And yet for all that there's a nagging sense of overfamiliarity, of running the same races in slightly more bloated cars in what's now a slightly more bloated game. F1 22 is a remarkably broad game too, it should be pointed out - one that can be enjoyed by the growing audience the sport now enjoys. It's a remarkably familiar one too, mind, that through no fault of its own never really feels like the measure of last year's model - a predicament the sport finds itself in now, as it struggles to match the fireworks and fury of the classic that was the 2021 season. In that way, perhaps F1 22 is a little too authentic for its own good.
Though if you’ve any affection for the genre, or any love for the likes of Darius and Gradius, then there’s really no reason to wait until then. Drainus has a silly name and a few small frustrations, but that doesn’t stop it delivering the same heart-soaring spectacle and sharp, satisfying action that makes the greats soar. This might fall just short of being one of them, but it’s an exquisite shooter all the same.
Ultimate Showdown reinforces all that, and even if it's not quite the ultimate release of Virtua Fighter 5 it's a delight to get lost in the rhythms of what remains an all-time great, and a timeless one at that. For old diehards like myself Virtua Fighter 5 sits alongside OutRun 2 as the very best of Sega, and for all the missed opportunities here - the less than perfect netcode, the lack of periphery frills or much by way of new content - the chance to play it alongside a new audience is more than worthwhile. Maybe it's not quite the grand return the series deserves, but it's a game that still deserves to be played.