By Ford_Dent 10 Comments
Before we go any further, I’ve got an important confession to make: I’d intended to keep to my semi-regular schedule of getting these up on Sundays, but I spent the lion’s share of Sunday the same way I spent the lion’s share of Saturday, and indeed the lion’s share of my Friday evening—watching the Combo Breaker tournament on this very website (thanks for allowing me to not have to sit in Twitch chat, Giant Bomb, I appreciate it more than you know). It was a massive bummer to have the streams go down as often as they did (some serious ISP shenanigans apparently went down, and that’s a shame), but whenever the feeds were up it was great to watch a bunch of intensely good players do battle in games which I either own or happen to have an interest in. I particularly enjoyed watching the Killer Instinct and Guilty Gear Xrd finals (I wanted to watch the P4AU finals too, but stream problems prevented it). I will never be on the level that basically any of the participants operated on, but there’s always some knowledge to be gleaned from watching folks play at a high level (like “block sometimes” and “maybe don’t just charge at people all the time”). Also it’s fun to watch and chat with people who know more about fighting games than I do. Some pretty damn good matches happened over the weekend, and the MKX final in particular was intensely exciting.
So obviously I finished watching Combo Breaker footage and got intensely excited about playing some more fighting games—specifically, I got intensely excited about playing more Killer Instinct.
I Gave Iron Galaxy Five Dollars
Shortly after my last post, some discussion in the comments ensued, and it was recommended to me (thanks, @l1ghtn1n) that I should consider buying either Jago or Sabrewulf, as my previous posts indicated a preference for rushdown characters (which is pretty accurate, since my go-to strategy involves just lumbering forward like a big dumb animal and swinging wildly—there’s a tip for any of you who happen to encounter me in any fighting game). A vague memory of playing a lot of Sabrewulf on the original KI as well as a passing interest in werewolves (I would kill for a Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines type of game, except you get to be a werewolf instead, because vampires are fuckin’ boring) got me to shell out the $5.00 it took to unlock Sabrewulf.
Here’s something I really like about Killer Instinct: It has a nice training mode (not the best training mode, but a nice one) that lays out the basic mechanics and has you essentially do a bunch of crap as Jago. Once the combo system was explained, I had a better idea of what I was doing—and it turns out Sabrewulf’s linkers are insanely easy to pull off. I pulled up the arcade mode and jumped in, setting the AI to I think “medium,” which in my parlance usually means “this will beat the piss out of you,” because as I may have mentioned in the past I’m not very good at fighting games.
I charged in, started a combo, hit a linker, and then… everything slid into place. 16, 24, 32 hit combos, all of them suddenly pounding the absolute shit out of enemies I’d never managed to come close to beating in previous, aborted attempts with Glacius to do anything of note. The system clicked for me, and I fell instantly and irrevocably in love with this fucking game. I haven’t taken the game online yet—I was going to do it over the weekend, but Combo Breaker happened—but it is something I am pretty excited to do. If you happen to see me online and in Killer Instinct (my XBL handle is forddent), feel free to challenge me and, I’m sure, beat my ass like a fucking drum because I’m still pretty shit.
The Quanba and CronusMAX combination, incidentally, continues to work well as a way to have a fightstick on the Xbox One—I leave the stick set to 360 when I use it, and since the adapter isn’t doing any weird-ass macro inputs or anything (because who has time to fuck with all that nonsense, also why would you want to? That whole concept is dumb as hell to me) and just serves as a bridge I haven’t noticed any input lag of any sort—although I struggled a little more to pull of some quarter-circle motions with Jago to start out with, so maybe there was some lag in there after all? I kind of doubt it (it is more likely that I just wasn’t making a smooth enough motion), but more testing will doubtless suss out the truth of the matter.
The Perfect Training Mode
I think I mentioned this last week, but I was alerted to a sale on the Humble Bundle store which had Skullgirls on sale for like… three dollars or something like that. I if course grabbed a copy because I’d been considering doing so for a while and three dollars falls well below my threshold for impulse purchasing. I mean shit, you can barely get a drink for three dollars these days.
Anyway I grabbed Skullgirls and jumped right in, although I should be up front and admit that I think I’ve played the least amount of this one—only an hour and a half or so (Steam claims I’ve played like 38 minutes but I think that’s probably not accurate). I’m most impressed with how comprehensive the tutorials in Skullgirls are: they explain a lot of basic fighting game concepts which a beginner might not understand, for example, and have you pulling off combos before you even quite realize you’ve gotten that far.
The MvC team play that Skullgirls seems to rely on is not exactly my cup of tea—I prefer to have my fights as one on one affairs, for the most part—but I went through most of the story mode with Miss Fortune and had a lot of fun with it so far. The story mode’s a little weak—you have some random fights and the occasional story beat, and that’s about it—but it is a decent way to experiment against different matchups with a character, which is all I ever use story mode for anyway (unless we’re talking the story mode for the last two Mortal Kombat games, which are more of a sampler that allows you to figure out which characters you are good with). I’ll probably head back to Skullgirls sooner rather than later, because there were some entertaining SG matchups at Combo Breaker that got me itching to play again.
The Rest of the Stuff
I did some more SFIVU experimentation, and wound up changing characters again—I’ve become attached to Elena, who more than any other character got me close to actually winning a goddamn online match. I’ve had some pretty rotten lag on a couple matches, which is probably because I’ve been trying to find games late on weeknights—certainly when I bother to look for matches on the weekends I’ve had a little more luck. I am still terrible, and I do mean terrible at SFIVU, but I’ve found my footing a little more to the point where I can actually get through most of the arcade mode (when I’m not being interrupted with online match requests, which are pretty frequent if you turn them on) without getting super-stuck, so there’s been a little improvement there.
Persona 4 Arena is probably still the game I’m playing the most of, if only because I really want to get through the story mode—I’ve unlocked all the characters, and just need to knock those out before I get to the bottom of things. It’s a hell of a lot of fun and, like I mentioned last time, almost stupidly easy to pick up and play. I’ve been focusing only on Chie when it comes to online play, and she’s won me more than she’s lost, which is unusual. There’s still a pretty good online community for P4AU, which is a relief, since it’s the game I’m actually decent at.
I have played very little MKX recently, partially because I’ve been focusing on other games, and partially because I am just tired of the terrible online performance (and sure, partially because if I’m gonna play a fighting game on the Xbone, I’m going to hook up my stick and play KI). There was some really exciting action at Combo Breaker that got me thinking about jumping back into it though, so I’ll probably wind up heading back to that soon. Supposedly they’ve tweaked Sub Zero a little so he’s slightly less terrible? That’s an exciting thought. Killer Instinct, though…
Basically, watching the Combo Breaker tournament got me excited to play more fighting games. Next year I might even head down and check the thing out. I considered heading down this year, but for a variety of reasons (mostly involving my inability to plan ahead, so I would’ve been paying to get in like, at the door) I gave it a miss. Chicago’s only an hour-hour and a half drive for me, so it should certainly be worth checking out. Maybe I’ll even register for a tournament and get my ass kicked (probably not though).