While the Master System died out in North America by 1992 it continued to sell well in Europe and Latin America and as late as 1997 new games were still being produced for it. One of the Master System’s last games released in that year was Virtua Fighter Animation. This was the only Virtua Fighter game released on the console and even then it was ported to the Master System from the Game Gear by Brazilian producer TecToy which is unique since most games the two systems shared originated on the Master System.
The game is a pretty standard beat’em up utilizing a 2D format. Victory in each match comes from either reducing your opponent’s life bar down to zero, having your opponent’s life bar lower than yours when the timer runs out or forcing them out of the ring. Each round has a 30 second time limit with which to defeat your opponent and most of the time this is more than enough. You must win two rounds win the match and move on to the next opponent.
The feel of this game is quite clunky even for a Master System beat’em up although it does look quite smooth. Special moves are sparse and have only a marginally better impact on the other guy than your standard punch and kick. You can get your guy in close and unleash a barrage of attacks which will either throw them out of the ring or wear them down before they can respond. I managed to win a few rounds without receiving any hits back.
As a fight title then there is little here to keep you going if I was honest but the feather in this particular hat is the fact that it plays out in a story. This game is based on the Virtua Fighter anime series and in between fights you get to read caption screens that lead up to why you are in your next fight. This is something seen on few beat’em up games of the 8-bit era and indeed even many of the later Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat games just had you fighting for the sake of it. What I will say is that some people will get fed up with these screens as they take a long time to scroll through. In fact half the game time in total is taken up reading them. I personally think they are a nice touch and set the game apart.
In conclusion, hardly a groundbreaking game but it was uncomplicated and held my interest enough to work through the clunky feel of the controls.