Tag Archives: fighting games

The Night Warriors

There was a time when I regularly wrote about comic book adaptations of video games over at the Geek Force Network.  While that time has come and gone, you can still enjoy the numerous articles I penned about such media crossovers at the archives.  Here is one such post from those halcyon days, just in time for the spooky October season.


It’s that time of year once more; when the barrier between the natural and supernatural is at its weakest and little ghouls haunt the streets in search of sugary treats.  For this week’s video game comic column, it only makes sense to venture into the darker side of the printed page.  There is a rather massive subgenre of horror comics, and its tentacles stretch far into the video game world.  So let’s dive into a realm where monsters do battle in rounds of two, until only the strongest survives.

darkstalkers0

It was back in November of 2004 that Udon Entertainment debuted their Darkstalkers comic series.  At this time, Udon was releasing their work through Devil’s Due Publishing, which included a Street Fighter comic series that launched in 2003.  The Darkstalkers comic ran for six issues, until it abruptly stopped in April of 2005.  In October of the same year, the chief of operations Eric Ko, announced that Udon had become a full-fledged publisher and its lengthy hiatus was due to producing material for the video game Capcom Fighting Evolution.  Since that time, Udon has grown into a massive comic book and video game powerhouse, producing several comic series, art books, and work for video games such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and New International Track and Field.

darkstalkers1

For the Darkstalkers comic, Udon had plenty of interesting characters and settings from which to source fresh story material.  This is especially true, since most fighting games have very few details outside of “some people got together to fight in an arbitrary battle tournament held by a mysterious benefactor.”  For example, this story comes straight from the Darkstalkers instruction manual:

“When the sun sets and humanity retreats to the imagined safety of their beds, a mysterious entity appears in the sky to assemble the wicked and the evil. The unimaginable secret power of the dark is unleashed! Ten supernatural beings of destruction have materialized to wage their eternal war for the domination of the night. The Vampire, the Mummy, Frankenstein, Bigfoot. . . their very names conjure fear. But who or what has summoned them? These creatures of myth and legend, the Darkstalkers, have gathered for what is destined to be the greatest battle ever. And the fate of all humanity rests on who wins the epic struggle. The Darkstalkers are coming. . .tonight!”

From this rather bare bones plot, Udon crafted a solid story about the various machinations of the Darkstalkers who hide in the dark corners of the Earth.  In this six issue series, the conflicts between certain characters take center stage, while the sideline characters are left as mere window dressing.  So while Dimitri and Morrigan prepare for an eventual battle of the ages, Rikuo and Lord Raptor only show up briefly in side stories and single panel shots.  Every issue features plenty of great fighting scenes, complete with signature moves and plenty of nods to the fans of the video games.  There is also loads of background on many of the major characters, including several side stories that flesh out their motivations even further.

darkstalkers2

As with most of the comics from Udon Entertainment, the artwork really shines.  The horror themes of the video games allowed the artists to include plenty of heavy contrast and shadows, which really lend to the atmosphere of the comics.  The characters remain in the anime-inspired style of the fighting games, but with more vibrant colors and further detail for better expressions.  In spite of the show-stealing appeal of the characters, the backgrounds have not been overlooked.  There is plenty of detail in the settings of each scene, with some panels exclusively dedicated to moody environmental shots.

Besides the solid story work and gorgeous art, my favorite part of Darkstalkers comes at the end of each issue.  A single page is always dedicated to a gag comic called Darkstalkers Mini.  The fun work of Corey Lewis (pseudonym, Rey), these quick strips feature super-deformed versions of the fighters in silly situations, most of which end with goofy punch-lines.  Unfortunately, when Udon collected the comics into a trade paperback, all of these side stories got the boot.  On the plus side, that has made the individual issues of the comic unique to the trade version, so be sure to track these gems down!

darkstalkers3

At the end of the first issue of Darkstalkers (right before the Mini comic), there is a writers’ commentary aptly titled, “From the Darkside.”  On this page, some of the staff from Udon spill their guts about the joy they felt in creating the Darkstalkers comic books.  There is talk of the great chance to write a darker story than the usual Street Fighter comics, along with their mutual love of horror films and fighting games.  At the very end, the colorist, Gary Yeung, says that the goal at Udon was to “make a faithful interpretation of Darkstalkers from a game/animation into a book.”  Through action-packed stories and striking artwork, all wrapped up in a spooky atmosphere, it seems like Udon met their goal quite nicely.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Picks of 2012

chipandlauraNow we come to the finale, the conclusion, the denouement.  Laura and I had some difficulty in deciding our combined list for 2012.  We shared in so many interesting and fun games over the year, but only a few select titles truly defined our twenty-twelve.  What follows are not only our favorite games that we mutually played over the past year; these are the titles that we would recommend as a shared experience.  Whether you are a romantic couple searching for some great games to enjoy together, or a group of friends looking for the next title to bring to the weekly Game Night, you cannot go wrong with these marvels.

ChompyGameplay2Chompy Chomp Chomp: If you haven’t bought this game for yourself and every one you know yet, then I don’t think we can be friends. Chompy is always such a hit with everyone who has ever entered our home, BECAUSE YOU ARE REQUIRED TO PLAY IT AS SOON AS YOU ENTER. Really? No, but every person I have forced to play it has enjoyed it immensely. Including (and especially) people who don’t play video games. Within a few rounds, even the novice player is laughing along with the group and winning. Plus, it only costs a dollar. If you haven’t bought it already, just go do it now.

Persona4ArenaPersona 4 Arena: There is a basic fact in our relationship: Chip is the fighting games kind of person and I am not. Quarter circles and I were not meant to be friends. I simply cannot do them. You know how some people can’t whistle? Well, I can’t input quarter circles in any direction with any sort of competency. I can’t whistle either, so I fail on all fronts there. But this game has given me hope. The combo system is forgiving to people of my deficiency without sacrificing the complexity and fun to more experienced fighting game fans. If you ever want to introduce your girlfriend to the world of fighting games, watch the Persona 4 animated series, then play this game. The anime will get her invested in the characters, while the simple controls and gorgeous visuals will make her love this game.

JourneyTitleJourney: 2012 was a busy year for the GIMMGP Crew.  I started taking classes in Game Design at our local college, Laura continued her training in bellydance with a seminar on the West Coast.  Trips were taken, conventions were attended, and family obligations abounded.  To top it all off, after an extended engagment, we were finally able to tie the knot back in the Fall.  As any couple planning for a wedding will tell you, preparations can be exciting, but the devil is in the details.  Month after month of planning and coordinating on a limited budget became our daily routine. 

JourneyMultiAs the year wore on, our schedules were packed tight and we were both exhausted.  We had very little time to relax, and even less time to play video games with each other.  So when we would sit down to enjoy our mutual hobby, it was important that the game we played would not only be fun, but relaxing as well.  Thatgamecompany’s Journey was a soothing balm for our wedding-weary brows.  The plot of the game is simple: guide a lone pilgrim in a red cloak towards a light in the distance.  There is no lengthy backstory, no complex controls or moves to learn, and the heads-up-display is basic to the point of being peaceful.  As we led our mysterious crimson Bedouin to their goal, the excellent soundtrack and beautiful visuals immersed us in a tranquil desert world.  The stress from our daily routine melted away, and we could focus on what mattered most: relaxing and sharing quality time with the one you love.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Street Fighter X Mega Man

Two posts in one day!  What could the occasion be?  Well, the following announcement video hit the Internet mere moments ago, and I just couldn’t help myself:

Initially, my heart was filled with elation at the thought of Capcom releasing a cross-over of two of my favorite series.  But then that cynical voice started chirping at the back of my mind: “Only a PC release?  Why isn’t this on a console?  And why is this going to be free? Will I have to pay for each level? What are you up to, Capcom?”  Since Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe were cancelled not too long ago, I grew rather wary towards this announcement.  My blood started to boil as I thought back on the broken promises about a bevy of DLC characters and stages for Marvel vs Capcom 3.  This once-great company would not trick me again, no sir; I will not stand for this!

MegaManJumpThen I realized how absurd I was acting at the announcement of a free game that only my wildest dreams could have concocted.  I have become so jaded over the years that even good news must have some ulterior motive.  So I took a moment to calm down, drink some tea, and further investigate this story.  After reading through several bits of news (and enjoying some fine herbal tea), I discovered that Street Fighter X Mega Man began its life as a tribute project by a Mega Man fan in Singapore named Seow Zong Hui.  This young man showed his prototype to a Capcom employee at a gaming convention, with the hopes of making his game a reality.  By some divine providence (read: a shared love for Mega Man), the Capcom representative adored the idea, and, for what seems like the first time ever, a parent company collaborated on a fan-made project.

Megman-thumbsupDespite what numerous trolls may be saying on various message boards, this is big news. So many other fan projects have been shut down over the years, most of them by parent companies who have no intention of continuing a beloved series.  Consider this: if more big game companies embrace fan-made games instead of sending out cease-and-desist letters, a fresh batch of talent and ideas would reach the gaming community at large.  Stale intellectual properties could have new blood pumping through their veins.  Fan translation groups could officially work on overseas titles.  More options would be available on store shelves, which is good for fans and companies; truly a win-win scenario.

So I look forward to Street Fighter X Mega Man, and I hope that more companies will allow their honor guard to be meddled with by fans.  After all, it worked for Samus: everyone loved Metroid Prime.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Fighting Games

Saying you are talented at something is a very relative statement.  For example, when asked if you are good at basketball, do you take into account all of the players from the NBA in your answer, or do you only consider the games you have personally played?  Calling someone a great singer can be a misnomer, as the voice in question may only seem to shine at karaoke (where all opinions are moot, thanks to alcohol).  A similar dilemma arises when anyone asks me if I am good at fighting games.  Sure, I can hold my own, and I have played enough titles to know the general idea of most combat systems, but I could never hope to place at EVO (or really any tournament, for that matter).  It is because of this lack of mastery that my relationship with fighting games is very bipolar.

SF2Cabinet

Back in the glory days of the American arcade industry, my brother and I would spend every visit to our local mall at the Mindboggle.  This oddly named arcade hall was home to a bevy of classic cabinets (such as Pac-Man, Centipede, and Galaga), as well as the powerhouses of the 90s (House of the Dead, Star Wars Trilogy, and Crazy Taxi).  Most of these games lined the walls of the arcade, but the star attraction of the day would be placed right at the entrance, facing out so that all of the mall patrons (read: parents) could see where all their hard earned quarters were being spent.  For a time, the main cabinets would be the classic beat-em-ups (X-Men, The Simpsons, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but once Street Fighter 2 came out, the headliner was always a fighting game, and there was always a wait for the chance to play.

NewChallenger

For those of you who are too young to remember playing fighting games at an actual arcade, allow me to explain the term “got next.”  While this may seem like you can just saunter on over and play Marvel vs Capcom with a friend for the “next” game, this is not so.  You are standing in line for a chance to dethrone the current champion from her seat of power.  Whoever is winning, stays at the machine, while the people waiting are his challengers.  Hence why every fighting game ever contains the phrase, “Here Comes New Challenger!”  There is also some rule about putting your quarter on the actual machine as a placeholder, but I always worried that some schmuck would just steal my money, so I would patiently wait each time.

After several afternoons spent waiting in line (and losing after every wait), I became disgruntled with these games.  Why should I wait in line to play a game that I would ineveitably lose?  Fighting games soon became my least favorite genre to play at arcades (save for skee ball, because who really likes that game anyway?).  But then something wonderful happened: Capcom released a near arcade-perfect version of Street Fighter 2 to the Super Nintendo.  My father brought the game home one night, thus allowing my brother and I to train in the comfort of our own home.  Our television became the dojo for many battles to come, and I fell in love with fighting games once more.  But like those stories of romance told in the past, our was a love that was not to last.

SF2SNES

Initially, my brother and I were evenly matched at Street Fighter 2.  We would play best of ten matches, and often end up with five wins each.  This pattern of battle lasted until I found a new game to play (I don’t recall which, let’s say Castlevania IV, seems like a safe bet).  My brother, however, continued to train at digital fighting in the streets.  Soon, he was beating the game on the hardest difficulty setting, and I had barely touched the single player mode.  At this point, when he and I would sit down for a best of ten, the count was one or two wins for me, while my brother claimed the rest of the victories.  I quickly got frustrated at this situation, because it seemed like the distance between our skill levels was a gulf that I would never cross.  Thus I began to resent fighting games once more.

SF2Loss

This vicious cycle has continued for pretty much every major fighting game since the release of Street Fighter 2.  A new game will come out, my brother and I will learn the games nuances by playing each other (or our friend, the fighting game guru Christian).  New favorite characters are chosen, epic battles fought, much fun had all around.  Then I move on to other games, the rift of skill grows(both deep and wide), and then the battles become far more one-sided.

 Now, does this little tale of love and hate mean that I will never truly enjoy playing fighting games?  Goodness, no.  I love fighting games, and I will continue to support the genre well into the future (save for Capcom’s games that should have just been DLC).  Does this mean I am a scrub who doesn’t want to take the time to master a game so I can actually win at it?  Hell no.  It means I am an adult with a full-time job, a wife, and dozens of other games that I want to play.  Would I like to play Marvel vs Capcom 3 with you sometime?  Hmm, maybe.  Now, the real question to ask: would I like to play some Rival Schools?  Every day of the week.

Laura’s Note: I enjoy skee ball, damn it.  I think you are the only one who doesn’t.  Weirdo.

Tagged , , , , , , ,