Friday, June 29, 2007

Thursday gathering

I've starting setting up regular super turbo gatherings at my house. We had one yesterday, with record attendance of 12ish people. That's actually a bigger regular crowd than many arcades.

We've been doing round-robin tournaments, and this time we did it Japanese style, where everyone picks a character and sticks with it for the tournament. I went with Dee Jay, since I wanted to practice. I still can't seem to regularly combo his sabot kick, and I can't even understand why sometimes it doesn't even combo with itself. Nevertheless, he's a fun character, a lot more fun to play than Guile.

I'm really happy with my japanese super turbo cabinet. It plays just like my days in Japan at MORE, game in Namiki, Tri-tower, and shibuya kaikan arcades, my old super turbo stomping grounds. I'm actually very seriously considering getting a second one, for head to head play.

I played a lot of Hawk in casuals, and I'm really happy to say that I was doing his safe jump/release piledriver about 3/5 tries. I won several matches with the "unbeatable" series, where you do that in the corner and just repeat it, and it was tremendously satisfying. I get a sense of real pleasure doing that unlike other corner traps.

As an aside, the Japanese have a pretty name for corner traps. They call it:

鳥かご - "torikago"

Which means bird in a cage. Cute, isn't it? :)

I have a confession to make. It's ugly, and I'm ashamed to say it, but I'd only be lying to myself if I didn't just accept it. I can't reliably dragon punch on the first player side. It's shameful. I've been hiding this weakness for years, using sad substitutes like throwing backwards to get myself on two player side, jump up air hurricane kicks (with ryu), and other random acts of garbage.

For those of you reading that have no idea what this means, let me try to explain.

As you can see in the
picture, there's two sides to street fighter. The one on the right is called player two, and the one on the left player one. The characters start out by facing each other, so the moves for player 1 are mirror images of the moves for player two. If the characters jump over each other so that end up switching sides on the screen, then you have to do all of your inputs in the other direction.

So anyways, there's a particular move called the dragon punch, whose inputs on the player one side are:
joystick right
joystick down
joystick down/right + punch

when you are on the player two side, it's:
joystick left
joystick down
joystick down/left + punch

What I'm saying is that I can do the second one, but not the first one. Well I can do it, but not consistently. Not every single time. And in this game, if you miss one when you need to do one, you can lost the game because of that mistake. So not being able to do it is a pretty big flaw in your game. I've been covering up this weakness by having my character jump around on the screen and try to switch sides with my opponent when I'm on the side that I can't do the move on. Smart opponents of course figure this out and block you.

Enough. Enough is enough. If I can learn button release spds, I can damn well learn how to freaking dragon punch on the one player side, can't I? How hard can it be?

Well, as I learned last night, it's still pretty hard. I'll get there.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Release SPDs

I was practicing yesterday on my ST machine after my gathering on Saturday, and I figured I'd try a little bit of DeeJay to see how he played. I looked for some videos on youtube, and found several ones that look pretty useful:

Jump forward, low jab x 2, upkicks (6 hits)
Jump forward, low fierce, RH Sabot (4 hits)
Crossover jump forward, low jab x 2, stand strong, RH Sabot (6 hits)

I experienced an "a-ha" moment after playing around with those. Up until now, when I was playing a character or trying a combo, I would try to just do the move without really thinking about exactly where the joystick position was at any given time. In other words, the game was moving so fast that I'd just kind of "try it", rather than explicitly knowing what I was doing at every frame.

Well, playing yesterday, there was a point where the game just started to slow down. It's no so much that the game slowed down per se, but more like all of a sudden it was slow enough that I could really play attention to what I was doing. The moment came when I was doing low jab x 2 into stand strong. I had been just kind of mashing the standing strong and sometimes getting a low strong, when all of a sudden the game slowed down, and I could very easily just move the joystick into the back position, and press the strong button. Voila, it worked!

Excited by this new way of seeing how the game works, I thought I should try my hand at a combo I've always seen, but thought nigh-impossible. Stand strong into upkicks. This kind of combo has always seemed really advanced, because you need to press strong when the joystick is in the neutral position, on the way from crouch to up. So the motion is

Joystick in down/back position for two seconds
Joystick in neutral position, press strong
Joystick in up position, press forward

I was able to do it on the first try! And I had no problem getting it four more times in a row. It just felt like the game was slower, and I had all the time in the world to make a careful move into neutral while hitting strong, and then up with roundhouse. It didn't feel rushed or complicated at all.

So with this victory under my belt, I thought I should try my holy grail -- the release SPD tick. This is a core part of the monster T Hawk strategy I am trying to develop. The idea is, you base your whole game on the safe jump / release spd tick. It starts with a knockdown (DP for example). Then

Safe jump jab on your opponent.
Joystick to defensive crouch, pressing and holding jab.
Immediately after the jab, press and hold strong and fierce.
After pressing fierce, do a circular motion on the stick to back, up, forward, and back to defensive crouch. It's important to go in that order, so that you maximize the number of joystick positions on the ground near the end of the input.
As your stick reaches defensive crouch again, release fierce.
Release strong.
Release jab.

The end result is a fairly standard jump jab, low jab, SPD. The magic here is that your SPD comes out safely. If your opponent did a reversal DP, you just sit there in defensive crouch. If your opponent didn't, you SPD him.

I've been trying to get this tick down for the last several days, but it's always felt hurried and rushed. When I play against the computer, I always find myself doing a low jab and then jumping back with fierce, or doing a standing fierce, or something else that makes it obvious that I'm not doing the inputs right.

If I'm really doing the inputs right, then even if I screw up, the worst thing that should happen is that I end up in defensive crouch. I went back to T Hawk, and played against the computer, and found that this is exactly what was now happening. Now, I'd do jump jab, low jab, and then either an SPD would come out, or I'd be blocking. No more flailing on the stick, no more randomly jumping back with punches coming out. I was carefully hitting each of the 4 corners on the stick too, no more wild spinning and hoping something comes out.

This is the first gestalt moment like that I've had for a long time in this game. I'm definitely looking forward to coming home and seeing if this feeling still persists!