This is an article about how I discovered high-level fighting games and high-level fighting game players to be an amazing and integral part of the past five years of my life. To give you guys a small amount of back-story, I started my fighting game adventure much the same as any other teenager in the United States. I lived in a little town in south-west Ohio and I was an avid BMX rider. My friends and I would wake up every summer morning, hop on our bikes and ride around doing whatever crazy tricks we could do with the mundane architecture around sub-urban Ohio. We continued doing this throughout every summer (we had been friends since grade-school) and would always sustain a few injuries due to in-experience, but nothing major. It was amazing having a group of friends with a similar interest helping each other further our skills and understanding of our sport. We also didn’t realize it at the time, but we helped each other mature and gradually grow into smart, understanding, athletically built men.
Eventually, as we were hitting our late teens, we started becoming interested in other things. With the help of my knee exploding and having to go through a year of physical therapy, I started getting more and more serious about practicing my Kilik combos in Soul Calibur 2. As my interest was growing and my skills stayed the same, I started looking around the internet for more information. Inevitably I stumbled across soulcalibur.com which was the main place for information for the Soul Calibur series and community. I was overwhelmed. Needless to say, the amount of initial learning was a tad bit daunting due to the myriad of notations, forum rules and regulations that I had to learn. I was a scrub, I talked trash and nobody took any of the information I posted to heart. I quickly learned my place when I competed in my first tournament. Obviously, I was humbled. I felt like I sucked and shouldn’t ever play games again, but then, the people who were playing in the tournament asked me if I wanted to go back to the hotel room and play casuals. Of course I wanted to, so I followed them and proceeded to have my ass handed to me for a few hours. They were very helpful and understanding though, they showed me where I was doing things wrong and how to fix it. I left that hotel feeling way better than I did after I played in that tournament. Then and there was when I realized that I had found another group of people that shared a common interest and helped each other to better their understanding and skill with the game. I felt like I had found something worth-while.
With the eventual death of Soul Calibur with the release of SC3, I started looking for other games to play. I played Smash Brothers Melee, tried to play 3rd Strike casually and generally just played Soul Calibur 2 with a tight-nit group of friends here in Cincinnati. Then, on that fateful Friday night, I was at my favorite game store at the time. The store was called Game Junkie and allowed the kids around town to come in on Friday nights, pay ten dollars, get a free Bawls and play games until the wee hours of the morning. There were always people playing really obscure games from Katamari, Naruto, SSBM to Guitar Hero. This Friday, though, there was a 2d fighting game on the big screen that seemed so interesting, when I first looked at it I could not look away. I was enamored with the art style, the music and how I thought the system worked. I called next and asked what the game was called and they replied “Guilty Gear XX: #Reload.” I had heard about the series before but never really got interested enough to research what it was and I had always heard that, “Guilty Gear is nuts. You have to be crazy to be good at it.” I took that as a challenge and played that game with those guys all night long. The character I picked first was not Slayer. It was quite the opposite, actually. I picked the cute little blonde girl wearing the nun outfit and used a yo-yo and a teddy bear for a weapon. What went through my mind is this: “Wait… I can put this on the screen and either call it back to hit someone, or TURN IT INTO A FUCKING BEAR?!” Instantly I realized the amount of options and movements were possible in the game and obviously this was the most complex piece of amazing metal blaring art I had ever have the pleasure of controlling.
I went through the same process as I did with Soul Calibur and Smash Brothers. I scoured the internet for a place where people posted relevant information, obviously, that led me here. At that time, Slash was on it’s way in and I had to import a copy, rape my playstation and get learning. I learned my BnB’s (THANKS JAIS!!!), tried to understand how the system worked and started my long, arduous journey into the world of Guilty Gear. The sad thing was, no one wanted to get serious about the game in my town. They all had the same argument which was, “It’s too complex to learn and take seriously. I’m too lazy to put the effort in.” So there I was. Sitting in my basement, doing Bridget combos and FRC’s and having little to no success at improving my game due to lack of competition that knew what was going on.
Then Game Junkie decided to put on a Guilty Gear tournament along with a few other games. This was the day, much like my first Soul Calibur tournament, that I was put into my place and humbled. The humbling of Yo-Yo Holla (my old username here) was dealt to me initially by two players, doragonkoroshi and SH_. During casuals, they mopped the floor with my shitty Bridget and the ass whipping just made me more and more hungry to learn what I should be doing and why. Eventually after learning Bridget’s combos pretty well and getting a little bored of not doing a lot of damage for the amount of work I had to put in (Again. Jais is a MAN) I started looking for another character to learn. Sol was the first character I tried besides Bridget and I learned a few sidewinder combos, learned how to VV like a scrub and maybe do a command throw. Needless to say, Sol wasn’t working for me. I then moved the cursor over a well dressed, bearded man who was very tall and very stylish. Instantly I fell in love with this character model and delved into learning him as a side character. This is where the story of Yo-Yo Holla ends and the journey of MacArthur Blunts begins.