My Gaming Diary: In Which I Play Super Street Fighter IV and remember how awful I am
After making a recent post about BattleCON: War of Indines (a card game from Level 99 Games that emulates the feel of arcade-style fighting games), I got the itch to play a real fighting game. Of course, I also mentioned in that same post that I am, by-and-large, also pretty awful at these things. Still, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition was on sale on Steam (I’d link to it, but the sale is off now, so whatev) to celebrate SSIV moving from Games for Windows Live to Steam (thank goodness for that). ‘Well, that’s a happy turn of events, isn’t it?’ I thought to myself, not realizing that I had just spent $11 or so on pure, bottled rage.
Okay, so I load the game up (which is just over 6 gigs, so it takes an hour or so, which sucked because I was feeling antsy to play). I’ve played Street Fighter IV before back on its original release for 360. I remember not being the worst at it. I have also begun to suspect that my memory may be shaky. I’m playing with a 360 controller because I don’t play nearly enough fighting games to justify a joystick. I have considered it several times, especially since the Quanba Q4 works on PC as well as 360 and PS3 and has some really nice reviews. Still, not going to drop $150+ on it.
So, we’re playing with the 360 controller and I figure I’ll warm up with some single player. I get about three matches in playing with Adon, who I think looks awesome and I have some residual fondness for after playing a lot of Street Fighter Alpha back in the day. So, the first three matches go easy. I figure out his moves and I’m feeling good. And then, well, then the pain starts. I lose a few times in a row, finally resorting to switching the M. Bison, my go-to character because of his undeniable cheesiness and my ability to actually consistently do the Psycho Crusher. I make it through a fight with Fei Long, no problem. ‘Hey!,’ I think to myself, having no one else nearby who would be interested in discussing Street Fighter with me, ‘We’re making progress now!” Except we’re not. Not even a little. A couple of losses later, I turn the game off in disgust.
So, I try again a little later. I feel a little dirty, but I pull up a tier list off the ol’ InterWebs to see which characters might give me some sort of unfair advantage. Because I clearly need it. I’m going to wade into Ranked play. This, as you might surmise, is a poor life decision. But the thrill of competing against real people, the chess game inside the fighting game, it speaks to me even when I’m losing. So I pick Fei Long as my guy. Why? Because I read that he’s good. Of course, I’m not counting frames. My Fei Long, although I work on his moves in Training for a while, is mostly a jump kick and leg seep kinda’ dude. I like his spinny fire kick ma-bob, but I can’t do it consistently so I’m better off not trying.
I immediately drop two games in a row. Badly. I never get hit with a Perfect, but I think that three out of the four rounds were only saved from that ignominy by a single hit. I feel shame. I turn off the system after a third fight, this one with Dudley, that I feel like I should have won despite the fact that he was not below half of his life in either of the rounds. My perception of events may be questionable.
I let the game rest for a night and come back today to see what’s going on. Maybe some of my (likely misremembered) motor memory has returned? But no, a couple of immediate and resounding defeats remind me that I am still awful and likely playing against people who have been practicing at this game for a good six years (plus or minus some rebalances and re-releases). ‘Okay,’ I tell myself, sitting alone at my computer in a dimly lit room as the sun slowly sets outside, ‘I’ll play one more match to get a couple of screens and call it a day.’ I figure that the story will be my inability to so much as win a round. The match starts and my opponent is playing Ibuki and spamming her knife throw. Fei Long’s High Kick jump kick turns out to be a solid answer and I eek out a victory in the first round. Flush with my success, I head into the second round figuring that if that knife throw is all my opponent has, I should be able to improve. Sadly, my opponent breaks out a couple of new moves, likely underestimating the first go-round. I lose the second round thoroughly and now feel substantially less good about myself. I’ve seen the moves now, though, so we’re going to give it a try. The third round is a nailbiter, but I manage to whittle Ibuki down and win the match with chip damage from my Ultra.
So, at least I’ve won one now. I may never win another again, but I’ve got that one and the picture just above to prove it. And I’ll keep playing this game for a good long time. So many characters to be awful with. So many opponents to cave my face in. But I’ll always come back. There is, for me, nothing in gaming quite like the adrenal thrill of being right on the cusp of victory. Right on the line between victory and defeat, even if I almost always fall to the latter.