Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram Review

Nebojsa Radakovic
Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram Info


  • N/A


  • 1 - 2


  • Sega


  • Sega-AM2

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now


  • DreamCast


Virtual On, Virtual Off.

I sometimes find myself becoming very jealous of the Japanese. After all, Japan

is something of a gaming Mecca and the proving grounds for many of the console

games that make it to U.S. shores. Like a small child, I wonder why exactly THEY

always have to get all the good games first? (most of them anyway.) It’s not fair

I tell you. It’s not fair!

Luckily, one particular gem made it across the seas, narrowly escaping a cruel

death by the Sega of America execs. Yes dear readers, Virtual On: Oratorio

(the sequel to the hit Virtual

On: Cyber Troopers
) has made it over to our very own U.S. Sega Dreamcast!

The story behind Oratorio Tangram is a strange one, so listen up. During

the Virtual Century, a “Moon Gate” was discovered which held enormous amounts

of valuable psychic energy. War broke out and development Plant 9 disappeared,

along with a vital piece of the new technology. Known only as the “Tangram,”

this technology controls the laws of space and time. Your mission is to take

control of one of twelve Virtuaroids and locate the Tangram.

No one ever mentions what in the world “Oratorio” is (It’s a composition

for voices and orchestra, which doesn’t make things any clearer. – Ed.

but I think it might be the name of the supreme power emanating from the Virtuaroids.

Either that or some wacky hidden psychic code saying, “Buy this game!” (I’ll

make sure to run it backward through a vocalizer to find out.) Got all that?

It’s giant robot fightin’ time!

From the very beginning, it is obvious just how graphically enriched the world

of Virtual On is. During the take-off scenes, you can even see the miniature

Dreamcast powering each of the warrior robots (I just can’t call them ‘roids).

As the battle gets underway, you’ll soon be amazed by the smoothness of it all.

The animation of each character is completely seamless, lacking any visible

faults. The Virtuaroids themselves even show physical damage as the game progresses.

The 17 different backgrounds are also loaded up with plenty of detail. One

stage includes a small moat that will slow you down and another stage takes

place completely underwater. This game definitely shares one of the top spots

in the Dreamcast graphics category alongside greats like Soul

and Dead or Alive 2.


gameplay augments the graphical wonders of Virtual On:OT. At an astonishing

60 frames per second, the cast of Virtual On moves almost as fast as

Kobe does to the hoop. Even when the action is hot and heavy, the game runs

as smooth as silk. This speed makes it possible for a skilled player to eliminate

his opponent in a matter of seconds.

Many gamers may be unfamiliar with Oratorio Tangram, a game that never

really made it overseas into American arcades. Even the original Virtual

was difficult to find. Oratorio Tangram, like its predecessor,

is meant to be played side by side with a human opponent…and with twinsticks.

That awesome peripheral sadly did not make it over to the U.S., making fans

of the series wonder how their U.S. version would fare minus the essential controller.

The answer is disappointing.

Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram is just not the same game without the

twinsticks. To compensate for the loss, Activision has provided several possible

controller options to suit a player’s control preferences. While none of these

configurations can truly capture the essence of the twinsticks, they’re good

enough to play the game. Even still, a great deal of patience and practice is

needed in order to gain even the smallest grasp of the virtuaroid’s controls.

Despite the control problems, Oratorio Tangram is a great two-player

experience. It isn’t as frustrating as the single player mode and it’s much

more fun to learn the controls with a friend rather than in the training mode.

Another little bothersome aspect is the lack of extras. Extras (especially

in fighting games) lead to greater replay value. More costumes, stages, or characters

are always welcomed, but you won’t find very much past the basics in Oratorio


Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram is one of those great Japanese games that

didn’t quite reach its potential with the American release. My heart yearns

for those beloved twinstick controllers that I so fondly remember from the days

of Cyber Troopers. Still, it’s a graphical powerhouse that is great for

some one on one fighting robot action.



Smooth graphics
Fast gameplay
Virtual robot goodness
Wherefore art thou, twinsticks?
No extras