SSFIV

I’ve been playing Street Fighter games a good chunk of my life. I’m not sure when the whole thing started, but I remember popping quarters into the arcade machine back when things like arcades actually existed, and recall distinctly waiting for the very best version of Street Fighter II to be released for Super Nintendo before having my parents plop down their hard-earned money for it, which ultimately resulted in my never owning a copy of the game. They just kept releasing the damn things. Like Homer Simpson’s ill-fated attempt to visit Mr. T at his local mall, I kept on thinking, “I’ll just get it a little later.”

Well, later never came. But, I still rented the game’s various incarnations from time to time. I considered myself a descent player — not a pro by any stretch of the imagination, but I could hold my own. Sure, I didn’t know the intricacies of timing or count the individual frames of animation, but I could execute Ryu and Ken’s dragon punch three-fourths of the time. That move was pretty tough.

Once, while at Walmart, I found a copy of the game playing on the demo station in the electronics department. Since my parents were undoubtedly shopping for boring, adult stuff like cat litter and headache medicine I decided to spend a little time with the game. While I’m playing, some dude walks up all cocksure and confident. He stops and studies me as if he’s trying to pick out the best dog in the pound or something, watching intensely my every move and noting my flaws.

Finally, he says, “Have you ever beaten the game?”

I hadn’t, and I tell him this.

“Yeah, well, I have…on ‘hard.’”

I was impressed. I hadn’t even attempted the game on “hard.” Hell, I could barely make it through on “very easy,” let alone “easy” or “normal” or “extra normal” or “hard.” This dude was the real deal. Of course, I couldn’t let him know that.

“Well…you can’t beat the ‘Master of Video Games,’” I said. No kidding. I told this dude I was the “Master of Video Games” like it was an elected position or something. Honestly, I don’t know what that is or where that came from. I suppose I felt threatened and blurted the first thing that came to mind, which is usually something stupid. Naturally, he laughed at me.

“Well, the ‘Master of Video Games,’” — and his voice was full of mocking contempt — “doesn’t stand a chance against a dude who’s beaten the game on ‘hard.’”

I realized he was probably right. I didn’t stand a chance…not against a person with that level of mastery. Still, I couldn’t wuss out. Not now. I nodded down the second controller, which stuck out of the demo station like one of those springy door stoppers that used to be all over the place in my Grandma’s house. He took it in hand and hit “start.”

It was a hard fought battle — one full of sweat and tears and hard feelings and me eventually beating the shit out of him. I was playing Ken, if I recall, and he Blanka, and he left that demo station with his head hanging low — a pitiful loser adrift in a major retail chain. I’m almost certain that his defeat at the hands of the “Master of Video Games” cleared the way for a life full of disappointment and, inevitably, a miserable, noteless suicide inside the abandoned cardboard box building in which he was squatting. Serves him right.

Years later, I purchased one of the Alpha series ‘ games on the Playstation, but eventually had to give it to my friend Sam because I accidentally destroyed copy when I pulled his game system off the ledge on which it sat, causing the game disc to somehow dislocate itself from the system, defy gravity by ducking beneath said system right before they both collided with the concrete floor of the dorm room, which caused the disc to crack in two. It was disastrous.

So now, ten or so years after I broke my buddy’s copy of a Street Fighter game and 17 or so years after effectively ruining that Walmart kid’s life, I’ve purchased a copy of Super Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360. I love it, of course, having played and loved the original Street Fighter IV. This is really more of the same, so I couldn’t go wrong.

I’ve put a good bit of time into the game already, and have even taken it online for a little international competition. If there’s one thing I’ve learned via my purchase of SSFIV, it’s that all my years of playing Street Fighter games and the pride that came with defeating worthless opponents like the Walmart kid and my dumb old friend, Sam, have been totally wasted. I’m absolutely terrible. In a grand total of 35 online fights, most of which were people of the “same skill” level as I, I won a grand total of zero. Non. Nada. Nothing. I am handily defeated each and every time, sometimes by the simplest of means. For instance, this one dude — some ass named UsuxOrsHaHaHa6969 or some shit —  played Ryu and just threw Hadokens the entire time. Every time I tried to jump over the barrage of flying fireballs, he’d freaking dragon punch me. Rinse. Repeat. I couldn’t do a freaking thing to the guy. I’m not one to complain that a person’s “playing the game wrong” or anything; I’m just lamenting the fact that I’m absolutely terrible at something I’ve been doing for a long time and was unable to counter such a juvenile tactic. It’s like spending years teaching yourself to play guitar without ever actually listening to music, thinking you’re pretty damn great because you’ve been playing for, like, ever and then being entering a music competition against Dream Theater or the zombified remains of Stevie Ray Vauhn or something. There’s a feeling of immense disappointment, embarrassment and horror. I have been living a lie.

That’s right, the “Master of Video Games” is a lie. What a twist.

The worst part of it is that Walmart kid died for nothing. What a waste.

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3 thoughts on “SSFIV

  1. I wouldn’t kick yourself. I have been in your position before, and I honestly blame the game more than anything else. I wrote about my time with the new title and I will say I was sorely disappointed with what struck me as an incomplete and unbalanced entry into a series which was known for its quality…
    http://clancop.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/game-over-super-street-fighter-iv-hits-a-low-note/

    You use Ken right? In my nearly 200 matches, winning nearly 60% of them, I can stay that Ken is definitely one of the lowest tier characters in the game. You could read the character reviews, the forum posts, all of which state that his flaw is that he is too recognizable, but the truth is that he, along with too many characters in this game weren’t balanced properly. His Shoryuken has no priority, unlike previous titles, so it can’t be used effectively as an anti-air. His Shinshoryuken, which is supposed to be an anti-air, also suffers the same fate. I have witnessed first-hand it being beaten by Akuma’s air projectile, so suffice to say, I am really disappointed with not just the move, but Ken in this game. On the other hand, Ryu is very much a top tier character, with a very fast recovery on his Hadoken, as well as his Hurricane Kick, allowing his to surprise jumping opponents with his Shoryuken. How many times do you think I have found myself in your situation? It was simply unfair to have to fight handicapped in such a way. Once again, don’t kick yourself…

    Here’s a story for you. From Tekken 2 onwards, I was a Paul fan. My friend had a Playstation and a copy of the game and we knocked it around regularly. Tekken 3 came out and it was the same thing, but different friend. He was Heihachi and I was Paul. When Tekken Tag Tournament came out, I picked up a Playstation 2 and it, with it being the first Playstation 2 game I got. Problem was, Paul wasn’t Paul. I would get beaten time and time again by my friend who I had always found evenly with. Mind you he was now using Kazuya (who may have been a little overpowered), but a Mishima is still a Mishima, and it wasn’t until Tekken 4 that Heihachi and Kazuya’s move set became distinct enough for their to be a noticeable difference in the way they played. I drove myself insane, even losing my temper with all this nonsense about having wasted so much time playing as him, just as you having in writing this article, that is until I picked up the strategy guide for the game. I had done so previously for Street Fighter Alpha 3, helping me develop strategies of play for Ken, as well as Sagat and Akuma, so it seemed the only logical thing to do. I quickly turned to the Paul page and sure enough, in the clearest terms possible, the author of the strategy had stated that Paul had been purposely handicapped because of the dominance of his move set in previous titles, but in doing so, Namco had made him by far one of the worst characters in the game. Suddenly all this frustration made sense. No matter what strategy I could come up with, the reason I wasn’t able to win wasn’t because my opponent was better (as I stated, him and I were on even terms previously and he hadn’t learned anything new between titles), but because my character was worse.

    Since than I have shifted towards other characters in Tekken, most notably Jin Kazama who is considered a mid-to-high tier character. I still use Paul, and when Tekken 4 was released, I was winning non-stop against my friend (seems playing as a weaker character had advantages since my strategies which were successful with a shitty Paul were dominant with a competitive one), but I recognize not to “put my eggs in one basket”. I am not touching Super Street Fighter IV for the next while, but when I do get back to it, while I will continue using Ken, I will also use Sagat and Akuma, two characters I have played on the side since Alpha 3.

    While it is just a game, it is frustrating to have your ego bruised by such nonsense. We take pride in using a specific character, in developing winning strategies, so when a company like Capcom purposely hampers our character in the name of “balance”, it does hurt…

    • Thanks for the great, well-developed comment. It’s awesome to see some comments from a real fighting game devotee.

      Without having ever played a single match against you, allow me to admit that my skill at fighting games is considerably less than yours. There’s a level at which people who really get fighting games play that I simply cannot reach. It’s like watching a person work complex algorithms or decipher the intricacies of the universe using long-form math: it blows my mind straight out of my skull. That said, like watching any great artist at work, I enjoy checking out how other people play these games. I’m the type of person who can execute the moves, including the ultra combos save for those ones that require a 360 degree spin of the analogue stick (yes, I’m still using the Xbox controller, which sucks) but haven’t ever learned how to properly use cancels or more complex strategies, even after all these years. I love the series, and its pick up and playability.

      I enjoy SSFIV and have, since writing this article, improved my online standing a little, but I was simply amazed at how handily I was defeated by some of these people online, often by incredibly cheap tactics. I’m sure I quite a sight at the house, fuming over my latest loss but eager to try again.

      When I first started playing, it took a few matches before I realized I could select to fight people of the same skill level as I. You can imagine how well I was doing before I came across that option.

  2. It was my pleasure. I am not the best fighter out there, but I am proud of my standing in my group of friends as a solid fighter. It isn’t difficult to emulate the combos in many of these games, but there is a level that can’t be reached by those who A) don’t have the arcade stick and have spent years playing with it (I know a few people who can’t play with a controller, especially not the Xbox 360 one) and B) have the time to dedicate to a single character in a single game. I love Street Fighter, but I enjoy Tekken as well, and sometimes I prefer playing Battlefield Bad Company 2, as well as playing Dragon Age, Mass Effect and a slew of other titles when I am not studying for exams or writing essays. Get what I am saying?

    I don’t mind being beaten by a better player, but I can’t stand losing to someone who uses cheap tactics with overpowered characters, especially when I bought Super Street Fighter IV because Capcom promised a far more balanced roster. In any event, once again, good post and don’t let this nonsense get you down. If you are looking for a more balanced and complete title, I would recommend Tekken 6, especially for the Scenario Mode which kept me coming back to find new items to beef up my character in this single player mode.

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