Gaming Confessions: Why do I play fighting games if I’m bad at them?

This is a personal post I wanted write for all to see. I want to discuss one of the most competitive genres of videogames…..fighting video games.

I’m talking about the typical 2D and nowadays 3D side scrolling fighter games. The ultimate personal video game confrontation, your favorite player against their favorite player in the battle for all time.  The list of fighting games you can play with people locally, online, and offline go on for days. I’m only going to talk about a select few but let me get to the point of this post.

I suck at fighting games.

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You heard me, I’m absolutely terrible, ask any of my friends or brothers about any of my records in fighting games. It aint pretty, if my win loss was someone’s K/D in call of duty I might bring some gamers to tears. My brother Julian has been whooping my ass in Mortal Kombat since I came out the womb, while I can be a formidable opponent in the original Killer Instinct game; if my other brother Brandon uses Orchid he becomes virtually unstoppable. The last time I beat Brandon in Killer Instinct while he was orchid, I’m pretty sure Bill Clinton was still in his first term. But my life of fighting games goes way beyond on that. So let me give you a not so brief history.

The first fighting games I began playing were on the SNES, Mortal Kombat 2 and 3, and Killer Instinct, my brothers destroyed me all the time in these games. I remember the first time I pulled off an “Awesome” (8-hit) combo in KI with cinder. It was the same combo my brothers had been hitting me with constantly, I figured “hey, if I keep mashing buttons and trying to figure things out maybe I could become a formidable opponent.” I did the same thing in MK 2 and 3 and actually got better. The training didn’t pay off too much though; I got to a point where my brothers would stop toying around with me and actually fight. Resulting in more losses for me, yay. As I grew older my understanding of games increased ten-fold. I found myself actually beating in game bosses and entire games. But I still lacked in one area of video game knowledge, and it was in the fighting game genre.

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Moving on to the PlayStation 1, my brothers and I stumbled onto the games Tekken 2 and 3. Another fighting game, where they would be forever superior. With the game Tekken came something I had never seen before, the combo list. There they were for me, all the combos I would ever need to beat my brothers with, I didn’t have to look at the screen and mash buttons for hours to see what would work, it was right there for me. At this point I thought I could stand a chance against them in these games, yet again I was wrong. My hands were too slow to pull off any of the combos, and they were hard to remember, you can’t tell the other player to wait as you try to work a combo in the game, especially when that person is one of your brothers who wants to kick your ass. So again the losses stacked up, my knowledge of fighting games didn’t really move in either direction, but my confidence in playing them severely lowered.

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Continuing on, we go to the PS2, at this point in time my other brother Brandon had jumped out of the fighting game scene, he was more of a sports game player at the time, games such as Gamebreaker, NCAA, Madden etc. were more up his alley. So when it came to fighting games, I had to play with Julian, who is arguably one of the best fighting game players I know. No matter the fighting game, Julian can adapt pretty quickly to the system it incorporates and pose a threat. I was the exact opposite. The next step in my fighting game history with muy importance is Street Fighter EX3. Yeah! Remember EX3? No one played that damn game! Anyway, Julian being his awesome self-adapted quickly and began giving me the business in EX3, I remember all the whoopins I had to take from characters like Vega, Nanase, and area, I hate you so much area……

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Street_Fighter_EX3_coverEX3 was one of the fighting I tried my best to get better at, I saw some improvement in my skills but I was still unable to create combos, I opened up the move list in EX3 to find an even bigger problem than Tekken, I had no clue how to read any of it. It was like a foreign language to me, but when I saw Julian looking at it he would just mutter to himself and perform the combo. Reading it like it was plain English, now let me stop and say I asked many times on multiple different fighting games for my brothers to teach me how to play and they would always say the same things “you already know how to play” and “ I can’t teach you that, it’s an ancient Chinese secret”. So asking them for help wasn’t going to get me anywhere. So my brother continued to hand my ass to me on a daily basis in EX3 until I practically quit, I’m pretty sure I lost the game too so that may be an additional factor on why I quit too. I remember Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance coming out and I remember never touching it because I remembered all the beatings from the previous MK games. My confidence in fighting games was once again severely lowered, almost bringing my fighting game experience to a screeching halt altogether. But then I saw a very dim silver lining in a two gaming series. To the rescue to save my fighting game career, Soul Calibur 2 and Dragon ball Z Budokai.

 

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The SC series was improvement but still pretty bad for me, the thing with Soul Calibur though is that I found myself winning matches from time to time if I was lucky, the stages that have ring-outs on them were especially helpful. I also found myself able to perform some combos and pull them off during a real fight. I was still bad at SC2 but found myself actually having fun for once because I was coming close to winning. It wasn’t until the release of the Budokai game series I could pose a real threat to Julian. The DBZ: Budokai series is one of the easiest fighting games to pick up. You can perform combos easier, you can do special move with the press of two buttons, you can transform, and you can edit items to give your character an advantage. Throughout both DBZ game series (Budokai and Tenkaichi) Julian still dominated the wins, but I was becoming better, I never went down without a fight, Julian never got a perfect round on me, and sweat the whole time in fear that his little brother actually may beat him, and sometimes I did.

After those games faded into the background, there weren’t too many if any fighting games that I picked up because I knew I would be absolute crap at them. DBZ seemed like the exception, but other fighting games were a constant reminder that I was bad fighting games. for example, all the new MK’s that have been released I’m horrible at,  I was decent at SC3 but nobody really played that with me, SC4 dropped and I tried online and just about cried myself to sleep. My younger cousin Andre beat me to pulp in the game Blazblue, Julian and his friend Mike gave me the business the games Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 (and eventually 3) and the King of Fighters 12.  I was horrid at fighting games, and yet I still found myself playing them from time to time. I promise the story is almost over but you’ve got to be interested….right?

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Soul Calibur V logoSo I guess that leaves the current era of fighting games we are at now. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I could never be good at a fighting game. Enter one of my most disappointing fighting games SCV. I didn’t know what the hell is wrong was with me, I’m still unsure of what in God’s name made me pick up that game, but I did. Oh wait it was the price, it was 35 dollars brand new in a Target two weeks after it came out. Even though I knew I was going to be terrible I thought I’d enjoy SCV for some reason. Sadly but surely I was absolutely correct. I put the game in and the first thing I did was go to online mode for some stupid reason, hoping skills would just flow into my hands. And I got my ass handed to me by the unforgiving players of the online world. But for some reason, I didn’t give up; something deep inside me said “keep trying”. But why? I was horrible at fighting games, my overall win loss track record in fighting games period has to be something like 400-10,000. Sadly that probably isn’t too much of an exaggeration. I should just accept that I’m naturally bad at fighting games and stick to shooters or RPG’s, something I was actually good at. But here I am, taking a beating to some online fighter probably laughing to himself wondering why such a terrible fighter was online in the first place. I mean not only was I dealing with good fighters but I was dealing with pros that have been following the entire game franchise since it came out. And here I am, some newbie with nothing to prove. But yet I kept fighting and training, I remember my favorite character was Natsu; I was able to perform a whole bunch of moves with her and did my best to challenge my opponent. But my losses stacked sky high, so high even that I was able to have other players challenge me to see how bad I was. I proclaimed myself as the worst fighter in SCV and the battles never stopped. I remember at some point my record was 9-70. I was somehow having fun being a complete loser. How is that even possible?! To this day I’m still unsure.

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Another thing I remember is that after a certain loss I remember losing a lot of confidence and feeling on the verge of selling the game back. What the hell was I doing, I was way out of my league, and this game actually put me into a mini-gaming depression. I remember I didn’t touch my PS3 for a long time because of that game. The thought of selling that game though disappeared, something inside me was still saying “keep trying” “do your best” “don’t quit”. There were even other online players (who easily became PSN friends) who told me I wasn’t the worst they have seen and that I should keep practicing. At first it was just in one ear and out the other, but as got my one rare win every once in a while I began to believe it was true. Maybe I didn’t have to be bad at fighting games, maybe for once I could be decent at fighting games or God willing, I could actually be “good” at a fighting game. These hopes were soon dashed as my losses again stacked up and I lost my SCV game. So I went on a fighting game hiatus for a few months until I got my SCV back. Eager to play the game I hadn’t seen in months I put in my PS3 again and went to online mode (not without warming up in training mode first though) and ran into another problem, net code. SCV net code decided to turn into shit while I was gone, and I was literally unable to play a round of SCV online ever again. I pretty much took that as a sign from the Almighty himself and sold the game finally. Much improvement had been made in my knowledge of fighting games but only enough to pose a slight threat to anyone locally, and online mode was an all-new hurdle. Long story short at this point, I still sucked at fighting games but never wanted to quit for some un-explainable reason. My confidence was low, my skills were even lower, fighting games and I had an awful relationship…and that’s pretty much the end of it……or is it?

Enter Dead Or Alive.

20110505192602!3Ds_boxartIt was bright, it was shiny, and the graphics were great. This is my thought as I’m holding a Nintendo 3DS in GameStop. I’m playing the Demo for Dead or Alive Dimensions and it’s fantastic. I claim I want one and that game because it looked cool, completely forgetting that I’m absolute garbage at fighting games. I got a 3DS and the game for Christmas (thank you momma) and started it up and what do you know, I’m terrible at another fighting game. But this time I didn’t even go online, I just tried to do some 1v1’s against the computer. And the computer was victorious every time. But DOA: Dimensions interested the hell out of me for some reason, the buttons and way you fought was different. The Triangle system was something I had never seen before. I remember being confused as hell thinking why the Y button doesn’t do anything. I thought that would be the standard punch button, but it was actually the hold button. After some hardcore time spent I began to master combos with Kasumi, and I started becoming a worthy foe for the computer, something about this fighting game was different than all the others and I was unsure why. After getting bored with the computer I decided to try out the online mode, for once going online was actually not too awful of an idea, I ran into fighters ranging from awful to good God you’re too good at this game. As I continued to practice I noticed that I was actually getting better, similar to what was happening in SCV but I was winning more matches, confidence was being built. People would beat me and instead of me thinking “sigh* there goes another loss” I thought to myself “man I almost had em, they’re good I should fight them again, see what I can learn” I found myself in training mode, seeing what I could learn with the characters I was using, and fighting against the characters I was having the hardest time against. I eventually left the DOA: Dimensions world with a different feeling than I had with all the other fighting games, a feeling that made me think there was a possibility I could become “decent” at fighting games. My head was quite held high, but it wasn’t down either.

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(Much love to my favorite ninja)

 

Atlus-to-Bring-Their-New-Fighter-Aquapazza-to-PS3-in-November-223140-largeLast but not least we have two specific fighting games both I played on PS3. The first is a game I recently reviewed called Aquapazza. This game was great reminder of how bad I am at fighting games; I was unable really to pick up the combat system which was deeply reflected in my skills. I tried online a few times this time without actually scrounging up a win because I played so few times. I remember my roommate Jordan though walking into the room, asking for the controller and he played the game for all of ten minutes and he learned the entire battle system. He was able to pull off all of the special finishing moves and create quite the show. And I couldn’t even begin to do that, it would take me years of playing that game to do what he managed to do in ten minutes. He was a born natural at fighting games, something I envied. Aquapazza managed to lower my confidence in fighting games and I played none until I stumbled onto the PSN store and found out that DOA5 core fighters was free. I quickly downloaded this game and what did I do? Went straight to online to challenge the world like a dumbass. But I found myself remembering combos I had learned on the 3DS version and with every painful loss I was still somehow managing to have fun. I managed to smile throughout all the 30 hit tag combos that were unleashed upon me.

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After some time I found some new friends on DOA5, some who mentor me in the ways of the game, I eventually bought the full game and practice and play to this day. And that’s the current state, am I good at fighting games? Or more precisely DOA5? Hell no, I wouldn’t say I’m the worst though, I’d say I’m pretty bad but I can give you a slight challenge. So let’s get back to the question at hand here, if I’m so bad at fighting games, if I have such an awful track record for fighting games why do I play them? I’ve played dozens and the result is pretty much the same. I typically walk into the game blind and button-mash my way to a loss. How is that I don’t quit? Why continue to do something you’re bad at? Even if you are getting a tiny bit better why would you still do something like that? Why do I do this to myself?

Let’s look at some possible answers. “Because it’s fun” walk up to any person on the street and ask them is getting their ass whooped fun. I don’t think this is the answer. “Because it’s just a game” games have emotional impacts on us all the time, if you can rage, cry, laugh, etc. because of a game, it’s more than just a game. For some gamers, fighting games are life. “Because you don’t know when to quit” Bullshit, in the story I have told I quit MK, Street fighter, and all of the Soul Caliburs. “Because you’re not easily discouraged” if you think this is the answer, you missed the mini-depression SCV put me through. I’m pretty sure I’ve cried of MK a few times as well. The answer quite well may be a conglomeration of all the above answers to some degree, but I think the best answer is “Because of the challenge”. There is a thrill fighting games give that other games just can’t deliver. The challenge of can you make your opponents health bar disappear before yours does is just too exciting to pass up. The flashiness and combos attracts me even more.

I know what you’re thinking when I play DOA5; it’s about the boobs isn’t it? No it’s not just about the boobs, because c’mon we all know it’s partially about the boobs, but it’s about that true challenge of who is better you or I? Typically in my case it’s them, but every loss in DOA5 makes me want to train even harder for some reason, I could take 100 losses straight to the same person and still play that game.

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(click me!)

Typical logic should tell me to stop failing at that game but yet I will still go to training mode and practice new combos and attempt to get better, I will challenge anyone no matter the Rank or time they have been playing the game. I must thank Team Ninja for saving my fighting game career because I almost stopped playing them. In DOA5 I’m not going down without a fight, and I’m not letting my fighting game career drop without a fight either. I’m not a natural born video game fighter, I have to put hours upon hours to actually become formidable in a fighting game typically. But something about that journey to get better interests me, call me crazy but I enjoy the struggle I have to go through, I find myself looking for every piece of info on the game, how the triangle system works, the speed of attacks, the fighting styles, etc. I’m not giving up on DOA5, I’m far from it, as a matter of fact when DOA6 drops ill pick that up too, and when SCVI drops I’ll give that another go as well. My name on PSN is x507xEvan I’m pretty bad at fighting games in general, but I will fight you anytime, because for some unfortunate reason I’m attracted to fighting games, but I will never quit. So without further ado…

COME AT ME BRO

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