Posts tagged When Giants Meet
Street Fighter II: The beginning of an era

JPSF2I was an awkward 14-year-old boy who lived across the street from an arcade. I wasn’t used to this kind of pressure. I tried to play it cool, but the sweat-soaked Chicago Bulls short set I was wearing screamed that this was, in fact, my first rodeo. I was sitting next to a friend—a guy at least 15 years my senior named Syrus. I was pretty sure he was better than me. No, I knew he was better than me. But here we were, tied at one match and one round each with less than five seconds to destiny in the Round of 32 at the Northern California Street Fighter II Finals.

Syrus was playing with Guile, the most powerful character in the game, and I was Dhalsim, the only true Achilles’ heel for a masterful Guile. The sound of Guile’s Sonic Boom still rings in my ears, eyes darting between that spinning projectile and a clock that wouldn’t tick fast enough. 3. Sonic Boom approaching and Guile following. 2. Decision made to hold out for an energy victory when time elapsed. 1. Impact. I block the Sonic Boom and at about the same time, Guile backdrops my character as time expires. The game is over. And yet, somehow, I am victorious. My young life is going to take an amazingly unexpected turn.

* * *

Released in 1991, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was an instant arcade sensation. It literally revolutionized arcade gaming and set the stage for every fighting game that followed. SFII was the first game where you spent more time playing against other players than the artificial intelligence of the computer. Outside of sports games like Cyberball (a personal favorite) or Arch Rivals, this kind of virtual tête-à-tête was unheard of. Now, we could play with our friends and against our friends. It wasn’t long before we realized that this competition was not only entertaining, it was extremely addictive. Following the path of Ryu and Ken, the gi-wearing protagonists from the first Street Fighter—a somewhat clunky game that was fun to watch but a bitch to play—Street Fighter II featured an additional six characters to choose from: the super fast and leggy Chun Li, sumo wrestler E. Honda, Amazonian beast Blanka, Russian bear wrestler(!) Zangief, American soldier Guile, and the Indian yogi, Dhalsim. Much like its predecessor, SFII was simply a button masher with an occasional accidental special move for the first few months until we learned the strengths, weaknesses and special powers of each character.

Much like a first kiss, I still remember the first time I played the game that was to become a large part of my life. When I walked into the arcade, I saw a crowd of people around the machine. Arcade tokens had been placed along the cabinet signifying that somebody had next, and next after that, and next after that. When my turn finally came, I picked the character that looked the most ferocious: Zangief. Obviously, at this point I was unaware that he was likely the most difficult character to play as well. So after a short time of banging on buttons, my dear comrade was dispatched by the thousand hands of the rotund E. Honda. There are no drugs on this planet that can hook you as fast as I was hooked to that game. I had chased the proverbial dragon and I wanted more.

And I would get it … oh, would I get much more of that dear game. My life was a blur of sleep, school and Street Fighter for the next four years of my life. From mastering my first character (Blanka) to playing in local tournaments and rubbing elbows with a cast of unsavory characters to a trip in 1992 to La Jolla to play in the California Street Fighter II State Finals Tournament along with the 31 other best players in the state, it’s hard to think about my high school years without SFII entering my mind. Street Fighter became part of my existence, a universal constant. In retrospect, I have mixed feelings about that. But at the time, I was finally good at something that mattered (to me, anyway). I was living in the Silicon Valley—the epicenter of Street Fighter II competition in the United States—and I unexpectedly found myself in the middle of something monumental, something far bigger than I had ever experienced in my short life. And I was good. Oh damn, was I good.

* * *

When the match ended, Syrus and I sat and stared at the screen dumbfounded. Dhalsim lay in a crumpled heap on the ground, yet Guile stood holding his face in defeat. The crowd that had gathered around us was yelling and screaming, but it all faded into white noise. I’ve been told that in a viewing area outside the playing room where all the games were being streamed onto monitors, people were floored by the ending. I had two slivers more energy than Syrus with five seconds left. His Guile threw a Sonic Boom and I blocked it, taking off one sliver of energy, and he backdropped me. But the timer expired while the backdrop was occurring. So when my Dhalsim was smashed to his death on the ground, the match was already over. I had won by a single sliver of energy in the most unlikely of scenarios.

My head was spinning. I shook Syrus’ hand and high-fived some of my friends on the way out of the playing room. I stumbled into an unoccupied corner of a large room, put my head in my hands and cried. At the time, it was the most momentous occasion of my then-short life. Though I had not yet secured my place in the state finals (Top 8 finishers got plane tickets), I already knew it was going to happen. I haven’t thought about that moment in a long time, and I just realized it still gets me a little misty-eyed. I was 14 years old and I was on top of the Street Fighter world. Fucking mindboggling.

* * *

I’ll be writing here regularly over the next few months about my experiences during the Golden Era of Street Fighter II, from the major players and their quirks to the big tournaments, the pros and cons of liquor store gambling to my time working as a game tester for Atari, and SF II’s indelible impact on the gaming world.

Until next time, you must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.

 

Jay Peepz placed fifth in Northern California and 17th in the state in Street Fighter II in 1992. He was the youngest competitor in the California State Finals. Look here for his reflections on the Golden Era of Street Fighter II in the months to come. 

Ill Clinton In the 'Depths'
ICD_AC
ICD_AC

Recently coming into audio contact with Ill Clinton, I've been embracing some beats that have a darker and profound sound to them. I've been listening to some of his past works and now that this new one will be coming out, I felt compelled to share it with you guys. There are currently two singles ('Namm', 'Tylenol Fluid') that you can listen to, they both have this smokey dusty twisted sound to them and it sounds great. Check out the tracks and support the talent by preordering the album which drops Feb. 19, 2013. Oh yeah... there might be something in the WGM air with Ill so stay tuned!

Changes In The Wind

At certain points into the year I like to point out what will be going on in the site and if there are any changes coming up. I am officially going to start tackling a few projects I have been working on and should've been for a while, I will also be working with certain familiar faces which you have seen on the site in one way or another. It will be a smooth transition in content and at the same time not impact the awesometastic (it's a word now) music that is always posted.

What does this mean for the site? You will start seeing more experimental design and audio here along with the music posts you all look forward to. So that means more peeks here and there to what makes and revolves around the WGMverse. From the beginning I have wanted to go beyond just words on a post and it's time to finally start shifting into what When Giants Meet was made to be. So stay along for the ride as I also look forward to continue creating bonds with artists and readers by building/creating art, the main objective will be to contribute something positive to music and art overall. Details? That's what you'll see once things start popping up here... haha.

Thanks for believing and staying Giant. WGMeets

Ana Tijoux Disparas "La Bala"

The highly anticipated Ana Tijoux follow-up album to the Grammy nominated '1977' came out today and it continues what Ana is known for, multiverse lyrical gold that can take you from pride to ruin and back while it's sound is perfectly placed with her flow. Before '1977' was released I saw Tijoux perform In LAMC and she became the top buzz of all media and music watchers as she rhymed effortlessly on stage while everyone impressed. Her lyrics didn't hit me at first and I'm guessing it was because my first experience was live, loud and with a great amount of people screaming and having fun. After the album released I knew she was a force to recon with and can hang with the best of em, slaying words and thoughts intertwined with harmony... Yep it was too dope. After that she released the "Elefant Mixtape" which was a more hyped up and hard-hitting album sound wise, it gained but more fans for the dope emcee and gave her more exposure that she needed.

"La Bala" is the next step in her career with a friendlier sound and forward approach to lyrics rightfully sitting her in the Latina (or female) Hip-Hop throne. She spits history, life and beyond, heartfelt with each bar you can't help but nod away smiling. Yet another honest emcee achieving life as they create, at no point does she serve a cold/fake dish. The album has a bit of soul, street, great beats and immense knowledge pours out the speakers thanks to Tijoux's flow. "La Bala" continues her reign right where the last release left off... Killin' em, I'm proud to see more Latino emcees doing right by what they say and not just spilling garbage. Be aware that she rhymes in Spanish but I'm sure it won't make a difference for those that appreciate good sounds.

Dope Hip-Hop fired from Ana's gun with "La Bala" hits the spot, can't wait to see what's next and if Summerstage is in the picture this year! Check out the video for 'Shock' below and pick up the album now on iTunes or anywhere you can. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=177-s44MSVQ[/youtube]

Happy New Year Indeed...

Another year comes to an inevitable end. This year brought out the best and worst from us all, be it world problems, music, art or ourselves. I would like to thank each and every single person that takes their time to pass thru these Giant post halls filled with talent and thought because without you... there is no WGM. Cheesy? Yeah a little but it's true because the very basic idea of WGM is people collaborating and come together to fulfill their dreams and visions in life and art. Everyone that has asked for help, started projects, found their new favorite artists or worked with them, this is for you. You all have shown me what is possible if you set your mind to it and bring it out or share with others, a constant daily lesson is learned from my readers and the artists that I have come to know personally or post about. To those that have shown love to WGM, it's been a fantastic experience and seeing where it has taken me has been fun so thank you for that. Artists that have asked for my ears or eyes, it's an honor to be able to help with your ideas, albums and designs. When Giants Meet isn't about just one person, it's about many whom share the same mindset of expansion and betterment of all art-forms especially life, it's amazing to see folks use this blog and idea to make a change or incorporate it in their lives somehow.

True Giants stand tall and preserve the good, thank you for believing in me and my message. Much love to all and hope everyone has a fantastic night and new year. Live, Love, Laugh.

Peace

WGMeets