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My Fight Club Part 2: Humbled Fighter
Seconds, ladies and gentlemen, mere seconds is how long I lasted in my first online game of Street Fighter IV. Okay so that might be a bit of an exaggeration but by just a little bit. This was nothing like playing against the computer and losing to a few cheap shots, this was utter destruction! I went back to focusing on the single player and tried my best to learn the ins and outs. I soon learned this alone would not cut it. Summoning all of my courage and determination, I logged onto the Internet and researched the world of competitive fighting games. A whole new world opened up right before me. New terminology, combos as long as my arm, this was when I learned just how deep of a community fighters had.
One of the first things I learned about was arcade sticks and their benefits. Now for someone just starting out, this was a tad intimidating. Not only were there so many different ones to choose from but the prices were just as varied as the selection. My first stick was one designed for arcade style games. I quickly found that due to its cross shaped track this stick was not going to work. I then purchased a stick by the well-received company Hori. The difference between the two was remarkable. I had full 360° range of motion. Something was still quite off though. I learned that the transition from a controller to an arcade stick is all dependent on the person; it was just going to take some time to become comfortable.
Confidence growing I dived into the actual mechanics of these games. While there are core mechanics that make up a fighting game, there are also those that are exclusive to that game. Street Fighter IV’s “Focus Attack” is not only a way to cause more damage than usual but can also defend against some attacks, thus using the resulting attack as a sort of counter. Blazblue and Guilty Gear are two fighters that share a “Burst” gauge which can be utilized to escape vicious combos. Those aside, every fighter is going to feature attacks, normal and special, and guarding to defend against those attacks. You may say “Well duh!” but as I learned there is so much that can be done with just these two. Just to give a few examples, high attacks (those done while standing and/or jumping) can penetrate low (crouching) blocks.
Luckily, modern fighters are featuring challenges and missions that not only teach you the basic skills that will transfer from fighter to fighter but also how to use the games exclusive features. Including an excellent but tiringly drawn out tutorial, BlazBlue is a perfect example. After playing through the tutorial, the player can further enhance their game by doing character specific challenges that show off moves and combos. Delving into these challenges I learned just how important timing is in these games.
With everything I had learned so far, I was becoming a bit overwhelmed. Going back online after all of this practice improved my abilities but nowhere near the level that I wanted. The more I researched and the more I tried, the more discouraged I became. This of course led to less and less practicing. As you can imagine, this led to a decrease in my performance. With so many fantastic titles in the genre, I wasn’t about to give up on them completely but instead came to terms with where I was. These games require skill, strategy, cunning, and the ability to adapt in the blink of an eye. For now, I’m okay with being a causal fighter. My experience showed me that the top players put in as much training and pride into their game as an athlete would. Heck, who’s to say that in another few years, the major fighting tournaments like EVO won’t be televised?
So that’s my story. I hope that if you are just starting to get into fighting games or were on the fence about them that you give them a shot. They are fantastic games! The cast of characters available in these games alone should be enough to catch your eye. Shuma Gorath, the eldritch horror, Morrigan Aensland the alluring succubus, and Robo-Ky, the foul mouthed robotic clone of IPF officer Ky Kiske are just three examples and some of my favorites. Just remember to keep practicing. I know we hear that in life quite often but it really is true. Even if you’re not in the top percentage, you can still have fun. If you are a long time veteran fighter then please know this: you have my utter respect and I am in awe of how you play these games