Leliana Vess, Defier of Demons

Leliana Vess, Defier of Demons
Black Magic shall rule over all

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fighting Games and Me

Kenka Gamu to Watashi

You’re all probably reading the heading and thinking “WTF? It’s not purchases?” Yeah decided to write up something different. It’s more about me. In particular, it’s about my love of fighting games and how I got into them.

Rewind to about 1996, or around there. I was just a little kid in elementary school who had gotten a ps1 for Christmas. My best friend at the time was a kid on my block who was in fact my very first friend, Saul. Now Saul was part of the reason why I had gotten into video games in the first place, and the kid that introduced me to two of my favorite childhood pastimes, Megaman and the Gameboy. I had gotten a Gameboy because he had shown me his, one of the fat Nintendo Gameboy’s that took four double A batteries and that you could barely see the screen. I always wanted one of those, but my mother decided that maybe I would be happier with the newest Gameboy out on the market, the Gameboy Pocket, which I think had just come out. Bless her soul, my mother always thought about me and would do anything to make me happy, but damn did I want that fat one. Anyway, once after school he had shown me a new game that he had gotten that had just come out, and it was the craziest thing I had ever seen. It was with one really muscular guy with a karate gi who could throw fireballs fighting some monkey man that could roll into a ball and cover himself in electricity! It was super insane and I thought to myself, Oh man, I have to get this!. I immediately asked him “Wow, this is awesome! What game is this?” and he replied, “It’s called Street Fighter”. Wow, Street Fighter. The game’s name even sounded badass! To be accurate, the game was Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo on the Gameboy, which in itself was a bad game because you were playing a six-button game on a system with only two. What’s that? You want to do combos? Links? Well, too bad bitch cause you isn’t getting’ them!

Anyway, so like any kid my age, I immediately went to my mom asking if she could buy this game for me like my life depended on it. My mother, who definitely doted on me as a child, went out to buy the game. Keep in mind I told her “Street Fighter”. When Alpha was also out. So like my mom was, she bought the newest Street Fighter game out there: X-men vs. Street Fighter. Lolz my mom was funny. She never did know anything about video games. Funny thing was that I wasn’t disappointed. Like most little kids my age, I was super addicted to the X-men. So I thought “Wow, not only do I get to play some of the Street Fighter characters, but I also get to play as some of the X-men?! Like WOLVERINE?1?11!!! Awesome!!!”. Hehe, it was really hype quite frankly. I still have a lot of fond memories about the game, like when Saul would come over to my house and we would try to figure out in the hell to play the game. We would just button mash until the day Saul managed to figure out how in the hell to do a super. Hell, we didn’t even know how to do a shoryuken. I used to just taunt with Rouge all day because I knew that would do damage. Then as soon as we had meter we would just mash qcf+L1 (all three punches on the playstation controller) until someone managed to get the super out. Most of the time he would win too and I’d get a little pissed. I was a bit of a sore loser when I was a kid. Not as much as my sister, mind you, but still a sore loser. The funny thing was at the time, computer’s were still kind of new, and school’s were just starting to put them in classrooms in about 6th grade, so we could’ve just checked a tiny site at the time called Gamefaqs and probably found the command list, but whatever. We still had tons of fun anyways.

Anyway, fast forward to about…Christmas 2003 and 2004. Before then, pretty much all through middle school, I had just about given up on videogames as a whole because I had never gotten a next gen system. My sister was born, so I wasn’t an only child anymore. Which of course meant that there was little money to throw around, so my mother couldn’t afford to buy me a $300 new game system like the ps2 or X-box at the time. So I had given up on videogames until for Christmas 2003, My mother bought me a brand new ps2 with two games: ATV Offroad fury 2, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. Thakfully at the time, they had finally lowered the PS2’s price to $150, finally within our range. Naturally, I was singing her praises and practically bouncing off the walls in joy. I remember I had started playing at about 8 in the morning and didn’t stop until 1 in the morning when my mother finally told me to go to sleep. The Ps2 wowed me with its amazing graphics, which were like a leap through time and space for me, having been used to Ps1 and Gameboy graphics for so long. In 2004, I immediately became a gamer again; more hardcore than ever before, as the passion was re-ignited and I began making new friends with similar passions, like my best friend, Joseph Matos, who basically caught me up on the 5 years of gaming I had missed. I learned from him and a couple of gaming sites that there was a huge amount of fighting games out there besides Street Fighter: SF, KOF, CVS, MVC, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur, Mortal Kombat, Guilty Gear, and tons more. I had found out it was a whole genre simply called fighting games. After a while, since my dad had finally decided to give me an allowance of $20 every two weeks, I set out that entire year to get a huge amount of games. I went on Gamefaqs and learned command lists and moves, but combos were always beyond me. My execution was supreme ass back then. Hell, it’s still supreme ass lol. So I got into fighting games hardcore, but I could rarely have friends over anymore, and my mom was too much of a worry wart to let me go to other people’s houses. Playing Fighting Games by your self is not fun, so I branched off into other games, and fighting games got played every now and then, still sucking ass in them. Around this time, funny enough, I read an Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine, and they ran some feature about something or other, and mentioned:

“…And if you’re really looking to get good at fighting games, check out shoryuken.com, the biggest Street Fighter Fan Site on the net, which covers not just Street Fighter, but most fighting games under the sun.”

I went to check it out, got confused by how the site worked, and left the site. Wow. The knowledge could’ve been gotten so much faster and I could’ve improved so much earlier.

Anyway, now we fast-forward to early 2009. After finishing high school, I decided not to go college just yet because of three things.

1) We were barely making ends meet because of our bills, and couldn’t afford college, and I didn’t want to put the family in any more debt.

2) My mother, despite getting rid of her cancer, was getting sicker and sicker by the day.

3) I needed to be home on call to take care of my mother and sister.

It actually ended up being a very good decision, because of another three things:

1) The recession meant we had to save to make ends meet

2) My mother did get sicker as days went on

3) At the end, last year, my mother died and I had to take care of my sister and me.

So my days were basically spent taking my sister to school, taking care of my mother and any things she needed to do, and in the spare time that I had, which was a lot, played video games and watched huge amounts of anime. Finally one day, I spent some time to think about where my life was going. I had no job, no college degree, and nothing to really do. At this point I should’ve seriously considered getting a job, but for some reason, that didn’t come to mind. Later on, I was still playing fighting games with my friends Joseph and Chris, who by their own admission were not that good. Even as bad as I was, I would still beat them kind of consistently. Eventually, the idea just shot into my head, and it was because of a comment Chris made. “This dude, always trying to go pro in fighting games” he said after I had beaten him at Third Strike and he got salty about it. That’s when the thought hit me: That’s it! That’s what I’ll do! I had been playing fighting games since I was like 7 or 8, and I still sucked ass in them! Something about that had got to change. At that point, I visited that site again, Shoryuken.com, and signed up for an account. I checked their wiki, and I swear it must’ve been how Moses felt like when he heard the burning bush on the mountain. How Neo felt when he took the red pill. How Alice felt when she went down the rabbit hole. There was so much stuff to learn that it made everything feel completely new, and everything I had ever thought about fighting games was wrong. It all sounded like an alien concept at the time: footsies, mix-ups, zoning, poking, links, fuzzy guarding, hit-confirming, resets, tiers, bread and butter’s, match-ups, custom combos, chain combos, frame traps, execution, there was enough to make your head spin. I realized right then and there that I had a huge road ahead of me. This was made even more concrete when I first went to the legendary Chinatown Fair Arcade, the arcade where such greats as Wong and Long Island Joe and Yipes play at, as well as the greater New York SRK scene. I always had a stigma about arcades, as I had always known it as a place where the majority of people playing would rip you a new asshole and perfect you like all hell. It was a place where your dignity would be destroyed. This is actually true lol. However, you can learn so much by watching other people play and asking for tips (which many of the people there will be happy to do, even if you don’t ask). At someone’s recommendation (I forgot who) I then checked out my region’s matchmaking forum. There I found, to my luck, that a future friend, SRK member AVC, had just started a thread for Brooklyn. It was there that I got to go to my very first Brooklyn session with future friend, Wolverine Master. I can definitely say that a big part of the reason why I am at the level that I am at fighting games was because of him. I learned a lot from him, particularly in his favorite fighting game, Marvel vs. Capcom 2. He taught me all the basics, and really helped raise my combo skills from shit to something lol. Looking back on it, I’m happy about how much I’ve improved. I could never do combos at all back then, even in games with relatively easy combo systems, like Tekken. Now the one game that eludes me with combos is Street Fighter, just because I haven’t really mastered Links. Got to admit, this also probably had to do with the fact that I was still playing on pad. It would be quite a long while before I would be able to afford an arcade stick, because like I said; no job equals no money. At these sessions I met people that I owe a lot too as to my current skills: Anakron, Duke, Ricky, BootyClappa, AVC, Niko, Mad Hatter, and tons others. Thanks to them I learned a lot, as well as gotten my ass royally handed to me on a regular basis by them. I especially owed a lot to my friend Ricky, who was actually kind enough to lend me a spare arcade stick that he had until I was able to afford my current Mayflash modded arcade stick. Seriously, where do you see people nice enough to actually lend you an arcade stick? He even lent it to me for three months! Most people don’t even want to lend you an arcade stick for one tourney, let alone an extended period of time. He only wanted one promise: While I have his stick, and begin getting used to an arcade stick, never, ever pick up a pad for a fighting game again. Him lending me the stick meant so much to me that I completely held on to the promise just for that. That is the single best piece of advice I could ever give to anyone who is trying to get used to an arcade stick: No matter how much you want to, don’t ever go back to the pad. If you do, all your efforts on stick will be for nothing. I just feel sad that unfortunately Ricky had to move back to his home in Denmark. I can’t wait until the day he comes back to New York.

So anyway, I got way better in fighting games then I was before, but I still suck compared to the people I play with. The funny thing is something that ended up foreshadowing what is going on with me now.

I was watching the excellent documentary, I Got Next, when they had interviewed Alex Valle, and he said this:

“From my experience, most people get really good at fighting games when they’re in they’re teens, when they’re in high school, then when they get in their twenties, well…It’s not that they get worse, it’s just like skills just like, peter out, and they don’t improve. Mostly because it’s, like, once you hit twenty, real life just kinda smacks you in the face, and…you can’t play as much as you used to”.

Back then; since at the time I was twenty, I thought, “I’m going to prove him wrong and get somewhere with this”. Turns out that he was right, real life does smack you in the face. In my case with a shovel. Last year on 12/01, my mother died. Suddenly, I had to take care of my sister and I, when I had no job. Long story short, I did what I had to do, got some jobs, tried to make money, and makes ends meet. Yeah, it means less time for games, but I’d rather be able to live then play games homeless. Just going to have to balance it out.

Anyway, since I have less time to practice, I’m going to try to practice smarter by playing smarter. As opposed to just fighting the computer like I usually do, I’m going to try to learn to play defensive, try to learn mind games, and try to learn as much as I can within a short amount of time. The same way so many anime characters need to train for hours on end before they’re able to learn something, that’s what I’m going to do. Time to start watching; reading, and studying, because it’s go time, motherfuckers, and the shit just hit the fan! Wooh, I’m hype lol.

Okay, real blog entry next time. Hope you enjoyed the little trip through my memories. Laterz!

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