Preview: Virtua Quest (PS2, GC)

Publisher: Sega / Developer: Sega AM2 / Genre: Action RPG / Release Date: 01/11/2005

In Virtua Quest, players learn the way of the Virtua Fighter. The hero, Sei, unlocks Virtua Souls in the Virtual World. Virtua. Virtua McVirt Virt.

Sei, as it turns out, is the only one who can unlock the Virtua Souls, and soon his humdrum life of learning the ancient ways of the fighter and hunting for treasure online [shhh, donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t ask, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the future!] are interrupted as an evil syndicate called Judgement 6 takes note of his power and attempts to manipulate him into helping them rearrange the innerworkings of the Virtual World.

Virtua Quest is an action-rpg with emphasis on the action.

Sei will have over 45 combative skills to aid him, each attained with the acquisition of a Virtua Soul. Each Virtua Soul is the spirit of the Virtua Fighters that initially made the franchise so moderately popular [well come on, you may love Virtua Fighters, but it didnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t exactly thrill the public. Which isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t a total dig, as the public enjoys American Idol and The DaVinci Code]. An â┚¬ËœEnergy Wireâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ in the Virtual World pulls enemies and the hero around, allowing for complex combat moves. Swinging enemies and Sei around allows the player to continue combos while the enemy is suspended with the wire.

The game is an Action/RPG, but focuses mainly on the action. The RPG comes through with cinematic pieces pushing the plot forward, interactions with NPCs and the ability to level the character. The character is powered up by collecting Data Chips and then trading them in in the Real World.

Face off against familiar Virtua Fighters to hone your skills, like Akira.

While the story, style, and general Questiness of the game will probably horrify most fans of the Virtua Fighter series, the goal seems to be more appealing to that ooey gooey good tween portion of the population while drawing in those weak to the nostalgia factor. Gaining a Virtua Soul involves facing off against the fighters… but also kicking their asses. And no offense Sei, but I canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t help but think Akira would have wiped the Virtual Floor with you.

Nothing spectacular, the graphics are cartoony and colourful. Sounds and characters are drawn from the Virtua Fighter original series, although Sei is certainly separate in design.

The game’s quite the departure. Should be interesting to see fan response.

Sega America pins the release about a month from now [Jaunary 2005] on the Playstation 2 and the Gamecube. So depending on what kind of Virtua fan you are, you only have a little while to pine, or to begin gathering pitchforks and torches.