A couple of months ago, Chris texted out of the blue that he wanted to try recording again. We are both at different phases in our life that will allow us to take an hour or so every month to sit down and dedicate that hour to simply talking about video games. Fittingly enough, this year both Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat decided to release new games. Perfect. What’s old is new again.
I thought we might start over the summer because I have more time then. That didn’t happen and then I thought we might be doomed to the dust bin of history once again. Well, things happen fast sometimes and we picked up the conversation again last month, picked a date, logged into Zoom, and recorded.
For the first one, I never tested the audio, so it might be a little off this time around. But, I’m actually testing different set ups and apps to make sure that it comes out better for future recordings. We talked about it and we have ideas at least through December. So, 4 episodes are bound to happen with more to come once we talk about next year.
In the meantime enjoy us talking about “What’s Old Is New Again” and come back next month for a discussion of our favorite spooky pop culture; movies, TV shows, and games. Last year, I started coming up with themes for each month and October (long planned and finally realized) became Spooktober, so it just made sense to follow that theme for the podcast.
Chris and I recorded the reboot of the reboot of 2 Guys Gaming a couple of weeks ago. In anticipation of having to write about the game again, I saw that Steam had the Street Fighter 6 demo available. You may remember that I texted him after he suggested we record again, “Let’s do SF6 and MK1. Seems like the perfect soft landing spot for us.” He agreed and then we promptly recorded the episode three months later.
Hey, we’re old guys. We have lives that don’t often coordinate. The important part is that we recorded. I plan to edit and release it on Wednesday with my MK1 article, but it might end up being Friday instead because I can’t think of another proper way to end the week. Just trust that it will come at some point this week.
Play This Game for Eternity
After loading up the game, I clicked the button to start “Battle Hub”. It informs me that the game mode isn’t available but I can watch the trailer video. Sure thing. Why not. Naturally, after showing some game play via an arcade scene, a woman comes on to the screen to tell us about the mode. But, wait.
While the character sounds feminine and wears make up and booty shorts, some might argue (not me, mind you) “That’s no woman!” and angrily throw their controller at the screen. Instead, I watched the video and actually forgot about the whole thing until later while waiting for dinner with my wife. Then, I decided to look up what the community reaction to the character was. Naturally, I found a headline about some douche bag named “Johnny Chainsaw” or some other ridiculously overtly masculine username complaining about the game as woke. Just par for the course in our national conversation surrounding LGBTQIA+ people and their mere existence.
I, for one, liked the character. They brought energy and fun to the video. They may or may not be trans. But, that’s the thing. Capcom never confirms nor denies anything. Just this individual on the screen and leaves it up to you to do with them what you may. Like Gwen in Spiderverse, it makes the point that they are here and, well, you just have to deal with it. I, for one, am here for all of it and Eternity is one of the reasons I might buy the game.
“You bastard. You flipped.”
That’s a paraphrase of Chris when he responded to my text that I wanted to buy the game. I assured him, probably not at full price but after a drop or two, for sure. When we talked, we both said that neither of us wanted to buy the game because it felt like it just offered more of the same as Street Fighter 5. We both agreed that one was a dumpster fire.
Not so this time around. When he first said to me that I flipped, I texted back, “I know. But the graphics are awesome and the game play is solid. Yes, I made that determination after only about 15 minutes of actual game play. Honesly, though, what more do you need than the 2 minute video I recorded earlier. It’s Street Fighter. You fight…on the street.
I mean, it might be dangerous to judge a game so quickly because, as the Street Fighter 6 demo warns, “This game is still in development…followed by some other word that basically say the finished product probably won’t look or play the exact same way that it does here.” Some of that is true. Most of it, though, is just legalese to cover their butts in case someone takes better notes than I did and wants to sue them over the omission of a game mode or character. For me, though, I’m sold. Hell, if my check is big enough this week, I might just splurge and buy it then.
On Monday, I gave my early impressions of Mortal Kombat 1. As I wrote in that article, I talked about how Chris and I discussed getting the gang back together for old time’s sake. I suggested talking about Mortal Kombat 1 and Street Fighter 6 Early Impressions as a soft landing spot. We both played the games from the very first in both cases. Well, not Street Fighter. Nobody played that one.
But, you get the point. Once Chris learned that I played Street Fighter, we put it into our regular rotation for a time during the monthly nerd nights. Looking back on it, we always lamented that once a month seemed like too long to wait. Now, I for one, would kill to be able to meet once per month. The cruel irony of fate. I work less and also, somehow, we have less time to hang out. Oh well, self pity over.
How Do I Write This Thing?
When I first heard about Mortal Kombat 1, I immediately Googled to see if the game actually existed. When I heard about Street Fighter 6, I went about my business. I might have texted Chris about it, but it certainly made less of an impact on me. And, here comes some nerd shame admission that we are so good at around here.
I haven’t played a Capcom fighting game since Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I haven’t enjoyed a Capcom fighting game since Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I played Street Fighter 3 a couple of times and never played Street Fighter 4 or 5. Actually, looking back on it, Chris and I might have played some Street Fighter 5. If so, it’s forgettable. I bet that’s the main reason that this game made so little impact on me. I played Mortal Kombat 9, X, and 11 and enjoyed every single one of them.
Okay, let’s start over and see if I can find my love for Street Fighter like I did with Mortal Kombat. First, my very first memory of the game escapes me. I remember distinctly reading EGM (the property still exists) or some other such magazine to figure out tips and tricks to get better. I learned about how the fighting system stores moves and by chaining together basic attacks with a special attack, you create an unblockable combo move. Now, it’s coming back to me.
I started to convince myself that Street Fighter required more skill and it briefly became my game of choice. Because you played on only one quarter when you won back then, I wanted to be able to get as much out of my coin as possible. I think the same article also introduced me to the concept of zoning and counter moves. I never got to “professional” level, but I definitely put together several 5 to 10 game win streaks in my day.
Street Fighter Alpha 2
My glory days for Street Fighter came during the Alpha phase. The 2nd one came at a time when I found myself getting back into video games. I lived alone for a brief time when I moved to Massachusetts. I needed to fill the time not spent working. So, I bought comics, Magic the Gathering cards, and a PlayStation. Fun fact: I promised myself after buying the PlayStation that I’d never pay full price for a console again. I kept that promise to this day.
I loved the art style of Alpha and the new characters and combo system. Because this game came out before the advent of at home high speed internet, I played mostly by myself and never got a chance to play against anyone other than Christine. While fun, it never truly captured the glory of those days in the arcade.
I gave very few Street Fighter 6 Early Impressions in this article. I think that because I have two friends who play the game and Aiden also enjoys playing Mortal Kombat against his friends that I have more invested in that game. I still like the aesthetic of Street Fighter and get excited by new game announcements. But, it just doesn’t hook me like MK.
I altered the format of the title slightly. I think it gives a little something more. A je ne sais quis, if you will. I haven’t decided yet to go back and change the other titles in the series right now. It requires a bit more tweaking in the background than I’m willing to do right now. Maybe over the weekend when I have no other articles to write. So, what’s in store for this 2023 PC gaming look ahead?
To be honest, not much. While committed to finding my roots as a gamer once again through the page and maybe some other content, I’ve never been much of a PC gamer. Discovering Steam and the masterpiece that is Portal 2 helped, but mostly I prefer consoles and, especially recently, mobile games. But, I saw a couple of titles that I want to highlight.
Three PC Games That Caught My Eye
As I’ve done with the other articles, I started with a Google search for “2023 PC games”. That took me to this page. I scrolled…and scrolled…and scrolled. As the heading of this section says, I found only three that I consider to be worth my time to discuss here. Let’s take them in order of excitement level.
Once I finally got around to reading them, I liked the Harry Potter books. I also enjoyed most of the movies. It bothered me that they split book seven into two movies and then made quite possibly the most boring fantasy movie I’ve ever seen with Part 1. No lie. I fell asleep the first two times I watched that one. That has nothing to do with my reaction to this game. I actually wanted to illustrate how much I like Harry Potter and that I should be more excited about this one. I’m sure once I get to play it, I’ll have fun. I know that I liked the original games and this one gives me more of a chance to be the wizard I want to be instead of one of the main characters from the story.
Street Fighter 6 (Excitement Level: Hadoken!)
Wow, didn’t realize just how light that logo was. They framed it on a dark background, so it showed up much better on the actual page. Oh well, too lazy right now to go and fix it up in GIMP, so it is what it is. Speaking of the page, I only scrolled through and read some of the basic information there, so I have little to no information about this game. Even so, as long as I can throw fireballs and dragon punches, I’m in.
Diablo IV (Excitement Level: Send Me to Hell!)
It took me forever to play Diablo III. Like many, I heard the negative feedback from the launch and never fully recovered from that. In fact, I played Torchlight II until my fingers bled and never even considered Diablo II as an option. Then, I think Chris might have picked it up. Or, we played it to compare to Torchlight for the podcast. Either way, once I finally played it, I loved it. I am again in a bit of a hiatus from the game, but once I get back into it, I’ll be ready for the fourth one.
All of these games will be available on consoles and that’s probably where I will play them. Nevertheless, I might end up splurging again on a gaming PC to get that experience from Diablo and Hogwarts Legacy. I mean, honestly, Street Fighter is meant to be played on a console sitting next to your best friend on the couch. Honestly, three games is more than I thought I’d be able to find for a 2023 PC gaming look ahead, so consider that a win.
For some reason, I forgot the topic for High Score episode 5. I guess there’s just a lot on my mind with the start of school. When I saw the teaser at the end of episode 4, I was excited. Then, it just left my mind completely. And, so it was when the episode started, I said, “Oh yeah!”
Once upon a time, there were these things called “arcades”. They were kind of like stores. Except they didn’t sell anything. You traded your bill money for quarters, which you then put into a machine that let you play a video game. “Okay, Grandpa, why are you telling us this?” Well, the subject of High score episode 5 was fighting games. During the height of the fighting game renaissance, I spent an obscene amount of time and money in these “arcades”.
Street Fighter – “That old grey mare…”
I can’t remember if I used the old grey mare metaphor in one of the other articles. I know I was considering it for the Atari article, but went with Grandpa instead. Even if I have, it is apt in this case. Many these days say that Street Fighter sure ain’t what she used to be. But, let’s focus on the positive.
Like Final Fantasy, Street Fighter got its inspiration from anime. When they talked to the artist for the game, he mentioned how anime is not viewed as art. Or, it wasn’t. He wanted to help people see the potential of the art form. Apparently, he and his contemporaries succeeded. At least in my case. I certainly consider anime to be an art form. Then again, I’m easily impressed by any creative process.
Takahiro Nagano – “Living the Dream”
One side note before moving on. I forgot to mention in the previous section, mainly because my notes only said “Chun Li – Madden” and I couldn’t figure out what that meant. What it meant is that they put a female character into Street Fighter II (and then expanded the female roster with future editions) similar to adding different skin tones to Madden. Gaming is supposed to be inclusive, mad nerds.
Now, for Takahiro Nagano. His life mirrored mine in many ways. I mean, other than winning a gaming championship and starting his own esports team, we are basically kindred spirits. He found himself in a dead end job that he didn’t find much inspiration from. So, really, when you think about it, I’m basically him. Another note from this section is “training montage”, a reference to the introduction to his esports team, which took on the form of the old 80s training montages a la Karate Kid or Rocky. I got a good chuckle out of it.
Night Trap – “Where’s the Naked Ladies?”
I’m doing these out of order, but that’s intentional. Always save the best for last. I’m not sure if you will agree with my assessment, but I have good reason for it and you can’t change my mind! I remember Night Trap. I might have even had a friend who bought the game. See, it was supposed to be this risque horror game, but production issues caused it to be neutered beyond belief into a not quite campy enough imitation.
That didn’t stop Congress from trying to neuter the game and the industry further. As games started to become more “realistic” and feature more violent content, folks like Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman (If you don’t know him, say his name like Droopy the dog. If you don’t know Droopy the dog, Google him, then say Joe Lieberman’s name like him. Then, Google Joe Lieberman and have a good laugh.) got their panties in a bunch. And that, boys and girls, is why we have ratings on our video games today.
Mortal Kombat – “Or, should I say, ‘MORTAL KOMBAT!'”
So, I said I was saving the best for last. Similar to Street Fighter, you might say that Mortal Kombat hasn’t been good since (insert your favorite version here) and that’s fine. Up until recently, I might have even agreed with you. However, Mortal Kombat 11 is a ton of fun and I wasted many an hour over the last year trying to collect as much as I could in the game.
MK also helped to usher in the “video games are warping our kids’ brains” era. But, I come here to praise John Tobias (who is interviewed for the series!) and Ed Boon. Given the limited resources that they were working with at the time, they made a game that has been with me for over 25 years and has been passed on to my kids.
High Score episode 5 has come a long way from the low of episode 2. I regained my faith in the series and even had it boosted by the Sega episode and this one. The entire series is an amazing walk down memory lane. In addition, we have met some new faces along the way. I’m feeling a bit melancholy that there’s only one episode left, but it should pave the way for some actual factual retro content that’s been promised for weeks now.
Street Fighter V (PS4): First things first; I have always been a Capcom guy. Yeah, yeah, I know that I have been slightly (highly) critical of their policy of releasing the same game over and over with a few tweaks and calling it “Super”, “Ultra”, or “Arcade” but that never stopped me from picking up one of their titles and greatly enjoying it. Whether it was playing and getting destroyed by Shawn or waiting until he went home and showing the CPU that I was still the boss, I’ve always put hours into each Street Fighter title. Which is why this is a tough review. Let’s get right to it:
Yes. An “F”. Why? It’s simple. Capcom released a very bare bones, incomplete version of a Street Fighter game. No single player arcade mode, no single player “VS” mode, the graphics are polished but not all that different from last gen’s SF titles, and, well, as Shawn so eloquently put it “Damn, eSports kids”, in reference to this game clearly being designed with online gaming in mind. I suppose it’s my own fault as I could have read the reviews and most likely saw that this game was poorly made, but I prefer to stay away from other reviews so I can give an unbiased one of my own for you guys.
The good news is that Capcom just released an update (9 gb?!!!) that adds the ability to fight CPU characters in VS mode. However still no Arcade mode unfortunately..I guess me and the rest of the suckers who bought this crap version of Street Fighter will have to wait for Super or Ultra Street Fighter V. Avoid this game, you’ll thank me.