Ahh, the blank canvas. Scourge of all writers. Killer of students. The greatest form of torture to someone working on a deadline. This is what I've been dealing with for the past however-long. For those of you who follow this blog, you've probably noticed a lack of letters, words, paragraphs, and entries in this here blog. I'm not here to apologize (really, I'm not required
to update this, but I prefer to), but rather explain how this came to be. I'll end up in a video game related tangent, don't you worry.
As I hope is clear, I do try to put a decent amount of effort into whatever I upload to this site, as I don't like to come across as misinformed, ignorant to what I'm talking about, or just downright stupid
, even if all of these things are true at various times. So, when I start enjoying a lot of things that don't directly involve video games (like reconnecting with old friends I haven't seen in years, or finally buying an amp for my guitar), some stuff falls behind the wayside.
But enough about me, let's talk about what video games I am
Actually, to be accurate, it's fair to say I am monogamous in my video gaming, currently. I have found a home with a large joystick in my lap shooting balls of fire at not-quite-racist-but-totally-stereotypical "world warriors". Yes, I'm talking about Super Street Fighter 4.
It was more than a personal victory than it should have been when I realized I could consistently beat online players who use the same exact tactics at all times, even when it's clear they don't work.
Outside of music games and MMORPGs, fighting games have been able to ruin my ability to enjoy multiple games at once like no other genre. Ever since I was a little kid playing Street Fighter 2*, the games have always appealed to me for a variety of reasons. The gameplay is always solid, sure, and the games are usually well-done, but there's definitely more to it than that. And no, I'm not just talking about balance (though that is important!)
* - Sidenote: how many games out there have only increased the sequel count by two in nearly two decades? Yeah, I know they didn't exactly rest on their laurels during that time, but this has always struck me as hilarious.
One of the biggest problems I had with Street Fighter (or any fighting game, really) back in the day was that I never had enough competition. Once I got to the point that I could beat my friends regularly (well, one of my good friends always kept up with me), there wasn't much more beyond that. I don't think I need to discuss how bland of an experience Street Fighter is while playing against AI.
Now, back in those days, the arcade scene was big -- let's say big enough
, actually -- around here that I could have conceivably gotten better by playing in arcades, but I was too young back then, so it's almost like me talking about how I never got to see the Beatles perform live since I wasn't alive in the 1960s. I was stuck playing with my friends, who inevitably burned out on the games. Naturally, this leads to me burning out on them, as well.
As I grew older, I still appreciated fighting games, but never really played them. Sure, I had Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast (who didn't?), and I had a brief (and I do mean brief) love affair with Tekken 3, along with a bunch of other stuff mixed in at that time, but none of those games lasted very long. For the majority of the past 15 years or so, I've probably spent the most time with Soul Calibur, and that's only because my friends seemed to think they could get good at it. Of course, they were viewing the game in the light of Ninja Gaiden rather than in the light of Starcraft that (in my opinion) they should have seen it in, so they lost, I ran out of competition, and got bored again.
This is the kind of mentality a lot of my friends had, albeit in a more friendly manner. And yes, I did beat that guy. He could have very easily beaten what I was doing.
Once I entered the realm of the internet, I discovered just how good people had been getting at these games over the years. Things like "Evo moment #37
" way back in 2004 (the fact that I can say "way back in 2004" without being sarcastic makes me pretty sad, by the way) appealed to me in the greatest of great senses. Sure, I wouldn't be able to do that in a million years, but it's moreso an example of me realizing how much potential there was that I had never even seen.
At that point, the floodgates of information poured open for me. I discovered David Sirlin's infamous "playing to win" series and wondered how on earth people could disagree with that stuff, found shoryuken.com and picked out whatever info I thought was interesting, and sought out high quality videos of other people playing video games (and really, that's a point of no return).
Of course, this was all six years ago. I had no fighting game that I enjoyed. I tried to enjoy Guilty Gear XX #Reload on my Xbox, but it never really "clicked" for me. I wasn't really enjoying it, and even though I could go online with it, I never really found a community to play with. Randoms are only so exciting (especially since I was losing pretty handily at that one).
After that, I played Dead or Alive 4 for a bit, and I had a good group of friends I rolled with on that game, but we were all basically playing it because it was our only option on the Xbox 360. That XBLA version of Hyper Fighting was depressing.
Then Street Fighter 4 happened.
Yeah, this game (and its sequel/expansion/"thing that should've been DLC/a patch"/whatever you're willing to call it) certainly has its flaws (a bit too defensive/slow for my tastes, really unwelcoming for new players, links will ruin your brain), but it was finally a game I clicked with. When it first came out, I was in the middle of a crunch at work, so it kind of fell by the wayside, but it was never out of my mind. Once I heard about Super Street Fighter 4, all hell kind of broke loose in my mind. To make matters worse/better, PAX East was like a nail in the coffin.
At PAX East, once I discovered the large amount of people playing SF4, that was it. As luck may have had it, I was already in the process of buying a Mad Catz Tournament Edition stick from a friend of mine also attending the expo (and they are as good as everyone says, really), but that didn't even matter once I sat down in freeplay. If that weekend hadn't been one of the busiest weekends of my life, I probably would've spent the majority of it playing Street Fighter, and I would've lost a lot. I've been bit by the bug, and now there's no turning back.
Not to mention, I have a good group of people to play with even at home now! Yes, online has its share of issues, and playing with lag is always unfortunate (though that is a topic for another time), but this random site called destructoid.com seems to have a decent core of Street Fighter players that are enjoyable playing, and have skill levels ranging from "I can beat them without trying" (Nishant I love you) to "What the hell did they just throw at me?", and everywhere in between. If you spend some time in Destructoid's IRC channel, you'll find a match eventually. Go in with the right attitude, and you'll also learn a lot.
So, thanks guys. You've probably added at least a month to my unemployment. I hope you're happy.
(And just for you regular readers: Bioshock, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Bioware, Lost, Mad Men Shenmue 2's ending sucked.)
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