Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Firestarter - Part 1

Killer Instinct was extremely fun during the lull between January 2015 and the release of MKX. However, I did not take it seriously for two reasons: I knew MKX was coming, of course, and at that time I did not have an XBONE arcade stick. Playing on XBONE pad was a nightmare for me and I hope my life is never on the line with only an XBONE pad available to me. So, once MKX was released and I got my arcade stick, KI was put on the back burner.

I did not forget about the game, though, because it is run as a side tournament at every Brutality event. The average number of players is five, but we have a special opportunity this month to receive a $50 bonus from the FightFest component of FandomFest, in Louisville, KY on August 7-9, 2015. All we have to do is reach thirteen entrants in our KI bracket. So, with that incentive, I intend to enter the tournament myself and help bolster the numbers. Hopefully I will not be too free to the competition!

The first thing I do when starting any new competitive fighting game is decide on which character I want to play. I take into consideration that character's playstyle, story, visual design, and, when applicable, the tier of the character. This is where Infil's Killer Instinct Guide for SFIV Players was extremely useful to me. In fact, I am positive this guide will continue to be a great tool as I go through the early stages of my KI training. I also made use of Cinder's page on the KI Wiki.

I have to like a character for some reason. I need to identify with them, even if they are a villain. Sometimes, a character highlights a piece of my own personality. Anakaris, from Darkstalkers, is mysterious, ancient, and was the leader of his people. E. Honda is full of boisterous confidence and is a generally congenial fellow.

On the other hand, some characters act as foils to my personality. Shinnok is a schemer who wants to control the world to do his bidding. I may not be trying to take over the world, but Shinnok's self-assuredness and dark path are very interesting to me. They make me ask myself the question, "What if I had turned to the dark side?!" It's silly, but these sorts of personal connections with fighting game characters make me want to play them, and keep playing them, and will help me stick with it even as I run into roadblocks. This is especially true if the scene for the game is small, and that is definitely the case for KI in our area. I am hoping to change that, though!

So, why Cinder? Well, Infil's guide has this wonderful tool that gives you a visual representation of how each character stacks up in the realms of rushdown, zoning, footsies, defense, and so on. You can check out this really cool tool by clicking this link and scrolling down. I am more of a defensive player, although I enjoy being able to splash in offense as a surprise to my opponents. I like to change it up, but my foundation is defense and zoning. You would think Kan-Ra would be a great choice for me, but I am not really a fan of traps. I like to play more straightforward. I also like to be able to move around a lot to feint my opponent. Cinder is rated as tied for highest mobility in the game, fourth in terms of defense, and seventh in terms of zoning. He is also rated very low in terms of damage, and around the middle in terms of ease of use and total score. Cinder earns a tentative check mark in the realm of gameplay.

If I were to go off of Cinder's gameplay alone, choosing him as a main is not looking super convincing. Then again, his visual design is still super appealing to me, so I am hooked enough to take his storyline into consideration. In the revamped story of Killer Instinct on XBONE, Cinder is ex-military, and was very good at his job. He became a mercenary who took on jobs coming from sometimes shady individuals and organizations. Cinder relishes the challenge, and has a big ego. He feels his skills are deserving of the money he gets paid, and does not particularly care who he works for. The martial artist in me really likes the idea of Cinder as a contemporary warrior, and he acts as a foil to my goody-goody personality. So, a big check mark in the realm of storyline and visual design. Spoiler: I like bright colors, ha!

At the end of my research into Cinder as a character, I decided to give him a shot and start the Firestarter series. In the future, I could definitely change, and the Firestarter series could morph into something else for a different KI character. Only time, and training, will tell!

Oh yeah, I will have to actually train with this character, won't I? I can't just drop in to Brutality and expect my KI matches to happen smoothly. Onward to training goals!
  • Understand the system mechanics.
  • Try online play. I hear it is loads better than MKX.
  • BNBs (Bread N' Butter combos)
  • Combo Breakers training
  • Counter Breaker setups
  • Shadow Counter usage
  • Have some fun!
  • Convince other people to play. You wouldn't know it from all the marketing and pot bonuses, but the KI competitive scene is actually relatively small.
Good luck on your personal journey to power up!

Nathan Shields PowerUp Founder

Fighting game enthusiast, martial artist, and teacher. Nathan Shields ran three regional events, two of which were part of the Road to EVO Championships in 2011 and 2012. He continues to run local FGC events and supervise the growth of his scene and the PowerUp brand.

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