Virtua Cop (バーチャコップ, Bācha Koppu) (known as Virtua Squad for the North American Windows version) is a 1994 light gun shooter game developed by Sega AM2 and designed by Yu Suzuki. It was originally an arcade game on the Sega Model 2 system, and was ported to the Sega Saturn in 1995 and Windows in 1996. The Saturn version included support for both the Virtua Gun and Saturn mouse, as well as a new "Training Mode" which consists of a randomly generated shooting gallery.[7]

Virtua Cop
Japanese arcade flyer for Virtua Cop
Developer(s)Sega AM2
Acclaim Entertainment (PS2, PAL)
Producer(s)Yu Suzuki
Programmer(s)Katsunori Itai
Artist(s)Akihito Hiroyoshi
Composer(s)Kentaro Koyama
Platform(s)Arcade, Saturn, Windows, PlayStation 2
September 1994
  • Arcade
    • NA: November 15, 1995
    • JP: November 24, 1995[4]
    • EU: December 8, 1995[5]
    • NA: November 11, 1996[6]
    • EU: 1997
    • JP: October 25, 1996
    PlayStation 2
    • JP: August 25, 2002
    • EU: November 29, 2002
Genre(s)Light gun shooter First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single player, multiplayer
Arcade systemSega Model 2

Virtua Cop was notable for its use of real-time 3D polygon graphics with texture mapping, with Sega advertising it as "the world's first texture mapped, polygon action game".[8][9] Emphasizing the real-time nature of the game, enemies would react differently depending on where they were shot.[10][11] It was one of the first games to allow the player to shoot through glass. Its name is derived from its 3D graphical style, which was previously used in Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter, and later Virtua Striker.

Despite some initial skepticism over its introduction of 3D polygons in a genre that previously used realistic digitized sprites (most notably Lethal Enforcers), Virtua Cop went on to become a commercial success and received critical acclaim for enhancing the genre with its 3D graphics, camera system, realistic animations, and ability to target specific body parts with realistic consequences. It was influential on later shooter games, with 3D polygons being adopted by subsequent light gun shooters such as Time Crisis (1995) and The House of the Dead (1996) instead of the digitized sprites previously used in the genre, as well as inspiring the first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 (1997).

Virtua Cop was followed by Virtua Cop 2 and Virtua Cop 3. The game was later bundled with Virtua Cop 2 in Japan and Europe on the PlayStation 2 as Virtua Cop: Elite Edition (Virtua Cop Rebirth in Japan) on August 25 and November 29, 2002 respectively. It included gallery extras and implementation of Namco's G-Con 2 lightgun support. In 2004, a port was developed for the handheld Nokia N-Gage, but was cancelled by the quality control team before its release. Very few beta units of the N-Gage version were manufactured.[12]

Gameplay edit

Players assume the role of police officers - either Michael Hardy, or his partner, James Cools. Played in a first-person perspective, players must use a light gun (or a joypad in the Sega Saturn version) to shoot criminals and advance through the game. Players begin the game with a reloadable chamber of six bullets and a set number of lives. Taking enemy fire causes the player to lose a life; power-ups can be shot to grant the player a special weapon or even an extra life.[11] There are also civilians that the player must not harm during the stage. If the player hits a civilian, the player loses a life. The special weapon will be lost if the player takes damage, but not if he shoots a civilian. Players can score extra points for "justice shots" (disarming an enemy without killing them, done by shooting their hand) and "bullseyes" (shooting the center of the target circle).[7]

Story edit

A detective in the player's department uncovers an illegal gunrunning operation and traces it back to a powerful crime syndicate named E.V.I.L. Inc. He compiles a large amount of evidence and is ready to take them down, but he is discovered and assassinated. Some of the evidence manages to make its way back to headquarters and a special task force is put on the case. The policemen Michael "Rage" Hardy and James "Smarty" Cools must face that organization led by Joe Fang and his followers Kong, the King, and the Boss.

Development edit

Katsunori Itai and Akihito Hiroyoshi served as the lead developers on Virtua Cop, with Yu Suzuki serving as supervisor. The game's targeting reticles and zooming camera were inspired by a commercial for Pokka Kilimanjaro coffee. Kenneth Ibrahim, who voiced the navigator in Sega Rally Championship, voiced the civilians.[13]

A division of Sega AM2 began work on the Saturn version in April 1995. Along with the Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2, it was one of the first games to make use of the Sega Graphics Library operating system.[10] Saturn port director Takashi Isono said: "We are trying to keep to the quality of the arcade. If three of us agree for improvement, then we try to modify the graphics".[7] The Saturn version features a full-motion video sequence of Michael and James driving on the dockyard before confronting Kong; designer Kazufumi Ohashi originally animated Kong flipping the bird, which Isono rejected, moving Ohashi to work on the training mode instead.[13]

In June, the team displayed a playable demo of the Saturn version's first level at the Tokyo Toy Show. They subsequently began work on the third level, since it was the most difficult to convert due to the large polygon areas of the office building walls and ceiling.[10]

In other games edit

  • Sega Superstars Tennis features a minigame based on Virtua Cop called Virtua Squad.
  • The default gun, the Guardian, can be used in Ghost Squad; however, it can only be obtained by playing the IC Card or Evolution versions.
  • Tiger Electronics made a version of Virtua Cop for the R-Zone.

Reception edit

Arcade edit

In Japan, Game Machine listed it on their November 1, 1994 issue as being the second most-successful upright/cockpit arcade cabinet of the month.[29] In North America, RePlay reported Virtua Cop to be the fifth most-popular arcade game in April 1995.[30] It went on to become the highest-grossing dedicated arcade game of 1995 in Japan,[31] and one of America's top ten best-selling arcade video games of 1995.[32]

The arcade game received generally positive reviews from critics. Tim Davis of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a positive review, praising the polygon graphics, the zooming camera "that takes you all over" the place, the "automatic target sighting which pinpoints" enemies, and the weapon power-ups.[3] Computer and Video Games also gave it a positive review, calling it "a classy title" and praising the 3D graphics, "excellent" animation, weapon power-ups, and the gameplay in both single-player and multiplayer modes.[14] Games World magazine called it an "excellent fun" game, comparing it favorably with the shooters Operation Wolf (1987) and Lethal Enforcers (1992) as well as the film Reservoir Dogs (1992), while Dave Perry said the Virtua Fighter like 3D targets made it a "more challenging and satisfying" shooter.[25]

There was initially some skepticism over its introduction of 3D polygons in a genre that previously used realistic digitized sprites,[23][28] most notably Konami's Lethal Enforcers.[25][22] Next Generation initially gave Virtua Cop a mixed review in 1994, stating that Sega were "recklessly applying new technology to games that don't need it" but that "if players were given a chance to freely explore their mapped-out environments, this game would be a winner, but as it is, Virtua Cop is just an old game with a new gimmick".[22] Next Generation later revised their views, praising its use of 3D technology to introduce the ability to target specific body parts with realistic consequences, which "totally eliminates the hit or miss polarity of other light-gun games and adds a whole new level of detail to the genre".[23]

In 1996, Next Generation listed the Virtua Cop series (which then consisted of just Virtua Cop and the arcade version of Virtua Cop 2) at number 82 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", praising the skill and realism invoked by the enemies' differing reactions to being shot in different places.[33]

Saturn edit

Upon release of the Saturn version, the game sold over 300,000 copies in its first week of release in Japan.[34] Its Japanese sales reached 455,396 units by the end of 1995,[35] and 482,362 units in total.[36] In the United States, it sold more than 500,000 bundled copies by December 1996,[37] bringing total sales to more than 982,362 copies sold in Japan and the United States.

The Saturn version received positive reviews from critics. Next Generation gave it a positive review, applauding the impeccable accuracy of the port, but opted not to give it the full five stars they awarded to the Saturn's other two arcade ports of that month (Virtua Fighter 2 and Sega Rally Championship), as they found that the game, while sufficiently long for an arcade game, was too short for a home console release.[23] Game Informer's Reiner, Andy, and Paul gave the Saturn version scores of 8.5, 8.25 and 7.5 out of 10, praising the game as one of the best in its genre but noting that it lacked longevity for a console release.[18]

Rad Automatic of Sega Saturn Magazine said of the Saturn version: "It's got more depth than you'd imagine but is still mindless enough to be frenetically playable." He praised the effectiveness of the joypad control with its two cursor movement speeds, the authentic arcade feel when playing with two Virtua Guns, and the realism compared to other light gun games: "You don't see thousands of enemies popping up from behind exactly the same barrel ... In fact, you won't see enemies popping up from barrels at all that much, as your foes arrive on screen in far more interesting ways".[27]

All four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly praised it as a flawless conversion of the arcade game, though half of them also remarked that they felt the game itself is too short and lacks lasting appeal.[17] Scary Larry of GamePro praised the realistic and stylish graphics and the Virtua Gun action. Similarly to EGM's reviewers, he remarked that the game is a near-perfect arcade port but too short and completely lacking in replay value, though he nonetheless gave it an overall recommendation.[19] Maximum instead argued that the game is compelling enough to be played over and over again despite the lack of replay value. They also described the Saturn conversion as nearly identical to the arcade original, and remarked that the mindlessness and simplicity of the game make it particularly enjoyable.[26]

Game Players gave the Saturn version of Virtua Cop the award for "Best Shooter" of 1995, calling it "beyond entertaining — it's therapeutic."[28] In 1996, GamesMaster rated the Saturn version 4th on their "The GamesMaster Saturn Top 10."[38]

PC edit

Time Soete of GameSpot said the PC version is jerkier than the Saturn version and less intense without the use of a light gun, but that the mouse control is surprisingly smooth and that it retains enough of the fun of the arcade and Saturn versions to appeal to newcomers to the game.[20] Next Generation voiced similar criticisms: "It's noticeably slower on the majority of PCs than in the arcade or on Saturn, running at speed only on the most high-end Pentiums. Worse, played without a light gun using only the mouse, the game loses a major part of its appeal..." They concluded that the game felt out of place on PC.[24]

Legacy edit

Virtua Cop was a major influence on both light gun shooters as well as first-person shooters. When it was released in 1994, the game broke new ground by introducing the use of 3D polygons to the shooter genre.[39] Some of the popular light gun rail shooters influenced by Virtua Cop include the Time Crisis series, The House of the Dead series, various Resident Evil spin-offs, and Dead Space: Extraction.

Virtua Cop was also the primary influence on the seminal first-person shooter GoldenEye 007, which was originally envisioned as an on-rails light gun shooter akin to Virtua Cop before it ended up as an off-rails first-person shooter. According to creator Martin Hollis: "We ended up with innovative gameplay, in part because we had Virtua Cop features in a FPS: A gun that only holds 7 bullets and a reload button, lots of position-dependent hit animations, innocents you shouldn’t kill, and an aiming mode. When you press R in GoldenEye, the game basically switches to a Virtua Cop mode. Perhaps more importantly following the lead from Virtua Cop, the game was filled with action. There was lots to do, with very few pauses".[40]

Sequels edit

References edit

  1. ^ "News: Connected" (PDF). Computer & Video Games. No. 156 (November 1994). EMAP. 15 October 1994. pp. 6–7 (7).
  2. ^ "Video Game Flyers: Virtua Cop, Sega (Japan)". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Sega. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Davis, Tim (November 1994). "Arcade: Virtua Cop" (PDF). EGM². No. 5. pp. 162–5.
  4. ^ "Virtua Cop Short Stories". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 2. Emap International Limited. November 1995. p. 117.
  5. ^ a b Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Dave, Perry (7 December 1995). "Episode #106". GamesMaster. Series 5. Episode 12. United Kingdom. 13 minutes in. Channel 4. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Sega Entertainment's "Virtua Squad" delivers gaming justice on the PC; "Virtua Squad": a PC gamer's equal opportunity right to arcade-action includes two-player network gameplay". Business Wire. November 11, 1996. Archived from the original on December 5, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2021 – via The Free Dictionary.
  7. ^ a b c Hickman, Sam (December 1995). "Call the Cops!". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 2. Emap International Limited. pp. 34–39.
  8. ^ "Virtua Cop: The World's First Texture Mapped, Polygon Action Game With New "Model 2" 3-D Computer Graphics!". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Sega Enterprises. 1994. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Apprehended! Virtua Cop: Another Big One from Sega". RePlay. Vol. 20, no. 3. December 1994. p. 19.
  10. ^ a b c Guise, Tom (November 1995). "Cop a Load of This!". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 1. Emap International Limited. pp. 42–45.
  11. ^ a b "Next Wave: Virtua Cop" (PDF). Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 78. Sendai Publishing. January 1996. pp. 102–3.
  12. ^ Nork, Christian (July 26, 2004). "Virtua Cop". (in German). Archived from the original on 2018-08-27. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  13. ^ a b Virtua Cop Documentary | Reviewing Every U.S. Saturn Game | Episode 31 of 246. YouTube. PandaMonium Reviews Every U.S. Saturn Game. August 13, 2022. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  14. ^ a b "Cop This: Virtua Cop" (PDF). Computer and Video Games. No. 163 (June 1995). May 1995. p. 90.
  15. ^ Guise, Tom; Lomas, Ed (10 December 1995). "CVG Review: Virtua Cop". Computer and Video Games. No. 170 (January 1996). pp. 30–3.
  16. ^ "Testscreen: Virtua Cop" (PDF). Edge. No. 29. February 1996. pp. 78–79.
  17. ^ a b "Review Crew: Virtua Cop" (PDF). Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 78. Sendai Publishing. January 1996. p. 40.
  18. ^ a b Reiner, Andrew; et al. (January 1996). "Rendered and Ready to Wear". Game Informer. Archived from the original on November 20, 1997. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  19. ^ a b Scary Larry (February 1996). "ProReview: Virtua Cop". GamePro. No. 79. IDG. p. 56.
  20. ^ a b Soete, Tim (December 4, 1996). "Virtua Squad Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  21. ^ Gus; Marcus (February 1996). "Virtua Cop". Mean Machines Sega. No. 40. pp. 58–60. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  22. ^ a b c "Finals". Next Generation. No. 1 (January 1995). Imagine Media. 8 December 1994. p. 105.
  23. ^ a b c d "Stunning". Next Generation. Vol. 2, no. 14. Imagine Media. February 1996. p. 162.
  24. ^ a b "Virtua Squad". Next Generation. No. 26. Imagine Media. February 1997. p. 134.
  25. ^ a b c Perry, Dave; Walkland, Nick; Roberts, Nick; Price, Adrian (November 1994). "Reviews: Virtua Cop". Games World. No. 7 (January 1995). Paragon Publishing. p. 21.
  26. ^ a b "Maximum Reviews: Virtua Cop". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 3. Emap International Limited. January 1996. p. 143.
  27. ^ a b Automatic, Rad (December 1995). "Review: Virtua Cop". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 2. Emap International Limited. pp. 70–71.
  28. ^ a b c "Game Players - Awards - Best Shooter". Game Players. No. 79. Signal Research. Christmas 1995. pp. 15–41 (36).
  29. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - アップライト, コックピット型TVゲーム機 (Upright/Cockpit Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 483. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 November 1994. p. 25.
  30. ^ "Player's Choice - Top Games Now in Operation, Based on Earnings-Opinion Poll of Operators: Best Location Videos". RePlay. Vol. 20, no. 7. RePlay Publishing, Inc. April 1995. p. 6.
  31. ^ ""Virtua Fighter 2" and "Virtua Cop" Top Videos" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 511. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 February 1996. p. 22.
  32. ^ "Coin Machine: Six Receive ACME Awards For Product Excellence". Cash Box. Cash Box Pub. Co. 6 April 1996. p. 26.
  33. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 43.
  34. ^ Hickman, Sam (15 December 1995). "Virtua Sell Out!". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 3 (January 1996). Emap International Limited. p. 7.
  35. ^ "1995 Top 100". Game Data Library. Famitsu. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  36. ^ "Game Search". Game Data Library. Famitsu. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  37. ^ "Press release: Sega tops holiday, yearly sales projections". Sega of America. January 13, 1997. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  38. ^ "The GamesMaster Saturn Top 10" (PDF). GamesMaster (44): 76. July 1996.
  39. ^ Virtua Cop Archived 2012-02-20 at the Wayback Machine, IGN, July 7, 2004, Accessed Feb 27, 2009
  40. ^ Martin Hollis (2004-09-02). "The Making of GoldenEye 007". Zoonami. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-12-22.

External links edit