‘Virtual On Force’ was the last game in the series to be released in the arcades.
In rather depressing news, Juro Watari has resigned from Sega. What will happen to the Virtual On series now, is anyone’s guess.
Announcing his departure via Twitter, Watari resigned from Sega as of February 28. His full statement on the matter is shown below, translation courtesy of Silicon Era.
“I’d like to make an announcement. As of the end of February, I have resigned from Sega Corporation. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the people who helped me during my tenure. Thank you very much!
“My future plans are still undecided. With guidance and encouragement, I hope to find a new place of employment and an interesting project to which I can devote my passion. I even look forward to working with those of you on my [Twitter] timeline if I have the opportunity.
“Some of you may be worried about what will happen to Virtual On. It pains me to say that I do not have any answers for you at this time. However, if there is any change at Sega in the future, I will watch the outcome attentively along with you all.
“Just to be sure, I’d like to add that my resignation was not because of any sort of problem. No punishment led to me being dismissed or anything like that. Thank you for understanding.
“I happen to be unemployed, but I still intend to tweet milquetoast stuff out as I have been. I might take some time to mentally reset myself. I would greatly appreciate it if you could continue to associate with me.”
Considering that the last major release Watari worked on was the rather disappointing A Certain Magical Virtual On, I had hoped Sega would have come to its senses and fired up a new arcade iteration instead.
However, what with all the recent layoffs at Sega and the fact that the arcade division is now run by another company entirely, I suppose this outcome for both Virtual On and Watari was somewhat inevitable.
Thankfully, we received the Virtual On Masterpiece collection on the PlayStation 4 back in 2019 and a new set of Tanita made TwinSticks late last year. The good news is that both of these also work seamlessly on the PlayStation 5.
As for the future of Virtual On, after 26 years it looks like the series is probably done. Personally, this makes me feel very sad. I’ve loved these games since the 1995 original and even bought an arcade cabinet to that effect. So this is definitely an end of an era, but I hope Watari finds something new and that Sega doesn’t do anything daft with one of the most influential and successful mecha gaming franchises ever created.
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