Variable Geo

Variable Geo – NEC PC-98 (1993), MS-DOS (1995)

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Variable Geo

The late eighties and early nineties in the video game arcades were marked with the huge popularity of fighting games, with Capcom’s Street Fighter II becoming overwhelmingly popular. Although not the first game of its genre, it laid the foundations upon which nearly every other 2D fighter was built upon, and soon big names in the arcade industry like SNK or Midway jumped onto the bandwagon, more or less managing to capitalize on the craze while adding their own gimmicks to the well-proven formula. Needless to say, with the improving processing power of the home hardware, the genre has immediately found its way onto consoles and personal computers with ports of varying quality. 2D fighters developed directly for home machines were much more rare and more often than not, made by Japanese companies. The Variable Geo series (or V.G. for short) is one of those games, produced by Giga, a company known more for risqué visual novels than action games of any kind.

Released in 1993 on the NEC PC98, Variable Geo has an interesting setting for a fighting game. The titular tournament is a yearly competition among the so-called “combat waitresses”, sponsored by family restaurants from all over Japan. The best waitress wins a monetary prize not only for herself, but also the restaurant chain she represents.


Yuka Takeuchi – The main character of the story. A waitress at Hanna Miller’s restaurant (based on the non-defunct Anna Miller’s chain), she’s also a practitioner of Kyokushin-style karate. Yuka entered the tournament solely to prove herself as a martial artist. She’s pretty much the game’s equivalent to SF2‘s Ryu, right down to her moveset. Voiced by Mika Moriwaki.

Chiho Masuda – A kunoichi waitress of the Masuda clan, Chiho participates in V.G. to win the fortune and run away from her family and her duties as a ninja. Voiced by Maki Uehara.

Manami Kusunoki – A happy-go-lucky idol singer/catgirl/maid who neither doesn’t know anything about martial arts nor has supernatural powers and solely relies on her mobility and Neko Rocket Punch gloves. Almost a joke character, she’s the hardest to play as, since her moveset revolves around hit-and-run tactics. Voiced by Yumiko Ogawa.

Jun Kubota – A former Olympic wrestler who was banned from participating in that competition after severely injuring her opponent, which earned her a “Bonebreaker” nickname. She turned to V.G. to vent her aggression and show the world that she’s the strongest woman. Basically the Zangief of the game, but prettier. Voiced by Sachie Mieno.

Kaori Yanase – A computer geek who works at the MoHiKan cafe and the runner-up to the title of V.G. champion, repeatedly defeated by Reimi. She possesses knowledge on every other V.G. fighter which she uses to her advantage. Kaori is a practitioner of taekwondo fighting style, so she uses almost only kicks. Voiced by NARUchan.

Reimi Jahana – The reigning and undisputed champion of the tournament and CEO of Jahana Group, the company behind the whole tournament. Reimi is just as dangerous as she is pretty. Voiced by Chikako Imai.

Gameplay-wise, V.G. is as straightforward as it gets. There’s a basic punch and kick attacks, with no distinction between heavy and light variety of these moves, because PC98 compatible controllers don’t have more than two action buttons. Each character has a set of unique techniques activated by specific button inputs. Most of them might resemble those from SF2 a lot, to the point that one can call some of them gender-bent expies of SF2 fighters.

The game can be played in just two modes – the standard arcade mode where the player faces all the challengers form the roster and an obligatory VS. mode. The latter is really hard to play when all you have is a keyboard – player one’s directional buttons are mapped to T, F, B and H and action buttons to Z and X, whilst Player Two uses the numpad for movement and two cursor buttons (down, right) for action buttons.

Many action games for PC98 suffer from unresponsive controls to varying degrees, which is why this is the go-to platform for JRPGs or visual novels, but V.G. takes this to a ridiculous degree. Executing special moves is a nightmare and you will be defeated in no time before you use one. Doing combos is also nearly impossible so most of the time you are going to throw random punches and kicks while hoping to defeat your opponent. And the opponent’s AI is very, very cheap, even on lower difficulties.

Just like many other PC98 titles, this game is quite the looker with all the dithering and other features characteristic of NEC’s platform. It also helps that characters were designed by the late Takahiro Kimura of Code Geass fame. Too bad this impression falls apart once the game properly starts. The scrolling is very choppy and so is the character movement. Coupled with unresponsive controls, it gives a very awful gameplay experience. The sprites themselves might bear some resemblance to Kimura’s artworks, but at the end of the day they look amateurish in comparison. The stage backgrounds aren’t really that much better. But hey! At least girls jiggle their chests and flash their underwear a lot. Which is not surprising, considering what kind of game V.G. really is. At least Takahiro Yonemura’s FM soundtrack does its job, but then again it’s ruined by very rough voice samples that can be switched off if someone finds these annoying.

V.G. is not just a fighter, but also an H-game – one of the many on PC-98. The punishment for defeat is not just simply losing a bout and having your adversary trash talk you. The rules of the Variable Geo tournament are simple – the defeated girl has to undress or do even more degrading acts in front of the public, and the game shamelessly shows this in graphic detail after each loss. There’s an option to switch off graphic scenes in the config menu (which is simply called “Graphic”), so the player can enjoy the game without being interrupted by the imagery, if there’s really something to enjoy, that is. And that’s pretty much the whole point of the original Variable Geo – a poorly made fighting game that’s just an excuse to show naked women. But regardless of that, it apparently sold well enough to warrant a sequel for the same platform.

Series NavigationAdvanced Variable Geo >>

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