Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram


AM R&D Dept. #3





Release Date: 

Japan - Spring 1998
Europe - Summer 1998


2 x Model 3 Step 2


3D Mech / Shoot'em up

Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram (VOOT for short) was released in Japan around about the end of March and beginning of April. Initially it was only released to arcade houses owned by Sega (the Sega High Tech Lands) but has recently filtered down to the other arcades here, which means it will be released overseas soon.

For those few of you that don't know what Virtual On is, let me elucidate. Its a 3d battle game using mech. warriors (giant human shaped robots) known as Virtualoids (VR). Although robot battle games common to PC's tend to be a little slow and static, VOOT is high paced action style game, that appeals to a wide range of players with its simple controllability and high-level graphics.

Whenever I play a game of VOOT (or VO) I cant help but feel the game creators must of watched Macros when they were little kids. This particular Japanese animation had a video game that pilots practised on which is very much like VOOT.

Moon Gate's awakening was an unnatural happening, a gigantic farce. Using the DNA company, O.M.G. (Operation Moon Gate) became a weapon of vast destruction but from the disentangled DNA, RNA (a force who were confronting them) gained a sudden increase in power. Both of them claimed right of ownership to the nine industrial plants from the strongpoint of their Virtuaroid development. However, no one saw the signs of their convergence as they fought around the plants. In the year V.C.a4, the reality was that they were finally approaching the climax of their war. Suddenly however, the nineth plant which held the main system of the TANGRAM (Space Time Causation Control Mechanism) vanished from the normal space-time continuum! Considering that it had the ability to operate the Moon Gate, the loss of this plant was the advent of catastrophic danger to Earth. You must search for Tangram! The person who is able to discover and possess the missing nineth plant will certainly be able to seize the initiative in the war's stalemate situation. Both factions, DNA and RNA posses Virtuaroid cyber troopers. However, every area of their comprehensive reorganisation has evolved on a scale that has never been seen before! Now the curtain has been ripped down and the act begins for a new battle!"

VOOT retains the same flight stick and button layout as the original VO. We still have our twin flight sticks equipped with one dash button and one trigger on each of them. No new buttons or controls were added. However, there are many more moves available to each VR through the use of different combinations of pressing or holding the controls.

Each character has 6 new moves minimum on top of there basic three weapons. Most of the moves can easily be figured out, others not. Cool new moves include Temjins Electric Surfboard, Cyphers Jet Transformer, Angelins Double Dragon, Raidens Electric Cage and Aphrimid S Drop Kick Bomb.

Display: The game displays more information than VO. This includes:
  • clock
  • energy gauge
  • endurance gauge (both bar and percent display)
  • weapon gauges
lock-on (with an updated appearance) statistical display of how the player fought, i.e. percentages for the number of times they blocked, got hit, hit the enemy, ran away, etc. Arena sizes are easily 40% bigger than in VO. Cool arenas include the Underwater Arena and the Moving Arena. They have made full use of lighting and shading effects also.

Melee: throws and kicks have been added to close combat. They are executed by pressing a dash button and a trigger at the same time. The VRs will have throws which also require a flight stick input, though nothing more specific is known about them. Each VR will have a number of throws available.

Air Combat: air combat has been added. VRscan participate in melee from above by jumping slightly and bringing their melee weapons crashing down on the opponent's head. The amount of time each VR can spend in the air will be increased.

Turbo Shot: a Turbo Shot will be available to each VR. This weapon is a high-powered shot which requires both charge time and for the VR to stand still in order to fire it. It is activated by pressing both the right trigger and right dash button at the same time. The Turbo Shot also has no homing properties; like Raiden's Standing Lasers in VO1, players must manually aim the Turbo Shot by using the crosshairs in the center of the screen.

Crouch Shots: crouch shots have been powered up. Also, the longer you hold down the button, the more powerful the shot will be. But, it also takes longer to fire.

Air Dashing: Along with fighting in the air, VRs can now dash through the air.

VOOT has a total of twelve selectable VRs in all to play. The 8 original have been included plus 4 more new characters. All the characters have had a face lift. Some have been changed so much that there almost unrecognisable. They are total 11 mechs to play wit:
  • Fei-Yen kn (new Fei-Yen)
  • Grys-Vok (the new Belgdor)
  • Cypher (the new Viper)
  • Apharmid S
  • Aphramid B (the new Apharmids)
  • Raiden
  • Bal-Bados (the new Bal Bas Bow)
  • Dordray (the new Dorkas)
  • Specniff
  • Angelan
The final VR in VO is now the first unknown (bigger and bader) in VOOT. The final unknown (Oratorio Tangram) is so big its a planet. There is also one more new character we just call the doppelganger. This character randomly appears throughout the game. He will absorb the VR you are fighting and take over the battle. He is completely made up of polygons and shoots simple shapes as weapons at you. His fast and strong and only ever appears in 1 round. At first we thought it was a computer error but then when he consistently appeared through the game we knew he was a new character. You can tell when his going to appear buy watching your enemy VR's targeting arrow. If it points straight up but the character is not jumping, he will transform.

All of the robots were designed by the well-known anime artist Hajime Katoki. He designed mechs for the Anime Gundam and Patlabor. Temujin looks a lot like a Gundam. Look closely at the back of each VR. They each have a Saturn attached to them. When they jump/fly a CD pops out and spins. Enough of this inane banter. Go play the game.

Review By: Mikali Mifsud