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Cyber Troopers Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram
Virtual On is a series of fighting games by Sega in which players take control of gigantic mechs with a vast array of weapons and combat capabilities in arenas with full free-roaming 3D movement and varying terrain and obstacles. It was originally created by Sega's AM3 division (Hitmaker), with the designs for the mechs themselves supplied by Gundam designer Hajime Katoki.
Cyber Troopers Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram (aka VOOT/Oratan) is the second installment in the series, with a total of 4 major revisions:
- M.S.B.S. 5.2 (Model 3)
- M.S.B.S. 5.4 (Model 3)
- M.S.B.S. 5.45 (Dreamcast)
- M.S.B.S. 5.66 (Naomi, Xbox 360)
All information in this article pertains to version 5.66 unless otherwise noted.
The mechs in Virtual On are called Virtuaroids, or VRs for short. The game field is viewed in 3rd person perspective from behind your VR. There are no complex motions required to execute special attacks in VOOT, as directional input is almost exclusively used for movement.
- RW - right weapon
- LW - left weapon
- CW - center weapon
- RT - right turbo
- LT - left turbo
- BT - both turbos
- CC - close combat
- GR - guard reversal
- QS - quick step
- DA - down attack
- HC - half cancel (see Selective Fire)
- c - crouch
- sl - sliding
- j - jumping
- f - forward (dash)
- df - diagonal-forward (dash)
- s - side (dash)
- db - diagonal-back (dash)
- b - back (dash)
- RW - (stationary/standing) right weapon
- cRTCW = crouching right turbo center weapon
- RTCW(R) = right turbo center weapon (half-canceled by releasing LW and still holding RW)
- df-slide RW = diagonal-forward sliding dash right weapon
- GRRW = guard reversal right weapon
- rQSLW = right quick step left weapon
- DARW = down attack right weapon
- Walk/Run - To walk in any direction, push one stick in that direction. To run, push both sticks in that direction. On a standard gamepad scheme, you can only run; you cannot walk.
- Rotate - Push one stick forward and one stick back (or use the assigned rotation function on a gamepad) to rotate either left or right. The rotation speed for each VR is unique, and thus rotation is more useful for some VRs than for others. Rotation can be performed while walking or in mid-air. It is typically faster in the air than on the ground.
- Dash - Pressing either the left or right turbo buttons while walking/running will cause your VR to dash in a straight line. Both turbo buttons are functionally the same for dashing. The length and speed of the dash are fixed for each VR. Dash speeds vary in speed depending on direction; in general, back dashes are very slow and should not be used in most circumstances. You can rotate mid-dash to curve the trajectory of your VR and assist in keeping the enemy in sight.
- Dash Cancel - Pressing the turbo button while already dashing will immediately end your dash unless you have fired an attack while dashing.
- Vertical Turn / Watari Dash - This is the act of abruptly changing your dash direction in the middle of a dash, which is different from and more pronounced than simply rotating mid-dash. To perform a Watari Dash, simply bring the movement device back to its neutral position, then input a new direction. In most circumstances, you can only change the direction of the dash by 90 degrees at once, though sometimes changes of 135 degrees are possible. You cannot, for example, change from a left dash to a right dash (180 degrees) in one motion; you would first have to go from left to forward/backward, then from that direction to right. You can freely change direction during the dash as often as you want until the dash ends or until you perform an attack.
- Jump - Push both sticks directly apart (or press the dedicated jump button on a gamepad) to jump into the air. You can double-jump by performing the command a second time during the ascent of your jump. Pressing the jump command during your descent will cause your VR to float and take longer to return to the ground. Jumping will also cause your VR to automatically turn and face the enemy directly, so it is usually the best way to regain sight of your opponent when it does not put you in immediate danger of being hit.
- Jump Cancel - Push both sticks together (or press the dedicated j-cancel / crouch / block command on a gamepad) during the ascent of your jump to cancel your jump. This immediately brings your VR back to the ground and is vital when using the jump command to regain sight of your opponent.
- Air Dash - Inputting a dash command during the ascent of your jump will cause your VR to dash in the air. Air dashing is much the same as dashing on the ground, as you can rotate, Watari Dash, dash cancel, and dash attack in the air as well as the ground.
- Right Weapon - Though each VR has a unique arsenal, the right weapon typically has long range, light-to-moderate firepower and energy consumption, and good homing ability. For the most part, these consist of straightforward projectiles and simple energy shots.
- Left Weapon - Left weapons tend to have low velocity, high energy consumption, and various special properties. These include explosives, scatter shots, very good homing attacks, and other unique devices.
- Center Weapon - Press both weapon triggers at the same time to use the center weapon. These tend to have very high energy consumption and firepower.
- Lock-On - A lock-on marker will appear on the enemy VR when they cross your line of sight. When you are locked onto the enemy, your shots will be fired in its direction. When you do not have a lock-on, your shots will travel straight forward and an arrow will appear at the side of the screen to indicate the location of the enemy VR.
- Weapon Gauge - Each of the three weapons for your VR has a finite energy supply indicated by the left, right, and center gauges at the bottom of your screen. This energy is depleted whenever you fire a weapon and automatically recharges after use. Different weapons have different energy consumption and recharge rates.
- V Armor - The V Armor system allows each VR to deflect attacks with varying degrees of effectiveness. If your shots are simply bouncing off of the enemy, then you are not piercing their armor. VRs with strong armor are unfazed by all but strong or close-range attacks; VRs with weak armor can only deflect weak attacks fired from long distances. (The exact distance between you and the enemy is marked next to the crosshair at the center of the screen.) Attacks cannot be partially-deflected; either the V Armor completely repels the attack (causing no damage), or the attack fully pierces the armor (causing full damage). V Armor is typically less effective during a dash or a jump but more effective during a crouch attack. Specific attacks are capable of stripping away the enemy's V Armor, and the remaining V Armor is indicated on the bottom-right corner of your screen (your VR in orange, enemy VR in green). V Armor varies in strength from VR to VR and is separate from HP (total health).
- Hit/Damage Indicators - When your attack successfully hits the enemy and inflicts damage, a red "HIT!!" indicator will blink below your weapon gauges to confirm the hit. This is not displayed if there is no effect from the hit (e.g. the shot bounces off due to V Armor). Conversely, a specific sound effect is used whenever your VR sustains any kind of damage.
- Jump Attack - One attack can be performed during the ascent of a jump. Jump attacks tend to have very similar properties to standing attacks. Movement is restricted during a jump attack, and they tend to leave your VR open to a counterattack.
- Crouch Attack - A crouch command immediately followed by an attack command will result in a crouch attack. Crouch attacks typically have a faster firing rate and traveling velocity at the expense of some V Armor penetration. They also have better vertical tracking than standing attacks and can hit airborne opponents more easily, though this is often less effective than simply punishing the opponent as he lands. Some crouch attacks vary wildly from their corresponding standing attacks, so it is recommended to test the properties of crouch attacks for different VRs.
- Slide Attack - Performing a crouch attack while in motion will cause your VR to slide and perform a crouch attack simultaneously. Sliding is faster than walking, so this technique can be used to momentarily increase speed in addition to sliding under some kinds of enemy attacks.
- Turbo Attack - Holding a turbo button and then immediately attacking will result in a turbo attack. While it doesn't matter which turbo button you use to dash, there are very significant differences between right turbo and left turbo attacks. Right turbo attacks tend to have greater firepower, energy consumption, and V Armor penetration than non-turbo attacks in exchange for less homing ability. Left turbo attacks are more diverse in effect, but most tend to strip a great amount of V Armor from the enemy VR. Turbo Attacks can also be performed while crouching or jumping, resulting in a large number of combination attacks. Some VRs even have extra attacks that utilize both turbo buttons at the same time. It is recommended to test all of these combinations with various VRs to get a handle on all of their abilities.
- Dash Attack - Attacking during a dash also results in more unique attack variations. When you perform a dash attack, your VR will automatically turn to face the enemy (while still traveling in its original direction), fire its attack, and slide to a prolonged halt. Dash attacks vary in function depending on the current direction of the dash. If, for example, you start with a side dash but then make a Watari Dash forward and attack, the dash attack will be treated as a forward dash attack. Forward dash attacks tend to have greater firepower and armor penetration (like right turbo attacks), side dash attacks tend to consist of multiple rapid-fire shots, and back dash attacks (like back dashes themselves) are not useful in most situations. Diagonal dash attacks tend to have some properties of their component dash attacks. Sliding can be performed in conjunction with a ground dash attack. Many new players tend to use constant dash attacks to keep the enemy in their sights, but since you cannot move for a short time after performing a dash attack, it is often unwise to use them without first making sure that you aren't leaving yourself open to a counterattack.
- Air Dash Attack - Attacks can be performed during an air dash, and they have similar properties to ground dash attacks. It is often wise to stay as low to the ground as possible when performing an air dash attack in order to keep the descent/recovery time to a minimum.
- Special Attack - Each VR has at least one special. These either make use of the assigned "Special" button (Start on the arcade cabinet, Back on the 360, analog on the DC) in some fashion, or they involve a specific command with specific conditions (e.g. use your CW during a forward air dash when all weapons are at max energy). These vary wildly in function and include high-risk high-reward attacks, various power/speed/size increases, form changes, and more.
- Normal Close Combat - Attack properties for each weapon change when the distance between you and the opponent is shortened. This activation range varies from VR to VR and from weapon to weapon. When a weapon is brought into CC range, its gauge will turn yellow and a double lock-on will appear. Using that weapon in CC range will result in a CC attack, which is unique for each of the three main weapons (RW, LW, and CW). CC attacks do not consume weapon energy.
- Guard - Holding the crouch command in CC range allows you to block the enemy's CC attacks. Any CC attacks sustained while guarding result only in chip damage (5% of the normal damage value). You must be in CC range yourself in order to block. This is important, as the enemy VR might have greater reach in CC range than yours. You can only block attacks while facing the enemy; if an enemy attacks you from behind, the block will fail. If the enemy moves out of your sight by sidestepping, you must also regain lock-on in order to guard. Only melee attacks can be blocked, but these aren't limited to CC attacks alone. For example, some specials (such as Temjin's surfboard ram) are blockable. After successfully blocking an attack, your VR will have a brief period of invulnerability.
- Guard Reversal - Close combat attacks performed during guard are slightly different. They're typically weaker than normal CC but are significantly faster in execution.
- Crouching Close Combat - Crouching CC attacks are also unique. They are slower in execution than normal CC but cannot be blocked. In order to perform crouch CC, you must input crouch and immediately follow it with an attack. Holding down the crouch command for too long will cause you to guard, and attacking from guard will result in a guard reversal instead.
- Turbo Close Combat - The right turbo button can be used in conjunction with each weapon for more heavy-hitting attacks. Using left turbo attacks in CC range results in a normal weapon shot for most VRs, so you can still use normal attacks in CC range with many Virtuaroids.
- Overhead Close Combat - While in CC range, inputting a jump command IMMEDIATELY followed by an attack (the timing window is very narrow; it might be best to input the commands simultaneously) results in an overhead swipe. This attack is always the same no matter which of the three weapons is used to perform it. You can use overhead CC to simultaneously dodge an enemy attack and offer a counterattack of your own at the same time, or you can use it to try and hit an enemy in mid-air.
- Down Attack - After an enemy falls to the ground and stops bouncing, you have the opportunity to hit him with exactly one attack. You can choose to perform a normal attack, which is safe but causes very little damage to a downed opponent. A riskier but much more powerful alternative is to use a down attack. If one of your weapon gauges turns green instead of yellow when your opponent is down, you can use that weapon to perform a down attack. The timing window for this technique is very narrow, and if you take too long to perform the move, odds are that your opponent will stand up and deliver a nasty hit at point blank before you can finish your attack.
- Dashing Close Combat - You can take a swipe at your opponent while dashing by holding back and attacking in the middle of a forward dash. Use the right weapon to strike on your right side, the left weapon to strike on your left, and the center weapon to strike directly ahead. You also don't even have to be in CC range in order to perform a dashing CC. Aiming a dashing CC is very difficult, as they have no tracking.
- Quick Step - To sidestep around the opponent in CC range, hold a turbo button and then immediately press left or right. Your VR will perform a quick sidestep of either 90 or 180 degrees depending on how close you are, or you will do a quick strafing hop if your opponent is moving. You can also quick step forward and backward, not just side-to-side. Quick steps can be prematurely canceled by guarding during the QS.
- Quick Step Attack - If you input an attack command immediately after a left/right quick step, you will quickly circle around the opponent and jab him at the same time. The timing for this technique is a little tricky; if you're having trouble getting it down, try holding the turbo button and then immediately follow it by entering a direction and an attack command at the same time.
Misc Game Mechanics
- Extra weapon properties - Each VR has a diverse array of weaponry at its disposal. For starters, some have great homing ability, some can cut through and neutralize enemy fire, some can stun the opponent, and some can disable the opponent's weapons. Most exploding projectiles can be used as a makeshift barrier. You can freely pass through explosions caused by your own weaponry, and your weapon fire will travel through them like normal. Your opponent will be damaged if he passes through your explosions, and enemy fire will not pierce your explosions from the outside. Thus, explosives can serve as a way to flush out an opponent, obscure the field of view, and block enemy fire all at once.
- Attack Cancel / Selective Fire - Some weapons can be partially canceled in order to conserve energy. For example, if you use Raiden's center weapon (two big lasers) but release the left trigger during its start-up sequence, only the right laser will fire. This will consume only half of the normal weapon energy for the attack, but it will still cause the same amount of damage provided that it hits the opponent. This is a Half Cancel. Some CW attacks (like Grys-Vok's) will still release the full effect of their attacks if half-canceled but will consume only half the weapon energy! You can also cancel some attacks completely; if you release both triggers quickly when firing Raiden's CW, neither laser will fire. This can be useful in faking-out the opponent. Most close combat attacks can be prematurely canceled into other movements and attacks during their start-up phases as well. If you initiate a CC attack, but the enemy either moves away or fires an attack at you, you can input a dash command or jump to get away.
- Chain Attacks - Some attacks can be chained together, eliminating start-up frames, recovery frames, and/or energy usage for some attacks. Raiden and Fei-Yen can chain LW into RW with no delay between the two attacks. Grys-Vok can chain a walking LW into cLW, which only consumes weapon energy for the LW attack. There are several other chains that can be used for these and other VRs.
- Stun Combos - Many VRs have attacks that momentarily stun the enemy, allowing you to follow up with a powerful second hit. Furthermore, many attacks that would knock down an opponent in most circumstances do not knock down a stunned opponent; instead, they simply free the opponent from stun. This can allow you to get 2 or more strong CC hits in on a stunned opponent, whereas in most other circumstances a single powerful CC hit would knock him to the ground and grant him temporary invulnerability against additional hits. Since hitting a stunned opponent with a strong attack will free him from stun, however, make sure to follow with the next attack as quickly as possible. A single stun combo can sometimes be enough to KO an opponent from full health if he is not able to escape after the first hit.
- Tsubame Gaeshi (Swallow's Tail) - This is the name for chaining a CC attack into a Dashing CC attack for a 2-hit combo. Hit the opponent with a CC, then quickly dash and dash CC for a second strike. This can be buffered with other commands for most VRs, such as CC -> QS -> dash CC.
- Freeze Canceling - Recovery frames at the end of a dash or after landing from a jump can be canceled into various attacks. You can perform most attacks (quick attacks, such as cLT attacks, are usually preferable) during most instances in which you would otherwise be a sitting duck, such as after sliding to a halt from a dash. If done properly and with very specific timing, this attack will even be deployed faster than it would have if it had been fired from a neutral standing position. A good way to know if you are performing this correctly is if the attack animation appears to have glitched: for example, its start-up animation comes AFTER the attack instead of BEFORE it. The most known and useful variation of this technique is Raiden's V-Lasers. At the end of a dash, do a cCW. If you get the timing right, instead of Raiden going into the cCW animation, the lasers will come out immediately, usually in a V-shaped pattern instead of parallel, with one going straight as normal, and the other going directly towards the opponent, then followed by the cCW animation that "should" have come first.
- Reducing knockdown recovery time - If you are knocked down from an attack, you can rapidly rotate one of the sticks clockwise to slightly reduce the time needed to stand back up. This causes the screen to wobble slightly. You can also use a properly-timed jump command to quickly stand up, though this negates the temporary invulnerability that normally follows knockdown, which typically makes this technique useful only when time is of the essence. The proper timing window to use the jump recover is right before your VR would normally begin to stand up on its own. You don't need to time it perfectly; just rapidly inputting multiple jump commands during knockdown should work.
- Damage scaling due to time elapsed - All attacks have a base damage value that is applied for approximately the first 30 seconds of each battle. After this initial time period, most attacks begin to incrementally increase in power, gradually reaching a maximum of 1.1x their base value once approximately 60 seconds have elapsed since the start of the match. This scaling is the same no matter what time limit settings are used.
- Underwater stage attributes - The Undersea Plant stage is entirely submerged in water, which changes some of the attack capabilities for various VRs. For example, many of Temjin's RW variants are weaker in the water than on land, but all of its CW variants are stronger. Bal's changes are the most obvious, as its sea form (Bal-Baros) is entirely different in appearance from its land form (Bal-Bados).
- Match Settings - Most official tournaments and competitive matches are set to 80 seconds per round and first-to-2 wins.
Keeping your opponent in sight
This is the basic concept that new players have trouble with the most. Manually rotating your VR to track your opponent is somewhat cumbersome, and rotation is usually best left to setting up specific traps or to curve-dashing. Dash attacks are the easiest way to automatically lock onto the opponent, but they have a long recovery period and will leave you wide-open to a counterattack unless you use the dash attack to dash behind cover or otherwise out of the reach of your opponent. Therefore, as long as you aren't in clear and immediate danger of being hit, the most practical means of locking onto the opponent is by performing a quick jump cancel. A jump immediately followed by a jump cancel will cause your VR to turn and face the opponent without ever leaving the ground, and it only requires a split-second to perform. Get used to using this technique constantly.
Furthermore, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the sound effects that correspond to the enemy's attacks and movements. Being able to discern what the enemy is doing even when he's not in view is a big help.
All of the Virtuaroids--even those of the bigger, slower variety--are very maneuverable in skilled hands, and the vast majority of weapons in VOOT have limited-at-best homing ability. Thus, it is very common for high-level play to end by time over among players of comparable skill, as both VRs will bob and weave through enemy fire and physical structures, trying to stay out of danger and pressure their opponent into making a mistake at the same time.
The goal of keeping the enemy in your line of fire while staying out of danger yourself is embodied by a tactic known as Dash Vectoring. In short, the process is:
- Force your opponent to dash.
- Wait for him to commit to a dash attack.
- Move to an advantageous position.
- Punish your opponent with a counterattack before he can recover from his dash attack.
Recall that dash attacks have a long recovery period. Therefore, an effective way to punish (most) opponents is by taking advantage of their whiffed dash attacks. Keep pressure on the opponent with gunfire or close combat pursuit. Once they dash to get away from danger, keep relatively close to them. Once they dash attack, move to an advantageous position and fire a counterattack of your own.
Determining the correct position for a counterattack is mostly a matter of simple geometry. The goal is to move out of the opponent's line of sight while at the same time dragging him into yours. Let's say that you and the opponent are directly facing each other at a distance of about 150 meters with no physical barriers nearby, and the opponent performs a dash attack.
- If the opponent performs a forward dash attack (coming for you head-on), dash to the side and counter with an attack of your own. The opponent will fire straight ahead, but you'll be moving away from the center of his screen and off to safety. On the other hand, the opponent will be moving away from the edge of your screen and into the center--right into your line of fire.
- If the opponent performs a side dash attack (moving away from the center of your screen), dash forward and counterattack. Again, you should be moving out of his line of fire while he slips into yours.
- If the opponent performs a backward dash attack (moving directly away from you), dash diagonally-forward and counterattack.
This is the basic idea. Remember that Dash Vectoring is a reactive process; the idea is to force the opponent into a mistake (or wait for him to make one) and punish. It can be difficult to force a skilled player into committing to a disadvantageous dash attack, so have patience and be mindful of the abilities of both your opponent and his VR.
Other types of predictive attacks
If the enemy is smart enough to not recklessly dash attack, you can try to set-up other forms of traps. If he's in a corner or otherwise backed into a wall, and you can anticipate which direction he intends to escape to, try manually rotating in that direction and quickly firing a weapon to cut him off at the pass. Some VRs are obviously better-equipped for this than others, but RTRW attacks are usually a good choice for this. You can also try flushing him out of a hiding place and herding him into your line of fire with explosives or other wide-range weaponry.
- Fei-Yen the Knight
- Apharmd the Battler
- Apharmd the Striker
- Apharmd the Commander
- 10/80 Special
The total HP (health/life meter) of each VR is not fixed. Instead, it varies depending on the opponent VR. The exact HP value is not visible to the player; only the total percentage is represented by the HP meter.
Close Combat Activation Range
This chart lists the specific range that a VR must breach in order to activate its CC attacks.