Here's a brief history of this thing for those who either weren't there or weren't aware of it: Virtual On was released in arcades in 1995. It's a third-person, mech fighting game with an emphasis on speed and split-second strategy. The game was released in somewhat limited numbers due to the overwhelming cost of the cabinet and the size of the whole unit (which approached half a ton). It consisted of 2 full size cabinets with adjustable seats, a privacy screen, and 2 sets of twin joysticks to control your mecha. Regardless, it was an instant classic and received a home port to Sega's flagship console at the time, the Saturn. No doubt, even if you've never seen a Saturn in person, you've figured out that the default controller probably doesn't look like this.
I first encountered this beast in the summer of 1995 on a family vacation to Las Vegas Nevada. It's been a wild love affair ever since. Back then I threw approximately $100 into the arcade version. It was a great time, and you better believe I got excited when I heard a homeport was coming to the Saturn.
|This is the original copy we bought back then. Ah, memories...|
Now, my family wasn't exactly millionaires, but we did have a Saturn and a couple of games for it (not all the ones shown here mind you), but there was no way in Hell we were getting what was printed on the last page of the manual!
|Hey, who do you think you'd get if you called the number up there?|
HOLY SHIT! It looked like someone had literally ripped the joysticks out of the arcade cabinet! Awesome, no? Back then I actually did call Sega Sales to inquire as to the price of the sticks and was told they went for $75.00. The biggest catch for us was that they only worked with Virtual On. Now, I was 14 at the time, and I had a priority to buy up as many older games as I could to start building our library. I didn't have the cash to dump $150 on controllers. If I had the money I'd be staring at 2 sets of these things right now. But I didn't, so we played with the regular Saturn pads for over a decade, which believe it or not worked fine... Until now that is...
|Boom!... Ok, so there's only one set. But the badass seller did include the original box and manual along with a Japanese copy of the game.|
In summary, it was a good Christmas this year. I didn't technically add anything new to my library that I'm gonna have to defeat and write about later on AND I scored the only peripheral I've ever truly coveted (since I already have an Ascii Stick that is).
Here's the link to the set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/retronick/sets/72157625782094711/