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Let's You and Me Fight: Shadoloo Shadow Labs

My goodness, but it’s been a while. All these video games out there, you know, and so few of them are fighting games (and anyway, I’m not sure how many more fighting games I can realistically take up before I go mad). I had a lot of other things demanding my attention, so I spent just under a week doing very little in the way of fighting at all. In spite of that, it’s been an eventful time since the last installment.

Street Fightin’

I've definitely found that Hugo's pretty easy to beat using Sakura--which is funny considering how often I've lost to him.
I've definitely found that Hugo's pretty easy to beat using Sakura--which is funny considering how often I've lost to him.

Most importantly (or at least, most importantly to me), I’m no longer winless in USFIV—I may have racked up a ridiculous amount of losses in the process, but I made the decision to switch back to Sakura and stuck with her. This paid off in a downright heart-pounding victory over a Chun-Li player, which basically left me feeling so goddamn elated that I nearly called my parents to brag before I realized they’d have no fucking clue what I was talking about (I settled for sending a series of excited texts to my brother, who was polite enough to pretend to care). The funniest part about the win was that I was close to giving up on the game altogether. A series of (frankly humiliating) defeats had left me thinking that maybe the Street Fighter series just wasn’t for me (a note I wrote down at the time posits that maybe “I’ve got some strange enjoyment out of being terrible” and laments a predilection for poor timing and panic). Shortly after that note is one written in an unsteady hand still shaking from adrenaline “Have I found my feet?”

Well, as it turns out I haven’t really found my feet that much. I did manage to string together a series of wins after the first one. This also basically ensured that I will never stop playing as Sakura, as she pulled off my first win and has continued to perform well for me, at least in terms of winning me a couple matches here and there (I think my record is something like 19-81 overall). Yesterday I discovered the match replay functionality and, figuring there wasn’t much reason not to, decided I would upload one of my matches to YouTube so you can all watch it and laugh at how cheap my wins are (I tried to find my original win but with no success—the game only keeps a set amount of matches in its memory before it deletes them, so it’s likely I’ve lost it forever).

No, I don't know why the whole thing recorded in slow motion. Yes, my wins really are that cheap.

One thing which I’ve learned, at least, is that it pays to sit back and watch your opponent—as much as I’m a fan of just charging in swinging, my better fights have come when I spend the first round playing slightly more passively, waiting to see what they favor.

I also impulsively decided to try playing Cammy, which went about as well as you’d expect (i.e. I got my ass handed to me).

Teaching my Shadow Poor Fighting Habits

Like the rest of the world, I was super-excited by the announcement of the Shadow Lab. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I’d want to make one of my own, particularly since any advances in AI (even simple-ass videogame AI) fascinate me to no end. So shortly after watching Jeff play around in it on UPF, I fired up Killer Instinct and made myself an AI me.

BEHOLD MY SHADOW BRAIN
BEHOLD MY SHADOW BRAIN

I got absolutely murdered by the Jago you fight initially to program your AI, incidentally. It’s appropriate, because that’s what usually happens when I fight Jago as Sabrewulf (or anyone). I’ve since spent a lot of time challenging the shadows of others and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun. There’s a lot about the shadow system I like—it gives me the ability to fight my brother, for example, even though our schedules don’t always line up—plus it really is shockingly close to fighting a real person (right down to getting teabagged after a loss). Also, as someone who occasionally has connectivity issues (in a perfect world, I would not be forced to use god-awful Comcast internet—but they are the only game in town and their service is fucking dog shit) it is nice to get the “fighting a real person” experience without the “whoops say hi to lag/dropped connections” part.

Also I spent some time dressing up Sabrewulf. Don't judge me.
Also I spent some time dressing up Sabrewulf. Don't judge me.

Oddly enough, I don’t seem to be able to get any statistics about my Shadow’s performance online (I figure he must have been in some fights by now, but I don’t get any statistics beyond the ones I create by fighting shadows myself). There’s no replacement for good old fashioned fighting actual humans, but the shadow system comes incredibly close to it. At this point I’m sure I’ve spent more time fighting shadows than fighting real people, and it’s been a blast. Plus I’m sure it’s all made my shadow even more like my own, awful fighting performance.

Other Stuff

I wound up taking a massive break from MKX—the fighting in KI and USFIV flows so smoothly for me that MKX feels clunky by comparison. I just didn’t want to spend time figuring it out anymore, so I gave it up for a while. My brother has been a little more stubborn about it, and convinced me to give it another try recently, so I went back into it. I read a couple guides on MKX (Sub Zero, specifically) and tried out some of the combos, but the timing on them is unlike anything else I’ve played, and I’m not sure I have the patience to keep banging my head against the wall. It’s hard to muster the urge to get back to the game when I’ve been having so much fun with other (better, if you ask me) games.

Speaking of other games—how about that Street Fighter V news, huh? I can’t help but wonder if they’ve gotten rid of the Z motion in it entirely after hearing Jason talk about how it’s not required for Ryu’s uppercut anymore. I would be more into the idea if I hadn’t gotten to the point where I can actually pull the damn move off consistently, but I think I’m into the idea of a more accessible Street Fighter. It sounds weird to say it, but SFV might be the thing that makes me pick up a PS4? I like the look of it, and while some of the animations still seem a little off (there’s something about Ryu’s fireball that has a little judder to it I can’t quite place), I’m pretty sure they’ll sort that out by the time it launches. I’ll be interested to see what comes out of E3 for it (more character announcements would be nice—I need to be able to play Sakura or I’m screwed).

PS. Please announce Season 3 of KI at E3 and put the KI season 1 and 2 bundle on sale. Thanks.

PPS. If you want to fight my awful Sabrewulf shadow, I'm forddent on XBL.

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