Virtual On is a game that can't make up its mind. On one hand it's a fighting game where players pick from a collection of robots, each with its strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, Virtua On is a tank-inspired shooter, meant to be played with dual sticks. And while it shone brightly in the arcades, on the Saturn it merely gives off a dull glint. But don't blame the Saturn for this - blame the game.
The game is simple and to the point. Two robots enter an arena. They stare each other down. Then they jump, fly, run, and shoot each other until one of them finally explodes. Each robot has three different attacks that power-up when fired while the robot is running or flying. Each 'bot wields two standard-fare weapons that include run-of-the-mill homing lasers, bombs, or shotguns. Each robot also possesses a third, special offensive weapon that is a little more spectacular (they consist of sword attacks and huge dual lasers, among other things).
Virtual On's polygon graphics look sharp, but on the Saturn the game doesn't feel nearly as smooth as it did in the arcade, especially in the split-screen two-player mode. The standard control is tolerable, but the twin stick (available direct from Sega) is much better and more intuitive. The music isn't anything special, and the sound effects are pretty standard. The game also features a very annoying alarm that sounds when your robot is nearly out of power.
The play in Virtual On is fairly basic. All a player needs to do to beat the computer is dash back and forth, firing off a homing weapon. This tactic works all the way up to the last boss, who as it turns out, is a nearly unstoppable mass of metal.
In the end, Virtual On is a mindless chunk of fun. There isn't much to it, but it's the type of game that can be picked up and put down at the drop of a dime. Have five minutes to spare? Play a round or two of Virtual On, then move on with your life. Maybe that's why it did so well in the arcades; one could blow up a couple of robots, and then go play a real game.