Best Games - Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition
When Street Fighter 2 came out I had no knowledge of the original. If I had seen the original Street Fighter at an arcade or a travelling fair or a convenience store, it made no impression on me. I did see it long after it’s release in a restaurant in some small town in Manitoba. I remember it only because it was one of the deluxe cabinets with enormous analog pad contraptions rather than the 6 button layout most people have come to expect from Street Fighter games. The journey that brought that cabinet from Japan to small family restaurant in Canada must have been epic. One of the player 2 pads looked as though someone had been forcefully depressing it with a jackknife. I tried to play it and either I didn’t know what I was doing or the kick pad on player one didn’t work at all. Both cases seem likely. Also the game was terrible. This is the only machine of it’s kind that I have ever come across, and by all accounts mine was not a unique experience.
My first encounter with Street Fighter 2 was not all that different. There was a vanilla SF2 cabinet in my home town arcade and, for a while at least, not many people played it. There was another game in my home town at the time called Violence Fight. Violence Fight is awful. You play as one of 4 meaty stereotypes and you attempt to defeat the rest in hand to hand to foot to head combat. The characters all control like they are hip deep in a swamp and punches may or may not land depending on whether or not the machine felt like giving a crap. It’s only redeeming features were that it had a character named Lick Joe and a large portion of the screen would be filled with the words GOON, GAGOON, and DAGOON when a fighter landed a particularly heavy blow. How and why that happened remains a mystery, as the game seems utterly hostile to skill or technique. Unintentional comedy aside, Violence Fight made me weary of any large character fighting game. Street Fighter 2 looked enough like Violence Fight that I was all too quick to sneer at it and walk away. I of course tried it, because I will try pretty much any game at least once. As soon as the enemy character launched magical fire from his hands, and it didn’t seem to be a move I could replicate no matter what combination of buttons I mashed down, I wrote the game off as cheap and that was that.
It wasn’t very long after that first Street Fighter 2 game showed up that the same arcade got several more of the machines. This never happened. Why would an arcade want more than one of a game. All sat in a row no less. The two new ones had a different marquee as well. They were Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition machines. People were playing them. A lot. Somehow word had gone out through the ether that this was a good game. A game so good that a small arcade required 3 of the things to keep up with demand. Not only that, but no one had told me. I was completely out of the loop. I watched intently over the shoulder of several other kids as they contorted the joystick around and pounded on buttons. Every now and then one of them would launch that magic fire, or launch their character into the air, or spin across the screen in a dazzling bouquet of flailing arms and legs. I asked how? How did they know? How was this done? Someone had a photocopy from a magazine, EGM maybe? There seemed to be a bottomless bounty of secret skills and strategies in this game. For me, that changed everything.
I started playing the SF2CE machine at the local 7-11. I would skate over there after work, after some event that kept me in town rather than heading back out to the farm, or just when I had nothing else to do. I would buy a liter of milk (because I was a doofus kid) and stand in my skates (see previous remark) occasionally playing as Ken or Blanka, but usually playing as Vega. Eventually they decided that they didn’t want me wearing my skates in the store, so I would carry shoes in a backpack ready to switch so that I could go in and practice timing the charge up for Vega’s roll attack. They kept that cabinet in there so long, and I played it so often, that I knew when another cabinet had different dipswitch settings.
I have played an awful lot of Street Fighter and it’s offshoots over the years. When they are played well, it is like high speed chess. They are the closest video games ever get to the combination of physical and mental synchronization required to play a sport. Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition is one of the best games ever.
This week I have been working on finishing up Captain Joystick, my weird hybrid of arcade machine and sculptural home furnishing. I ordered a Raspberry Pi 2 to use as the brains of the machine and as of this writing I still don’t have it working 100%.
I dive back into Linux at least a few times a year. Each time I have to relearn a lot of command line stuff that I had forgotten. If I was using Ubuntu as a dev environment, or modelling with Blender, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Linux would just be the same background noise as Windows. It would be the table that I set my work on. It doesn’t really matter what your work table is made out of as long as it supports your work. Of course that is almost never the case. Every time I start up Linux it is usually to do something uncommon, and it always leads to uncommon problems.
Did you know, for instance, that when you mount an external hard drive, a hard drive that used to be an internal drive that you scabbed from a dead netbook and hooked up to an ata to usb adapter to make it into an external drive, you have to make sure that it is fully spun up before Linux boots? If you try to attach it after it will have all sorts of fun problems. Did you also know that you can’t mount it as ntfs and expect it to be recognized as anything other than read only? Even after you specifically remount it as read write? And even though it is possible to chmod the permissions as root, since the application you are using to access the drive can’t run as root it isn’t really helpfull to do so? How about finding out that if you install the ntfs-3g package and modify the fstab file to mount the drive using ntfs-3g, a file system driver specifically made to deal with ntfs drives formatted under windows, when this drive was formatted under Linux, and has only ever been used with Linux?
It might sound like I’m frustrated. I’m really not. If I got into a boxing ring, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised by punching. It’s kind of what I signed up for. The Raspberry Pi 2 seems to be dealing with it’s new position in the arcade machine fairly well. A few games have been played, and a few more tweaks and fights with Linux and It should all be up and running.
Whelp, I’m off to go a few rounds. Wish me luck.
I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about the past and the future. If you know me, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was due to my age. An earned sentimentality. In reality, I've always been this way. As interested in history as I am in what comes next. They are joined. There are no events, just a seamless flow from past to future.
Recently I have, quite literally, revisited a part of my own past. I won’t get too specific, but I have found myself doing things that I didn’t think I would ever do again. Using tools and skills that I had once been fairly adept at, but had let rust and wither. It brings back memories, but more than anything it makes me think of the future. How far some elements of the business have progressed in my absence and the direction they are likely to go in at least the next few years.
As I work and live, acquiring new knowledge and skills, I regularly think back and wonder what I could have done in a certain job, had I only known what I know now. What could I have accomplished. Of course the answer is, that didn’t happen. I knew what I knew and I did what I did, and that was the way it went. If I hadn’t done those things then I wouldn’t know the things I know now. Just a seamless flow from past to future.
The things I write here mostly concern video games, but since myself and video games are roughly the same age, my own history and the history of this medium enjoy some parallels. Now that I am actively developing video games, a lifetime, my lifetime, of thinking about, playing, and sometimes creating games is proving valuable. It’s an easy trap to only look back, but If my recent adventure has taught me anything, it’s that at this moment I know exactly what I need to be able to make the games I make now. In the future, today will be the past and I can look back on it and wonder what I was thinking, but again, I will be precisely where I need to be to make the things I make then.
This has maybe gotten all a little bit too Doctor Who, but I’m okay with that. Tomorrow I’ll write something else.
I typically try to refrain from just talking up tools on here. The thinking goes, why would I go to the trouble of writing something without having some sort of thesis in mind. If I’m just writing to talk up some program, then I’m not really offering anything worth reading. Well stuff that nonsense, I’m gonna sing the praises of my favorite image creation and editing program for a bit.
If you make, use, edit, or otherwise deal with digital images, you owe it to yourself to download Krita. I’ll even put the link right here https://krita.org/ .
The first real image editor that I ever used was photopaint. The original version of Corel Photopaint. The really old one. Before that I had used some nasty pixel editors, microsoft paint, and even tried to wrap my brain around illustrator. They all sent me scrambling back to paper and pencil. Computers, it seemed, were just not yet ready to be image creation tools. At least not for me. That changed when I discovered what could be done with Corel Photopaint. Suddenly pixels were flexible, plastic things. phosphors could be lit and changed with ease. Multiple versions of the program were released, and I kept using that same original copy, partly because I had no money to upgrade, and partly because I just really liked the way it worked.
A few years later, and I was going to school for art and animation, and everyone was using Adobe Photoshop. The gold standard in image editing. Photoshop is so dominant it has become a verb. People who have never dealt with the business end of a Wacom stylus will know what it means to photoshop something. Since I wanted to hang with the cool kids, I learned to use photoshop, and I learned to use the piss out of it. There are certainly people out there that have more experience using photoshop than I do. There are people who know the the toolset more intimately, and are just flat out better at using photoshop than I am. You don’t need to drive NASCAR to put the peddle to the floor. Me and photoshop, we made some shit.
I have tried some other image editors and image creators, but to tell you the truth, they were all poor replacements. Photoshop was still better at so many things than programs the likes of The Gimp, that I would be continually frustrated by the terrible user experience.
I downloaded and tried Krita a few versions ago, and almost instantly I was done with Photoshop. Krita has grown by leaps and bounds since then, but even in that earlier state I think it was superior to Photoshop in many ways. Now, I think that Krita is better than photoshop in almost every respect.
There are a few, excusable, slowdowns when working with large images, but it improves with every new version. And did I mention that all the new versions are free. Yeah, you can just go download them. It costs nothing. Even though it’s free, I would willingly and gladly pay the very small amount they request in donations to keep the project running. In fact I have. I got a postcard from a russian software developer, so that was nice I suppose.
You could offer me a free version of Photoshop at this point and I wouldn’t be interested. Krita! Try it!