unlocking various prizes with which to pimp out your character. I've only just started wading through the ranks in the second arcade and already I've got my Brad Burns (one of the rather unfortunately Tekken-ish-looking but very nicely-playing new characters, with some neat K-1 moves) a massive golden mohawk, pretty much the epitome of style as far as I'm concerned. What with quests and tournaments and all-city events being announced and ranking up and winning prizes there's always multiple things going on around you in this little simulated arcade scene, creating a real sense of atmosphere--quite amazing considering that they make absolutely no attempt to render the action inside these arcades: you just see the location on the city map and then a static image of the building's facade. Maybe next time around they'll have a little picture of the scrawny, bleary-eyed 12-year-old whose Shun just whupped you for the third straight time, that would be nice. But for now this is quite, quite satisfying, and at the selling price has to be considered a public service by Sega USA. Good work, folks, and give those AM2 people a big pat on the back if you stop by Tokyo.
Remember how I mentioned that "Oh yeah, and you can play all the characters and stages in original flatshaded super-low-poly VF1 style, though why you'd really want to do that for more than a few minutes out of nostalgia is beyond me"? Well, launched from Options - Special or something like that, this is actually what was a separate, limited edition release in Japan (and a pre-order bonus disc in Europe), Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary, a combination of VF4:E's characters and move lists with VF1's style and rules. : ooo It is super smooth and removes things the VF series had acquired that I really didn't like: gone are side-stepping (VF3), hit flash FX (mandatory from VF4:E on), and ground juggles (VF4). : D
10th Anniversary's limitation of two inflexible arcade mode gauntlets--you can pick between 10 rounds of the VF1 characters, or 10 rounds vs some VF1, then later VF characters, but they always appear in the same order each time--combined with an old-school VF difficulty curve make the game feel pretty unforgiving.
On Very Easy, for instance, I can usually steamroll through all 10 rounds, and even the "Bonus Round" against Dural at the very end.
But on Normal or even Very Hard or whatever it is, the first at least two fights are *still* me steamrolling--which is to say, they're extremely boring, and feel like a waste of time, not even a warm-up--followed pretty much immediately by a fight in which *I* am suddenly the one being steamrolled; I have not yet managed to find a good difficulty zone of even one fight at about parity with my (fairly low) skill level that I can really sink my teeth into and have some good battles.
And, because the order of opponents is fixed in each of the two gauntlets, at a given skill level setting you will hit the first--and quite possibly the last--meaningful fight, where the AI level crosses your own, against the same AI character each time; for instance, playing Lau in the "Evolution" gauntlet at Normal difficulty, I find rounds 1 through 5 (that's vs Akira, Shun, Lion, Aoi, and Lei-Fei, in that order) way too easy, basically a waste of those characters as opponents; then in round 6 I'm suddenly up against Vanessa, who is suddenly catching or blocking the vast majority of my attacks, and thus creams me.
Now, the old-school gameplay would be pumping (now virtual) quarters into Vanessa until I learn whatever trick I need to beat her--then repeat the process against the next opponent, Brad, who will probably feel completely unbeatable by any normal means, at least at first.
And that's how it was in the old days. But it's much less appealing to me than just being able to play a variety of opponents at a reasonably challenging level. So, I find myself inclined to ditch 10ths two mean gauntlets for the grayer seas of Kumite / Quest Mode / Special Sparring in the more modern VF games.
Also, I'll admit that, while I do not like newfangled VF things like dodge/evade and ground juggles, they do give the games that have them a wild, loose, flowing that 10th and VF2 do not have--these "old" VF games feel unforgiving and smothering by comparison.
Forgot to mention, while the life meters in 10th Anniversary are the old-timey green and red of the early games, someone added in a new, very rapidly flashing yellow effect when life is lost. It's pretty awful, and my photosensitivity just hates it. If I'm in the right zone I can pretty much ignore it, up there at the top corners of the screen, but sometimes I can't seem to stop seeing it.
At least it's so fast that it seems to be near the right frequency for a pair of polarized, glare-resistant sunglasses to minimize. BP
These sunglasses are also pretty good against Evo's hit flash FX, and the little flash that happens when a round win marker lights up. So, maybe I'll just play Quest Mode. %_%
If you go to the city stadium in VF4:Evo's Quest mode, you find an "Underground fight arena" hosting high-rank tournaments (I felt a little outclassed as a newbie 10th kyu, but they let me in--and it doesn't track wins or anything here, it's off the grid man) with weird rules, like walls or falls doing more damage, or fights being a single, gruelingly long round--those didn't do much for me, but I did find the "Hyper Action Battle" mode fun: in this tournament, you can cancel pretty near any move into another, meaning just about anything can combo; it even adds a big fancy combo counter to each side of the screen, and you just go HAM on each other; I wouldn't want to fight that way normally because you can kinda just spam launchers and dangerous moves, canceling them into each other or whatever, but it is wacky fun and a very different way to experience VF!:
What's interesting is the battles in those tournaments are first-to-three rounds--like most fights in Kumite in 4, and Quest in 5--but regular fights, and even individual arcade tournaments in Evo's Quest mode are only first-to-two, which still feels way too fast.
The VF series has some quite good to even great video game music--but not so much VF4:Evolution. Some of it is just grindingly dull, but the track that's particularly aggravating me so far is the one for the now under-construction underwater observation room, where they're playing with stereo and cutting out one stereo channel at certain times, making it feel like my headphones are malfunctioning. UGH.
Also, the colors in a lot of the old stages have been amplified/altered/boosted to try to give them moody or atmospheric lighting effects; in some like Shrine this worked well and gives the stage more depth and definition--but in more of them, it feels overdone, and puts a weird dark or colored cast over the whole area; for those stages, it's refreshing to go back to their lighter, simpler VF4 lighting.
In Quest, you can buy colored items like different hair colors or even eye colors--but then, AFTER PURCHASING, these tell you they're limited to 50 uses (fights, I think). !! Grr. And they aren't items you can equip in the editor, they just go on and stay until they wear off...except that when I bought an eye color one, my purchased hair color disappeared (!!)...and the eye color didn't even show up. Rip. Off.
Also, you can buy the low-poly "VF1 model" versions of characters pretty cheaply in the Quest store--but the description there says they only work in Arcade and VS modes. So...you couldn't use it in Quest? I've been too chicken to risk my 3000 moneys to see yet.
Evo's Quest is pretty much halfway between 4's Kumite and 5's Quest (except for the weirdness of fights only being 2 rounds to win): once you enter an arcade, you just fight and fight, like Kumite; but you can switch arcades to fight different ranges of enemy ranks, and they're much different per arcade than in 5, where each arcade actually has AIs of most ranks in it, despite some calling themselves Beginner or Elite. But in Evo, you can't pick any arcade off the bat like you can in 5 (you have to fight in it until you meet a certain criterion, like # of wins, or completion %, at which point you get an arcade-wide tournament, where you have to place--at least for the first one--in the top 3, or try it again), and you can't pick from 3 opponents; like Kumite, you just go in blind. But in 5, each arcade seems to have 80 (or thereabouts) opponents, whereas in Evo it can vary: the first arcade has only 22 AIs in it, but the second arcade as somewhere around 36.
Evo's Quest mode also throws "Missions" at you: just challenges to do certain things you would probably do anyway, eventually, like beating a certain character x times, or evading x times; you can see 3 of these at once per arcade, and you pick one to have active; completing it gives you some money. ... I find these annoying (and in other games with similar things, like the PS3 version of 3rd Strike--but you can turn those off). Don't tell me how to fight. : P They did not make a return in 5. ; )
I think this is my favorite Jacky! In earlier VFs he felt stiff to me, and in later ones he felt awkward (5) or too on-rails (FS); here he just feels nice and effective and reactive, with loads of good, intuitive striking options. : )
Also good to learn you do unlock longer, first-to-three battles--the first-to-two (ie the winner is the first two win two rounds) just feel too quick, without enough time for adjustments and come-backs.
And I had no idea there were more "Underground fighting arena" battle types to unlock; Seesaw Game is a pretty cool mode, how it can go back and forth...although I suppose if you had two pretty even opponents you'd end up with a lot of time-outs. And man I forgot how crazy high level the AIs in the arena are--good thing the battles are off the record so my undefeated record remained intact after Destroyer womped me. ; D (Sentinel-ranked "Destroyer" was a really cool looking Vanessa!)
Darn that 15 match win streak quest--and that it resets if you go to the same arcade's tournament. : P Anyway Jacky is super-fun to play in VF4:E, and maybe it's telling that my toughest opposition has been other Jackys. ; )
You know, upon reflection I think I'll stop pursuing quests for their own sake: mostly they aren't that fun and not really why I play Virtua Fighter in the first place, don't you know. Some get downright grindy! : o I did want the dough to get that nifty Silver color though so I guess there was that. Oh temptation!
Anyway so this was a full beefy session of me grinding out quests in Quest mode of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution with that Muay Thai miscreant of flying knee mayhem, Brad "The Burn" Burns, from 3rd dan rank! On PS2, of course.
dfK did huge work in this outing! The AI--at least at this middling rank--seems to have a blind spot to it a lot of the time--particularly as they keep trying to crouch--and you can just hit them with it repeatedly!
And then the dfP little low uppercut, and fP elbow follow-up, or whatever they are--you can often loop those repeatedly for really fast chunks of big damage.
* Turns out a "guaranteed throw situation" is just throwing the opponent after they've whiffed (or been blocked in) a big move and are still recovering their balance
***** For one quest, I needed 80% completion, was already at 95.7% completion for the arcade! So it completed automatically after round 1 of the first fight after taking it. ; )
****** Tanktop (black) is an interesting item since it shows that in VF4:E an item can totally replace a major section of the regular costume--raises the potential for further transformative costume items! Too bad it doesn't adopt the (silver) color. : P This one might not be bad with black shorts if I had them, though.
So, I've reached Club Sega Plant Area, the fourth virtual arcade with kick boxer Brad Burns in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution's "Quest" mode on PS2, and now it's saying it won't let me get to the tournament to unlock the next arcade until I complete four quests--and half of the ones it shows me are things I don't want to do, combat evasions or complicated (or high damage, anyway) combos. ; P Why's the game gotta tell me how to fight?
One was *not* doing evasions, which was fine and dandy. ; ) The other was a "quest" to fight four Kage-Maru AIs of 4th dan rank or higher--and then the game didn't give me an AI meeting that description until I'd fought for about an hour and a half. ; P
Just one more high rank Kage to find now, but man, what a way to make a game frustrating. I just hope completing that one unlocks some *less* annoying "quest," because if I have to do those combat evasion or combo ones to get out of this arcade and on to the next...it's not gonna happen, I'll just stick with VF5's Quest mode, which gives you free access to all the virtual arcades from the start, and doesn't have silly little "quests" with their arbitrary "fight this way" rules. ; PPP I don't play fighting games to get told what buttons I have to hit, maaaaan.
Also, the music in a lot of these reworked stages kind of blows. And something like only 1 out of 4 of the item matches I got gave me an actual item, instead of a meager amount of in-game money--not that there's anything that seems worth buying in the customization "shop," anyway. And the one item was a tattoo. ; PPP
The fighting itself was mostly fine--felt good about some of the Brad moves I had going, and right at the end I finally went into Free Training and found a higher damage throw to do (df, df GP), so that'll be useful. Went up three dan ranks, too! To what, 6th dan or something. The ranking up has been going surprisingly quickly, but I suppose it'll slow down if I get stuck in this artcade for much longer, since it only has AIs up to 7th dan. (In fact, it looks like even here it slowed down significantly since I got to 6th dan.)
Tried doing some leaping attacks (up-forward punch) on downed opponents, but those mostly didn't work because there's a significant delay in getting them off in this game--they're much faster in VF5.
Unlocked a surprisingly number of wallpapers in this session, so that was kind of neat.
0:00 - start 0:56 - story 1:36 - Status 5:02 - fighting in Sega World West 20:27 - Short Hair! 31:09 - Beginner's Cup (Sega World West tournament) 37:10 - fighting in Club Sega Bay Area 47:39 - "Blue"! 1:00:10 - Orange! 1:07:57 - wrap-up & what's next!
I like Sarah in VF4:E. = o She doesn't feel stiff like she did in 4, and compared to 5 she maybe feels like she's got a bit more of a ground game outside of her "Flamingo" stance--which is good because here even like 10th kyu AI were crouch jabbing me out of my silly Flamingo kick spam to punch spam, which the AI in 5 didn't figure out until like 9th dan.
Playing Jacky Bryant in Quest mode of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution on PS2, on Hard (or whatever it's called--the harder one) difficulty, from 5th dan rank!
0:00 - Training--a better Jacky throw? 13:50 - Club Sega Plant Area: 4th dan+ Jeffry quest 32:10 - promoted to 6th dan! 53:55 - Quests--looking up "Evading throw escapes" 1:01:35 - "No guarding" quest 'p' 1'21"09 - Counter hit quest 1:35:15 - Wrap-up & what's next!
1'11"56 & 1'12"15 - 3rd dan Kage "Masked Man," near death, picks me up and drops me exactly on the edge of the ring, where my wake-up animation causes me to flop out for a Ring Out--two rounds in a row!! 1'13"02 - Went from 1/2 to 0/2 completion on the "No guarding" quest after getting KOed : ooo---oh man I hadn't even realized until I'm typing this up the next day that a key part of the Quest "order" "Win 2 matches on a row without guarding" was "in a row." In a row??? Jeeeeeeez I hate quests.
I'd been doing Jacky's default neutral stick position (or forward, but he has no forward throw so it would use neutral), Guard+Punch throw, but he does have much more damaging throws; nGP does 25 damage, but down-forward does eh 42 or something; he's also got double-movement-input throws: forward, forward; forward, back; down-forward, down-forward; fb I think did 55, and dfdf did 60, or something. It seemed like a lot of damage. In Evo though, as opposed to VF5, those double-input motions feel like they really make throw take too long to come out, and I had trouble landing them in a lot of situations, so I should probably concentrate on just getting used to doing his dfGP.
At one point I was trying to remember if I'd gone back and played Jacky in VF5. I didn't. And the system throw change I was trying to remember was this change between 4 (and Evo?) and 5, I think:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtua_Fighter_5#Gameplay - "Throw speed has been reduced, from 8 frames to 12 frames. In addition, "Instant", or 0-frame throws re-appear from Virtua Fighter 3 in guaranteed throw situations (such as during an evade)."
So they made throws take longer to execute, in 5. But they're also waaaaay easier to land on AIs in 5's Quest mode than they are in 4's. Like, they're just kind of broken in 5 and there isn't much reason to do anything else *except* use your strongest throw at almost all times, it's just way safer than trying punches and kicks, at least once you get to about 9th dan; maybe if you're a wiz with combos there might be some reason to do those, but eh well I guess I'm not, and throws work way better. It's ridiculous; I'm not really good at VF and I'm playing 6 characters at once in VF5's Quest mode and I'm beating named rank AIs with throws--with, like, Sarah and Pai. ; )
So I'm realizing 5's Quest mode, at least, is kind of broken, because throws are too easy there. Doesn't seem to be the case at all in 4--fortunately...I guess. ; )
(https://forums.shoryuken.com/t/virtua-fighter-5-final-showdown-console-thread/132425/162 - User "EmX" says VF5FS goes back to VF4-style throw system. That could help explain why throws were re-animated between 5 and FS. This makes me think it's quite possible that FS fixed throws being too easy vs the AI; doesn't particularly matter if they did through because in FS, *strikes* are broken vs the AI: you can just spam and break down the toughest AI in FS with fairly simple punch or kick moves.)
Well, I was worried but I did finally get through the "complete 4 quests" requirement to get to the tournament for Club Sega Plant Area; man that "win two matches in a row without blocking" quest was a real pain, though! And kind of ruined my ability to block for about three matches afterward. ; P UGHHH. But at least I didn't have to try the evade quests, especially that one about doing evade throw escape buffering (apparently a big way smart people can escape throws is to do an evade move, which won't dodge a throw, but to cover that angle you input different throw movement commands while evading. : o Oh man I hope I never ever ever have to do that as a quest. Or for any reason whatsoever.) Sigh. Just let me fight the AIs how I want, doggonit!
(I'm especially a little worried about this sort of thing because what with throws looking quite likely to have kind of broken VF5's Quest mode--okay I'm only max of Warrior rank there but I've beaten near top rank AIs with my throw nonsense--it's looking ever more like at some point I'll just get tired of throw dominance and drop 5, leaving me with 3tb's arcade mode--which is amazing as far as I can tell so far--and 4e's Quest mode...which seems good up to now EXCEPT for the ding-dong-danged quests. I mean, I guess there's also 4e's Arcade mode, or maybe just messing around in Quest mode's funky Fight Club.)
Okay well since I broke VF5's Quest mode, here I am concentrating on Jacky Bryant in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution's Quest mode. Hopefully it won't break and neither will I and it'll just be a good time forever! : D Anyway here I go, my Jacky just got to 6th dan last time and opened up the tournament to get out of Club Sega Plant Area, which was a pain because it required completing four quests, and I had to for instance win two fights in a row without blocking ; P.
Got off to a slow start and eh some demotion matches. Would I be able to win through???
0:00 - start 0:50 - Battle on the EDGE (Club Sega Plant Area) 12:35 - Combo Contest (Underground Fighting Arena) 19:05 - Sega Arena Midtown 50:11 - demotion match 'o' 1:08:47 - demotion match -o- 1:29:27 - promoted to 7th dan! 1:51:04 - promoted to 8th dan 1:59:34 - wrap-up & what's next!
It was a good thing I got promoted because right after that I ran into 6th dan Brad "blacksheep," who I couldn't beat. : oo But because only matches against those of your own rank affect your movement toward promotion or demotion, facing 6th dan blacksheep as a 7th dan meant it didn't matter he beat me three matches in row--aside from pride and all that of course. : P
Sega Arena Midtown was intense for promotion/demotion for me because it seems to have a ton of 6th and 7th dan opponents, and that was my own exact level range. Took me just six wins to go from 7th to 8th dan! Four of those being against 7th dan AIs; if I had lost to one that probably would have made it require one more win against a 7th dan in order to get promoted. Kind of surprised it only takes four straight rank-matched wins at 7th dan!
That was as opposed to my blowing a lot of 6th dan matches when I was 6th dan, and so ping-ponging up and down in the promotion/demotion rollercoaster there for a while. : P Sheesh! I felt like I was getting back to being a bit better of a Jacky toward the end of the session, but there's still basic stuff I have to work out, like how to follow up certain hits (back+P+P comes to mind : P--oh and just P+P+P : ppp...heck and K,K or f,f+K), when to do the backflip, when to try punches against certain characters, and how some cool-looking moves actually come out. ; ) How much longer will I be able to put off doing Jacky's 4e command training? : P Well this playing one Quest character instead of 6-8 thing will be interesting, in my magical optimistic mind it will just miraculously imbue me with deep Jacky insight and intuition and everything will just flow. ; ) But eh it'll probably take work or something. : P
Oh and I found that while dfG+P is a better damage throw than the regular (f)G+P (and the high damage df,dfG+P works well after blocking Akira), you can follow up the regular throw with Jacky's df+K ground attack pretty reliably, so in the end it works out to about the same damage as the df throw.
The "Combo Contest" fight club mode I unlocked seems like the most normal one so far. And had the least high-ranked opponents, I think! Hm but I dunno if these Event Square "Underground fighting arena" tournaments scale at all to your own rank; kind of seems like they don't, which would mean that it wouldn't really last as just an alternative to Arcade mode if I get stuck on sum dumb quest requirement in the main Quest mode or something.
Oh huh I should just rename my Jacky to "smbhax 2000" so people can tell which one I am easier. : P
Finally realized consciously that Jacky's forward+P hits mid (crouching characters), and found the crouching G+K sweep follow-up to his down-back+punch low backfist.
Getting 3rd place in the Vipers Grand Prix tournament in Sega Arena Midtown made "new items" "available at the Shop" (1'14"49), and "Old stages are now selectable [Toggle with START button during stage select](VS)" (oh man if that means the stages with their VF4 vanilla lighting I wish I could have those in Quest).
Now that my Jacky is 8th dan in Quest mode of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution on PS2, maaaybe I should know more than like five moves, so I finally knuckle under and go through his Command Training--then try to figure out the backflip kick combo that "Duke" Destroyer-ranked AI Jacky kept hitting me with:
0:00 - start 0:31 - Command Training 32:20 - Free Training - fave moves 37:14 - comboing into backflip-kick 54:30 - wrap-up & what's next!
Stuff that seemed cool: - try comboing into *down* + K or P - after knocking opponent off their feet (with bG+K axe kick, for instance), ub+K (you can mash K if you aren't sure of the ~20 frame timing) backflip kick 'em! - b+G+P+K~dK,K dash back, dash in low to high kick combo - P+K,K(d?)K
1'23"27 - my regular Jacky throw became a wall throw! : ooo
FK is unsafe at longer range, while neutral K,K is unsafe at short to medium range (and both can be evaded, I think, but hey).
Still gotta work out how exactly neutral punch combos work, and how once in a blue moon I get in an extra punch or something in a fP combo; I guess I'll hafta go into Training mode at some point to work that stuff out.
I had a little success earlier on at telling myself to calm down, be patient, and look for opportunities; but I got away from that once I ran into some opponents where waiting was getting me into defensive trouble. Then I had some success against a few AIs with just all-out offensive pressure; then that backfired badly against others--and became exhausting! So I have to learn to be able to shift gears back and forth as necessary, rather than getting stuck in one gear.
I found out yesterday--from comments by Twitch user Phoxx_3D (https://www.twitch.tv/phoxx_3d), in Gruff757's (https://www.twitch.tv/gruff757) stream that in Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, people throw tech not by reacting or reading a throw input as it's being done to them, which has always seemed just next to impossible to me, but by buffering in a throw tech input just after they guard. OH.
~~~~~~~~~ Phoxx_3D: basically every time you guard, you immediately hold p down right after pushing g Phoxx_3D: typically the rule is you break someone's best throw Phoxx_3D: most characters best throw is forward ~~~~~~~~~
(This actually *was* covered in the concise VF5FS tutorial: https://youtu.be/Bj5i4lKjyz4?t=1035 "Hold G before holding P to guard against strikes as well as breaking free of the throw.")
I got to wondering if that worked in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution. So I finally tried the Training Tutorial, as Jacky Bryant. It's long. There's throw tech buffering not just for plain old guarding but also for evading and uh probably for other stuff I'm trying to forget. You can buffer at least four throw escapes at once. It is insane.
In Evo, you have to buffer the throw escape(s) *first*, then you can release P and just guard--unlike 5US where you can press Guard, then also press and hold Punch and a direction (or leave it on neutral) to have an escape ready against a single throw type while guarding (thanks to Phoxx__ on https://www.twitch.tv/dropkickevents for some of that!). So in Evo you have to be sure you're in a recovery or evade or some situation where you can't throw, because otherwise you'll throw whiff and probably get counter-attacked hard.
Evade *is* with just a very quick up or down but it jams on me so much that I have to up,up or down,down to make sure it actually comes out. You can at least pretty safely buffer throw techs while evading, if you're into that sort of thing.
(Evades are still technically just one up or down in VF5US.)
Me? Pretty sure I still hate most of that.
I skipped most of the later stuff--combo practice masochism and all that.
I still can't figure out how to combo Jacky's hold-forward-Punch or(?) forward-Punch to down-Punch. = P
Much of the tutorial is way less helpful than it could have been, just in terms of simple stuff like how things are written and explained--often weirdly nebulously--how it doesn't actually keep the move it needs you to do on screen (sometimes doesn't even list the move or moves AT ALL), doesn't show you timings or inputs, doesn't always let you reset your position, later doesn't explain concepts at all, resets the count if you miss one attempt, etc etc. Are they trying to make this stuff seem even harder than it already is? Because that's certainly the impression this game left the world with, and now it's really hard to persuade people to try VF, because everyone has heard it's too hard. And it is.
(Some of that presentation stuff was improved in the VF5FS tutorial.)
I did pick up on a few things maybe even my stunted brain can put to some use some day:
- Doing Jacky's flip-kick with ubK+G (up-back on the stick while pressing Kick and Guard together) *is* faster than ubK!!! There was a combo that just doesn't work with ubK, but does with ubK+G. So why do we have ubK?
- Should I be backdashing more after having a move blocked? You can't block during a backdash so I dunno how much danger reduction I'd get out of it; I suppose there are certain situations (we're talking vs the input reading AI here) where it would be okay... ?
- The tutorial loves Jacky's P+K,P; I planned to explore P+K and fP+K more; I'm not sure they're all that safe.
- The tutorial says that b after ffK, to make Jacky turn his back, makes the move "hard to counter." Does it? Why? I mean, it looks like it would make it even more suicidal, but I guess I'll have to try. (Does it somehow shorten the recovery, for instance by letting you do back-turned P?)
- ubP just as the opponent hits the ground is a safe-ish option select: if the opponent does a quick recovery, you just hop backwards, whereas if they stay down, you do a "heavy" down attack on them. The timing is kind of tight though so you can still screw it up and get yourself into trouble I think.
44:55 - Protector Jacky "Monichiro" lays a gut punch (dfP+K?) on me, then just sort of gently palm presses my forehead to send me tumbling backwards; I don't remember seeing that animation before, gotta find out what that move is! ... Ah okay according to this FAQ https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps2/563568-virtua-fighter-4-evolution/faqs/35916 , Jacky has a P+G throw follow-up to dfP+K ("Body Blow") called "Kiss of the Dragon."
Ah here's me doing it, just once, in Command Training: https://youtu.be/UK8J1A0qPVI?t=1316 ; I think I wrote it off because the timing seemed tricky--I'd whiffed it a few times just before that. Cool animation, anyway!
Hm there's also "Lightning Low Combo," dbP+K,P,P,P,dK--that looks interesting.
(I think also a move I was wondering about that I did accidentally at some point was maybe P+K,K ("Beat Spin Kick"), a mid punch to high spin kick that seems like a potentially useful move.)
57:50 - Champion Jacky "freeloader" has the roboty helmet that's also in VF5FS (and presumably will some day come to 5US)! I made a costume with it once: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6wVK_W6Gm8
Trying out two new moves I found in Training mode last time: dbP+KPPP,dK, which didn't seem that compelling in action, and P+KK(b), which to my amazement began winning fights in this advanced arcade all on its own:
Akio could squeeze between the two hits of what I'm calling Beat Knuckle Slide, Baby : D***, but yeah it was wreaking pretty good havoc among the AIs. It was funny because Lion has a very similar move, and near the end of our fight, Chibita and I were just trading them back and forth. : P
Still need practice with that two-neutral-input combo, though; I'm totally capable of blowing hitting the K at the appropriate time after the P+K. : PP
*** P+K is "Beat Knuckle," P+KK is "Beat Spin Kick," and P+KKb is "Short Slide Shuffle," officially : P
* Akio is the first Hero-ranked opponent I've fought; I think the virtuafighter.com post or whatever (this one?: https://virtuafighter.com/threads/8500-wins-0-loses.7293/ ) that I read said there were only three in the whole game. They're placed just below Champion rank. I'm sort of confused as to what their purpose is; maybe the Hero rank is just there more as a gateway for players trying to rank up to Champion. Akio had all seven orbs, and wasn't *too* tough to beat, so maybe he's a target for orb-hunting. (Oh wait, this guide https://virtuafighter.com/view.php?section=vf4&file=vf4evo_items_faq.html says "you can only stand to win the orb if your opponent can win an orb off you," which means AIs with all 7 are full and so cannot win more orbs, so you can't win orbs off them. : P)
I wonder if Akio is named after Akio Ôtsuka, a voice actor who played a character named "Van Kuur" in some 1996 episodes of the VF anime? : P Or oh "Akio Murakawa," an animator who was apparently listed under "Special Thanks" in 4Evo?
** Chibita, like a lot of the highest-ranked AIs, is named after a real-life Japanese VF arcade player
(I think it was at some point in either this or the previous episode that I got a little confused about the two unique ranks for AIs, saying the ranks were Phoenix and Napoleon--that was me conflating ranks and character names: there's Phoenix rank Jacky "Napoleon," and then there's Daredevil rank Akira "Ohsu Akira.")
As Jacky, since I've finished the main quest, I'm working on improving my completion % in the earlier arcades, and hopefully picking up some orbs along the way:
Three arcades to 90%+ completion, an orb, two underground fighting arena events unlocked, and two quest items, including a robot helmet--not a bad session. : D
(The text on the story screen at the start of Quest mode says:
'One year has passed since the "Worldwide Martial Arts Championship," the Virtua Fighter 4 national tournament... Now, the date has been set for a new national tournament, the "Worldwide Martial Arts Championship II."
To qualify for the "Worldwide Martials Arts Championship II" tournament, you must fight your way through all of the arcades in the city, and make a name for yourself in the local tournaments.
The entire city stands before you in your quest to become the number one Virtua Fighter player...
And to emerge victorious from the "Worldwide Martial Arts Championship II."')
^ Sambo3kyu is a member of the "Special" arcade, and can attack you just about anywhere. When I met her again two episodes later in Club Sega Plant Area, she had another orange orb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmN-o6iZYNw&t=2326s
I'd totally forgotten that my previous conclusion regarding Sega World North is that, small though it is, it's populated by a lot of real jerks! And then you've also got the roving "Special" group people like Homestay A and CarpeDiem who can attack you there.
Homestay A - named after real-life champ Homestay Akira (aka HSA, currently streaming VFeS on Youtube); huge on evasions, really good with throws & throw escapes
10 ft Toss - way too good at fighting right in your face, ridiculous defense
SantaClaus - mixed it up really well, kept me off-balance; good at throw escapes
Mariachi - by far the most Shun Shun I've ever faced, absolutely nauseating to try to predict, able to counter-attack instantly mid-drink
CarpeDiem - hand speed so devastating I was afraid to try to throw her; can hit me out of my bread & butter supposed "combos"; miraculous counter throws or *something*; ('Carpe diem' is the Latin phrase usually translated as "Seize the day")
Post-main-quest in Quest mode of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution on PS2 with Jacky Bryant, messing around in the Iron Fight event in the underground fighting arena area of Event Square.
Also trying a silly new control scheme with no Guard button! Because my cranky old shoulder seems to feel that holding a button down continually is against the laws of ergonomics. : P So I've gone from this control scheme on my PS4 arcade stick (Hori Real Arcade Pro V v2017, connected to the PS2 with a Brook Super Adapter)
where "T" is "Guard+Punch," ie "Throw", and "R" is what I'm calling "Roundhouse," aka "Guard+Kick." (The main action buttons are lower and separated to discourage me from being able to rest my palm on the base of my arcade stick, which leads to me leaning my weight down on it, again tormenting my silly shoulder.)
This eh does also leave you a bit short on wakeup options, since hammering Guard on wakeup gets you on your feet faster, and pressing it while holding to the side rolls you in that direction.
And of course you can't block, which makes things tricky. The real question was, would I be able to get through Iron Fight (a tournament with one single really long round per match!) on the "Standard" difficulty setting I've been using in Quest mode, or would I have to bust it down to "Beginner"? :P
Also: took me a while but I finally noticed that the stages you're fighting in in the underground fighting arena are the Virtua Fighter 4 versions of the stages, rather than the VF4:E versions! So cool! I tend to like those VF4 versions better--and the lighting is usually easier on the eyes. : )
The Iron Fight matches all take place in caged stages--so these epic fights can't be cut short by Ring Out, I suppose. It's fun! Regular matches feel wimpy after Iron Fight. : oo And it seems to be just about at a good challenging difficulty for me on Standard, with this no blocking scheme; I noticed in the previous event, when playing with Guard, that it felt a bit too easy. Not that I can win Iron Fight on Standard with no guarding...yet! ; )
Anyway in this no blocking scheme I guess I'll have to do these underground events on Beginner first, then see how far I can get on Standard.
I thought if I went with no blocking I might drop VF3tb, because that game, on Dreamcast, doesn't let you set up combination buttons like G+P an G+K...but maybe I'll try playing it with Punch and Kick alone. ; )
Jacky Bryant in the Hyper Action Battle event of the Underground fighting arena at the Event Square location of Quest mode, on both Beginner and Standard difficulty:
Yeah button mashing! Lightning handcuffed! I guess Jacky did it. : )
Battle Mode unlocks after you've won all 14 underground events--Hyper Action Battle was the last one I had to beat with Jacky--and consists of game options letting you set VS (player) mode to operate with the rules from the Underground fighting arena events--except the ones, I think, that were just about fighting certain AIs, like all female AIs or the AM2 crew whatever. There doesn't seem to be any stage selection in Battle Mode; you'll get a random VF4 (vanilla) stage of the type allowed by the rules of the event you chose--some are cage match only, for instance.
0:00 - start 1:40 - Sega Arena Uptown 12:36 - "Monichiro" Protector Jacky ;_; 25:57 - "(┌°Д°┌ lin" Slayer Lion 42:38 - "Knockout" Veteran Sarah (VF Sarah emblem) 47:34 - promotion match 54:25 - wrap-up & what's next! 59:52 - (my messed up KOF 97 cart looks legit I guess 'p')
Turned out that neutral kicks from Flamingo--entered perhaps by bK--weren't quite as unbeatable as they'd seemed last episode. = o After a few prolonged trashings I started to realize that the old punch punch punch from Flamingo was needed to keep certain opponents down. I dunno if that's character specific, or even specific to certain individual AIs--but it'd be nice if punches work on Monichiro, for instance, because kicks sure didn't. = ooo
0:00 - Sega World East 1:42 - Vs. "B.T." Protector Wolf - A win with less than 24 striking attacks (Quest) 3:47 - "Tired Shun" Sentinel Shun 7:26 - "Seru Pai" Guardian Pai 23:10 - "Coconut" Destroyer Pai 25:17 - promotion match 26:54 - "Turbo Pai" Champion Pai 31:44 - df,df+K launcher & combo on Lenny ')' 34:47 - wrap-up & what's next!
I did a little better against Pais and Shuns!
Something I hadn't realized about Evo's ranking system https://virtuafighter.com/view.php?section=vf4&file=vf4evo_ranking_faq.html (and even 4 Vanilla's https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps2/466561-virtua-fighter-4/faqs/16094 ) is that besides ranking up or down based on accumulated win/loss points vs opponents of your own rank, you can also get promoted or demoted due to win or less streaks! In the general named ranks, three straight losses will get you demoted, while a win streak of 5 straight wins at the lower named ranks up to 15 wins at Hero rank will get you promoted; where I'm at, Slayer/Destroyer rank, it's a 7 win streak.
So I was on a 9-win streak when I met a Slayer opponent; but I'm not sure if just that 7+ win streak triggered the promotion match, or if it was specifically 7 wins vs Slayer-ranked opponents; it seems like that would take an awful long time and anyway that would be +7 points anyway, so the win streak would be redundant. So I guess it *is* a win (or loss!) streak vs any ranks, but the actual promotion/demotion match won't be triggered until you face someone of the specific rank.
And in Evolution, they got rid of the separate ranking schemes based on win percentage that Vanilla had! Oh! And it looks like it was only two separate tracks at once point in Vanilla. Here I was thinking Warrior/Veteran/Gladiator, Hunter/Slayer/Destroyer, and "Sentinel/Protector/Guardian" were parallel ranking tracks at different win percentages, instead of just a single track of ranking progression, as they actually are--it's just each category has escalating promotion requirements (and at Guardian you have to win a match against Hero rank).
Having gone in a big long win streak in the next episode, but not having a promotion match trigger when I next faced a same-rank opponent, I guess it *does* have to be a win streak against same rank opponents, and the only way it's different than just needing the same number of points (+1 for a win, -1 for a loss, vs same rank) as wins in a win streak is that you could be at NEGATIVE points, but the win streak effectively cancels out the negative value. : P (Not that you can see your current for-promotion points or anything.)
Oh! The AI you face in later matches of Arcade mode is distinctly different from the AI in Quest mode! = ooo
Those "Mission" things come along in every stage once you hit stage 4, taking up the lower left of the screen with their UI while you're fighting; when I completed one vs Lei-Fei before in that stage (land more hits than the opponent) I won a whopping 50 G : PPP : https://youtu.be/uiRRgJ9yz_s?t=354
In clear contrast to the Quest mode AI, the Arcade mode AI:
- crouch dashes: the Arcade AI does this constantly in later stages; the Quest AI pretty much doesn't use crouch dashes (df,df or db,db) at all, and instead crouches (or later, bobs) in place in front of you all the time; the crouch-dashing can still be counter-attacked by mid attacks, like regular crouching, although like regular crouching in Quest, the AI will fuzzy-guard with unbelievable accuracy much of the time; the crouch-dashes make them a lot tougher for Jacky, at least--lacking a crouch-throw--to throw, since against the bobbing-in-placers he can still try to catch them with a standing throw as they momentarily stand up in front of him
- crouches under mid-block endings to what had been my bread-and-butter Quest mode combos: P+K,K and fPPK--the Quest mode AI pretty much never crouches under those kicks, so they're the two "safe" moves I have with Jacky there, while the Very Hard Arcade AI, past stage 5 or so, almost always crouches under the Kick, then hits me with a counter-attack--so my only reliable Quest mode moves get me KOed in Arcade mode!!
- DOESN'T infallibly counter-attack many of the moves the Quest mode AI ruthlessly punishes, so a lot more of Jacky's moves feel actually viable. For instance, his automatic kick from inputting f after a b backdash following for instance P+K,K, was able to connect regularly (although my entering it was always accidental 'p'), whereas in Quest mode the high-rank AIs always block/evade and then punish it severely; the net effect makes it feel like many more moves are viable in Arcade mode, and the AI actually rewards/encourages more creative play--vs grinding away with the same few "safe" moves in Quest mode
Arcade mode is of course somewhat limited in scope; while there are four pre-defined "routes" of opponents, the individual characters don't have the variety of costumes and AI tweaks found among the hundreds of AIs you can fight in Quest mode. And although I was amazed to find this markedly different behavior in Arcade mode, allowing for a more open feeling to the fights, and a slightly more natural feeling than the generally more robotic responses of the Quest AI, it's quite possible that with a little practice I may find other robotic tendencies in Arcade--or find it's just a little too easy. For instance, after needing some continues against mid-stage opponents Lei-Fei, Sarah, and Jacky--and just squeaking by a tricky Wolf in stage 3 (I might have mistakenly said stage 4 in this or some other episode, I'd always thought this Wolf was stage 4 for some reason), and a to-me unusually difficult Goh in stage 5--in the last three stages, I beat Shun and Aoi on the first try, and Akira on the second.
Super-fast glowy-eyed Dural was ridiculous and smoked me, though. = o ; ) I was originally surprised Dural doesn't show up somewhere at the end of Quest mode--but I suppose since that's supposed to be you fighting "arcade" opponents, a Dural wouldn't make sense there. =p
"Replay Data" in the credits (39:45), among regular Japanese names, includes the following arcade/tournament-style handles:
Tried Arcade because got stuck without any moves the ~8th dan rank Quest AI would let me get away with, and am putting off trying to find some by doing Command Training; thought I'd try my home-grown move set against the different Arcade AI. And it definitely fights way different, in fact I ended up having to evolve an entirely new fighting style to beat Jacky! That took...a while.
Basically it was finally working on Vanessa's "boxing" in Offensive Style (I keep calling it "Speed Mode" eh); the first real struggle was just GETTING to Offensive Style reliably without getting flattened first--in the end, it was simplest just to hit G+P+K (I don't have a plain G mapped, but I do have a G+P "throw" button, so I press throw+K) as soon as the round started, even if that meant taking a hit--fortunately, the AI doesn't tend to unload its biggest combos on you right then; and even if you get hit before you can see the switch happen, if you hit the keys clean, it should have worked, and you'll be in Offensive when you get up.
Then, I needed REALLY fast attacks to get in anything against Jacky, and they came down to:
P,P - two jabs, her fastest thing--standing, anyway df+P,P - one high, one mid strike f+P,P - two mid punches
Could sometimes loop dfPP on him, but mostly it was P,P, those being the fastest, and Jacky leading with his head fairly often. But they don't do much damage, and it really wasn't enough to keep up against his offense! Then I found you can get in a Throw after the jabs! So
Sometimes he just seems to auto-escape all the throws--but you can still push him all the way back that way. You could also try to mix a different throw in--neutral or back on the stick being the easiest inputs to try--but it kind of seemed like when he wanted out, he got out; didn't try a more difficult input though, she's probably got a half-circle thing or something that might work better, if you aren't so frazzled you can't even contemplate attempting something like that, like I was.
And once he's on the ground, kick him while he's down, of course (df+K).
That was pretty much it; tried ffP sometimes on approach but that doesn't have a great success rate at this level, although they don't counter it awfully TOO often... Thought about bP on his wake-up but somehow never quite seemed to have enough time after the down attack, so in the end just had to hover for a moment before starting more standing jabs at his head.
Shun doesn't stand for jabs as much and is harder to throw so that required some tweaks of course; dfPP and fPP came in handy there, also her jumping somersault dfG+K. And Shun doesn't come in as fast as the Jackster, so I could get away with back dash, then style switching usually without taking a hit.
It felt weird just to stand there mashing P, being a wall of jab, but be darned if it didn't work! And then in order to be able to throw very quickly after the jabs connected, and get in a downed kick after, required me to adjust my grip on my arcade stick and get better at the button dancing. Whew!
Now: will it work in Quest?
I'm still surprised I haven't managed to find more knockdowns and kicks to incorporate in a boxing style with Vanessa; none of her kicks I tried were fast enough to hit Jacky, and while she's got a fP+K knockdown, it's a single strike and tricky to hit with consistently; I know she's got some 4-hit knockdown of a kick, kick, punch, punch--I gotta look for that one once I finally do her Command Training--and hopefully find more that I've missed!
P,P,throw doesn't work nearly as well against this Quest AI as it did against the "Very Hard" difficulty Arcade AI; the Quest AI mostly just ducks the throw, and they duck the jabs more, too (Quest AI ducks a lot in general; they like to fuzzy guard, whereas in Arcade they seem mostly to crouch dash instead). So, having learned a jab or two doesn't get me to beating the likes of meltdown and Humanoid, but it did come in handy a time or two against others.
Mid-jabbing didn't hurt my wrist quite as much this time, I think. You DO only have to do one forward motion, then you can press P twice from that one motion...I don't seem to have that down or feel secure doing it though, so now I'm just kind of somewhat gently spamming f and P. : P
Found at 1:44:36 vs "Lone Wolf" that after bP, even if it's blocked--actually, ESPECIALLY if it's blocked--you can dash in and throw sometimes; seems to work better on some opponents than others. Or dash in and ffp or something maybe.
Before that I had had some successful follows to bP with the jumping axe kick (dbG+K), which was great because then you can follow THAT with K, K and you've done huge damage--but then the AI just started evading the axe kick. I have a feeling that throwing after bP isn't going to work on tougher AI, either, but I'll keep trying it a bit longer.
Pretty irritated with feeling like I have only two semi-reliable options left at this level: offensive style ffP (lunging punch), if there's room, and offensive style fPP (mid, high jab one-two); but because ffP is hard (for me at least) (and bP for that matter) to get away with at short range, if you've gone into fPP, then you're down to pretty much one option, fPP--or PP if you can see they're standing and not blocking but it's still really risky, so not really a reliable option. So yeah, just mid-jab over and over until they whip out something that stops it. Hope you're still alive, wake up, repeat.
Still got nothing for Brads, or aggressive Jackys and Laus: they close the distance so fast, ffP and bP don't have time to come out, and they just out-punch my jabs with faster ones and/or far more damaging combos.
I even had Gohs Goh-ing off on me! Gohs!
Got to thinking wistfully of Vanessa's ol' Muay Thai style in 4 vanilla. Her G+K is busted there (the Kumite AI can't stop it) but if I didn't map G or G+K...
No Brads or Gohs there... : P
Oh but you know what was also really disheartening was fighting the AI Vanessas here; for instance, "coldasice" started off with a big double-wall-combo on me (that triple jab thing that I think is a back-to-forward motion of some kind, followed by maybe fK for a knee, hm) that at first made me think okay hey look at Vanessa with big offense...but that was with the wall, and anyway then I found all I had to do was get in one high jab and the AI Vanessas were just toast. Like me. So there is no hope in Evo-land! ;_;