Sunday, January 10, 2016

Getting Nashty - Origins

Welcome to “Getting Nashty”! This will be a record of my adventures in Street Fighter 5. Hopefully this article may inspire, or at least entertain someone out there who is interested in competitive gaming. I intend to write about what I learn while streaming, working in the lab, and trips to national, and perhaps even international events. This initial writing will serve as a miniature biography into my history with fighting games, as well as my impressions with SFV as we know it so far. Lets go:

When I was a boy, my dad had a habit of buying me video games that he actually wanted to play in order to sneak them past my mother. We didnt have a lot of money, so I generally only got one game per year on Christmas. That game would be played for hundreds of hours and become totally dissected before I set my sights on anything else. Back in the 90s it wasnt as easy to stay informed on the gaming industry. I read an occasional magazine in the store while my parents went shopping, but that was mostly it. I really depended on my dad to just pick out something cool for me. Luckily, he had good taste. When I was 8 years old I received Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition for the Sega Genesis. It certainly looked as cool as any other game I had tried, but had no idea that it would become a lifelong passion.

Despite the early 1990s being a golden age for the arcade scene, we lived in a small town without a gaming center within an hours drive. As far as I knew, SF2 was just another video game that you played by yourself. The more I played it, however, the game began to unveil its secrets. Hitboxes, crossups, combos, counter hits… despite not knowing the names of these maneuvers, it started to come together just from playing. My only experience with player vs player gaming was taking my console to school one day during a holiday party, where I was able to score a 20 win streak against my classmates before being kicked of my own game by the teacher. There was certainly a spark of interest, but not enough to realize that Street Fighter could be played at a high level; only enough to know I loved video games. Eventually I moved on to Street Fighter Alpha, and convinced my cousin to play with me on his console. This is where I first started using Charlie, the sleeker, cooler version of Guile. The term “anime” was not really common in America yet, but there was definitely something cool and different about this guy.

Years later, I moved to a bigger city. Between shifts at restaurants, I would go to an arcade and play Marvel vs Capcom 2. There were new games there, including Tekken 5, but there was something about the art style and speed on marvel that drew me in. The cursor immediately found its way back to Charlie, as well as Ryu and Gambit. Apparently, I had a thing for brooding male avatars. It wasn’t long until all of my spare quarters and minutes were going into the machine. Months went by as I started to meet the local players and climb the ranks. One day somebody posted a flyer for a tournament called “Season’s Beatings”. A video game tournament? Cool! I’m pretty certain many of you know the feeling of what happened next.

I made the journey out to my first major tournament full of hope and determination... and got destroyed. This experience was humbling, but fun. The spark refused to be stomped out, and became a small flame. Being known as a good player at my local arcade was no longer enough to satisfy me. I would work hard to become a national player. The main problem was that MvC2 had already been out for many years at this point, and the top players were so far out of reach. The news came around the same time that the arcade was closing. I decided to apply myself to the upcoming sequel.

After some time dabbling in Smash Bros. and Street Fighter 4, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 hit the shelves. The initial version of the game was a little rocky for me due to stubbornly sticking to my favorite Marvel character, Captain America. This iteration of Steve Rogers was complete garbage. He was arguably the worst in the game along with Hsien-Ko from Darkstalkers. The Ultimate version of MvC3 came out less than a year later, and along with it were a few key improvements for Cap. The most notable change was his shield throw could now hit prone opponents, allowing for extended combos.  I was able to win my first MVC3 tournament at Ohayocon 2012 a few weeks after Ultimate released. I also went on win many tournaments at the newly opened Arcade Legacy. I was able to win that years ranking series with enough wiggle room to choose random select in the final tournament. The competitive fire was raging now.

A plateau eventually halted my progress as I had reached a national level of proficiency at the game, but didn’t have the means to travel to many major events. I started to focus on school, marriage, and work until Street Fighter 5 was announced. After Ryu and Chun Li were shown, a redesigned Nash appeared. This was when I pledged to give SFV my best effort.

So, here we are with only a month left until the release of Street Fighter 5. There have been several beta tests since the original trailer. I made sure to get all the necessary equipment and pre order the game with enough time to participate. My impression of the overall engine is that it is quite slow and deliberate, forcing one to play against the opponent instead of the game. Walkspeed and throws have been slowed down significantly, along with the average move having less frame advantage.

Charlie Nash was advertized as a technical “rushdown” style character, meaning he likes to make things happen rather than wait and react. I was a little taken aback by the news because I’ve always preferred a cautious turtle style, but I was willing to make a change for the sake of Nash and my overall development. This has turned out to not be my experience at all. Nash has a mediocre projectile, poor movement, and his offensive special moves have massive holes. Moonsault Slash and Tragedy Assault are situational at best. Not exactly a divekick or other sort of tried and true offensive salt inducer.

Hold on a minute! Its not all bad. Nash excels in one thing, normals.  This guy can use his basic button presses to dominate his opponent with punches and kicks just like his student Guile. Either this character is still a work in progress and their assessment was off, or I just happen to have a unique take on him. Only time will tell how the game turns out in the future. Fighting games have a way of taking on a life of their own. Lets enjoy the ride and see if the competitive fire can keep burning. Tune in next time to see how the release unfolds.

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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