Another week of new release means only one thing: more games to add to your backlog. With the Backlog , we bring you stories of our own experiences with our ever-growing stacks of games-to-play. If you missed last week’s entry, you can checkout Jeremy’s look at Sid Meier's Pirates!, here.
Let it be known that I never really played Street Fighter. Not just Street Fighter 4, but the entire series. I always was thrown off by the fact that I was terrible at it. Sure, call me a coward but when you have beaten handily by just about everyone that you've played, then come talk to me. That's likely due to me never wanting to learn Street Fighter in particular. I thought about it, and just decided, at some point, to be ignorant to the most popular fighting game in the world. But I bit the bullet and figured that Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition would be a good game to jump into and try to brute force my way into learning the characters.
Buying it for the PC, there were only two options: Either playing it on an Xbox 360 gamepad or one a keyboard, and the 360 gamepad was by far the lesser of two evils. Ask anyone who plays Street Fighter 4 with an inkling of seriousness they'll mention that a gamepad isn't the way to play any fighting game, let alone one as combo heavy as SF4. The primary reason is the downright atrocious D-Pad the 360 gamepad, as well as the small space in between the buttons. Fightsticks tend to lead the way as methods of control in a fighting game, working with an emulated arcade layout of a joystick and larger buttons with better feedback. So acknowledging this handicap I turned on the game and jumped in.
Street Fighter is Capcom's flagship fighting series...maybe the quintessential fighting series, depending on who you ask. Street Fighter 4 is generally regarded as one of the deeper Street Fighter games, and one of the most polished to boot. Like its predecessors, it gained a massive following in the competitive scene that has somewhat petered out over the years with every iteration of the game due to what many call balance issues. Regardless, it remains a fun game for anyone to open up and bash people in.
I wanted to attempt to learn some of the intricacies of the game. Bearing that in mind the first thing I did was open up the training session page and pick a character, drifting quickly over to who I thought was the coolest character: Balrog. Balrog is a charge character, and because of that I had no idea what I was doing and couldn't do a single combo no matter how much I followed the instructions. I even opened a browser to look up exactly how to play a charge character I couldn't do it. I am bad at this game, possibly even a contender for the worst. Because of this, I chose my second option, Dan Hibiki. Generally regarded as a joke character I found it a fitting match.
The character doesn't have any charging nonsense, which was good for me, and really helped me grasp the concepts quickly. After landing a few combos I decided to jump straight into the story mode. After clearing the first few matches I started to lose consistently, which makes sense because, as I said, I'm bad at this game. It was satisfying to defeat the characters impeding my progress towards the final big baddie, Seth, and the post-match interactions were a funny touch. Eventually I reached Seth and hit a massive brick wall known as a "difficulty curve" that had me sliding back down to wallow in frustration as I continued to lose. Eventually I gave up on Dan Hibiki, the dashing, pathetic man and decided to find an equally ridiculous character. Turns out that character was Rufus.
Rufus was hilarious. The fact that he's so quick with that much girth was unexpected and the ability to link attacks with combos seemed easier with him. The Messiah Kick, being my go-to combo attack would easily lead into a multitude of other approaches, even being able to juggle the computer for a bit. Considering how bad I am at this I found that to be oddly satisfying and it came with a sense of accomplishment attached to it.
Heading into the story once again after finding out the attack inputs were fairly similar to Dan's, I cruised through the mode until I hit Ken, who Rufus is determined to beat in a fight to prove he's the strongest fighter in America (for what it's worth, I believed in you, Rufus). That difficulty curve had to rear it's ugly head at me once more and I got destroyed countless times by Ken. At one point I counted ten straight losses against him, I refused to just turn it off though. I needed to beat him, and Seth, so I can see this through. If this were an arcade this is where I dump twenty dollars worth of quarters into the machine just to earn the achievement of beating the game. I guess I'm lucky those don't exist anymore!
After grinding it out and losing a dozen more times, I put away Ken and faced Seth who, in hindsight...seemed much easier than Ken. Maybe because it took me a third of the tries to beat him. Nonetheless, I was at the ending. While the cinematic wasn't all that thrilling, it ended with me actually beating a fighting game. All in all that's what matters. After beating it, I gained some unearned confidence and decided to take my skills online. Promptly afterwards I was beaten in under two minutes, locked out of combos by a deadly Ryu.
Turning it off, it opened my eyes to Street Fighter as a whole, perhaps with practice I can return to the upcoming Ultra Street Fighter 4 and be at least mediocre and maybe even win some matches! As of now, though, I finished the game with a special appreciation for what that game does and how it can even rope an absolute novice like myself into the tightly woven, complicated web of fighting games. I'll return with a very basic grasp and maybe even a fightstick to play around in the online mode come release day. I might not be skilled enough to utilize the intricacies of a fightstick, but I'll feel like I'm trying at least a bit harder, and at least not have an excuse for losing besides being bad at the game...well...there's always "it's the lag" to fall back on.
So goes another Backlog. Be sure to check back next week as we venture further into our stacks of shame. Until then, let us know what you think of Street Fighter 4. Who is your favorite character? Is a fightstick worth it? Let us know in the comment below.