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Feeling the Beatdown

It was the summer of 1995, and I was visiting my friend, Sean, who lived in Kirkland, Washington (I think it’s the same Kirkland that supplies products to Costco – maybe). While he was at work, I decided to walk around downtown Kirkland. The place was rather small, but that was cool, since I was able to traverse the entire area in a little under 2 hours. I picked up some lunch at a small Japanese restaurant and looked for something fun to do. Fortunately, I found a small arcade – in it, I discovered a fun little game called Soul Edge. A fighting game besides Street Fighter Whatever? Oooh, it has weapons? Sure, I’ll bite. Seung Mina seemed pretty cute too, so I plunked in some quarters to enter the stage of history.

Two hours later, a new fan was made.

Now, I never really thought that Soul Edge was the best fighter out there at the time, but for some reason I couldn’t explain, it was fun. Maybe it was the character designs, or the cheesy announcer / music, or the different way of fighting that spoke to me, but Soul Edge had a certain je ne sais quoi. I didn’t really care why, and it wasn’t important at the time. All that really mattered was putting in the practice to get better. Of course, I couldn’t practice that much since it was in the arcades at the time, and I spent most of my quarters on Street Fighter Whatever games (I would probably cry if I calculated the amount I spent on Street Fighter II alone, so I’ll leave that one alone).

It wasn’t until 1997, that I could play Soul Blade (the North American name for the PlayStation version) on my friend’s PlayStation enough to actually (mostly) master a character – Taki. While I started out using Seung Mina at the arcade, my older brother seemed pretty attached to her. I decided to use Taki to be different. It was very satisfying to play at a relatively high skill level. My brothers and I would have rousing matches with our friends (my younger brother used Li Long). I think that was the only fighting game that all three of us actually played together. Nothing like a fun fighting game to bring the family and friends together. Ah, those were the days…

When Soul Calibur came out, I read many reviews yearning to play. I failed to prove my dedication to the series by not promptly buying a Dreamcast and a copy of the game. I like to blame my lack of faith to the fact that I didn’t have the money at the time, but I’m pretty sure I could’ve shelled out the money if I didn’t eat out so much. I never have played Soul Calibur, and I must say, I feel like I really missed out on sword-wielding fun. Guard Impacts. 8-Way-Run. New Characters. New costumes. New music. New paradigm. Arrrgh!!! I neglected the Dreamcast, and it now laughs at me from beyond the grave.

Shift forward to August 30, 2003. I had the pleasure of playing Soul Calibur II on the GameCube. My reaction: Woah. My hands were shaking from the 3-D fighting goodness. That experience confirmed, to my chagrin, that I did miss out on what came before. My past experiences didn’t really help me that much here; although, that’s probably because I don’t remember most of Taki’s moves anymore. I suppose I can also blame the new things added since Soul Blade, but there’s no beating around the bush on this one – I was the object of direct and deliberate bludgeoning.

Don/Joe/Vince/6yr-old: Oh, nice move… just kidding! Oh look, I got a perfect!
Me: *whimper*
DoJoVi6yrold: (mumbling) Man, what a retard…
Me: Huh? What was that?
DoJoVi6yrold: Oh, nothing, nothing…
[Later on…]
DoJoVi6yrold: Oh, were you trying to do a combo? Sorry, it looked like you were just thrashing around, so I stabbed you to put you out of your misery.
Me: I’m gonna get a real knife so I can STAB MYSELF!!

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but I certainly felt like the situation above happened. I was sloppy, uncoordinated, and didn’t know anything beyond very basic moves. Not knowing things tends to bother me a lot – sometimes to the point of being obsessive about them. Since I’m nowhere near a genius in intellect, I have to practice, practice, practice, in order to be good at anything. This leads to a fundamental problem: I don’t have a GameCube, Xbox, or PS2. I suppose I could always just read some of the move lists from Game FAQs. Of course, the most pathetic part of it all is that I probably will read some FAQs on Taki and then practice doing the button pushes on my Microsoft Sidewinder controllers so I can train my hands to physically memorize the attacks – this reminds me of Kintaro Oe from Golden Boy where he had to practice programming with a paper keyboard since he didn’t have a real computer to practice on.

History tends to repeat itself, and this is a prime example. Unfortunately, I still don’t have enough money to buy a game system, so I’ll have to content myself with feeling the beatdown from my friends. My only hope is that I can rise above the level of being a scrub. I can always dream of beating them, but I’ll probably just end up dreaming of Taki, which really isn’t that bad…

Favorite Taki Costume from Soul Edge

A picture of my favorite Taki costume from Silent Shadow.