Revisiting Vs.

Talking fighting games, especially retro fighting games, the discussion usually centers around the games everyone remembers. Street Fighter, Tekken, Dead or Alive, Super Smash Bros., and the like. Sometimes you’ll get glimpses of some spirit fighting game like Bloody Roar or the original Dynasty Warriors, but even those are at least partially known. It’s when you get into the WAY deep of fighting games you start to hear about games no one has ever heard of. Games like Kensei: Sacred Fist, Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft, and today’s game we are discussing Vs.

No, that isn’t a typo. The game name is simply Vs. I found the game ages ago sitting on the shelf of a used game store during my college years, not knowing what it was, but intrigued by the game’s cover art. It was immediately apparent, if the title didn’t give it away, this was a versus fighting game. Taking a look at the back of the box, the game is a 3D fighter not unlike Tekken or Virtua Fighter. There’s also this sort of late 90s edgy gang attitude going on too. What’s not to like?

Well, for starters, maybe we can look at the gameplay. Vs. utilizes a variety of fighting stances among it fighters, which allows for each combatant to handle a bit differently. I thought this was similar to something like Tekken’s fighters, but in execution it just didn’t feel quite right. The combos were easy to get a grasp on right away, and I’m sure with more time the depth would show, but it just didn’t feel all that impactful upon first play through. The best way I can describe it would to to compare it to Street Fighter II: Imagine you land a blow with Ryu, delivering a jumping heavy kick into a Shoryuken, but the opponent doesn’t react accordingly and the hits don’t seem to relay the impact of the damage. It was like that, but in 3D. I did only play a handful of characters (and there were quite a bit to be fair), but felt this for all the characters I used.

Harcoregaming101 has a great write-up on the game, and goes much more in depth than I even remember about the game. If you want even more on the fighting system, take a look there.

Polygonal fighters are really hit or miss on the Playstation. While Tekken 3 is a visual masterpiece on the system, the same cannot be said for Tekken 1 or Tekken 2. I feel like Vs. is somewhere between Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 in terms of visual style. The backgrounds all come through well enough, but the blocky designs of the characters clash just a bit and come off looking way more cartoony than I think the developers intended. The big hair and punk colors give a sort of edginess on paper, but when they translate to the game screen they’re a bit comical and extravagant and not as “cool” as intended. I think something like Bloody Roar delivers more on the visuals styling of punk and badass more so than this game does.

Putting all of this and more together, nothing about Vs. really has any true staying power. There’s a cool idea in the different fighters and fighting styles, as well as the gang affiliation, but in execution it just didn’t land with me. Visually the game looked okay, not the worst thing I’ve seen but also no where near as fluid as other later PS1 fighters (this is a year after Tekken 2, and less than a year before Teken 3 and Soulcalibur). The final nail in the coffin for me is that there simply isn’t any one playing this game. Not at the time of release, not in the late 2000s when I bought it, and certainly not in 2024 when writing this article. Longevity of any fighting game, or even games in general, depend on that after release hype and word of mouth. Sadly Vs. didn’t get any of that, and the game is now left in the annals of history.

Vs. isn’t going to keep anyone’s attention more than a single play session and a few good laughs. It’s the type of game you play with friends when you want something “bad” to play and have fun for an hour or two. It isn’t a fighter than needs a lot of attention to get the most out of it. Sure, you can learn combos for each of the gangs, but when there’s no one to play against and no one to really show off your skills too, what’s the point? There are simply better games to be playing other than Vs. But when you want something really different, Vs. is there for you.


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– Jason J

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