I should know better by now. Should’ve grown out of it. But I haven’t (and don’t want to). I’m a 36 year old Street Fighter fan and this past weekend myself and two friends took the long trip up to Telford from London to compete in Capcom’s Street Fighter 25th Anniversary competition.
“Street Fighter” you say? Do people still play that? Well, yes, they do. Fighting games have enjoyed a pretty big resurgence over the past few years and while I’m unsure they will ever regain the popularity they enjoyed in the late ’80s/’90s (without Capcom hiring me ;-)) a whole new generation has caught onto the fact that they’re really fun to play. It was this new generation I was expecting to have to battle as I set myself the target of winning one match and to not come last.
I’d prepared a little (including on the train in our mobile dojo). Once you get to a certain age life prevents you from just bumming around in your pants playing video games for hours on end (which is probably just as well as me in my pants isn’t a pretty picture). I usually play Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition ver.2012 (full title!) with a Xbox 360 pad but have modded joysticks recently in an attempt to force myself to “play the game properly.” Most top players play with joysticks but I grew up on the NES/SNES and never owned a stick so always played Street Fighter on a pad.
The competition itself is a pretty big deal. Capcom has thrown a lot of time and resources behind ensuring the global competition is a success, including streaming each event on twitch.tv. The winner of each location’s competition is being flown out to compete in the grand final where the winner takes home a car. I guess if the winner comes from another country then it’ll have to be a flying car, but nonetheless it’s great to see a games company throw serious weight behind its products and fan base.
The experience of attending and playing in the tournament itself was amazing. Arcades have sadly all but died out in most parts of the world and so folks usually play each other over the Internet. The last time I’d played Street Fighter amongst a large group of people I was probably 14 in the local kebab shop back in the ’90s. When playing “live” you can feel the eyes of the crowd burning a hole in the back of your head and it really forces you to play your A-game.
There was a really friendly, good-natured vibe amongst the attendees. This brought home another difference from playing online, as over the Internet anonymous gamers can often behave like idiots. I’ve received a fair few abusive messages after playing matches online but during this event there wasn’t the slightest hint of animosity.
The format of the competition meant you could lose a maximum of two times before being knocked out. I lost my first match (as did my friends). But something magical occurred in my second (and potentially last) match; I won! As did @cisnky_lfc. @don_dario should’ve, but suffered a hand-to-joystick malfunction in his final round. Success obviously went to my head as I promptly lost my third (and last) game and exited the competition.
So, California here I (don’t) come! Regardless, the event was an excellent experience and many thanks to @CapcomDawg and the rest of Capcom for putting on such a good event for the fighting game community. I’ll hopefully be back next year aiming for two wins.