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Virtual On Force Set for Xbox 360

Sega promises online and offline components for retail release of the third Virtual On game.

Screen from the Virtual On Oratorio Tangram conversion.

The Xbox Live Arcade version of Virtual On Oratorio Tangram was a big success for Sega, topping the Japanese download charts in the year of its release and recently meeting Sega's sales targets.

Sega will be delivering more high speed mech combat for Xbox 360 owners through a home conversion of Virtual On Force, the arcade follow up to VOOT. The 360 version is revealed for the first time in this week's Famitsu.

Unlike VOOT, Force is a retail release. But it looks like Sega will be approaching the conversion with the same basic goals of updating the visuals to HD and adding in full Xbox Live support.

Originally released in 2001 for Sega's Hikaru arcade board, Force changed things up for the Virtual On series by adding two to the player count, allowing for two on two team combat. This brought about some new elements to the mix, including a Rescue Dash move which allows you one player to touch his partner Virtualoid to share life when in a pinch.

The home conversion will be based off the arcade version 7.7 and will feature the largest number of Virtualoid mechs in series history -- at least 13, shown in Famitsu. Similar to the VOOT conversion, you'll be able to select from multiple color variations for your Virtualoid.

Expected given the four player compatibility, multiplayer looks like it will be the main component here. The main play style is "2 on 2 Leader Battle," where you split into teams of two. One player on each team is designated leader. To win, you simply defeat the leader. This brings about some great strategic possibilities, as you'll need to strike a balance between defending the leader and attacking.

The game also has a co-op boss fight mode. This places two players in a cooperative fight against massive bosses which would be difficult when confronted alone.

Also included in the Force home conversion is a "Mission Mode" which gives you access to new Virtualoids as you clear stages. This single player mode pairs you up with an AI support Virtualoid whom you can order to attack or come to your aid. It's possible to build up your partner's AI through practice missions, making it focused on such areas as attack or defense.

Famitsu mentions two somewhat mysterious areas about the Mission Mode. It seems that you'll be able to pick up items from the battle field. What these items do is unclear at this point. It also looks like the missions in Mission Mode, while designed for single player play, can also be played co-operatively with another player.

The Force home conversion includes support for two methods of multiplayer play. In addition to Xbox Live support for online play, the game will offer four player split screen. It's unclear if all multiplayer modes work with both offline and online play, or if there are some restrictions in place.

Virtual On Force is currently 30% complete and will hit retail this Winter. The game will be compatible with Hori's Twin Sticks EX peripheral, which should please those who bought the pricey device for VOOT.

[Update 11:16 -- Famitsu.com has posted some (absurdly tiny) screens of Virtual On Force.]

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