Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Battered Family Man

I'm going to play Street Fighter!

It's a challenging game. I am not the player I should be. I made mistakes in my youth. I did not mix it up with the other kids in the arcades. They tended to be older. Surlier. Better. Now that I think of it I'm not sure I've ever played against a stranger in an arcade. Maybe someone came along and put a coin in a machine I was playing by myself, but waiting in line? Just to lose? Whatta waste of money and time!

Instead of bettering myself through practice and competition I played all by my loneseome. I'd lost most of my friends in 1992. Some moved away. Some drifted away. Some had grumpy parents who instructed their children to stop hanging out with me because I was a bad influence, and the little wimps listened. So by the time summer vacation hit I was down to one friend. He was more independent and mobile than I was, so it was his job to find spots with SF2 machines that no one played. Our favorite was the one at the slot car racing store. No one went in that place! And they had lots of cheap candy. So we'd eat candy, and we'd watch each other play SF2 against the computer. All day long.

He played as Ryu. Ryu was too hard for me. I couldn't pull off the fireball. A few years earlier I'd gotten a TurboGrafx CD with a copy of Fighting Street AKA Street Fighter 1. It was a terrible game, and I doubt we would have played it more than once had my little sister not somehow managed to pull off a fireball during her first match. Us kids, we flipped out. Turned the game from shit to awesome, and we'd bust it out often and spend entire matches just trying to do fireballs. They only succeeded a handful of times. Me? Never. My sister could do them no problem, though. She had the touch.

I can pull off a hadouken nowadays. Most of the time.

My main was Guile, I think? Him and Blanka. Charge characters. Easy special moves. The only moves that mattered - Sonic Boom, Flash Kick, and if your opponent got all up in your grill you mash Fierce and Roundhouse, because why bother with the other four attack buttons? They're weaker! Winning strategy. At least against all my opponents, who were little kids or girls. I'd let them win occasionally, because I'm a nice guy. But they all knew I was really the champ. Bow down.

Of course I knew I wasn't that great at fighters, but I didn't realize I was that bad until the first time I played a fighter online. I couldn't even blame the lag. It was just humiliating. Now I have to make up for lost time. I have to learn all the things I should have learned during puberty! Gotta learn....the moves.

Right now I am Cammy. She's my girl. She is Kylie Minogue. She likes to show me her butt. She has a German suplex and Frankensteiner, which are the best moves. I do not want to play as any other character ever. I don't care if she's the worst character in the game. Those shoryuken.com forum posters are wrong. She's #1.

I hate losing to another Cammy player. I lose a lot. More often than I win. But it's OK as long as I win against against every Cammy. I need to be king of the Cammys.

Actually, losing isn't OK anymore. I go through these stages with fighting games:

- I start off, and I am bad, but I am learning. Just winning a round
is thrilling, and putting on a good fight is all that matters.

- I read up on the game and my character. I practice. I improve. I'd have a positive winning ratio now! Had I not lost 50 matches in a row when I started playing.

- I regress. I use nothing but medium kick. I forget all combos but the one suggested by the shoryuken forum poster with the cosplay Cammy avatar. I think I should use my Super the second I earn it. And then I whiff it. Or I pull it off but the guy sees it coming a mile away because I never combo into it. Because I forgot all the combos! Why did I bother learning? Learning is the biggest mistake I ever made, because it hasn't stopped me from making mistakes! I jump into Ken's dragon punch every time. I know it's coming! But I still jump. Because maybe this time my kick will beat it! Maybe this time he'll do a different move! Maybe this time...

Sometimes I get it together, and I play a smart match, and I win, but that isn't even satisfying now. I'm just getting what's owed me. Owed at least one win for the 5 matches I just lost! It's bad thinking. Bad living. Bad when you get angry and slap yourself, or throw things. I know something's watching me. A hidden spy camera. Dead relatives. Beings from another dimension. Or maybe...God? I'm being watched in some way, and I can push the thought out of my head most of the time, but oh, am I aware of it whenever I throw my shameful little game fits. I see me from outside my body, see what an idiot I am, and wonder why I'm even playing something that causes me to behave in such an embarrassing manner

So why am I playing? Cuz fuck, I gotta get my win/loss ratio over 50%. I can do it!

And with Street Fighter 2 I think I can do it. It's amazing how well it holds up. HD Remix may be uglier than the original, but it still feels like SF2 and that's what really counts. It's a simple game, relative to the fighters that have come since. I don't have to memorize dozens of moves, or complicated systems or styles, or master multiple characters cuz it's a tag team game. It's slower paced, maybe? It feels that way. That I have more time to think. I just need to think! Or cheat. Cheating may be easier.

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