This might sound like a cardinal sin for a video games journalist, but I didn’t own a console until the Dreamcast. Now I feel like that statement requires a qualifying follow-up. We had a PC but it was pretty terrible. I also had a Gameboy, but not until Donkey Kong Land was released.
My best friend (who still is to this day) lived next door. Let’s call him Neighbour Matt.
Neighbour Matt was like my video game drug dealer. I didn’t know where he got the games and never asked. But he had everything. NES. SNES. N64. PS. PS2… you get the point. He always had the latest and greatest games. And he was never unavailable to hang out so we could always play them together. So while I never had a console, per se, video games were never that far away. We once clocked my younger brother at 19 seconds door-to-door.
One of my favourite memories growing up was my first exposure to Street Fighter 2 on Super Nintendo. Neighbour Matt, of course, introduced me to this masterpiece one magical day and I went home showing my mom my “hundred hand-slaps move.” Quickly, I learned the basic moves – “fireballs,” “jumping upper-cuts,” “flip kicks.” I can actually picture you grimacing at my less-than-stellar SF2 vocabulary. But this is what we called them. What the heck is a hadoken anyway? (Note: My word processor does not identify that as a spelling error and it makes me smile).
My practice with Street Fighter, and ultimately any other game until the Dreamcast, was limited to when I was chilling with Neighbour Matt – and only when it was my turn to play. I didn’t lose every game but nobody was afraid of me either.
Fast forward 20 years and my “skills” are far from comparable to a fine wine. Father time has been brutal to my technical know-how of all things fighting games. And this causes me distress. Mostly because of how many quality games there are. Will I ever get to have a relationship with these gems? Or am I doomed to be forever yearning. Never understanding.
My friends at 16bitkings.com are impressively talented when it comes to Street Fighter. If you were to hand me a controller with anybody but Ken/Ryu, Guile, Blanka, or Chun Li, you’d quickly see me guessing which button combos would actually do something – it’s that bad. Does downdiagonalforward+punch do anything with M. Bison? How about with a kick? Strong Kick? And now I’m dead.
Even if I know the moves, I’m as predictable as the sunset. No matter what, I’m going down. Time after time, day after day. Guess how I’ll start after hearing “FIGHT”? I’ll probably jump at you and toss out a kick thinking “if I was in a real fight and could do flips, I’d want to make the backside of my heel land on the soft part of your skull.” But you’ll probably block that and land a nice combo. The worst part is, I know that doesn’t work but try it anyways.
My ambition to love fighting games is in the same vein as my attempts to get back in shape. At one point in my life, I was average! And now I’d give anything to make it back to average. I know with some hard work and dedication, I can achieve mediocrity again.
But I also know I cannot do this alone. I need your help. Every now and then, I’ll post a few clips of me playing Street Fighter IV on PS3 and will (bravely, I might add) ask you to critique my strategies. Can you tell I don’t know a character’s full move set? Should I be blocking more? How often should I jump? Are these even helpful questions for somebody looking to improve?
Help me internet. You’re my only hope.