The first beat em up game I ever played was Street Fighter
. I loved it, even though I didn't understand how to even throw a fireball
at the time. I remember when I first made it to Gen
, on the Japan path, or to Eagle
, after Birdie
, on the England path; I was so pleased with myself!
But to put it bluntly and honestly, I sucked.
As much as I loved fighting games, and as much as I got into them, I was so bad, so pathetic. I didn't even learn to play another character than Blanka when Street Fighter 2 came out.
But I digress.
I'm a video game junkie. My dad was one of the original addicts to video games, and descending from him, I have surpassed him. I got a copy of Street Fighter 2 on the SNES eventually, and I honed my craft from there. I learned to play. I threw fireballs with the greatest of ease, and eventually, I mastered the art of the Z motion to utilize the unbridled fury of Ryu's Dragon Punch. At home, on my system, I was a hero. I could take on anybody with the maximum handicap on, and win. It was fantastic. Then I got the bright idea to go to the arcade.
Not only did I get my ass handed to me at Street Fighter, and all it's respective sequels, but a new game was in the arcades, a beat em up game that sported an unprecedented amount of blood, Mortal Kombat. Of course I picked Scorpion, the easy character, and failed miserably to win a match as I spent $10 on 40 games of throwing harpoons at a blocking opponent, only to be uppercutted and beaten about the head and neck with various methods of foot and hand swinging.
I went home, tried to understand what had gone wrong, and couldn't fathom the lack in skill which I still harbored, despite my industriousness at this activity. I got a Sega Genesis and a copy of Mortal Kombat, meanwhile, the sequels were coming out at the arcade. I alternated between fighting my friends at my house and fighting strangers at Skills & Thrills. My technique improved, with a joystick at the arcade, I was getting decent. At home, I had bought an X-Band. Now I was getting an education, learning a trade skill, looking for the W (the win, for those who weren't raised in the ghetto of arcades, upscale high society twits). I became a regular, and a guy who you didn't mess with at MK3, and at home, from the privacy of my own home, had become so good at the first Mortal Kombat that I was ranked number one in the world over X-Band's network.
Street Fighter 3 came out, over a decade since the first Street Fighter game, and with a good portion of my life behind my belt, preparing for this, I thought I was ready.
Unfortunately, the Asian kids in Austin's Einstein's Arcade had a different story to tell me. I sucked again. I ate it time after time, and in the end, I emerged as a better person. Street Fighter 3 had become my drug of choice. I played it as much as I could, holding steady to Ryu, the character I'd grown up with, the character I'd played since I was a callow youth in a roller skating rink, listening to Vanilla Ice as I fought round after round against the disappearing ninja from Japan, and eventually, I could beat all but the very best. And even they couldn't take me down all the time. People called me a cheap bitch for picking an obvious programmer's favorite character. I, at the age of eighteen, having spent so much time in my most favorite Capcom series, knew that I wasn't a cheap bitch at all. I had finally claimed the right to call myself, 'old school.'
I played it as I moved to the Grapevine Mills mall, and here, I learned something. College kids devote much more of their time to playing video games, way way, way moreso than kids, adults, and your run of the mill gamer at this place. The proof? I played match after match of win, win, win. One of the people who worked at the place set his hand against me. The result? His failure and the inevitable stroking of my ego.
Cut forward, I go to college. New game. Capcom vs. SNK. Of course, I noded it wrong, because I was so excited about having played it. You get a choice of characters, and you get to play more characters, based on the strengths of those you choose, i.e. - Ryu is two points, M.Bison is 3, Sakura and Dhalsim are 1 a piece, you get four points. I played once on a Sunday, and totally destroyed everyone there, my first time on the machine, but when I came back on Thursday, I met the most avid of shit talkers in existence. Not only did this guy talk total shit, but he left me on the recieving end of his super specials quite a few more times than I'd like to think I'd be susceptible to. I applied myself. I adapted.
Yesterday, I spent 2 hours on $3, destroying people as fast as they could step up. There was one guy who could actually beat me, but when I was down to my last quarter (before fare for the street car), he said that one of us was going home after the next match. I say with a grin, that I continued to play after that for a few more rounds.
I'm still not the best, but sometimes I'm damn good.