[Justice recently represented Destructoid at a Namco and Capcom event in London, and his experience turned into this epic blog. Give it a look! - Kauza]
As you may have read recently, Namco and Capcom brought Fight Club back to London for a christmas battle. It was held over two days (December 2nd-3rd) at the Namco Station in Westminster, with the first solely for industry folk, with each person paying £15 for entry, all of which would be donated to GamesAid, a charity that distributes funds to a diverse range of charities.
The location was a perfect choice, as Namco Station holds a range of amusements, from dodgems to bowling, pool and a wide range of arcade machines in between. Once past the black curtain behind the registration area that blocked outsiders from seeing inside Fight Club I realised how big and spacious the area was. The small location and overcrowding were strong complaints of the previous fight club event, and it seemed that the organisers had listened. The space was full of setups hosting Street Fighter x Tekken, Soul Calibur V, Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom and more. Not only that, arcade machines hosting games from Outrun 2 to DDR as well as pool tables, air hockey and the aptly named “Tekken” bowling were all there, all of which were free to play which was a welcome feature. On top of all of this each ticket came with a token to use on the dodgems upstairs and three free drinks which Namco and Capcom covered.
The main event of the night were arguably the Rival Battles, which saw representatives from developers, retailers, websites and publications including Ubisoft, EA, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and Future going head to head on 1v1 battles in either Street Fighter x Tekken or Soul Caliber 5 to see who was the better fighter. I myself represented Destructoid (as evidenced by when the host said “Sean... of DESTRUCTIVE!” [sic]) and was up against Alex of VG247, which also happened to be live streaming the whole event on their website.
*A selection of the 16 rival battles taking place on the night
Having played SFxT previously at GamesCom and Eurogamer Expo I was a little confident in my skills though was still wary that I had a lot to learn. When it finally came to the fight, I saw off my opponent with a little ease, despite his skill, and was given a Fight Club Blu-Ray for my victory, as were the rest of the victors.
*Rule one has been broken multiple times in this post alone already
At this point Capcom’s Yoshinori Ono and Namco’s Katsushiro Harada, famous for their rivalry (which has even seen them featured in the background of one of the SFxT levels) took to the stage for a battle, but not the kind you might expect. Rather than fighting with fists, they recruited a number of people from the audience to join each of their teams and take part in a challenge to see which team could consume the most mince pies in a given time. Of course hilarity ensued, mostly due to Ono being dressed as Santa and Harada as an elf, and once the timer hit zero the audience was asked to cheer for whichever company they felt took it. Namco took it, but whether that was because the team actually ate more or more Namco supporters were there is debatable, but it was all in good fun.
*Adam’s awesome pic with Harada and Ono (who seems to have taken inspiration from Chad Concelmo’s AMAZING face!)
From there each winner was entered into a 16-man SFxT tournament. I unfortunately didn’t make it past this stage, as my opponent’s Hugo proved too much of a challenge for me, even though I had the edge over his Abel. Fellow BritToid cast member Dan Seto of Premier PR beat Indigo Pearl's Nick Morey and made it to the quarter finals but lost out at that stage. Halfway through the One Motion Dance Crew took to the stage and performed an impressive routine. Once the tourney was over, it was revealed that the runner-up had won an iPod touch and the winner, Imagine’s Ryan King was going home with a 3DS (complete with Tekken 3D) and a PSVita (upon release) among many other items and posters.
*Wayne and Batthink mid-battle in Soul Calibur V as (Baby) Jake watches
As much as this was Fight Club and the rivalries were strong, it was a night best spent with pals, and being joined by my fellow Dtoid friends only served to make it even more memorable. Throughout the night I spent time playing Street Fighter X Tekken, DDR, Outrun and Air Hockey with them, and we topped off the night with a go on the Dodgems. Everyone at the event was friendly, and the amount of stories from that night alone were substantial, including a slightly tipsy guy talking to me about old-school fighting games at the bar, Harada entering the toilet and disappearing only to reappear in the main area and both Harada and Ono laughing at Adam’s fighting stick (which is a little small and has a bad drawing of Ryu with the wrong colours) when he presented it for them to sign (which they did).
The Dtoid gang on Friday night, aren’t they a beautiful bunch!*
Towards the end of the night it was announced that we had raised over £6000 for GamesAid, which is fantastic, especially since the target was £5000. It’s currently at £6296, and was it great to see that everyone there was having a great time, all towards a worthy cause.
The Community Day:
The following day was for the community, and was split into 2 sessions from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. Much was similar to the industry day, though instead of 3 drinks of any variety tickets came with 2 free non-alcoholic drinks, which were still much appreciated. One of the biggest changes were that they now had a few Tekken Tag 2 arcade machines, which as you can imagine were flooded with players eager to get their hands on them.
An hour or so into the morning session Ono and Harada returned with another challenge, this time replacing mince pies with Ferrero Rochers. When they called out for people to join the Capcom side the crowd was largely quiet since it was full of Tekken fans, so I tried to show some Capcom love by shouting out in support resulting in me being picked for the Capcom side which wasn’t my intention!
Once the teams were picked we got to work, and as someone that doesn’t particularly enjoy Ferrero Rochers I was surprised at how many I fit in my mouth, especially since I didn’t swallow until after the buzzer went (pause?). At one point I thought I was going to choke since my mouth got so dry, though water was provided thankfully. The host counted the number of wrappers and Namco beat Capcom 17-16, even though we spotted a wrapper of ours that the host missed when counting, him saying it was too late after realising. For those interested, you can watch footage of the challenge here. Everyone that was in a team got a Street Fighter x Tekken shirt, which I had been hunting for since seeing it at GamesCom.
*Both sides to the SFxT shirt
The challenge led into the morning signing, with Ono and Harada surrounded by various SFxT and Tekken posters as well as a range of pens to sign with. I gratefully got my freshly won T-shirt and a few posters signed by both and managed to get a photo with them too, my second with Ono and first with Harada. Having seen how large the queues for Ono at Gamescom and both Harada and Ono at Fight Club got, it’s refreshing to see so many people bringing along various items to be signed. Among the list were sleeves from games such as Tekken 2, 3, 6 and recent games in the Street Fighter series. Notable items included the first PS1 fighting stick, a US Tekken Hybrid Collector’s Edition sleeve (since apparently no Collector’s Edition was released in Europe) and a pair of hand painted Street Fighter shoes that looked amazing. One dude even brought a game case full of games in the Street Fighter and Tekken series to be signed which obviously would have taken way too long given the number of people waiting.
*Ono-san, Harada-san and I, they’re incredibly humble and cheerful
Though some people don’t really understand the allure of fighting games, seeing all of these people queue only served to remind me how important games can be to people, whether it’s because of the story, gameplay or whatever. I first got into fighting games properly with Street Fighter IV, but played Rival Schools 2, Capcom VS SNK, MVC 2 and Street Fighter III: Third Strike thanks to the Dreamcast almost a decade ago. Third Strike itself holds special meaning to me due to its music, it being the first videogame soundtrack I ever bought. Oddly enough a guy that was in the year above me during secondary school spotted me, whom I most remember for being first in the queue for the school internet café where a bunch of us would print off pictures from Dragonball Z and Gundam Wing. I can’t even remember why I was so into my anime that I wanted to do that, but yep, I’ve most definitely been a nerd since young.
Towards the end of the signing the first Street Fighter x Tekken tournament of the day took place, with the winner taking home an exclusive SFxT arcade stick. I was meant to take part in this since I had been playing on the main stage after the challenge but one of the organisers messed up, which they made up for by putting me in the afternoon tourney. Though many of the participants were inexperienced with the game a few, including the winner definitely had prior experience, and it was good to see people getting passionate over a game that they were so excited to see coming out. A Soul Calibur V tournament followed, though I spent most of my time practising on Street Fighter x Tekken against fellow Dtoiders Adam, Chris, Idan and Wayne.
As the morning session was drawing to a close the host announced that Namco and Capcom were letting everyone stay through to the afternoon session which was great of them, since it was easy to see that everyone hadn’t had their fill of new fighting games just yet.
Once the afternoon session was in swing, it was time for the Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Tournament. Apologies but I had to get that in! One of the machines was moved to the main stage, with the crowd following. The final saw well known fighting-game players Ryan Hart and Starscream duke it out, with Starscream the victor, winning a 3DS with Tekken 3D in the process.
It was then time for the afternoon signing session, which ended up getting extending by an extra 30 minutes, presumably due to the amount of people left waiting by the time it was meant to end. At this point it was getting towards the last half hour of fight club. With two tournaments left to organise, those being the SFxT and SCV ones, the host quickly jotted down names for both and left me to run the SFxT which I happened to be taking part in, since so much was going on at the time. After winning my first match I again lost to a Hugo-player, this one whom referred to himself as “Dawg”. He had clearly refined his strategy, which seemed to be getting Chun-Li to inflict damage, tag-in Hugo mid-move and use him to catch me and slam me into the ground. It was effective to say the least and reminded me why I dislike grapplers so!
In the final it was Dawg versus Ryan Hart, who had spent barely any time with SFxT at that point. Using Sagat and Ryu, Ryan was able to ruin Dawg’s strategy, resulting in Dawg resorting to using Pandora in both rounds, which proved ineffective. Ryan Hart walked away with a SFxT stick and both the tournament and Fight Club were over. Having run the final tournament I was given the opportunity to keep the rest of the posters left on the main table, most of which I gave to my Dtoid pals. From there a few of the Dtoiders and I went to Vapiano’s where we ate good food and learned that Smiley (Barry) cries vomit, poops blood and craps poop from his mouth (all in his own words). Destructoid, ever classy!
*Each unique poster I took home, including a large Tekken Vengeance one signed by Harada (with SCV on the other side) and an SFxT one signed by Ono
Throughout both days interviews with the community, notable players and industry folk were conducted by the ever lovely Hollie Bennett with a certain handsome “German” that you may recognise from BritToid behind the camera. All in all both days were fantastic, the events were well organised, there was an abundance of things to do each day and the love shown to the community was above great. Namco and Capcom outdid themselves, and went to some great lengths to provide entertainment, having covered all bases. Fight Club taught me that drinking, socialising and videogames are truly a great combination.
I’d like to thank everyone at Namco and Capcom for putting together such a memorable event, everyone else that was involved in organising it and all the Dtoiders that attended on either night as well as everyone else that attended for being cool and having fun.
PS: Please excuse the lack of pictures from the event, amidst all the fun I was having on both days I honestly didn’t think to take many pictures, which is odd since I’m usually taking snaps every time I’m somewhere unique. Thanks to Chris and Jake to whom a few photo of these photos belong.
Bonus – The Third Day:
Today those of us Dtoid EU members currently in London met up for lunch at Bodean’s and ate some great American BBQ-styled pork and beef with a TV playing college American football in the background. From there we hit the Hummingbird Bakery and got cupcakes which we took to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. We closed off the night with a trip to Starbucks where we sat for hours and just talked and had laughs, which felt amazing. If you’re located in Europe or close to the continent and haven’t joined the DtoidEU emailer yet what are you waiting for!