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Virtua Fighter 3 is the third game in the Virtua Fighter series. Two new Japanese characters were added to the roster of fighters: Aoi Umenokouji, a beautiful Japanese woman and a childhood friend of Akira Yuki who used nimble forms of Aikido and Judo as her fighting styles of choice, and Taka-Arashi, a Sumo wrestler from Japan. This would be the only game in the series in which Taka Arashi would appear; the series' current producer, Hiroshi Kataoka later explained it was due to the technical implications of having a substantially larger character.
Sega had made several announcements that a port of the title would appear on the Sega Saturn. However, lagging sales and the coming launch of the more powerful Dreamcast effectively halted such a plan. It can be assumed that had the game been released, it would have had significantly reduced graphics to accommodate the Saturn's weaker hardware. Other rumors suggest that the Saturn version might have had to accommodate a 3DFX-powered upgrade card, in order to enable an 'enhanced' port of the game to run that would not have been possible on stock Saturn hardware.
It was the launch title for the arcade board Model 3 from Sega. Developed by Yu Suzuki's Sega-AM2, it was a revolutionary game from a technical standpoint, with its detailed graphics earning widespread praise from critics and gamers alike. Characters' eyes now appeared to track the opponent's position, their muscles could flex and relax, the fighting arenas featured stairs and slopes, and Dural, the female robotic final boss, was made of a metallic surface that reflected the environment around it.
The gameplay also followed through some changes. This version was the first in the series to introduce undulations in the stages, such as the staircase in the Great Wall stage, or the stage set on top of a descending roof.
However, the biggest addition came in the form of a fourth button, the Dodge, (the series had previously used only three - Kick, Punch and Guard), which was used to evade enemy attacks. By pressing the button with the joystick in neutral, your character would move into the screen (i.e. away from you), by pressing the button with the joystick held up the same would happen, but by pressing the button with the joystick held down, your character would move out of the screen (i.e. towards you).
This 'evasion' technique enabled players to dodge incoming attacks, creating opportunities to counter-attack almost immediately. Virtua Fighter veterans were at first resistant to this change, but were soon won-over with the extra strategy and freneticism it added to bouts. The evasion feature would later be used in other 3D fighting games as the 'sidestep' feature.
Virtua Fighter 3 proved to be a success in the Japanese arcades, dominating the charts and surpassing rival Tekken 2. A Sega Saturn port was announced, but the Saturn's hardware could not handle the game and the graphics were forced to be reduced. While both Virtua Fighter 3 and the Sega Saturn were popular in Japan at the time, the Saturn failed to grab market share outside of Japan and Sega's support shifted to a new console (the Dreamcast).
Virtua Fighter 3 was followed by an updated version called Virtua Fighter 3tb (Team Battle), that featured battles between teams of various fighters, one after another is defeated. This "team battle" version was later released on Sega's Dreamcast console, being one of its launch games, becoming one of the best-selling Dreamcast games in Japan. Critics contend that the rush to have the game ready by launch resulted in a graphically inferior conversion.
Virtua Fighter 3 was intended to be a launch title for the Dreamcast in North America, but it was delayed. Althrough it did eventually come to North America, it wasn't nearly as successful as it was in Japan. This may have been due to the fact that Soul Calibur (which was arcade perfect and had dazzling visuals at the time) had arguably claimed to be the Dreamcast's stable fighter in North America.
Other fans considered their favourite VF game to be Virtua Fighter 2. Sega removed both the levelled stages as well as the Dodge button for the fourth game.