Saturday, May 19, 2012

Remembering the 90s: HADOUKEN!

Sorry been a while.  So where was I...

The arcades in my pre-college days were oceans apart from what we see now.  There were tons of games for all ages, all tastes, and of course, all genders.  Don't think girls didn't have interests in gaming as you might think.  And then there was this one game that just literally blew the whole arcade scene in ways unimaginable, I'm sure even the arcade owners and game makers didn't forsee what a huge impact it was going to have on video gaming:  Street Fighter II.

Yes, this single game where friends pitted against each other in virtual combat, choosing from eight different fighter characters of all size, shapes, and of course, gender (though there was only one female, the infamous Chun-Li), just changed the face of video gaming in the 90s.  At the time when the arcade scene was fading from the golden era of the 80s (sorry I don't quite remember that), SFII just blew in from across the Pacific and made a crash landing in all the arcades across the country and beyond.  There was almost not a place where you would not spot a machine in a corner with at least two stoned guys hacking at it, besides the arcades- the pizza parlors, liquor stores, gas stations, laundromats.  At any arcades I went to sometimes I'd see huge crowds surrounding the machine bickering and screaming at the screen (like the screen can actually hear them) or even at each other.  And the players, there were quite a mix of them-whites, asians, blacks, hispanics- either in their own ethnic clique or scrambled together.  I'd like to think that was one time when all races came together; yeah, good old Reverend King would have been proud.  Sometimes though those guys can be pretty creepy; some of them are so absorbed that it would be suicide to try to poke them.  Let alone hang around when the ticking bomb inside them should go off when they lose.

Unfortunately, I was not a good SF player.  There were six buttons, and joystick with eight directions.  I'm not so flexible with my fingers, I can not get a combo of stick/button action going to get Ryu to throw his mighty fireball before he gets pummeled to the corner.  It's nothing to brag about, but I'd jump up and down with pure joy when I am able to just make it past the first round.  See how much I sucked?

SF has gone on to spawn number of spinoffs with new characters, as well as sequels, and to date is at number 4.  They even spawned a movie and couple of animes, the former which was unfortunately pretty disappointing. The arcades scene has changed drastically in the past twenty years, but there are still lot of SF loyalists, even some new generations are getting into it, but I doubt they would ever know about the 'humble' beginnings of the arcade sensation.  I sometimes pity the youngsters of present age that they are oblivious to some cool things we old timers had experienced in our youth.

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