The Second Coming

I’m standing in a bar and a guy, who I’d swear I’ve never met before, is talking to me. His face is animated and he’s waving his arms about, and his eyes are lit with a kind of feverish light. He’s trying to involve his friend in the conversation who is clearly looking at us as if we’re some dangerous new species, or have perhaps contracted a virulent disease. All things considered, I’d rather be chatting up girls.

But this has happened before. It happens every now and then. And so I try to be polite; I make listening noises, and try to look interested, and answer some of his questions as best I can.  You see, he’s talking to me about Street Fighter II. He’s talking to me about some match I had maybe 15 years ago.

I raise my fists to the sky and roar my victory across the jungle floor.

It’s hard to overstate how important Street Fighter II was when it landed in the arcades of yore like a piece of the future in cabinet form. It stood out in so many ways from all that had come before, and much that has come since. There was its speed – fast enough to stretch your reactions but completely within the reach of those who were willing to practice. Its beauty – it seemed then and now, as if attention had been lavished on its every detail like few other games had ever seen. But most of all, I think, there was its incredible variety; in its moves, its fighters, its strategies. And there was the competition. Only a handful of games have ever provoked the kind of competitiveness that Street Fighter II saw. We played for pride, for bragging rights, for glory.

I turn my back on just one more ‘fighter’ who failed to give me a challenge.

For a brief time, nothing else matters, no other world exists. We exist only on that screen. Every nerve afire, blood pounds in our ears. Adrenaline floods the body, as moves so ingrained they’d long-since reached the level of autonomic response flow from hands unaware they’re even moving. We feel every thrust and counter the way a fish feels the tides; the ebb and flow of battle, as the current flows first one way and then the other. We live and die on that screen. And Tournament Champions fall to me like wheat to a scythe.

As I slowly come to my senses, I look around the room at the faces of vanquished players. Many with downturned looks, disappointed at their losses. But there’s a light in the eyes of others. Others who maybe saw for a moment, who perhaps caught a glimpse, of the pure form. And who stand in awe. It is players like these who, many years from now, in some forgotten corner of the world, will nudge a friend, point at a stranger and say;

“I saw him play Street Fighter II years ago, and I never saw anything like it before or since.”

And then they’ll head over, to speak to him of old times and enemies slain.

I look at the broken body of my enemy with my one good eye and laugh. How could he ever have thought to best me?

Now Street Fighter IV is coming. And that electric feel is in the air, like the smell of ozone. The champ is back! And he doesn’t care what pretenders have come and gone in his absence. He’s still unforgiving, merciless, perfect. There’s a coat of paint, some new moves, new characters. A different approach to counters, but none of that matters. Because the ‘soul’ is there.

It’s a return to what made the series great. Not so much a sequel, as a remake; a re-imagining. This is Street Fighter II as the original team would have made it, if they had today’s technology then. Beautiful, brutal and pure. A war on the senses, as much as on an opponent. At long last, the King has returned.

I remove my mask and stand proud, as a matador after delivering the perfect killing blow. The crowd swoons as they look upon my beauty.


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7 responses to “The Second Coming”

  1. Laura avatar
    Laura

    Reading this makes me want SFIV so much, I don’t even play beat ’em ups but *drool* 🙂

  2. Dave avatar
    Dave

    Brilliant post Darach, It’s absolutely hitting fever pitch now, most anticipated game of the year for me, as much as I love Resident Evil 4 and can’t wait for the sequel.

    That said, the wait since SFIII has been much longer.

  3. lordstar avatar
    lordstar

    well i am liking with where SF2.2 oh sorry i mean SF4 is going. There looking back to move forward. With a bit of luck we may see some old faces along with the new ones we lost with SF3 (becuase we did loose)

    SF3 never took off until 3.3 droped and even then people were still figureing out how to play it.

  4. van-fu avatar
    van-fu

    The scene has been set. Unspoken rules have been agreed. 20/02/2009 will see Skill 2 take on the mighty Vice Destroyer. It will be like a satsuma squaring off against a Yokozuna. The difference in skill of each competitor will be like watching the grace of a concert pianist versus the clumsy actions of a giraffe trying to tap out a text. On a BlackBerry Storm.

    Egos will be hurt. Pride will be dented. But at the end of it all, one proud competitor can say that there is only one world warrior.

    Take a deep breath, Darach. This might hurt a bit.

  5. Andy Turner avatar
    Andy Turner

    Ok ok…you win I’m pre-ordering it now

  6.  avatar

    Yes! I did read this! But was too shy and n00bie-like to comment ;D

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