So last night, after a few hours of practicing with my main Balrog and winning a bunch of matches, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I'm still mostly a noob with a head full of knowledge gleaned from the Shoryuken forums and YouTube videos and rusty fingers and reflexes that haven't seriously played a fighting game since the first X-Men vs. Street Fighter in the arcades, but it's beginning to come together. Still a long way to go to be sure, but at least I know what I'm doing wrong and what I need to work on, and why I'm losing, etc. but when I do exactly the right move to counter what the other guy did, or begin to run through the block strings without needing to think about every button press as I'm doing it, it feels great.
Anyway, as I sat back with a Heineken in my hand to watch the Haunt's HQ stream, I saw them playing quite a bit of Dudley as I was intrigued. He's a great looking character, with great animation, and he's so combo heavy with lots of hits, he seems like a ton of fun and very satisfying to play. Reading about him before the release, he sounded like a lot of fun and right up my alley as far as play style, but I didn't think I could be much good with him because his moves are all roll moves, with lots of half-circle motions, which tend to rely on fast reflexes and precise execution, which has never been my forte (usually I go for a shoryuken, it doesn't come out, I get punished hard, repeat).
I fired up training mode and a moves list and was really enjoying my time with him - but I still haven't mastered my main, Balrog! I can't take up a whole new character with a completely different move set, requiring a completely different skill set and a wealth of knowledge of all his possible combos and techniques. Not yet anyway. But he seems like so much fun! Dammit!
Don't go anywhere, Dudley. Give me some time, and I'll be ready to fight like a gentlemen.
Let's start off with a history lesson. I've been playing video games since as long as I can remember. Whenever I was at the mall, I'd ask my mom for my allowance and head to the arcade. Whenever my family was on a trip somewhere, I'd spend all my "trip money" in arcades. I once went to visit a friend in Myrtle Beach for a week and spend over $250 in multitude of different arcades. I played a lot of fighting games in those days. Truthfully, I stuck mostly to the singleplayer, too intimidated by the really good competitive players to put in my quarters. The few times I did, I'd mash away and sheepishly walk away when I lost.
I was pretty decent against my friends however and we'd spend hours playing all sorts of fighting games on home consoles. From Killer Instinct to Street Fighter 2 to Clayfighter to Tekken 2, we'd grind away at each other without ever having a firm grasp on what we were actually doing. Some years ago, arcades began to fade away and disappear from most malls and as home consoles got more advanced, I slowly stopped playing fighting games. The only "fighting" game I played with much consistency was Super Smash Bros. for the N64 because it was the game my "casual gamer" friends had and were actually quite good at. This is when I began to watch you tube videos, read websites, and Gamefaqs guides trying to figure how to use my bottom tier Link against their top tier Kirby, Pichachu and Ness - even though "tier" isn't a term I would really learn until years later.
I'd always been fascinated by really good fighting game players, looking on as the strange teenagers banged out 40 hit combos and could play for hours on 2 quarters. I was always too shy to ask these guys for tips, being several years younger and being afraid of looking like a noob. I always felt like they were cut from a different cloth and I would languish in mediocrity for all of my days. So, I eventually stopped trying to be any good at fighting games, tucking them away for when friends were over and we could bust out some Smash Bros. or Killer Instinct and have some silly fun.
With the release of Street Fighter 4 and the Tournament Edition sticks, I saw an opportunity to maybe get back into the fighting game scene and possibly be half-decent. However, due to financial constraints and the logistics of getting my hands on a actual stick (being in Canada, they're damn hard to find), I couldn't pull the trigger at the time of the games release (getting a stick was important as I feel like for me, it was the only way I could get serious about a fighting game having spent so much of my youth in arcades). Time passed and eventually I could afford a stick and the game but by this time it had been so long since the release I was too intimidated to try and jump into a scene when I knew I would be starting from scratch. So, again I figured I would languish in mediocrity, dreaming of being "ok" at fighting games, watching live streams and YouTube videos, thinking the timing just wasn't right for me.
That brings us right up to present day. With the release of Super Street Fighter 4 in just weeks and it's reduced retail price, I again thought maybe - just maybe - I should give a go. I began researching where I could maybe find a stick. Amazon had them but putting more debt on my credit card didn't seem like a good idea, and I wasn't sure about shipping such a large box to my apartment. I would be more comfortable buying one over a counter or maybe used. I scoured craigslist and Kijiji, hoping someone would let theirs go for a decent price to no avail.
Finally, the other day I swung by a local EB Games, just to see if they maybe had them. The employee barely knew what I was talking about, so I decided to go a bit our of my way to check out another local EB games, and lo and behold, they had three! Two Marvel vs. Capcom editions and one Round 2 edition. I hummed and hawed for several days before last night, I finally pulled the trigger.
It was expensive and I can barely afford it but I've been putting it off for too long.
So, I have it now. I had HD Remix but that's the only fighting game I have so far. I'm going to see about maybe picking up a copy of SF4 used from craigslist or something for $20 in the next couple days. Otherwise, I'll have to wait until the release of Super.
I'm probably going to main either Balrog or Dee Jay. This is a risky decision because I've spent most of years playing Ryu. However, having watched many videos, read many guides, lurked in countless forum threads, I think I've figured out that "charge characters" are the way to go for me. This may sound silly but I was never actually very good with Ryu anyway, having no real strategy and could hardly ever pull off a SRK on purpose so starting from total scratch isn't much of a stretch. I always liked the charge mechanic in Killer Instinct (still my favorite fighting game) so the challenge of moving from a "roll character" to a "charge character" isn't too drastic.
I know I'm going to get destroyed. A lot. But I'm going to practice as well. A lot. Something I never really did in any other fighting game before. I'm not going to be too intimidated to play other people. I'm not going to care if they think I'm a "noob" or a "scrub". I'm new. It's going to take a while and I know that. I'm ready (I think).
I'm willing to take all comers and I'm willing to devote a large chunk of my gaming time to getting decent at this. We'll see how it works out from here. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.