Sorry I’ve been MIA for a bit but – well, Street Fighter IV came out and I’m only human. See, Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior hit arcades while I was just going about leaving High School. Arcades had become passe, most had already closed, and most people who played coin-ops (which were still superior to home console games) had to suffer the din of bowling, disco skating, miniature golfing, go-carting and giant furry animatronic rat-things warbling bad folk music and hocking cheap pizza – deep breath – in order to have the honor of playing that old Galaga machine or the latest in side scrolling beat-uppery.
Street Fighter 2 was the first HUGE multiplayer game – sure there was Gauntlet and various 0ther team games but SF2 had a magic all its own. That magic is called “balance” by the way. My friends and I would play for hours, the four of us, as the winner would coast to the next opponent and the losers had to pony up the coins to keep the game going. I cut my teeth on Chun-Li and then mastered – in this order! – Blanka, E. Honda, Guile, Dhalsim, Ken (and therefore Ryu), Sagat and Zangief.
Now Street Fighter has been remade, better looking, smoother-playing, with all the mangeled translations and corny motivations intact, and not a whit missing of what made the endless rock/paper/scissors confrontations so compelling. If you ask me, the secret is that when you face an equal opponent, either person always FEELS like they can win the bout.
My friend Zane and I proved this over the course of a couple frantic evenings. The final record probably stands at about 20-18, in my favor, but the fact that Zane enjoys picking characters he doesn’t know well evens it up slightly. See, I come from the arcade era – a home version didn’t come out until a few years later – so I couldn’t practice all those HADOUKEN super-duper moves. I didn’t need to, my friends were content to master the regular controls too. Street Fighter IV has a wonderful and simple matchmaking system (too simple, perhaps, lobbies would be nice and some way to duplicate the “coasting on a quarter” style of play detailed above with friends) and everyone I’ve encountered is kicking my ass with combos and super-moves.
I’m 37! I’m not that old and I’m not done yet! I’m the GamerDad and I will learn these combos. I will dominate! I will rule again! I will… be buying one of them new arcade sticks and maybe a strategy guide.
KID FACTOR: Henry is 6 and that feels too young for me. Maybe next year because the cartoonish violence is hardly offensive, unless you find all violence offensive. Street Fighter, when mastered, has a zen-like feel to it (Dahlsim is downright trippy) where it is the instinct, strategy and moves that win the fight – not the button mashing. It’s a game I recommend for all gamers and a gameplay style – 2D fighting – that’s never been done better than this. It’s pricey for what you get maybe. There’s merit to that argument, but trust me … it’s all worth it.
1st pic. Zangief from Penny-Arcade’s “Gabe” (yes, I bought one of these). http://www.penny-arcade.com
2nd pic. Dhalsim from Capcom’s Website