Get your (L.A.) Noire Back On! by Randy Ortiz

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Better tell that dame she's gonna have to wait and keep your snub close to ya, because Rockstar Games just announced new enhanced console versions (Even the Switch!) of L.A. Noire and a VR version with 7 cases from the original. This in my opinion is one of their most stylish games they've done to date and definitely looking forward to it! Can't wait to get my feet wet in them dimly lit streets again. I wonder if Zilla Rocca knows about this...

See below for details from Rockstar:
NEW YORK, NY, September 7, 2017
– Rockstar Games®, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is proud to announce new versions of the blockbuster detective thriller, L.A. Noire, are scheduled to release on November 14, 2017 for the Nintendo Switch™ system, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment systems and for Xbox One games and entertainment systems.
Alongside these three new console versions comes LA Noire: The VR Case Files, featuring seven select cases from the original game rebuilt specifically for a virtual reality experience on the HTC VIVE™ system.
L.A. Noire takes place in the seedy and violent underbelly of 1940’s Los Angeles as decorated veteran and newly minted detective, Cole Phelps investigates an escalating series of cases inspired by real-world crimes. Each successfully solved case brings Phelps greater success, but also brings him closer to the dark criminal heart of post-war L.A. The game was an Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival for its cinematic approach to gameplay and narrative.
Utilizing a unique type of facial capture technology called MotionScan, L.A. Noire breathes unprecedented life into character performances, creating brand new gameplay out of the art of interrogation.
“We’re excited to bring L.A. Noire’s unique mix of real detective work, classic Hollywood atmosphere and thrilling action to these new platforms,” said Sam Houser, Founder of Rockstar Games.  “Now with a choice of spectacular virtual reality, stunning 4K, or the freedom of portable play, these enhanced versions are a perfect opportunity for players to experience this richly detailed world in a whole new way."
L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files for HTC Vive delivers seven of the original engrossing, self-contained cases from LA Noire rebuilt specifically for virtual reality, blending breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience.
L.A. Noire for the Nintendo Switch features the complete original game and all additional downloadable content, with specific enhancements including a Joy-Con mode with gyroscopic, gesture-based controls, HD rumble and new wide and over-the-shoulder camera angles, plus contextual touch screen controls for portable detective work.
L.A. Noire for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One delivers the complete original game and all additional downloadable content with a range of technical enhancements for greater visual fidelity and authenticity, including enhanced lighting and clouds, new cinematic camera angles, high resolution textures and more. L.A. Noire plays natively in 1080p for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and stunning 4K for PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, capturing the grit and grime of the City of Angels like never before.
L.A. Noire is not yet rated by the ESRB. For more information, please visit www.rockstargames.com/lanoire.

Travis is BACK! NMH Sequel announced on Nindies 2017 Showcase by Randy Ortiz

I knew the day would come, I knew it would be glorious. That day is here.
No More Heroes is getting a sequel! Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, the beginning is the end is the beginning? Whatever... I like it, just don't bring back that lawnmower mini-game ok Suda51?? This was announced on the Nindies Showcase for Summer 2017 which also has an impressive indie line-up. Ahhhh thank you my pretty Grasshopper Manufacture, thank you.

Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San is GB Heaven by Randy Ortiz

A pacifist octopus granted land surviving ways in a land where humans are at war with octopuses, the world set to glorious Game Boy 4-color palette designed by French developer Christophe Galati. WHAT? This is incredibly charming and completely brings you back to the days of carrying AA batteries in your pocket. Something about the simple nature of that time period in gaming always reels me in, maybe it's the shading techniques or the way it sounds but I'm a sucker for it.
The premise for the game sounds bizarre enough to be fun and a great little escape from all this HDR and hyper-realistic brownness that finds itself into modern games. This is slated for digital Q4 2017 release and for Nintendo Switch and Steam, screens, trailer and more of the story behind the game below.

Set in a world where humans and octopi are at war with each other, Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San tells the tale of a pacifist octopus who rescues a human woman from drowning. An octopus fairy sees this act of kindness and grants Mr Tako (the game’s protagonist) the ability to survive on land, where he can learn more about the ways of humans and help to resolve conflicts between the two species.

Mr Tako navigates through the game’s environments by spitting ink at enemies, which turns them into platforms that he can jump on to reach even higher ground. He can also acquire and wear 50 different hats that give him special abilities, fight 19 deadly boss characters and explore 16 mysterious dungeons scattered throughout six huge worlds.

Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San was designed by French indie developer Christophe Galati as a heartfelt homage to the many games he loved to play on Nintendo’s original Game Boy® handheld console. The game’s color palettes are directly inspired by that hardware’s crude LCD display (allowing no more than four onscreen colors at a time), and the sizes of the character sprites are intentionally limited to 1989 standards. The game’s soundtrack also uses Game Boy-era instrumentation to complete the authentic retro vibe.

Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San is planned for a simultaneous release on Nintendo Switch and Steam in the fourth quarter of 2017. Pricing info and release date to be announced at a later time.

Rock of Ages 2: A Great Journey into Smash Bouldering and History'ing by Randy Ortiz

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Rock of Ages 2 is the funniest and most entertaining Tower Defense type of game that I've had the pleasure of playing. It has the look of the walls in The Louvre, craziness of Monty Python with South Park animation and reminded me of Marble Madness... yeah sounds nuts right? Well it is but in a good way.
It has a hilarious art, history and even some greek mythology showing while having you roll and turn down hills, bridges and structures and on your way to deal the most damage to your opponents castle. While you place items and animals (yes) along your enemies path to damage their boulder, your boulder is also being chipped at and created. Needless to say it sometimes comes down to placing items down as fast as you can and rolling down before you hear that horn blare out, indicating your opponent starting their turn. For the most part this game manages to get many things right with the exception of a few snags that didn't hinder my gameplay nor lessened how much I ended up liking it. Sometimes it would come sooo close that right before my boulder was finished, I was bashing that square buttonto immediately go when it was ready. Fun, that is the key word and that's also what you'll definitely have when you play this.

Now let's talk a bit about the feel and annoyances which aren't many, overall it's a great game to bust out for a laugh or quick match and even a good sit n' play but there were a few things that could've been handled better. The controls while precise and not at fault didn't alleviate the fact that most boulders felt of the same weight regardless of their individual trait. Did it take a way from the game? Not really but I thought I'd mention it in hope to have specific heft placed and not just secrete tar for example to make them behave differently. The other is more of an annoyance and it was not being able to share a screenshot without the pause menu popping up, I kept wanting to show how amazing the sun was portrayed and wanting a photo mode somehow.
Again these concerns do not take away how great this game plays, what Atlus is putting out and ACE Team created is one heck of a game that deserves to be played and seen. The graphics are detailed and impressive, controls do their job and boy do you laugh with this game. It has quite a few modes and online play to keep you busy as well, my oldest (11) and I had a great time playing this game. Those are the important things and well worth your monies in my book, available today in the US on Steam (Windows), XBOX One and PS4 for $14.99.
Want to see it in motion? See the fun below and yes there is a Binding of Isaac boulder, avatars and army banners, that is a free download for those that purchase it up to 4 weeks from launch. I'll still be playing this and sharing thoughts so don't forget to add wgmeets on PSN and Steam!

*Played on PS4 using review code supplied by Atlus USA*

The Swords of Ditto Reveal Trailer is Glorious! by Randy Ortiz

This is what warms my cartoony yet still pixelated heart, look at the clean and wonderful style of upcoming game The Swords of Ditto by onebitbeyond and Devolver Digital. It's like LoZ: A Link to the Past had a baby with Adventure Time and nursed by auntie Steven Universe, all wrapped into a gorgeous action RPG bundle of joy. Absolutely loving this and this reveal trailer is reeling me in big time. Scheduled for an early 2018 release and on the PS4, GOG and Steam platforms.

Bad Platano Juega: Deceit (Mini-Series) by Randy Ortiz

Bad Platano is back and with a mini-series Let's Play on Deceit, a game where someone is randomly infected with a virus within a group of people and has to continue to keep their cover while drinking blood and killing the other players. Suena buenísimo verdad?  The gameplay and premise is pretty basic but fun, what's more engaging is the interaction between the players and everyone trying to guess who's bluffing while trying to stay alive. See below for both videos!

Como siempre una chercha bien y un monton de risas manito, siempre inocente haha.

Yakuza Kiwami Revisits Shenmue Memories by Randy Ortiz

With Yakuza Kiwami which is a remaking of Yakuza 1 for PS4 releasing on August 29th, 2017, I can't help but be reminded of walking, playing and being lost in the world of Shenmue. All the little touches that Yu Suzuki added to the game were amazing and glad to still see it in the current generation by Yakuza's creator Toshihiro Nagoshi striving and still weird but fun, you can sing Karaoke, play Mahjong racing and even a fighting game's included while having it's regular storyline. They even created a beautiful Yakuza Experience portal which includes digital comics (up to #3), an interactive timeline and a soon to come 360 feature.
I need to play this...

See below for what Sega has to say about the additional features of Yakuza Kiwami: 

  • A Family Patriarch's Ransom of New Content - "Kiwami" literally translates to "extreme," and the game was named that for good reason. Not just a simple graphical upgrade, Kiwami adds nearly 30 minutes of cutscenes alone, providing all-new insight into the game's plot and creating common threads with series prequel Yakuza 0. There's also added distractions (Pocket Circuit car racing, MesuKing: Battle Bug Beauties, new hostesses, and more), side quests, combat updates, re-recorded Japanese dialogue, and more to bring the original Yakuza game into the latest console generation.
  • A Place for Newcomers and Veterans - Yakuza Kiwami is the ultimate bridge in the series: newcomers or those whose Yakuza experience started with Yakuza 0 will have familiar, exacting controls, top-notch SEGA localization, and a solid starting point for entering the Yakuza franchise fresh. Veterans will experience a familiar Kamurocho and plot, but with new levels of story depth and graphical polish.
  • But it was me! Majima! - Completely new to Kiwami is the "Majima Everywhere" system, where the series' deranged, one-eyed maniac will constantly surprise and challenge Kiryu to combat when he least expects it. We're talking "popping out of a goofy costume" levels of surprise, so players must stay on their toes and be ready to defend themselves from Kiryu's chief rival.
  • Extreme Revitalization - Kiwami is rebuilt from the ground up with all new HD assets, exclusive Japanese voice audio re-recorded by the series cast, and more; optimized for the PlayStation 4 and running in 1080p/60fps. And following suit with SEGA's commitment to the Yakuza series, the game will release in both physical and digital formats in the west.
  • Yakuza Kiwami will be released on PlayStation 4 physically and digitally on Aug. 29 for $29.99 (with commensurate European pricing). In addition to Yakuza 0Yakuza Kiwami provides an excellent starting point for those who have always heard about the series but have yet to try it. It preserves the charm of old-school, PS2-era beat-em-up gameplay, but deftly combines it with a hard-boiled crime drama punctuated with the liveliness of Kamurocho - the fictional red-light district of Tokyo the game is set in - and all the distractions that a red-light district can offer. The game is rated M by the ESRB. For more information about Yakuza Kiwami and the Yakuza series, please visit yakuza.sega.com/kiwami.

    Pre-orders/first run copies of the physical version will come packaged in a stunning SteelBook®. Take a look at the glamshot below! If you go the digital route, you'll get a free PS4 theme with the order.

Play With Sound: Punch-Out!/Rocky IV Mashup by Randy Ortiz

What's better than 80's video game music and sounds? 80's video game music and sound put in movie recuts! I spent my morning laughing and loving these with my kids. I picked this one due to how much I love Rocky IV (yes it's the best one) but they are all great.
Great work by RetroSFX, you've got a fan. Be sure to follow the Youtube account as well!

Bad Platano Juega: Playerunknown's Battlegrounds by Randy Ortiz

Let me talk to you guys about my homie Bad Platano.
He's a dope Dominican graphic designer/photographer and is also completely hilarious in these Let's Play videos. El Matatan matando con su blamblam!
His content is in Spanish with english sprinkled around and is truly funny to watch regardless if a language barrier is present (pssst learn Spanish), his presentation is on point and continues to innovate. A good deal of gamers skimp on the level of quality in their content and gladly Bad Platano is the complete opposite. Sometimes he becomes part of the motion that's going on in the videos, side jokes galore and is definitely funny to hear him mess around.
In this Let's Play he shoots it up in Playerunknown's Battlegrounds and loots all he can while being a trip the entire time. Te jodiste Juan!

Keep an eye out here for more Bad Platano, I'll be posting all his upcoming videos and obviously be sure to subscribe to his channel!

Race Kings Got Me... by Randy Ortiz

Race Kings: Class C Clash - Subaru BRZ Chrome Edition
I've been playing a good deal of Hutch Games Race Kings lately, so far it's addicting and easy to pick up. Once you gain a decent amount of cash/cars, the fun factor goes up but also your winnings. Just bought this car to be able to add edge upgrades (makes you go faster) since my other Class C cars are maxed out.
Overall it's a great freemium game that looks pretty damn good and doesn't slam you in the face with a paywall (IMO), haven't spent any money yet and I have 5 cars so far. Download and let's race! You know the name.

Download iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/race-...
Download Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/de...

Metroid: The Sky Calls by Randy Ortiz

What Rainfall Films has created is what Nintendo should be looking towards or creating something of the like. It's what all us fans keep screaming and yelling about and some folks are listening, the right group listened this time around and it's one of the best I've seen. They worked with director Sam Balcomb and along with the talent of Jessica Chobot and America Young made it come alive. What will unfold before your eyes is a thing of beauty and wonder, playing into the exploration and isolation aspect of space movies like Alien and 2001 Space Odyssey that fit perfectly in the Metroid universe. Enjoy the short of 11+ minutes because it will leave you wanting more. 

You guys are seriously making me look into creating a videogame themed project with this, all the good elements came together and played beautifully. Looking forward to Rainfalls next project! 

Nintendon't Limit Yourself, Shine Get by Randy Ortiz

Super-Mario-3D-World-32So now that PS4 and Xbox One is out, many sites are recommending the WiiU due to the lacking launch titles on the other two systems and the new Mario game (excellent) recently released. This industry is such a flip-flop mess... Now that the other two had just ok launches which usually happens, folks are writing about how good the WiiU is and can be. Don't get me wrong, I love that a great system is getting more love but the fact that even the NY Times is reporting about PS4 and Xbox One having nothing worthy to play along with Polygon saying waiting is good reads funny to me. I'm mainly a Nintendo head but I'll play anything that's good and all the flack that Nintendo gets for being "weird" or stubborn and slow to adapt is largely exaggerated but now sites are seeing the awesome so they hop on. There are certain things that Sony gets correct and Microsoft as well but Nintendo is now billed as the old man trying to be hip and is portrayed out of touch 'cause it doesn't share everything and guards their IP's with their life no matter the costs. No one can however deny that they don't know how to make games, all their 1st party releases on the WiiU have been fun and a refreshing change from bloody bullet ridden strategic first persons calls to duty in space with effect and now Super Mario is starting to change the opinion of the lil U that could.

Don't doubt.

Video games are meant to be fun, exciting and escapes from life or something that can traverse you to different realms while centered around a coat of reality. Some folks wean away from bright colors and cheerful themes, some of us do not but no one is wrong for it because it's a preference. While preference can somewhat hurt the industry, it's what is perceived and labeled that truly hurts it and makes the industry that we all love a bit less fun and more like work. What the whole point of this? If something is good then support or try it, don't just support it because the "hardcore gamer" crowd doesn't you got let down with something else as it can limit a great deal of wonderful games you can enjoy.

Lune the Moon Game by Randy Ortiz

LUNEWe all love us some video games and when a game is announced that involves controlling what was thought to be impossible or not the run of the mill jumping/shooting/collecting tags, that's when our interest goes sky high. Enter Lune, a game being created by six students (including Dedale's Sergey Mojov) for the French game competition Hits Playtime where you control the moon, so you get to control gravity, light, and the tides... crazy right? The game revolves around an island in the middle of an ocean that doesn't get light and is occupied by a large ancient tower with Runic Guardians. Check out the trailer along with some concept art and the main character model below. Head over to their Facebook page **Like it** if ya do and watch it for more information on this awesome looking game... that I can't wait to play. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J68oqKBynkw[/youtube] Character CharacterConceptArt02 CharacterConceptArt03

If anybody needs me, I’ll be at Golfland by Randy Ortiz

Photo by Paul Kobayashi Growing up in the 80s and 90s was an amazing experience if you were into video games. The technology curve took a steep incline as Pong and other floating-dot favorites gave way to Super Mario Brothers in your own home and Street Fighter in the arcade in less than a decade. Video games were becoming a way of life for late-Gen X/early-Gen Y folks like myself. I was given my first gaming system by my parents at the tender age of six—a Colecovision. Kids from around the neighborhood would come to my home to sit in front an old, large wooden furniture-style television to play games like Donkey Kong, Zaxxon, Ladybug and Venture. It was a while before I jumped on the Nintendo train when they started appearing in homes in 1985. But eventually, when the price dropped a bit, my folks bought one, and any chance of me going anywhere in sports (or any outdoor activity) pretty much evaporated. I became enthralled with games like Baseball Stars, Tecmo Bowl and Captain Commando. For the sports games, I would create “seasons” in a notebook and keep statistics far before those modes existed in the actual games.

As far as home systems, I ascended the technological ladder as the systems were released: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Playstation, Playstation 2, PSP and the Wii, which was the last system I actually purchased. But the home system games were really just the mistress to the wifey position arcade games held in my life. An arcade was a place you could lose all day inside. I lost about five years. From early memories of trips with my father to the arcade in the basement at Weberstown Mall in Stockton to the first time I walked through the doors at Milpitas Golfland, I have a lot of fond memories associated with arcades. But it wasn’t until 1990, when I moved across the street from Golfland, that I became a regular at one. I was a 14-year-old boy, living a two-minute walk from about 200 of the latest and greatest video games out at the time, plus pinball and pizza. It should come as no surprise that I became a fixture there.

It was when the first Street Fighter II machine arrived at Golfland, sometime in early-1991, that everything changed. Crowds would literally form around the game while people were playing, mesmerized by the characters, the music, the occasional special move, and the competition that was ongoing. When the game first arrived, I think there were two cabinets in Golfland: one in each building. I dedicated myself to learning more about the game. I’d show up when the arcade opened at 10 a.m. and play the computer by myself for an hour before people started to show up. I wanted to know all the special moves and master every combo.

It got to where I started noticing a lot of the same people at the arcade playing Street Fighter every day. I’d associate them with the characters they used, their demeanor at the controller, and their style of play. Walking in, I’d wonder who I’d see this time. Would it be Mike Knowles, the affable bearded white dude whose Blanka was tough competition? Or perhaps Ben Danabar, the older dude from my high school whose Chun Li still ranks as one of the best I ever saw? Maybe Max Castellanos, the always funny, short and flat-topped Ryu player? Or maybe Kevin Nguyen, the super-quiet Vietnamese dude with the massive underbite who drove a high-end BMW and always had some porcelain beauty standing beside him at the game? Since I lived across the street, I was there pretty much anytime I wasn’t at school or sleeping. I started to learn what times of the day people would be likely to come around. It got to be my Cheers. I knew that no matter the time, if I went to Golfland, I would see somebody I knew, and who knew me.

When the Street Fighter II tournaments started in the summer of 1991, I really met the great players. The tournaments, which I’ll cover extensively in my next piece, were a big deal. Everybody who thought they were the shit at SF II came to play in the tournaments. The first few months, we were all sorting out the Milpitas Golfland hierarchy. Then, outsiders began coming to Milpitas for competition. On weekends during the late summer and fall of 1991, there were always a couple of us regulars at each machine in Golfland. We’d play against each other, talking shit and trying out new moves, but the real fun was when newcomers would come to test their chops. A couple of us would start trading off rounds as we picked apart our opponents. It was commonplace for somebody to run up on me at a game and tell me about how some new dude was ripping through a few friends, and how I needed to come get a piece of it.

When outsiders came for a challenge, we’d line up to break their spirits. And we would laugh when they got fed up and left. The rare folks that came and gave us a challenge usually started coming around more often. They either were accepted into the group as one of us, or they served as capable adversaries … foils that would come around for the competition. I came to enjoy playing some of these Street Fighter mercenaries.

After the glow of the state tournament wore off, things changed dramatically at Milpitas Golfland. Many of the Street Fighter regulars stopped coming around. A number of top players were thrown out and 86’d from the arcade for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t long before I found myself as the only SF II top-tier tournament player even allowed in what was our home arcade. At 14 years old, I learned that sometimes magic moments end and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just put your head down and keep moving forward.

Of course, with all of my colleagues now gone, I was pretty much the best SF II player left. My ego grew exponentially. I used to write little slogans on my tournament IDs demanding the return of my banned compatriots. What a snotty, little fool I was. Audacious to the core. And now, I was the old man at the club.

A new generation of gamers came to Golfland. I refer to these guys as the second generation of Street Fighter. Many of them learned how to play by watching us (the first generation) play. I mentored some, treated the rest with derision and continued to hone my craft. I started working as a game tester for the first time with Atari Games at this point, in what is another path my life took as a result of my Street Fighter career. I’ll write on a later date all about my four years at Atari and getting paid to play video games.

The new generation got their chance to shine when Street Fighter II: Championship Edition was released. In what was really just a way to squeeze more money out of the franchise was pitched as an opportunity to play using the four boss characters, new special moves for existing characters (Chun Li’s fireball!), alternate character colors and the ability for both players to use the same character. My high school chum, Quy Nghiem, quickly rose to the top of the food chain with his double-dizzy combos using M. Bison. He had the juice now, yo! Alas, he got a big head about the whole thing, thus completing the cycle that we had started during our heyday. And Championship Edition never had the energy that SF II had. Even in the large tourney they had at Golfland, the feeling was subdued. I don’t remember who won, but it wasn’t me. I finished somewhere in the middle, not horribly destroyed but not at the top of the heap anymore.

Championship Edition turned into Hyper Fighting and SF III, then we moved on to Mortal Kombat 1, 2, and 3 and Killer Instinct. My reputation among fighting game players meant that most up and comers were looking to take me down. I really was the only one left from the First Generation. These fools were maybe a year or two younger than me, but I was the crafty, old vet. So silly. I was always competitive in the latest and greatest game. I may not have been the best at anything after Street Fighter, but I was among the top 10 players in all the games I listed above. I certainly didn’t have the super skills on a lot of the games, but I managed to stay competitive and relevant because of my experience playing fighting games.

Once you reach a certain level on anything, you get used to a world where the baseline skill level is higher than with the general population. So, as you got better at SF II or other games, you began to expect a certain level of play out of people. The people who didn’t really know what they were doing, folks who banged on buttons and never blocked—they gave you bigger fits than anybody else. More so than people who had skills at the game. I tried to take advantage of that idea. I taught myself to play with an unorthodox style. I got into my opponents’ heads, thought about what they were likely thinking and made my moves. I learned to play characters nobody liked and exploited their advantages while people tried to figure out their weaknesses. Simply put, I evolved my play to compensate for my shortcomings.

Once I started taking myself less seriously, my visits to Golfland were a more social sort than before. I’d go hang out with the people who worked there, folks who by that point I’d grown up with. We’d bullshit the night away and I’d play games here and there. By the time I was going to college, I still went to Golfland, but playing games was really only to pass the time.

These days, at 35 years old, the most I play video games is on my phone or the occasional Mario Kart session. Every once in a while, I’ll get a few games of Street Fighter II in at my friend’s house (where my machine lives). When I start playing, it’s almost like I never stopped. It takes about a round to shake off the rust and perhaps a couple games to get my timing right. And then, it’s magic again. My fingers dance to imaginary beats as I press buttons to routines and subroutines just as I did 21 years ago. And Guile performs the most beautifully devastating combos you’ve seen this side of 1991.

And nobody appreciates the beauty but me.

Jay Peeples 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.

Street Fighter II: The beginning of an era by Randy Ortiz

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.