Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guest Gamer Strategy Guide - Cyber Troopers: Virtual On by MasterFygar

Virtual On is a crazy-good time.  While I haven't seen Virtual On work well on MAME (maybe others have), it works great in the Sega Model 2 emulator. Any way, emulator or original dedicated cabinet, MasterFygar has been kind enough to spend his time trying to help us play it well. Here is his strategy guide... (if you'd like to write a strat guide or just a few tips on any game, just email me)

Also, due to the control scheme of Virtual On, it is a great game to play with a wireless Xbox 360 controller on your MAME/emulator setup.

Virtual On, SEGA’s underrated mech-battle series, took the Japanese arcade scene by storm in 1995 when the original game in the series was released, spawning audio dramas, published fan-comics, soundtracks, figure series, and ‘clans’ that would assemble to duel one another in brutal tournaments. The game was so popular there that an arcade with only Virtual On cabinets, called Tangerine Spur for some unexplainable reason, was opened and quickly became a hit. Tips and tricks and countless strategy guides exist… in Japanese. In the English speaking world, it’s much harder to find an arcade cabinet to play or buy, let alone tips and tricks on how to play it well. The first part is up to you, but I may be able to help with the second part!

Virtual On is controlled with two tank-like joysticks with two buttons on each: a dash button and an attack button. Also like a tank, the sticks can be moved in the same direction for quick movement, opposite each other vertically to rotate, or moved apart horizontally to jump (okay, maybe tanks can’t do that last part). The attack buttons, when done in combination with maneuvers and each other, execute different offensive tactics. That’s about all the game tells you before throwing you into the fray… some of the advanced tactics are trial and error to discover, so hopefully I can help a bit by introducing you to some of them.

The absolute first thing to realize is that, at the end of each dash, there is a short period where the Virtuaroid (the robots you control) pauses and is very prone to damage—projectiles automatically hone, and they will almost always find you at the end of a dash. A big part of the game is developing a rhythm in battle… dashes always go for a set amount of time, unless you attempt a dash in the opposite direction, which cancels your dash and makes an even larger period of vulnerability. Almost always when you and your opponent get into a dashing fight, one person will keep moving for just long enough to dodge the other’s attacks, while the other will get hit full force. Timing your dashes to keep yourself on the winning end of this timing-struggle will go a long way: if you find yourself getting hammered every time your dash ends and your opponent is dodging everything, it’s time to change your tempo.

There are, of course, alternatives to dashing: one very basic technique that works well with VRs (Virtuaroids) that can fire their left-weapon without running out of ammo often (it works best with Fei Yen, Bal Bas Bow, Temjin and, my favorite, Dorkas) is ‘crabbing.’ This is when you hold down your left weapon button and walk either left or right (move both sticks, but don’t push either dash button). You’d think the projectiles would shoot in the direction you’re facing and completely miss your opponent, but the weapons will travel towards your opponent as if you were facing them. The subtle movement you make will dodge slow projectiles and keep your shots very close together, making a focused stream of fire. This works well if you’re fighting a large computer opponent (one of the bosses usually), a stuck computer opponent (they’re not that bright on easier difficulty levels), or a human player stupid enough to dash backwards (NEVER dash backwards. It’s flat out suicide. EVERYTHING that has ANY homing ability WILL hit you).

Another, that is very tricky to master, is the art of ‘rowing.’ Rowing takes advantage of a glitch in the part of the coding that handles turning speed (faster than walking or dashing speed). To row right, hold the left stick to the right, and move the right stick diagonally up-right, then diagonally down-right, repeat (mirror this for rowing left). This doesn’t work for all VRs (mainly Belgdor, though Bal Bas Bow and Viper can do it to some extent as well) but when it does, it allows you to move left or right while gaining the speed of a rotating VR. Like most advanced techniques in games, if done wrong, this only hampers gameplay. Only do it in a real fight if you’ve practiced it to death with CPUs or a dummy player (empty seat on other side). I haven’t managed to master it as my main VR, Dorkas, so I personally avoid it unless I’m just psyching someone out.

Some minor moves that help but aren’t as complex:
-CC Quickstep: If you’re in close combat, you can step circularly around your opponent and literally backstab them by moving up and diagonally (either direction) while hitting an attack button. The timing is key here and it takes a ton of practice, but is very useful (if you can’t do it and your opponent can, avoid CC all together, or jump out of it when they engage).
-Jump Cancel: After moving the sticks apart to jump, putting them inverted immediately (essentially a crouch) makes you immediately land while still locking on to the opponent. This is great for quickly locking on to a shifty opponent (or if you jump by accident, since for most VRs floating around is suicide).
-Weapon Cancel: These are the easiest moves on the list. If you’re standing or dashing, you can cancel out the cool down time of a center-weapon shot by firing a crouching shot or dashing away (and, presumably, attacking during said dash). These techniques can potentially double your firepower at key times in the battle.
-Super Duper Stander Upper Power: If you’re knocked down, you can get up much faster by rotating both sticks in either direction.
-Summon The Enterprise: After the credits, the wreckage of your VR usually just floats dramatically in space. If you rotate both sticks quickly clockwise at the end, a huge starship comes by, picks the wreckage up, and zips away. This does nothing but make you feel cool (contrary to rumors, it does NOT unlock Jaguarandi).

Thanks for reading! I hope this helps if you ever come across a VO cab in public or maybe even get the chance to purchase one! Once you get the hang of the game’s intricacies and get with some friends who understand it to some extent (the computer, even on the hardest setting, gets to be a bit easy once you get good enough) it is one of the most entertaining, unique and deep fighting games there is. If you can’t find a cabinet you owe it to yourself to try one of its sequels on the Xbox 360 or the PS2 port, it’s a series that must be experienced to be believed.

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