The Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2 was a testament to the prowess that Sega's AM2 department had when it came to getting the most out of the somewhat feeble (for 3D anyway) system. While the graphics weren't up to snuff with the arcade version, and the gameplay was slightly different (some combos were easier), there's no doubt that the home port was an amazing achievement at a time when arcade to console ports were often poor in quality. Over a decade has past since the Virtua Fighter series started from its humble roots, and now Sega has re-released a new version of Virtua Fighter 2 for the PS2, as part of their Sega Ages lineup.
Being that this is a budget title release, I wasn't expecting too much in the ways of extras with the game, but some things still bothered me quite a bit, because it would have been simple to implement into the game. A training mode would've been great to add into the game, but it wasn't included. All that you get with the game is a simple Arcade, Ranking and Versus mode, which is okay, but some people might find it lacking, especially since it's still $20US. Maybe if the game cost a little less than that it would've been okay, but with a game like Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution containing 100 times more content for a lesser price, you have to wonder what Sega could've done with this game.
What's startling about the port job is that it isn't 100% accurate, visually. Rumours have run rampant that AM2 was using an emulator for their port due to the loss of the raw data of the game. You can tell the graphics took a major hit (due to the emulation or port, whoever you want to believe) mainly with the characters, who look terrible compared to the ones you see in the arcades. The backgrounds aren't as good either, but they aren't nearly as bad as the fighters themselves. In any case, hardcore fans shouldn't expect a faithful conversion of the game graphically, as the textures have been degraded quite a bit in the game, although the animation and sound is fully intact. On top of that, you also have the option of switching between the arcade and Saturn soundtracks, which is a nice little bonus that makes up for the slightly watered down graphics.
Despite the visual issues, this port of Virtua Fighter 2 is completely faithful to the arcade version in the criteria that only matters for fighting games: gameplay. Everything in the game has been kept accurate, to the point where some combos may be insanely difficult to pull off on the PS2 pad. For example, on the Saturn version of VF2, you could do Akira's trip throw, jump kick, Akira's knee, two punches and then finish it all off with a double palm. For the arcade version, you could only get off one punch at the end, and in the PS2 rev it's the same thing.
Included in the package for early purchasers was a small mini-guide detailing combos and tactics. It was a nice bonus to add, especially for those who must've forgotten everything about the game over the past couple of years. So is the import worth a cool 2500 yen? It depends on what you want. If you're into old school games, you can't go wrong, but those who just want a good experience with fighting games might be better off playing Virtua Fighter 4 or Soul Calibur 2 instead. As it stands right now, only hardcore VF fans will be tempted to pick this up.
Virtua Fighter 2 Gameplay (14.3MB), DIVX