There are a few games that will come out at almost any social event featuring classic Nintendo games. Inevitably, people will gather around a game of *Goldeneye*, *Smash Brothers*, *Mario Kart*, or a thousand other tried and true multiplayer games. Controllers will be passed, insults will be thrown around, and you discover who among your friends is that assface that can’t fucking lose without blaming it on the controller, the weather, what he ate for dinner, or a wizard.
After playing video games my whole life, I have realized that while I am quite good at some games, I am terrible at others. Classic Games. Games that other people are good at. Games that inspire those same people to wonder why I even bother owning a Super Nintendo if I’m just going to suck so hard. I have decided that the only way that I am going to learn is through practice, and this column will be a log I keep as I learn the nuances of some of these games, and will my fingers to memorize complex move sets. Instead of putting a game aside and saying “oh, one day I’ll get good…” I am going to say here and now I will NO LONGER be shitty at a certain game. I am a MAN.
For the first game in this series, I will choose an SNES classic that has been pushed back into the limelight recently due to a pretty, sassy sequel. You guessed it: Street Fighter II. This is a game that, until now, has forced me to say “oh, ho, no, no, I’ll have to take a rain check on that one, just let me know when you put in Mario Tennis.” A game where if I did play, by myself, it would be as Guile. With the difficulty settings on the absolute minimum. A game where I could not even perform a damn hadouken to save my life.
Yes, the first step is admitting you have a problem. I have a problem. I suck at Street Fighter II.
Part I: Introduction
(Before I begin, I want to say that I hope this article can feature some of your tips and stories. Are you a Golden God of Street Fighter II? Tell me what I’m doing wrong. Tell me what I’m doing right. Do you suck as well? Tell me if this is helping. Please! Send me emails. I enjoy emails, and I’ll feature some reader responses in future updates as I continue my quest to become a semi-decent World Warrior. )
I have four Street Fighter II choices to choose from – Street Fighter II Champion Edition, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II, and Street Fighter Alpha 2. I originally wanted to go back to the original, but then I realized that there was only ever one choice all along. If I am going to learn to play this game, it’d better be Turbo. I know that Super Street Fighter II is the game of choice for many tournament players, but SFII Turbo is kind of just Champion Edition but faster, and it doesn’t pretend the bosses are some ultimate and crazy secret. Seriously, when I first discovered that my reward for making it through the original eight fighters was that I had to fight Balrog, I was a little disappointed. Terrible secret. Also, in Turbo, Chun Li has that fireball that she shoots with a look that says “please, please don’t hurt me.” SCORE! TOTALLY RAD. (Warning: You will have to pause at least once to wait for the 90’s to settle down while watching the video I just linked to)
Anyway, armed with an SNES, a sturdy controller, and a copy of *SFII Turbo*, I booted up the game. (Aside: I love the Capcom logo so much. There was this great time when the Capcom logo always meant that something amazing was about to happen.) I decided to start my learning as I had in the past, with the difficulty set to the lowest. (Oh, shut up, imaginary 6th grade bully asshole, I can do what I want) I could use this as an opportunity to learn the special moves, and over time, I would ramp up the difficulty as I progressed. So, with a deep breath, I started a three-star turbo game. When the character select screen popped up, I instinctively moved to Guile, but then realized that if I was going to impress anyone, I’d have to play as the only character worth playing in Street Fighter…Ryu. (PRO TIP: I always pronounced it “Ri’-you”, but I think that it might be “Ree’-you”? Does this actually matter at all?) Playing as Ryu would allow for me to practice quarter-circles on the D-pad, something incredibly important when it comes to SFII.
If you somehow do not know what Street Fighter II is, I will give you the quickest introduction known to man: You are a Dude or a Chick and you fight a series of Dudes (and a Chick), trying to winnow down their health bar to nothing. Some Dudes (and the Chick) can shoot crap, and the Indian Dude can totally stretch. Also, the Russian Dude is gay.
I won’t bore you with the individual matches, because on one-star difficulty the opponents stand around and occasionally kick. It’s like when your mom would sit down with you and attempt to “play video games” with you “just this once, on your birthday”. What I found very quickly is that I still could not pull off a Hadouken. I am pretty sure that it’s down, down-forward, and then forward, followed by a punch button. However, when I tried to do that, Ryu would do a little dance, and then punch, which was not very graceful. If I was to make any progress, I’d need to figure this out. I varied the timing of everything, and I was more successful – every once in a while I’d get a pity fireball.
However, because I was on the lowest difficulty setting, I was still progressing through the matches quickly. I discovered that Ryu’s fierce kick is all that was ever needed to destroy both a car and a wall of bricks. I pondered for a moment who owned that car, and whether or not the owner was there on the dock when Ryu completely demolished his automobile with fists and feet. Would the owner be angry? Or would he find that to be awesome?
I think that it was during a fight with Zangeif when suddenly I had a thumb-epiphany. If I changed the way I held my left thumb on the control pad, I was suddenly able to send off fireballs with a lot more frequency! Before, I was holding my thumb with the squishy part right on the center of the pad, like I was about to fire up a fun game of Super Mario World. Once I moved the thumb so the tip hovered over “down” on the d-pad, I was able to much easier pull off the quarter circle, and if I pressed the punch button RIGHT as I got to the “towards” on the d-pad, the fireballs started coming with some regularity. This was such a shock that I made an attempt on my next fight (Balrog, who is still disappointing) to stand on one side and just keep hammering away with fireballs. It was a miracle. I felt a joy that I had not experienced since the first time I [I have decided not to actually put this part into the article, because it got really graphic. like, whoa graphic] for three weeks until it wasn’t bleeding anymore.
When I finally made it to M. Bison, I discovered that my hatred for him was still burning away, and that even on the lowest difficulty setting, he can be a big dickhole. I can’t stand that bullshit head stomp. Although, now, for once, I discovered that his psycho crusher (qu’est-ce que c’est? bah bah baah bah) was totally stopped by a well placed Hadouken. When I beat him, and the game, I stood up, punching the air with excitement. It was a minor victory, but a victory nonetheless.
I went back to the menu, and bumped up the difficulty by a star, and then re-entered Ryu into the tournament. This time, it was even easier since I was getting quite good at letting off fireballs on command. The reason I used Guile as a child was that his moves were easier for me to pull off. His special attacks are charge moves – hold back for two seconds, then press towards and a punch button to let loose a sonic boom. The problem is, as I discovered while practicing, this charge takes time. The Hadouken is a much more graceful motion, and the resulting fireball takes up a good portion of the screen. Poor E. Honda had such a hell of a time trying to jump over them, and when he did, I could use a high fierce kick to put him in his place.
I even practiced the Hurricane Kick, which is a quarter-circle back, followed by a kick. It seems like it is not as useful as the fireball, considering it can be ducked, but it was not super difficult to pull off once I had the motion down. I think that in future plays, I am going to need to map the fierce punch to an easier SNES button, since it produced the quickest fireballs, and something is slightly off about pressing L. I was never really able to get off any good Dragon Punches, except for the occasional awkward one when my opponent was nowhere near me. I have a feeling it is much more important than the Hurricane Kick, since it controls a vertical space on the screen. Between the Hadouken and the Dragon Punch, your opponent has to dance in the upper far corner of the screen to not get hit, and something tells me this is a powerful situation to be in.
I beat the game much more handily this time around, as I started to understand the foreign motions of *SFII* special moves. After being told by the SNES to try out a harder mode, I turned off the console, my left hand buzzing from the repeated quarter circles on the d-pad. I am going to keep upping the difficulty until I hit that sweet spot where I can practice what I think are more intermediate concepts in the game – combos, and controlling space on the screen. I think that there are certain moves with Ryu, kicks and punches, that should be used when various opponents are walking towards me or jumping towards me, and I should learn what is what.
So, thank you for reading Part I. Again, I encourage you to send me any comments. I could use the help!