Monday, October 28, 2019

Virtua Fighter's Connection to Virtua Racing's Pit Crew | Anecdote

Shenmue has its early roots in Yu Suzuki's 3D fighting game, Virtua Fighter, where the character of Akira Yuki was the basis for Ryo Hazuki and its fighting engine was incorporated into the first two games in the series.

In this short anecdote, a former managing director at Sega when Yu Suzuki was working there, named Hisashi Suzuki - no relation!, recalls how Yu Suzuki took up the challenge of creating this revolutionary fighting game to ensure Sega remained competitive.

The interview was held by 4Gamer, in 2012, although the article was published only earlier this year.

Hisashi Suzuki

Virtua Fighter: Born from Pursuing Reality

Yu Suzuki approached the executive office of Hisashi Suzuki and handed him a single video tape, saying, 'This is something I made for fun...'
Hisashi Suzuki: "When I played the tape, it showed the pit crew from Virtua Racing, but their movements were original and not from the game. It was a demo of animating the joints of human models. A prototype of Virtua Fighter. I think he may fitted mathematical processing to it, and at the time I'd say Sega would have been the only ones with the ability to do something like that.
The Virtua Racing pit crew in action
"I also recall that Yu and his team had been actively researching how to build models using as few polygons as possible."
According to [developer] Seiichi Ishii, who I also interviewed, the Virtua Fighter prototype that he himself made wasn't the one that used the Virtua Racing pit crew. It may well be that later, in order to show Hisashi Suzuki in the management offices, a more impactful video was created.

In any case, on seeing the video, Hisashi Suzuki was convinced that they could build a 3D fighting game.
"In an era when animating humans using 3D graphics was considered impossible, and those who thought it possible would be laughed at, Yu told me he wanted to do it. That's what's amazing about him.

"The proposals that Yu would bring me, Yu Suzuki's games - were all about 'reality', I think.

"Thanks to Yu's commitment to reality, the 3D fighting game of Virtua Fighter was able to be made. The characters in it also all look as though they could actually exist, right?

"On seeing the finished game, everyone was at a loss for words at how great it was."
Virtua Fighter

Source: 4Gamer (March 2019, Japanese)

Virtua Fighter was released in the arcades at the end of 1993, claiming its influential place in history as what many would recognize as the first-ever 3D fighting game.

It's pleasing to see from this anecdote that Yu Suzuki's talent for creating highly-convincing worlds is something that was appreciated by SEGA management. Yu would soon go on to start creation of  his "Virtua Fighter RPG", Shenmue's original form.

Become a Patron!


  1. This picture is not yu susuki.
    he is hisashi suzuki.

    1. That's right, the anecdote was told by Hisashi Suzuki to the interviewer in 2012, about his time at SEGA with Yu Suzuki.