Monday, April 20, 2009

Utsunomiya and Koriyama... my feet hurt.

I headed out Friday night after work as usual, but this time, instead of heading to Tokyo, I headed to Tochigi prefecture, which is to the east of Gunma where I live. The plan was to meet up with Shiratori (the I-no player who I had teamed up with several times last year who lives in Tochigi). My plans were sorta up in the air for most of the weekend but the whole purpose of coming out this way was to enter the SBO qual in Koriayama city in Fukushima prefecture, which is located to the north of Tochigi. My team would be Shiratori (IN) and EVE (AB) (who I also teamed with a few times last year along with Shiratori).

The total distance to get from my town to Koriyama is about 5 hours on the regular train, so in other words its pretty damn far. I wasn’t about to let that stop me though. Getting there wasn’t a problem since I would be stopping off in Tochigi on the way but going back would be a bit hard since the tournament would probably end somewhat late and I wouldn’t have time to take the train back on Sunday night. I pretty much was stuck taking the shinkansen (bullet train) back home, which only takes 2 hours. Unfortunately it costs 10,000 yen where as the regular train would only cost about 4,000 yen. Since I was planning to leave from the regular train station which is separate from the shinkansen station in my town, I had to figure out what I was gonna do about my car. Ryoko had Friday off, so she offered to come to my apartment, follow me to the shinkansen station where I would leave my car, and then instead of just dropping me off at the regular station, she drove me all the way to Maebashi which is about an hour away in the direction I needed to go anyway. We decided to have dinner together at a restaurant in Maebashi. I had a beer with my food too since I would be spending the next 2 hours on the train anyway. After a good meal, she dropped me off at the station where we said goodbye.

After a 2 hour train ride, I arrived in Utsunomiya, the largest city in Tochigi. This was my first time going there. Shiratori was there, waiting at the station in his car. Also, a friend of his named Kohei was in the back seat. He drove us to the best arcade in Utsunomiya which was about maybe about a 5 minute drive from the station. The place was called Tsurumaki. On the way there, Shiratori told me that the best team from Tochigi would be there at the arcade and would also be entering the SBO qual on Sunday. He said their team was Venom/Anji/Slayer. The first floor was full of mostly music games and a few shooters and stuff. The 2nd floor was mostly all fighting games and a few UFO catcher machines. The first floor of the arcade was opened 24 hours which was cool but unfortunately the 2nd floor (where all the fighters were) would close at midnight. We arrived a little after 9:30 so it gave us about 2 and a half hours to play. They only had 1 GGAC cab and it was set on 100 yen for 2 credits, 2/3 rounds. At least there was comp there though which is the important thing. I started out by fighting a Slayer player and losing, but then I played again since I had another credit and I won. Then I won against a Bridget twice, which turned out to be Shiratori’s friend Kohei. Then I played against an Anji and won twice in a row and then won 2 more against Kohei’s BR. Then finally, Shiratori played against me and he beat me in a close game. It had been a while since I played against Shiratori but his I-no is as beastly as ever. One of the best I-nos ive ever played against. Shiratori informed me that the Slayer and Anji that I just beat were 2 of the guys on the best team in Tochigi. Turns out that the 3rd guy (the Venom) was none other than HEVEN! He was there as well and I said hi to him but he didn’t play a single game all night, he just sat there and watched for a bit and eventually disappeared. I had no idea he lived in Tochigi cuz hes always in Tokyo playing but it’s the same situation for me I guess.

Shiratori was now on the cab and was beating some people up. He got 2 wins vs HOS, beat Kohei but then lost to Kohei but then beat him again. He then beat a Slayer and a Jam who were the same guy. Then he beat HOS twice again. It was my turn again and I rematched Shiratori and this time I won. Then I beat him once more but then he beat me twice in a row after that. The last game we played, I won the first round and then he perfected me round 2, and then I was a pixel away from perfecting him round 3 but then he came back and won! Crazy. Eventually I got back on the cab and got a 12 win streak but I didn’t keep track of who it was vs each game. Shiratori eventually ended it. Then I beat him one more time, got another 8 win streak with the last win vs Shiratori and then he rematched me and beat me. Basically me and Shiratori were going about even throughout the night I would say. If I was able to keep pressuring him and out zone him, I would win, but once he got on me and started his mixups there was little I could do to get him off me. Faust is a bad matchup for I-NO but Shiratori knows how to deal with Faust pretty well and is just generally a smart player.

Eventually it was about time to leave. Kohei said goodbye to us in the parking lot in front of the arcade and got in his own car. Shiratori drove around a bit with me trying to help me find a manga kissa for later for when I sleep but we didn’t see any so he just offered to drop me off at the station and wished me luck. He had work in the morning so he couldn’t stay out but said he would meet up with me tomorrow after work. He also lives about a half hour drive away from Utsunomiya. I thanked him for driving me around and headed out on my own to find a manga kissa. Little did I know, this would be a very long and epic walk..

Saturday, there was going to be a qual in another part of Fukushima called Iwaki. Iwaki is an additional 2 hours beyond Koriyama, making it a total of 4 hours away from where I was now. I had no team to enter with since both of my team mates would be busy (Shiratori had work and EVE was planning to enter a FATE unlimited codes qual at a different location) so there was really no point in going out there alone. As a result, I had no real plans for tomorrow except for just playing casuals all day and practicing. I figured there wouldn’t be much comp at Tsurumaki till later on so I had plenty of time to explore Utsunomiya, find a good place to drink and a manga kissa to sleep at.

I currently was on the east side of the train station. Since I saw a good bit of it from Shiratori’s car and didn’t see any manga kissas, I figured it would be best to go check out the west side of the station. The area immediately around the station had some stores and stuff but there wasn’t really all that much exciting stuff and most places were closed. Most of the bars were just snack bars and stuff like that (the shady bars where you pay lots of money to have some girl pore your beer and you end up spending WAY too much money and wonder why you ever went there to begin with). I wasn’t about to waste my time at those. There were hardly any people walking around on the streets, and the farther I got from the station, the fewer the people got. I figured while im searching for a place to drink, I might as well start drinking, so I grabbed a beer at a conbini, enjoyed some snus, and walked around till my beer ran out, searching for a place. Went to the next conbini, got another beer and used the toilet, searched some more, and repeated this process once again. I walked for a very very long time and very very far. I had no idea where I was going but I simply made sure to keep in mind where the station was incase I needed to go back. After searching and drinking for a few hours, I found a few places that seemed like they might be decent enough to drink at, but I still didn’t know where there was a manga kissa and I wasn’t gonna go into any bars until I made sure I had a place to sleep. Eventually, Ryoko mailed me and asked how I was doing. I told her I was looking for a manga kissa and after not finding one for a while, she got concerned. Being the extremely great girlfriend that she is, she searched online and checked how to get to some manga kissas for me and helped guide me. It turns out that there was one near the station on the east side afterall, but since I was WAY out deep on the west side from the station already, she told me that I might as well go to the manboo manga kissa which was very far from the station, since from where I was at now, it was actually closer. So basically she guided me and after walking a bit more I eventually found it after a lot of searching. Knowing that I found it, she was able to sleep so she said goodnight and I went inside to check the rates out.

This was a pretty big manboo and it was connected to a childrens game center, a supermarket and a food court (all of which was closed at the moment except for the manga kissa since it was already something like 3 am (yes, I walked around for like over 3 hours trying to find the manga kissa). The lobby was full of gatchapon machines (those little vending machines where the little figures and stuff come in those plastic bubbles), and they had not 1, but 2 original old school Super Mario Brothers sound drop machines! That shit is rare as hell! I quickly went to the desk to inquire about the rates which were a little more than I usually pay but good enough, got some change, and put like 2,000 yen worth of coins into the machine, buying like 10 of those sound drops. I was lucky enough to get one of every single one that I didn’t already have. The sounds are pipe, coin, mushroom, jump, swim, level start, die, and 1up. So now I have the entire Street Fighter II sound drop set and the entire Super Mario bros. sound drop set. Hell yea!

Since it was only about 3 am and I didn’t want to go to sleep quite yet, I figured I would set back out the way I came and try to check out some more bars. I drank some more on the way and after a lot more walking I eventually wound up back around the bars. By now it was maybe getting close to 4 am and most of the places ended up being closed already. I guess Im too used to Tokyo bars that are opened later. Eventually I gave in and just went into some small place that was opened and didn’t look to shady. I went inside and it was a small bar that was actually an izakaya, meaning they force you with a table charge and the place unfortunately only had bottled beer but oh well. Everyone drinking there was pretty old, at least 40 or 50. A few people started asking me all sorts of questions that people often ask foreigners like where are you from? and why are you here? and how long have you lived here? and so on and so forth. One of the guys bought me another big bottle of beer cuz he was drunk and I was answering his questions and I guess he just wanted to be a nice guy. After finishing both beers, it was getting late, already passed 5 am, and I was getting hungry and didn’t wanna eat expensive izakaya food so I just said goodbye and left and went to get some mcdonalds breakfast as I normally would anyway. After eating, I walked back to the manga kissa and pretty much passed out as soon as I hit the chair. I was drunk and tired as hell from all that walking. Not quite the same as a night at Current but I had my mp3 player headphones on the whole time I was walking around, the weather wasn’t so bad, and I got some excersise and got to see some new places so overall it was actually a pretty nice night.

I woke up the next day after about 7 hours of sleeping, took a shower, got some food at the super market next to the manboo, and headed out. I figured it would be best to just take it easy and look around at some of the shops on the way back towards the station since now everything was opened. It was a little before 2 am when I set out. I found a few other random arcades on the way but most of them sucked and only one of them had a GG cab and no one was playing it. I also found a few nice clothes stores and stuff and browsed a little but didn’t buy anything. It took a little over an hour but eventually I finally made it back to the station. From here, I figured I had best try to find the manga kissa that Ryoko said was close to the station now so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it later. I had the option of going to Koriyama tonight, of course, instead of staying in Utsunomiya again, but since Koriyama is actually a smaller city that Utsunomiya, I figured the chances of finding a manga kissa out there were gonna be even harder and I also wasn’t sure if anyone would be playing at the arcade there since most people would be out in Iwaki so I decided to just stay in Utsunomiya again and practice all day at Tsurumaki.

This time I searched a bit on the east side of the station and after searching for a while and not finding anything, I figured I might as well just check out Tsurumaki now and worry about the manga kissa later. I remembered how to get there since I went there in Shiratoris car but since I was on foot this time, I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I also went down lots of side streets on the way to keep looking for a manga kissa so it took a while. Eventually I arrived in the area where I knew the arcade was at but didn’t see it. I walked too far, but ended up actually finding a manga kissa a little ways down from the area where the arcade was. This place was a much better option since it was way fucking closer than the manboo. Eventually I figured out that I passed the arcade, went back, and found the place, only to notice ANOTHER manga kissa down a different road not far from the arcade as well. So now I had 2 options. I wish I had known about those last night but oh well.

I went in the arcade expecting there to be no GG comp but was pleasantly surprised to see that 2 guys (a HOS and a ZA) were fighting eachother. I ended up playing a bunch of games vs these 2 guys at first and pretty much was beating the HOS almost every time and going about 50/50 with the Zappa. Eventually a Sol player also showed up who never beat me once. Shiratori called me on his phone saying he was already off work (by now it was about 4 or 5 pm) and said he would be coming to the arcade soon. Before I knew it, he arrived. Him and I played a bit more and mostly were going about 50/50 again. Also, the Venom player who Shiratori and I had teamed up with last year at the Fukaya qual named Ma showed up as well! I only played him one game (once vs his Ky and once vs his VE) and won both times. He told me im much stronger than he remembers. I also got an 18 win streak at some point vs everyone there and eventually Shiratori beat me and ended it. Shiratori then got a big streak of his own and was beasting as well. Eventually, HEVEN showed up with his Anji team mate. I played Anji once and won and then played one more and lost. A little after this, Shiratori and Ma said they were gonna leave and go to Oyama (another city in Tochigi) to go play there. He said they probably wouldn’t be coming back and that Tsurumaki would probably have stronger comp so I just told him I would stay here and told him I would see him tomorrow at the tournament. He said he was gonna drive there but that he already promised he was gonna drive 3 other people (a separate team that he was friends with) to the arcade but since I told him I would just take the train, it wasn’t a problem.

After that, for a while, HEVEN was just beasting with his Venom. He ended up getting 19 wins and eventually I beat him. However, since its 2 credits for 100 yen, he got to play again and then he beat me. After a few more games vs other people, eventually his Anji friend beat him once and got him off the machine. Then some Robo-Ky player beat the Anji and shortly after, HEVEN and his friend said bye and left. I spent the rest of the night playing there until closing time. A good red Slayer was there who I was going back and forth with in addition to the rest of the guys who were there the whole day pretty much. I lost my very last game to the Slayer as it was already just passed midnight and they were playing the closing time music.

I hadn’t eaten for like 7 hours cuz I didn’t wanna waste practice time so I was famished as hell. I set out and went to eat at the closest place I could find, which ended up being a Yoshinoya. I rushed that shit down and it tasted good as hell. I didn’t really feel like staying out late drinking again and figured it would be best to get a good nights sleep and get up early since I still had about a 20-30 minute walk to the station, followed by a 2 hour train ride, and then another long walk to the Koriyama arcade in the morning. I checked out one of the manga kissas, it had crappy rates and shitty chairs, so then I went to the other one which was much better, and passed out for the night.

After 6 and a half hours of sleep, I got up, walked back to Utsunomiya station, got some food to eat on the train, ate it, and then passed out for the entire train ride. I woke up in Koriyama at about 10:30 am. I had a map of how to get to the arcade from the station and it worked just fine. After about a 20 or 25 minute walk, I found Super Bingo game center. The place just opened at 11 so it was good timing. There were already some people there playing. Among them was Osaka B, Mitsurugi, and Natsume. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised hat those guys came all the way out here too. I asked Osaka B if he went to the Iwaki tournament the day before and he said he did and that some beastly team from Sendai ended up winning. This place had 2 cabs and they were both set on 3/5 rounds at 100 yen for 2 plays which meant it took a long time to get a turn in. I started out by playing a game vs a Chipp player who was beasting but I beat him 3 rounds straight and he got off the cab. Then Osaka B got on and beat me twice in a row but they were pretty close. Shortly after, I went to the conbini next to the arcade and Shiratori just pulled up in his car. With him was the team he promised to drive and it was none other than the venom player Ma, and Udei the Axl player along with some Eddie who I don’t know. I asked Udei what happened to teaming with Hase but he said he was gonna try different team mates. Hase ended up showing up anyway though but im not sure who his team was. Also of course, HEVEN’s team was there, and so was a team of Sadu (JO)/Taku (SL)/ some really good Baiken. Also, the female Dizzy player, Junya, who I teamed up with from Niigata last year was there with another female Sol from Niigata and some Millia playing guy from Niigata. I said hi to her as well and we wished eachother luck. Eventually EVE showed up and was playing Drum mania for whatever reason. He only lives a short bike ride away cuz hes living in Koriyama now for college. I asked him how the FATE tournament went but he said he lost first round. After that, the 3 of us went to sign up. We couldn’t think of a name so EVE just chose the name Accident Core. I played casuals a bit but honestly the place got so packed after a while, it was really hard to get a turn in and it was also hard to win a lot since these guys were all beasts. There was this one Faust player who I had never seen before but he was extremely good and was very surprising. He kept doing tricks where he would explode the bomb head bag in peoples faces and also in his face and slash back the bomb bag and combo off it and he did this like several times in the same round and with 100% accuracy rate. It opened up a whole new mixup game and I never really ever saw any other Fausts utilize this tactic much ever. Its something I certainly am going to learn how to do 100% and experiment with in training mode. I havnt honestly hit up training mode in a very long time and I think its about time I do so again.

Eventually the tournament started. 23 teams entered total. Udei and Ma’s team were the first team to play and they ended up losing their first match. They all got OCVed by that beastly Faust player I was just talking about. Also, the Niigata team was another team to go first. They were about to get OCVed but then their Millia player went last and reverse OCVed the other team.

It was now time for my teams first match. We were up against a team of FA/JA/AX. Shiratori said he would go first so we rolled with it. He started out by taking out the Faust, then defeated the Jam and finally beat the Axl! Our first match was an OCV by Shiratori! Nice. Up next I saw Sadu’s team fight HEVEN’s team. Sadu beat Anji, then HEVEN beat Sadu, Taku beat HEVEN, then the Slayer on HEVEN’s team (Shiratori said his name is Seiyu) beat Taku in a mirror match. Taku would have won but he dropped his last combo and did a whiffed twirling hurricane kick cape move (whatever the fuck its called) and lost. Then finally the Baiken took out Seiyuu.

Also, Niigata team went vs Osaka B team who already won their first match. Female Sol lost to Mitsurugi but then Junya beat Mitsurugi with her Dizzy! Then Osaka B went on to defeat the rest of their team by himself.

Our next match was vs a team of FA/ED/VE. The Faust on this team was none other than the beastly Faust I saw OCV Udei’s team. Shiratori told me these guys are good as hell and are the best players in Fukushima. EVE said he would go first. He ended up beating the Eddie player in a close game. I thought Shiratori should go next since he said he has trouble vs Venom and he beat the other Faust but he wasn’t feeling confident so I went next. Faust mirror matches suck. Both rounds were close but I lost to this guy’s Faust. He was getting a lot better items than me and as a result was able to stay on me better. I wanted to rush him down and maybe sometimes I was playing too defensive but the items just weren’t clicking, and in all honesty, this guy probably just has a better Faust than I do. Im not gonna lie. I lost to trying to jump out of the corner when he was on me with pogo stance and I would have gotten away with it and throw a bomb bag on him which would have hit, but he threw and item as I jumped out and it just happened to be a hammer which killed me. Ayway, Shiratori went next, and perfected the Faust the 1st round. The 2nd round, he was ONE HIT away from killing him but his dive didn’t come out and instead he got a whiffed HS and the Faust came back. The 3rd round the Faust won and we were now out of the tournament. All 3 of us lost to that damn Faust, and we were the 2nd team he defeated by himself.

At this point, it was only about 4:30. My original plan was to take the shinkansen back cuz I thought it would end later, but since we already lost, I checked the times on my phone, and if I left RIGHT NOW, I could take the regular train back. Sure it would take 5 hours, but it also would cost me a TON less money. I didn’t really feel that paying all that money to watch the end of the tournament where I cant even play casuals was worth it, so I decided to leave. I said goodbye to all the people I know and thanked my team mates and headed out. I walked back to the station and made it on the train just in time.

I then proceeded to play DS for 5 hours straight. All I have to say is that the Lost Sanctum in the DS re-release of Chrono Trigger has got to be the most stupid string of annoying fetch quests ever! WTF! Eventually I made it back to my town and since my car was at the Shinkansen station, Ryoko was kind enough to come pick me up and drive me there from the regular station since she lives close to both of them anyway.

Anyway, I checked the results on the tougeki website and the winners of the block ended up being Osaka B’s team. Im actually glad that they won since all 3 of them are pretty nice guys who I know sorta well and they are all really good players. Plus, now that they qualified I no longer have to worry about fighting their team, and they have been at every single qual that I have gone to so far so its good that they are out of the way. I also checked the SBO results page and noticed that Rob (HeartNana) qualified for BlazBlue! Amazing! So congrats to Rob. I wish I could qualify for GG but im not giving up yet. I still have some time left and im gonna be hitting up that training mode to level up.

Next week theres the Shizuoka block finals on Saturday. Its really kinda far to be honest but I would enter as long as I could find a team. As of yet its up in the air if I will enter that one but I may go but we will see. On Sunday is the Game Chariot prelim qual. I have team mates for that one and actually have some options at this point. I was gonna team up with Honyo and Kunihiro again but now theres this Chinese Eddie player who actually made it on the Chinese team last year but couldn’t go to SBO due to money issues so they sent someone else instead. Teaming with him is very tempting so I might team with him instead of either Honyo or Kunihiro but we will see. I have to see how things pan out. Heres hoping next weekend works out better. In any case, at least I wont have to do so much fucking walking.

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