This week: Honnou
Why did you choose that particular handle, is there a story or reference you'd like to explain?
My handle comes from my love for the singer Shiina Ringo, because of her unique style and presentation. Also, the word means 'instinct' in Japanese, which I believe is one of the strongest factors along with experience that you need for fighting games.
What is your background with fighting games...Did you start with BB or are you OG like SFII?
I remember first playing SFII in the local arcade when I was about 10 years old, with the older crowd yelling at me, "throw a sonic boom!", and I had no idea how to. It was a frustrating experience to say the least! I'd mash it on PC with a friend when we were young, and I also played MK1 & MK2 with friends when they'd come over, but whenever someone got "too good", the other would get frustrated/bored and we'd change the game.
Around the same time, I would go to the arcade next to my Dad's work as I waited for him to finish his shift. They had what I knew at the time as "Darkstalkers" there, and I was fascinated with the character variety, fast gameplay and presentation. I chose Rikuo/Aulbath first and thought he was the coolest. As a young artist, I'd doodle FG stuff here and there but didn't bother keeping up with the games, except the occasional awful one (Biofreaks N64) and some MVC1.
Things changed in 2003-2004 when a friend recommended I try Guilty Gear XX for the PS2, as he thought it would suit my taste. I worked at Blockbuster at the time and found out we had 1 or 2 copies that were pre-played for sale. I immediately picked it up and played it every day. I couldn't even do Baiken's Youzansen (air SRK) when I started the game. I was god-awful. I was going to community college at the time and learned that they had a 'rec room', with TV's donated from the college where everyone played various games, TCG, etc. It was there that I first met other people playing GGXX, and we'd constantly try to one-up each other. A potemkin player from Canada named Sam showed me a site with these combo vids by "Teioh", and also a site with ranbats called "A-cho". I was hooked and started saving as many of the vids as I could each time they came out. We started a small scene at that rec room and I eventually branched off and met other nearby players, as well as played abroad in Japan for 1 year, going against such big GG names as FAB, Karun, Jonio-o, Satu, H.H., Kishitaka, Nakamura and so forth.
What competitive scene are you involved with? (Ranbats, Arcades, XBL, PSN, Reload Online etc.) Would you elaborate the benefits of this particular scene?
I'm involved with local ranbats @ NorCal Install (NCI), play on XBL regularly (mostly Mass Effect & Catherine), and host personal gatherings constantly. Online play is great for exposure to people playing other characters/teams, but the feeling of a real opponent sitting near you, pressuring you, and the execution going out the window really kill it for me. I play x-23 in Marvel and almost refuse to use her online because of how much I have to dumb her combos down. Skipping to the other two, hosting gatherings and attending ranbats is the way to go. Make connections with people, network with new players and see what you can do in your local scene. It's fun for just the game, but you'll likely meet friends and potential business partners along the way, and they become a family to you. I love positive people and I've found them even in poverty games.
How strong do you feel your nation is as a whole, what is the next step to strengthening it?
I would've had a completely different answer to this years ago, and especially pre-EVO2k11. I feel that America (fuck yeah!) is stronger than it has ever been. While we still suck really really REALLY badly at 3rd Strike, we've come a long way, held marvel down, leveled up so much in SFIV games, and are getting better at air-dash games (congrats to spark!!!). Now if only people would start playing GG again...
Remember, Japanese aren't good at games inherently, they just have the best exposure and consistent competition in the world. We have a much bigger country and slower internet, so it is harder here, but not impossible. Support your local arcade, strengthen your scene, attend ranbats, contribute strategies where there are none, make vids full of all your little tricks, and when all else fails, be an online/stream monster.
Which player(s) give you the most trouble and why?
RF perfected me once or twice at EVO2k11. Haha, I can't touch him...other than that, I feel that in Norcal, Tenkai (Johnny) and Dakanya (Jam) are two of the only Guilty Gear players that give me trouble. Ehuangsan (Ky) is great too, but he never practices, doesn't own the game, and doesn't go for stun edge frc, the sexiest thing in the game. I'd give a shoutout to Magz aka AJ, but I feel that it is Slayer, not him that is giving me trouble (Jk, you're good, AJ). Around the nation, Hellmonkey (baiken, your pot sucks ;o), Elvenshadow (faust), AKA (Millia), Jo (Johnny, better than A3R hands down) and others constantly amaze me with their skill. There are plenty of other good players out there and up-and-comings, so keep it up guys.
What has been the most helpful tool while growing stronger in GG, BB, etc.?
Losing. Winning never made me better. Every time I lose, I get a chance to think about what just happened, and what else I could do about it. I learn about when to counter-attack, when to not, and so forth. For GG, I was a download-video monster for a long time, just copycat-ing what JP players did. It worked and still works, but you have to really understand why the players are making the decisions they do at their level to fully implement it into your own game. For BB, a lot of it was GG experience, and the rest was the CT DVD (amazing) and talking to smart players for tips.
Is there anything you'd like to share regarding your respective character or Dustloop in general?
Hm, I play I-no (but can also use Slayer, Potemkin, Sol, Zappa, Ky, Order Sol, Faust, Baiken) and Tager (learning Valk and Hakumen on the side)
For Tager, keep the dream going, and watch vids of Akira's tager. You don't get many chances with that character so...Defense defense defense defense and smart reads.
For I-no, I love her and wouldn't have been able to learn her if not for Caveman, MynusDono, and all the others who have contributed. I've killed my fair share of Mays with I-no as revenge for a bad matchup (looking at you BlueNine), and I want to do some vids for her soon. She is a fun character and although hard to learn, she reflects your true skill as a player fairly well. That's the same reason I love Tager, as I feel how well I do reflects how much work I've put in.
Pick the character you like, the strong ones if you're attracted to that, or just the cool ones like I do. Stick to your guns, learn your bad matchups twice as hard as the others, and have fun!