Monday, July 14, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm...

This weekend there were no tournaments scheduled, but it certainly wasn't uneventful in the least. My girlfriend Ryoko was originally supposed to have a business meeting in Tokyo on Friday night and was going to come to Current after it was over for the first time ever. Her business meeting was actually canceled and moved to next month, but she still ended up having the day off as well as Saturday off. She spent Friday morning in Takasaki (the biggest city in my prefecture) where I met up with her on the way to Tokyo. When we got to Tokyo, we started off by going to Akihabara. She wanted to go check out this one store that sold Totoro stuff but it ended up being closed. We did a little bit more shopping and then we swung by Akihabara Hey! game center for a bit to check out the Tatsunoko vs Capcom location test that was going on there. It wasnt crazy packed and I got to play after waiting about 15 minutes. I didnt want to stay there too long cuz I had all weekend to play it and I really didnt wanna make her sit and watch forever. I ended up winning 3 times so I played 3 games and then I had to get off cuz they impossed a 3 win limit. I picked Ryu and Morrigan because they were characters I was familiar with and seemed like a good team to start out with. The game felt good and pretty similar to the old vs series games from before. Ill get more into my impressions of the game later on.

After we left Akihabara we headed to Ikebukuro Shakey's Pizza and got some all you can eat! We both got so fucking stuffed but it was delicious, and she said it was the best Pizza she has ever had (which is probly true since were in Japan heh).

After that it was already getting late so we headed to Current. When we got there it wasnt extremely packed but a decent ammount of people were there and I knew most of them. Sushi, Mogi, Masami, Matt, SPG (Chris), and a few others were all there. Matt was sitting at a table in the back with the Christian girl who was there a few times before who was friends with slutty chick (who already went back to England a while ago). Everyone was pretty happy to finally meet my girlfriend. Kyle was gonna come drinking with us but we called his ass up and he was being lazy and said he would come out tomorrow instead. Nothing increadibly different happened than ussual but we all got nice and wasted. Later on, Chip showed up as well. Ryoko said she liked Current and said she wants to come again sometime. Matt wanted to go do karaoke towards the end of the night but Ryoko was pretty wasted and was getting really tired. After Current closed it was time to find a hotel. I wasnt going to take Ryoko to a manga kissa for obvious reasons lol! So Matt, christian girl (who were gonna get it ooonnn), Ryoko and I walked around the love hotel area of Kabuki-cho trying to find a hotel that wasnt already full and didnt already double the price of the room due to it being past 5 am and there being limited selection. Matt said he actually took christian girl to a love hotel like last week and they found a place for like 7000 yen. Most of the places we came across ended up being like 12000 yen or more (some were over 20000 yen for only a few hours!). After walking a lot we finally went into the Toyoko Inn which is just a regular hotel. They had one room left and said we could get the room for like (OVER!!) 9000 yen and stay till 11. That wasnt a very long time to sleep but we had something else in mind that took priority over sleep and we really were probly not gonna find anything better so we just decided to stay there. Matt and christian girl said they would find a different place.

The next morning we woke up and checked out. Got some food and walked around for a bit. Ryoko actually had to get back home because her aunt was visiting from out of town and she had to pick her up from the station since her parents were both working at the time. Since we didnt really have enough time to do anything extremely special we decided to head to Club Sega Shinjuku to visit MIU, since Ryoko had met him before when he stayed over at my place. When we got there, he was indeed working, and we also were surprised to find that Club Sega got 2 Street Fighter IV cabs a week early! I was gonna wait to play till Ryoko left but she insisted I try now so I played like 2 games and then I walked her to the train station so she could get on her train to go home. When I got back at Club Sega I stayed for about maybe 2 hours playing SFIV. This was my first time playing the final version of the game. It felt waayyy better than it did back at AOU which was an extremely early version. The controls felt perfectly responsive and I have to say that the game is actually pretty fun. Certainly feels a lot like ST but different enough to make it fresh. I tried out a few different characters such as Ryu, Sagat, Dhalsim, Viper... but in the end, I pretty much decided to stick with my old friend Blanka. Seeing as how Blanka was the first fighting game character I ever really "mained" in a game, and the fact that he feels a lot like his old SF2 incarnation, it felt right and I had the most success with him overall for sure. There were a lot of people so the waiting time to play was kinda long, so I didnt really wanna mess around with too many characters, but after I sit down with the game more and see how everyone plays it may change, but im probly gonna main Blanka. I must say though that Vega (Dictator) and Zangief seem to be dominating the most so far, and will most likely end up being top tier. After having played for like 2 hours, I said bye to MIU and decided I would head to Akihabara to play some more Tatsunoko vs Capcom.

DISCLAIMER: These impressions of the game are probably going to turn out very wrong when the game is finally updated to its last version and people actually have played it enough to learn all the broke shit you can do. These are very early impressions and are based on playing for a very short time so if I end up being wrong on a lot of my predictions then well... dont flame me too badly :P

Throughout the day at the location test, the number of people fluctuated greatly. There were times when I had to wait a long time, there were times when almost no one was in line to play, but there were always a good number of spectators. They had 2 setups going, one was for 2 player vs mode and the other was one player arcade mode vs the CPU. It seems that Gold Lighton is only going to be a boss CPU character, I cant really see them making him playable. He always has super armor and doesnt block and he takes up the whole screen. When You fight him, its zoomed out so far it looks like you are playing Arcana Heart lol. Hes very slow but does tons of damage and can interupt any attack. However, I never bothered to play arcade mode sijnce the line was long, I just played vs mode the whole time. I noticed that the select screen is setup in a way that there may not be very many characters beyond whats already announced. The way its set up, perhaps they could rotate around and fit more characters in the back, but im not really sure how thats gonna work with 2 seperate cursers trying to select a character. I hope theres a lot more characters though. I tried out Morrigan, Ryu, Batsu, Souki, Tekkaman, Ken, and Casshern. Overall I ended up using Morrigan and Casshern the most often. Most of the people there (including myself) didnt really know wtf they were doing so I didnt get to see too much advanced stuff going on. There was this other foreigner there and he was doing a good job of ninja taping some matches all sneaky like. He was also nice enough to let me barrow a 100 yen coin after I got to the front and realized I didnt have any change.

Some basic info about the game. Personally I think visually the game looks very nice, and people complaining about it not using sprites need to stop. I love sprites as much as the next guy (im a fuckin Guilty Gear player!) but I honestly dont think the game suffers at all and still looks and feels very 2d. All characters in the game have an air dash. You can call assist with the tag button and tag with back and tag button. Theres some special feature you can use to sacrifice your red health in order to flash and extend combos. It like cancels the recovery on whatever move you use it after which allows for extended combos. I saw other people use it but I didnt know how to activate it. It doesnt seem to use any super meter. The game features mid combo tagging but I dont know how to do it and I didnt see a single person use it all weekend. The 3 button makes the game feel more limited in terms of using normals for zoning and poking but I think the game doesnt suffer a whole lot from it. You can still get different normals by pressing a direction and the button just like in Guilty Gear for example, so its not that bad. Push blocking is really good in this game. Here are quick initial impressions so far of each character...

Morrigan plays really nice, her multi directional air dash gives her tons of mobility and mixup options. Her mixup game almost sorta feels like I-no which was cool. She can combo into her level 3 super pretty easily too which is nice. I can see her being good in this game. Her assist isnt so great though, she just throws a soulfist.

Ryu also feels good. Hes got all his old tools but having his kick special from SF3 gives him good combo options. He can do a ground chain into the kick and then combo his level 3 shoryuken super and it does TONS of damage. His shinkuhadouken is more or less just as it always has been. You can easily combo into it but it gets scaled a lot. He can combo shinkuuhadouken off of regular huricane kick. Also, his huricane kick always goes straight, it doesnt use jump momentum ever. Having an air dash feels really cool for Ryu too. His assist is just a hadouken and didnt seem so great. I can see him being good though.

Casshern was a lot of fun to use. I can see some good okizeme potential after knockdown if you summon his dog properly, but the dog comes out slow otherwise and I hardly ever saw anyone get hit by it at all (theres 3 version of it by the way, one hits you, one bites you and holds you in place, the other shoots a flame thrower out of its mouth). His specials are overall pretty good and seem usefull. though im not sure how safe his lightning punch is yet... it seems dangerous on block so not very abuseable, but his short hop ground slam move seems good. I also noticed he had a sorta knee upper move (kinda like Joe Higashi) and it wasnt listed on the move list. It was done by doing a backwards DP motion. His level 3 super seems nice and does tons of damage. His range on his normals arnt fantastic though but hes pretty fast. He seems above average probably.

Ken (Gatchaman) seems like the fastest character in the game, with multi directional air dash, teleport, dash attack move and just overall fast speed. He also doesnt have great range but he can rush down very well. He has a maximum spider like super and it does TONS of damage for a level 1.

Tekkaman... I dunno, I was really hoping he would be great since I love him as a character but hes very slow in general. He didnt feel very effective when I tried him out but I think perhaps he has potential once people figure out some stuff they can do with him. When he throws is lance as a projectile, it does lots of damage and multi hits, but then he has to go pick it up and he has to fight with his hands until he picks it up which is kinda a big disadvantage. His damage was decent but I dunno... he doesnt seem so great to me so far. However, as an assist character I see potential with him. He has a chord pull grab move sorta like omega red and I can see it being used well as an assist, it points upward for the assist version, but he has 3 different versions when you are playing as him. Also his jumping hard attack seems like it might have crossup potential, but it comes out a bit slow.

Souki... he plays pretty basic and doesnt have many moves at all, but he has autoguard special moves and it seems pretty effective and goes through tons of shit. It also knocks the opponent high into the air if they get hit by the auto guard swipe. Overall hes probably the slowest character in the game but he does lots of damage. He also has a dragon install type move which seems pretty good.

Batsu, seems pretty average all around. Hes a bit slow but his specials are good. I dont really see him having anything very dominating. Damage is pretty average I guess. Hes just kinda a straight forward character from what I can tell. However, he does have a very fast air kick special that lets him play a good runaway game and he can keep people at bay with his fireball.

Yatterman was used a lot but I didnt bother trying him out. He has a quick overhead which seems good for mixup. He doesnt seem to do much damage though and his supers seem pretty crappy overall, very easy to block and dont even do that much damage. I didnt try him so I really dont know honestly how good is gonna end up.

Polymer seems pretty solid but I didnt try him either. I noticed people doing some nice long ground combos with him. He seems like a pretty technical character but I dont really know much about him to be honest.

Chun-li seems pretty solid. I didnt try her out either but she seems to be a lot like her MVC1 self and her old level 3 super was nice to see in this game. She actually didnt get used much so I didnt see much of her.

Alex.... I must say, Alex seems broken right now. Probably the best in the game (?). He can combo into his super on the ground and afterwords the opponent gets dizzied. He can then do another combo into the super again! This right there is enough to pretty much kill someone with a full life bar. The super does a TON of damage and the damage doesnt get scaled after the dizzy. I dont know if the dizzy is escapable but I didnt see anyone get out of it. He wasnt even very slow at all, he was pretty fast. All his stuff seemed pretty usefull too. I think they really need to tone Alex down...

After playing for a few hours I just didnt really feel like playing anymore and had an urge to play some Gear so I went to Club Sega down the street. When I first started playing I felt really off because I was playing so much Tatsunoko and it feels way different than Guilty Gear, but once I got used to Guilty Gear again I was fine. I stayed for a good while and did alright. Ogawa, FAB, Basara, JT, and several other well known players were there. As it got later I got a call from Kyle who said he was gonna go to Club Sega Shinjuku to play some SFIV with a friend of his from China. I said id meet up with them there.

When I got there, Kyle's friend was playing 3S. When he was done we all played SFIV like twice each. There were still a lot of people there. Kyle's friend was mostly a SF player and did pretty well with Dhalsim but he got destroyed by a Gief player. Kyle then tried to beat Gief with Ken but lost. I beat the Gief with my Blanka but then I lost to some other dude (I think it was a Guile). After that, Kyle's friend wanted to play me in AC because he heard I was good at Gear and he used to play the game a lot. He picked like HOS, Po, and Sol on me but wasnt really able to do much against me. He did the best with Po because well... its Potemkin lol. After that we grabbed some quick food and then headed to go drinking.

Matt was at Zin (the bar that I went to that one time before I went to Kansai). He said there was a birthday party going on for some hot chick there and a bunch of the regular girls from Current were there. We decided to go there and check it out. When we got there, it was mostly packed with hot Japanese girls (most of which I knew) dressed in various skimpy outfits. One chick with giant boobs was dressed as a maid with bunny ears. They put the ears on me and I took a rockin picture. The chick whos birthday it was had this tight leather thing with thigh high fishnets that had bows on them. It was pretty top tier. Megu was there as well. Matt was chilling with this one super metal chick who sings death metal vocals in like several different bands. I forgot her name but I see her pretty often. Matt told me how he eventually found a hotel to bring christian chick to the night before but pretty much didnt sleep all night and hadnt even gone home yet. He was wearing the same clothes haha. He had been drinking all day today too. We all had a beer and then everyone said they were planning to head to Current soon. Matt, Super Metal Chick, Kyle, his friend, and I were going to go ahead and everyone else was gonna leave shortly after. As we were on the way out, Heidi showed up with some other chick. She said she would meet up with us later probably. On our way to Current, we ran into SPG Chris and a couple of his Norwegian friends. They said they were just at Current and it was dead. They were on the way to GODZ which was having its 6th anniversary party tonight. It was like 2000 yen to get in with 2 drinks and you got a GODZ coffee mug lol. We decided we would go kill some time there and check it out and then go to Current later once more people arrived.

GODZ was pretty packed and you could hardly even move. It was more or less the ussual stuff at GODZ except it was way more packed than it ussually was. It was extremely hot in there. They were showing music videos on the huge giant flatscreen as ussual and played lots of good stuff, but the music was too loud to really have a conversation. I made sure to get my money's worth on the mandatory drinks from the entry fee and got some Wild Turkey (mmm). Kyle and his friend didnt really seem to be enjoying GODZ much, and the rest of us wanted to head to Current soon so we decided to leave and give it another try. SPG Chris and his Norwegian crew left with us as well.

When we got to Current it was now good and packed. In addition to most of the girls that were at Zin before, Chip and Sawa were there, as well as Taka, and a few various other people. Sawa told me it was her birthday next weekend but I wouldnt be able to see her since im going back to the US, so I bought her a shot. I introduced Kyle's SF friend to Chip and he was really excited to meet someone who used to work for Capcom and helped to make so many of the classic SF games he loves so much. As the night went on everyone got wasted and it was good times, and to be honest I hardly even remember most of it! haha... After Current closed, we all decided we wanted to keep drinking, so we headed to GODZ. In addition to just about everyone that was at Current, Sushi and Mogi came to drink with us as well after they closed the bar! At this point I was pretty shit faced and most of Zin was a blur. I fell asleep for a bit at some point. We ended up staying there till like 8 am! This time I went back to the Manga kissa as ussual.

Since my plans for today was more or less just playing various games I didnt need to wake up early or anything. I woke up around 2:30 or so, got some top tier Wendy's 100 yen menu, and then went to Club Sega Shinjuku for more SFIV action. Unfortunately this time, people kept fucking playing beginner mode which is just vs the CPU and it was taking FOREVER to get a turn in. I was there for like an hour and only got to play one time. I did get to see the boss, Seth, though which was kinda cool. He has a vast array of special moves barrowed from other characters (like Dhalsims fierce punch, a dragon punch, Urien shoulder tackle, wall dive, and other stuff) as well as a few original ones, and his Ultra where he sucks you into his belly and spits you out looks absoloutly hilarious. Waiting around and watching people fight the CPU was getting boring so I decided to head back to Akihabara. I started out by going to Club Sega cuz I had an urge to play more Gear. There were a few really well known players there once again today. At first I felt really sluggish because I got like no sleep all weekend and just felt drained from so much drinking. However, after playing for a little bit I started to get better and got some good matches in. Eventually Matt showed up and not too long after, Kyle showed up as well. We played for a good few hours and then decided to go check out the TvC loketest again, but those guys wanted to get food first so we stopped and got some Curry. This time at the loketest there were a lot more players that seemed to know what they were doing, most likely since the game has been there all weekend and they were able to learn some stuff. This is where I saw the broken Alex player dominating really hard. I really didnt get to play very long though since I had to take the last train back soon and it was already getting late. As I was leaving, Kyle was playing some AC so I said bye and Matt decided he was gonna go play some SFIV since he didnt try it yet so we headed out to the station together and then I got on my train and slept the whole way home.

This weekend was fun as hell and I got to hang out with tons of people and play tons of new games and it was nice finally being able to drink with Ryoko at Current. Everyone said she was really nice and very cute. This is the last blog entry I will be typing for a little while since next weekend I will be going back to the US for about 3 weeks (being able to take an entire month off with vacation days is fucking sweet... I love my job!). Ill spend the majority of the time in Chicago, visiting my family and getting wasted and playing games with my friends. Then, on the way back to Japan, I will stop in Vegas for EVO for the weekend and then return to Japan that Monday morning. I look forward to seeing many of you at EVO. Please come out and support the Guilty Gear tournament that will be going on there. Just because its not run by EVO staff doesnt mean it will be any less hype, and EVO should be good times anyway. The following weekend will be SBO and it will surely be an epic weekend indeed! I will make sure to write a full report about my SBO weekend experience! THIS SHIT IS GONNA BE FUCKIN METAL!

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