I've Been Busy - MKX BnB Kombo Xstravaganza (ft. Jason)

Yeah, I haven't posted in a while. I was busy trying to beat Broken Age. Apparently getting older did nothing to stop me from sucking real bad at adventure games. But I have been plugging away making videos here and there. Actually, right after bitching about how annoying run-cancel combos with D'Vorah were I decided to try and see what run-cancel combos were like for A-List Johnny Cage. Basically, they suck.

I just don't see the point really. He gets less damage than Stunt Double. He doesn't need to run-cancel to keep his strings safe since they're already safe. There's literally only one relevant string that he has that can be punished and it's only by Tempest Kung Lao burning meter. So I guess in that one matchup... no it's still worse than Stunt Double. He can't even run-cancel his fireballs which is the only thing worth using in neutral. Ech.

I had to redo Ermac. They nerfed the falling damage from Tele-Hold so that it scales so there are better combos to be done. Not much else to be said here. I also decided to jump on the Jason bandwagon since he was just released.

Jason seems really cool, especially his Relentless/Unstoppable variations. He has lots of good hitconfirms that have tons of range, good damage, and great command grabs. His corner carry is ridiculous. Most of his BnBs go more than half a screen. Is he actually a good character? I have no idea, but he definitely doesn't feel like filler. If the rest of the DLC characters can maintain this level of quality, I'll be extremely happy with my Kombat Pass.

I should probably get around to playing story mode.


MKX Kombo Lab D'Vorah (Swarm Queen) Run Cancel Combos

I spent 3.5 hours recording 1:40 worth of usable footage and boy are my hands tired. No, seriously, D'Vorah started as a mere curiosity and turned into a total combo nightmare.

Let me level with you: I am bad at fighting games. I love them, and I love playing them, but I simply am not very good. My execution is butt. My best character in SFIV is Balrog. I am human garbage. But I still like experimenting with combos and making videos because on a video, I only have to get it right once. At first I thought D'Vorah would be a cool character to mess around with because of her potential vortex abilities using her aptly named Vortex Swarm. Quickly I discovered that the timing simply wasn't there. The swarm fired on its own leaving her not enough time to set up a proper meaty and none of her good combo enders put them in the right position.

So I went to the Test Your Might forums to see what other people were doing with her. That's when I found out about Wasp Grenade Run Cancel combos.

When I saw that Hellfire Scorpion could cancel his fireball I wondered if that would be a viable way to extend combos, but I was having too much fun with Inferno Scorpion to care. Now I'm glad that I skipped it, because Run Cancel combos are HARD. One of the reasons I can do MKX combos better than most fighting games is because most imputs are buffers, not links. But Run Cancels are the linkiest of links out there. You have to mash out a bunch of inputs in a very tight window making it extremely easy to lose potential frames. Just watch the inputs as I do some of these combos and when you suddenly see me push a billion things in a second, you'll know it's a Run Cancel.

I try to do optimized combos whenever I can but I'm 99.9% sure that none of these combos are optimized. I know for a fact that you can do a Run Cancel in Kombo 1 for a stronger ender but I got it, like, once in 100 tries before I started recording. You can do better chains after the B+FP Run Cancel but the timing window is even tighter. The cool thing is that the skill ceiling for using her seems incredibly high and I can't wait to see someone doing absolutely bananas shit with her. That person is not me, but I'm happy with what I came up with.

I also forgot to do the obligatory useless X-Ray combo but whatever. I need to figure out who has the easiest combos and do my next video on them.


MKX Kombo Lab Scorpion (Inferno) Vortex Combos

More Scorpion? WHAAA!?

I finally saw some of the Scorpion footage from the Fatal 8 and realized (duh how dumb am I) that Scorpion has a much meaner Vortex than simple Hard Knockdown into Oki like I had based my previous videos around. What does that mean exactly?

Well first I guess I should define Vortex for non-fighting game players. The idea is simple: you put your opponent into a situation where they are forced to guess, and if they guess wrong, you do damage and put them right back into the same situation again. Rinse - repeat. Scorpion's Vortex works off of two key tools, his ability to Recapture the opponent (put them into a grounded state mid-combo) and his Teleport attack that puts the opponent into a prolonged stagger state where the only action they can take is to block.

Once Scorpion's opponent is in the stagger state, Scorpion can choose to go Low, Overhead, or Throw. If the opponent guesses wrong, they might get put back in to the vortex. If the opponent guesses right, Scorpion can spend meter to make his offense safe (unless there's a 5-frame punish out there? I honestly don't know). So the new video is based around that idea: maximize damage putting the opponent into the Vortex and maximize damage keeping them there.

I also adjusted some Ermac stuff but I haven't gotten around to editing that footage yet. I think next I might want to try Cassie? Or maybe Jacqui. Definitely one of the new characters because I have to get out of my comfort zone. Thanks to whomever hasn't gotten tired of these blog posts yet and is still bothering to read them. :D


MKX Kombo Lab Ermac (Mystic) BnBs

I can't help myself. I'm just so much more comfortable working with characters I'm familiar with, even if the combos have changed. I did mess around with Takeda briefly, but he's a bit of an odd duck with extremely long-range but unsafe normals and most of his combo extensions coming from enhanced specials. It was simply too daunting so I played it safe and focused on Mystic Ermac.

The good news (bad news?) is that Ermac doesn't just poop out stupid amounts of easy damage off of any touch any more. His combos are generally more difficult/involved and actually hover just below 30% damage with one key exception: any combo that lets you save Tele-Hold until the end. Unlike in MK9, the non-enhanced version of the move does no damage but puts the opponent into a hover state. The first instinct would be to use this move to add additional hits to the combo like a Spear or Ice Ball, but if you don't do that and simply wait instead, once the move wears off the opponent falls to the floor and takes 10% unscaled damage. With scaling as severe as it is in this game, there's no feasible set of extra attacks you could do that would match the damage. As an added bonus, leaving the opponent sitting there gives you time to annoy them by throwing off some instant-air Soul Bursts. You maximize your combo, generate extra meter, and do mental damage! It's a win-win-win!

So I've seen people using abbreviations to refer to character variations like MoS Ermac for Master of Souls. One of his other variations is called Spectral Ermac. I wonder how you'd abbreviate that...? (apparently I am 12-years old)

Start the Conversation

MKX Kombo Lab Kitana (Royal Storm) BnBs

Ever since MK2 I've always been a... fan... of Kitana. No but seriously, those fans give her so many combo options that she's a really fun character to experiment with. Unfortunately, that also makes it incredibly difficult to optimize her damage. This is the best I could come up with after a couple hours with her but I'm sure there's something I'm missing that would give me a few extra % of damage.

She has a lot of safe strings that are hitconfirmable, but no high-low game to speak of. Honestly, I'm not sure what she's supposed to be good at. Probably zoning? Fans have always been one of the stronger projectiles in MK. I don't know why I can't do instant air fan in this game. I mean, I have zero execution, but still.

On the bright side, I'm getting a lot more used to dashing and running and run cancelling so it's more-or-less second nature now. The movement in this game is really interesting, and now that I've had a chance to understand it I feel like I'm in a much better place to appreciate high-level play than I ever was with MK9 or Injustice. Still not a fan of the kind of insane amounts of free pressure certain characters get. It boggles my mind that a character can perform a pressure string and still be +frames on block, but maybe that's my SF blood talking.

Part of me feels like I should be exploring the other variations of each character before moving on, but in the case of Scorpion and Kitana it's mostly just the same moves with fewer options. I think I'll pick up a less familiar character next.


MKX Kombo Lab Scorpion (Inferno) BnBs

My son took a nap while my daughter was in preschool today which never happens. I probably could have used the extra time to beat The Order or, I dunno, clean, but dammit it's lab week/month. So I decided to take the framework I built yesterday and see what else I could do with Inferno Scorpion.

As it turns out, there is actually a huge buffer window for inputting a Run command after an attack, so I was able to eke a few extra % out of my previous stuff and do a set of BnB combos for various situations like I did for MK9. Then I went and watched some other peoples videos and realized I had forgotten one crucial thing: Even slow-as-fuck normals can often be used mid-combo thanks to MK's buffering mechanics. Also Minion Grab can hit airborne (sometimes) and you can meter burn Double Spear. OH, and Double Spear is only -5 on block making it more-or-less safe giving Scorpion a really threatening high/low game off of Oki.

As for why I'm beating up Mileena, well, I recall she had the weirdest float to punish in MK9 so if it worked on her, it worked on everyone else. Not sure if it's the same case here but that's what I'm going with. The next step would be to optimize punish combos with stronger openers for different recovery frames, but I'm feeling pretty happy with where I ended up with Inferno Scorp so I'll probably move on to someone else. Maybe Kitana? Fans for days? I used her a lot in MK2...

Fuck two nights in a row I can't keep doing this. GOODNIGHT!


MKX Kombo Lab Day 0 (Inferno Scorpion)

I'm baaack!

Some of you may remember the series I did of MK9 kombo videos when MK9 came out. It's been a while, but I'm back with a shiny new Elgato and two kids that make it impossible to get anything done o_O. We'll see how prolific I manage to be this time, but here's my limited day 0 experimentation with Inferno Scorpion because I only had Scorp and Sub and Kotal available because my PS4 didn't preload AAAAAAARGH!

So Minion Grab is interesting in that it gives Scorpion another recapture because Spear wasn't enough I guess? Gravedigger (FPxxBPxxFK) seemed like his best opener as it's hitconfirmable and only -1 on block so I went from there. Teleport came first because it's the kombo extender that gets hurt the most by gravity scaling. After that it was pretty simple math. Spear can recapture out of the air followed by Minion Grab that only recaptures grounded enemies. Then it became a question of the best ender, and I settled on Flame Fist. You sacrifice a few % of damage you could get off of another Kombo xxSpecial, but you put the opponent down right in front of you in a hard knockdown state giving you Oki opportunities. There might be some more damage after the first Teleport if instead of F+FKxxSpear I did a quick Run into a Kombo xxSpear, but the timing for that is way too tight and I am ass.

I wish I could experiment more but it's like 3AM and my kids are gonna be up in 4.5 hours or so. I'll try to lab it up some more tomorrow. Any characters you'd like to see? I'm trying to figure out who the less popular characters will be so I won't be lost in the sea of videos on YouTube. Yeah I know, Scorpion was like the worst possible choice.

Stupid preload.

EDIT: So maybe Minion Grab doesn't only work on grounded enemies? I'm not even sure and I can't play because kids and I really shouldn't even be typing this but it's burrowing into my brain aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...


StarvingGamer's Games Worth Starving For (or Otherwise) in 2014

Let me preface this by saying Fuck. This. Year. As my first full year as a proud parent of two, many late nights were spent watching the gaming community and an entire country implode under the weight of oppression and social injustice while trying to shush one of my spawn back to sleep. I learned that hashtags are even more the-fucking-worst than I previously imagined and nothing retweeted after 11PM is anything good.

Thankfully, it wasn't all doom-and-gloom, as 2014 was another amazing year for games to distract me from the ever-looming maw of oblivion. The early year saw my gaming habits largely unchanged, with an infant son spending half the day asleep and a daughter in preschool. (Un)fortunately, children inevitably become more and more upwardly mobile and, as time passed, I found myself relying more and more on portable devices, be they my Vita, 3DS, iPad or iPhone, to fulfill my gaming needs.

While many games I would have loved to invest dozens-if-not-hundreds of hours into (including a handful of games I may have Kickstarted for way too much) ended up falling by the wayside, several more rose to the surface as standout experiences. So without further ado, this was my 2014 in video games:

2014's Old Game of the Year

Much like the GB staff in 2013, this year I wanted to expand the category beyond games released in the previous year so I could mention the 2012 banger, Final Fantasy XIII-2. As one of the most vehement supporters of FFXIII, largely on the strength of its battle system, it's criminal that I didn't get around to playing XIII-2 until just-before the release of Lightning Returns. While I simultaneously loved and hated what the Pokémonlike system for the third party member did to my min-maxer brain, the entire game was fantastically fun from start to finish. That said, the actual winner of this category is...


I<3U SolForge but FUCK this card

The handful of you that read my GotY blog from last year may remember me saying something along the lines of

...once I get an iPhone I'll be sure to spend thousands more [hours playing SolForge] in 2014, probably while driving.

Well, I got an iPhone. And I definitely spent thousands of hours playing SolForge. And at least a few-hundred of those were while driving. OK I HAVE A PROBLEM.

As a person who craves, nay, needs to be multitasking everywhere at all times, SolForge has been a godsend. The incredibly lenient turn-timer and clear UI allow me to asses any board-state at-a-glance, then devote the rest of me to other tasks while my brain works on figuring out my next move. I can play while cooking. I can play while changing diapers. I can play while shopping. I can play while taking a shower (by propping my iPad up on the towel rack). And yes, I can even play while driving (NOT RECOMMENDED).

SolForge promotes creativity and freedom of expression in the way all great CCGs do while providing more than enough mechanical depth to keep my mind engaged in-between turns. Unlike Hearthstone, the variance is significantly more manageable and losses rarely, if ever, put me on tilt, meaning even a bad (luck) day is a good day to play SolForge. While the most recent card release (just a few weeks old) has introduced the swingiest deck to the metagame since the beta and has managed to scare me off of constructed for the time being, I am still having no shortage of fun playing unranked games and I have no doubt that with the next update, the developers will start steering the game back to where victories are decided by the play instead of the draw.

Runner-up: Final Fantasy XIII-2, FTL: Faster Than Light

Best Surprise

Fantasy Life

Everyone who described this game as "sort of like Animal Crossing" and left it at that has done Fantasy Life a massive disservice. Animal Crossing is a job. You do a bunch of menial repetitive tasks day after day, beholden to a limited window for productivity, with NPC's that get pissy when you forget to have lunch with them at 1PM or, god forbid, don't have time to play the game on their birthday. Don't get me wrong, I'll still probably pick up whatever the next iteration ends up being and I'll have "fun" with it for a handful of weeks before resenting the franchise all over again, but it's that comparison that almost caused me to write off Fantasy Life entirely were it not for a few key tweets from people whose opinions I trust.

So what is Fantasy Life? Well, you talk with NPCs and do stuff for them and there's a bunch of menial repetitive tasks you can perform every day like collecting shells and shaking/chopping down trees and you have this house where you can buy furniture and you can dress up your character or get your hair styled or... OK, so the comparison isn't completely off the mark. But while there may be some parallels in the systems for interaction, at its core Fantasy Life is more a mash-up between a tight RPG job-system and a single-player MMORPG.

Also the art is AMAZING

At the onset, I was asked to choose one of twelves lives (jobs, classes, whatever) including four for combat, three for gathering, and five(!) for crafting. Shortly thereafter, I was free to take on as many or as few of those lives as I wanted, and I easily transitioned between them to take advantage of the myriad ways they complimented one another. This eventually lead to a sort of cascading playstyle where a simple task transformed into an hours-long play session.

Ok, I finally killed that dinosaur but now I'm having trouble mining the ore it was protecting so I probably need new pickaxe. If I'm going to make one I should probably make a better blacksmithing hammer first so I have a higher chance of my pickaxe coming out with a high quality modifier. The best hammer I can make needs master-rank beams and I'm only an expert carpenter right now. Well, I'm going to want to rank-up carpentry eventually anyways so I might as well do that now so I can make the beams myself instead of paying a ton of money to buy them from the vendor. I have almost all the materials I need to complete my carpenter challenges and rank-up, but I'm still missing a scale from that one really tough dragon that's a component for the bed I'm making for whatever reason. I need to kill that dragon for a paladin challenge as well so I can kill two birds with one stone by doing that. But actually I'm doing almost no damage to it with my current sword so I should probably smith myself a stronger one. Actually, I can make a sword that would be perfect for fighting the dragon, but it needs ore from that vein I haven't been able to mine yet. I probably need a better pickaxe.

With an abundance of widely varied progression tracks to make sure I never felt bored and an almost incessantly positive storyline of hope and kindness (you can beat the game without killing anything!), Fantasy Life was exactly the psychic salve I needed to deal with the darker parts of this year. If you have a 3DS you owe it to yourself to buy a copy of this game and let it put a smile on your face. Unless you can't appreciate dad jokes. Almost every joke in the game is more-or-less a dad joke. AND I LOVE IT.

Runners-up: South Park: The Stick of Truth, Wolfenstein: The New Order

Local Multiplayer Game that Makes Me Wish I Wasn't a Busy-ass Adult

The Jackbox Party Pack

What smart design. Even with the desync issue that seems to hit at least one player every other game, the fact that anyone with an internet browser can participate in a game of Fibbage or Drawful is one of the best gaming developments of 2014. I bought the game twice and played the game twice and already have gotten more than my money's worth of fun out of it. Unfortunately I'll be moving across the country soon to an area where I have no friends meaning my local multiplayer experience will likely be restricted to my Beyoncé and kids, and a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old aren't properly equipped to appreciate the comedic genius that is xxcloud420xx. Though our time was short it was ever so sweet, The Jackbox, and while we may be apart, know that every time I see Clippy what I'll really be thinking about is a sad penis and you.

You don't even know

Runners-up: Gang Beasts, Lethal League

Biggest Disappointment

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth

Following a similar vein to my biggest disappointment from last year, SimCity, Beyond Earth is a game that I have played and enjoyed for dozens of hours already and will likely continue to do so into 2015.

BUT IT'S JUST CIV V WITH A SPACE SKIN. Sure, some interesting tweaks were made to the underpinnings with a build-your-own-Civ sort of approach and a fancy new tech-web, but I felt like I had explored both of those addition to their fullest extent within a handful of games. Now I'm basically just playing Civ V with less annoying military and much more annoying miasma. I guess from the start they made it known that they were going to be making Civ V in space, I just wish they had leaned more on the "in space" side and less on the "Civ V" side.

Whatever, it's still alright, and maybe they'll be able to differentiate it even more whenever the first expansion drops. Maybe they'll add religion!

Runners-up: Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015, Watch_Dogs

The Game to Pay Full-Price For but Not Play Because of Dragon Age: Inquisition of the Year

Assassin's Creed: Unity

Only downside: missing out on this hot hot action

Look, I like Assassin's Creed, alright? Even III was great. The series appeals to my gotta-collect-'em-all map-scouring sensibilities and I consistently derive hours upon hours of enjoyment out of every entry. So it was a given that I would be buying either Unity or Rogue and I figured what's the point of having this sleek current-gen box if I can't shove some games inside of it. Besides, if I waited I could probably just pick up the inevitable HD update for Rogue somewhere further down the line like I did with Black Flag.

My copy arrived in the mail and, sure, there was some weird business going on with embargoes and completely busted framerates or somesuch nonsense, but I wasn't concerned about that. However, my extremely limited sit-down time with console games meant I was still flailing away at the tail-end of Bayonetta 2 and I knew I had to get that done before Inquisition came out.

I beat Bayonetta 2. Then Inquisition came out. Inquisition is still out. 120 hours later and it's still out. And not done. So I'll get to Unity some time during the January doldrums while my kids are with their grandparents and I'm supposed to be doing something like packing up for our big move. The fact that the game will be significantly more playable by then is a fantastic bonus and, honestly, I can't wait.

Thanks, Dragon Age!

Runners-up: Far Cry 4, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Game of the Year

Ultra Street Fighter IV

Not a big surprise

I love fighting games, which should be abundantly clear from a majority of my activity on this site. If I were going to be stranded on a desert island with one genre (and an internet connection), I would want it to be fighting games. In fact, three-fourths of my blog posts from this year had something to do with fighting games. So when Capcom updated the most recent version of their storied franchise for 2014, it was an obvious lock for my GotY.

And so it is, but not simply because of some sense of nostalgia or genre loyalty. Ultra Street Fighter IV is, beyond question, the most balanced modern fighting game on the market. With a massive roster of 44 characters and a wide variety of system mechanics, it's an accomplishment that is nothing short of miraculous. There is no clearer proof of this than the remarkable character diversity that has been showcased at every tournament top-8 since the game's release. The competitive-scene has never been more exciting, and 2015 promises to push things even further with a massive $500,000 prize-pool for the Capcom pro-tour courtesy of Sony.

Some characters may have been left out in the cold (sorry Dee Jay), but Capcom continues to fine-tune the game with free balance updates to try and shrink the already minuscule tier gap. The experimental playground of the newly-released Omega mode seems to be pointing at a possible direction for SFV, but until that game comes out (in 2016?), I'll continue having a blast losing repeatedly with Rose in USFIV. I can't wait to buy the game for a fourth time on PS4.

I just hope they adopt the driver Cowboy cooked up for the guys at Lab Zero so I don't have to buy another joystick. Even though I kinda want to buy another joystick. Man I want another joystick. JOYSTICK!

Runners-up: 2. Dragon Age: Inquisition 3. Bravely Default 4. Bayonetta 2 5. Fantasy Life 6. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS 7. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call 8. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII 9. The Banner Saga 10. The Last of Us (Left Behind DLC)

P.S. If you're looking to get into fighting games a little bit more, be it as a player or a spectator, I'd like to wholeheartedly recommend the Tuesday Show on UltraChenTV. Hosted by David "ultradavid" Graham and James "jchensor" Chen, the show is a sort of catch-all for everything fighting games, including game news, tournament results, scene drama, and anything in between. You can catch it most Tuesdays at around 8:30PM Pacific time, but your best bet is to follow @UltraChenTV on twitter to find out when they're going to be streaming.



Smash Scene Shaken By Rise and Fall of False Idol

Okay, the title might be a little over-the-top but this is a pretty weird/interesting story.

Earlier today (yesterday? Ugh why am I up so late/early?) a GameStop in West Hollywood held a promotional event, giving players a chance to get some hands-on time with Smash for Wii U before its release on November 21. Many players from the SoCal Smash scene were in attendance, alongside D'Ron "D1" Maingrette who was acting as host. Even if you don't recognize his handle, you may have seen him commentating this year's Smash Invitational during E3. Being one of the pillars of the Smash community, everyone's ears perked up when he put out the following tweet:

A complete unknown, the young girl earned herself the moniker Karissa the Destroyer for the dominating manner in which she dismantled a majority of her opponents. One of the attendees managed to capture a fair amount of her rampage on his phone, and another caught her beating D1 with a convincing 2-stock victory (exhausting both of her opponent's lives without losing any of her own).

So I guess the title of that video is a bit of a spoiler. You see, while some players, like Keith "Southpaw" Gordon, took their loss in stride, others, like Sky Williams, started getting an inkling that something was amiss. Key tells included Karissa showboating by performing difficult combos without looking at the screen and a third controller plugged into the Wii U with a wire that mysteriously disappeared behind the stage. Sky's full account of his experience is definitely worth a read, but it culminated in him witnessing a top Smash player, who had not been seen by anyone during the course of the event, hastily sneaking away from the GameStop after the event had ended.

The fact that Karissa is actually an actor represented by Talent Branded Entertainment was only a Google search away. Then someone dug up this megaton:

It's a casting call for people with some experience in Smash to act as ringers and lose to "[the casting company's] girl". The twitterverse reacted in its usual fashion. Many people merely brushed it off as nothing more than a cute joke. Some took exception to the idea that someone had put one over on them and responded in the traditional fashion with insults and, apparently, death threats accusing anyone in attendance of being in on it. And while the actual wording of the casting call seems to indicate that the plan has always been to reveal the truth in a future marketing push, others, like designer, ex-Smasher, and advocate for women in competitive gaming Lil "Milktea" Chen were more concerned about the impact such a stunt could have on young female gamers looking for inspiration, and the social implications of the fact that any such repercussions likely never even crossed the minds of the professionals behind this marketing campaign.

It's hard to think of a worse time for a marketing campaign centered around a fake gamer girl being backed by a male player. But whether this crops up later as a TV ad or a web promo or simply another thing for people to not pay attention to while they're shopping at GameStop, at least now you'll have some idea of where it came from.


Sticks with Chicks

Now that you're properly titillated, I'd like to show you my joystick. And by joystick I mean penis. And by penis I mean PS3 peripheral by which I control my characters whilst fighting streets. You know, this one:

Not an actual penis

This is my limited-edition Femme Fatale Fightstick from Madcatz, number 73/350 made. There's isn't much that makes her special, but I swapped out the stick when the old one went bad and of course traded my square-gate in for an 8-way gate because I'm not a maniac, so in those little ways she's unique to me. I've spent more time with her on my lap than pretty much anything, but never went in for any fancier mods because A) money B) what if I break her and C) money.

But the week of E3 Arcade Shock announced a set of Street Fighter chibi pushbuttons and something inside me (my common sense) snapped and I knew I had to buy a set. I had no idea how much they were going to cost, I just knew that I needed them. At first I thought about buying a complete set of Rose because, well, it's Rose, but decided that would be a bit redundant and besides, I'm nowhere near good enough to consider myself a character specialist, so I immediately set to wracking my brain for which characters I wanted to buy.

I decided that I would buy 8 different characters that I play with some degree of competency, then assign each of them to buttons that I felt really exemplified that character. I came up with something like this:

It worked out pretty well (although I don't actually play Ryu) and fit within the limited set of characters they had available, but I couldn't figure out who would be KKK. Maybe Claw?

It didn't matter though because Arcade Shock started announcing more characters. Then they announced ball-tops. Then they announced more characters. Then they announced prices (ouch!). Then it hit me. Looking through the cast there were exactly 8 female characters available (sorry Poison, Elena & Decapre) and duh, I had a femme fatale stick. And of course once that was decided, the ball-top had to be Dan. Who else in the cast is a better fit for creepily hanging around a bunch of girls?

With this in mind I decided on a new layout based on my extremely limited character knowledge for most of the characters I was going to buy:

  • Jab = Makoto (she has that one command normal? I don't know...)
  • Strong = Rose
  • Fierce = Sakura (cl.Fierce, cr.Fierce, j.Fierce, even with the nerfs)
  • PPP = Ibuki (her target combo got buffed to not whiff as often)
  • Short = Chun (Short, Short xx EX Hyakuretsukyaku, Ultra)
  • Forward = C.Viper (because LOLOL she has footsies now so fair)
  • Roundhouse = Cammy
  • KKK = Juri (sometimes her punches are kicks!)

July 1st rolled around and I "happened" to be awake around 3AM and just "happened" to be refreshing arcadeshock.com when online preorders became available so I fought my way through the phone interface, got all eight buttons and one ball-top in my cart, and checked out. The next morning I told my Beyoncé that I had done a bad thing and had spent (exorbitant sum of money) on cosmetic upgrades for a video game interface device and she thought it was cute because she rocks my face off.

So on Saturday I got my package, tore it open, hastily watched a tutorial on button replacement on youtube, skipped most/all of the important parts, then opened up my stick and got to swapping. Outside of a minor mishap involving me not remembering which wires went into which buttons nor the fact that I had unbound L1 and L2 in the options, things went off without a hitch and she plays as crisp as ever.

Now I'm fully ready to get hype over Evo weekend, and if you run into a Rose player on PSN named catbond just know that while I may be ass at Ultra, I have a sweet stick! See you in the chat!