GnM is an online blog that chronicles my experiences through whatever it is that is catching my attention at the moment. Expect shifts between PC gaming news and commentary, to absolute nerding out about the new MG Exia Gundam kit. My brain is full of random esoteric crap, and I'll be spewing it out here. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Ties that Bind, the SF4 Anime Review

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to talk about the anime DVD that came with the SF4 game. So apparently Capcom decided to release a companion anime to go along with the launch of SF4. Great idea, but shoddily executed. My first issue with the movie is that I’m not sure when it is supposed to take place. It’s not a prequel, and it seems to take place in the same timeline, but its link to the game is extremely tenous. There is no mention of any “tournament”, many characters, including guys like Honda, Blanka and Zangief are no where to be found. Of the new guys, you get a glimpse of Abel, and no Fuerte or Rufus. Crimson Viper has a major part, as does Cammy. Then of course Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Guile and Sakura round it out, with small baddie parts from Claw(US Vega) and Boxer(US Balrog). Seth takes the evil boss role, with Dictator(US Bison) in a smaller part. Anyone else I didn’t mention is pretty much out.

Cast issues aside, there just isn’t enough action. There’s a fair bit of exposition, with characters running around investigating and maybe only 3-4 ‘fight” scenes. The fight scenes are fairly bland and the big boss fight is anticlimactic. The animation itself is very clean, but not very detailed. It’s pretty much the same stuff in the arcade mode intros and endings.

I would have been okay with all this, had the translation been on par. Unfortunately, Capcom for some reason instead of commissioning an alternate script translation for the subtitles decided to go cheap and dubtitle it. Dubtitling, if you don’t know, is simply using the English dub script as the subtitles. Therefore, instead of getting a better, more accurate translation with subtitles, dubtitles just give you the English dub, like closed captioning. The thing about dubbed anime, is that usually certain liberties are taken with the dub in order to match the mouth movements of the characters. So normally the dub translation, while adequate, is not as accurate as it could be since it is dealing with the constraints of the medium. 

I guess I’m not entirely surprised that Capcom skimped on the translation, seeing that the anime itself is pretty subpar. It’s strange that they’d be hesitant to spend money on something that’s supposed to promote the RETURN OF STREET FIGHTER! In a way, perhaps this is an indication that they might have not been as certain that SF4 was going to succeed as we thought. It sounds like a no-brainer now, but keep in mind that before the game actually gets released, they only know it did well in arcades, which is not a guaranteed success on console/PC.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Good Times and Pad Woes.

Last night was my third night of SF4, and I finally started playing in championship mode, using Ryu. I did pretty well, I’d say i won about 60% of my matches, and advanced up a bit, I’m now in G-3 C, whatever that means, heh.

I’ve also unlocked Gouken now, and I’m practicing with him and Abel. Strangely enough, Abel seems to be a good fit for my fighting style. His rolls are KOF-ish, and he has a easy to perform command throw, and a Fei-Long style punch/rekka combo. I’m still spotty with him, but when i get momentum going, it can be hard to stop me. Of course, smart players still drink my milkshake, but I feel that I have potential with Abel. Gouken is much the same, great when i can get momentum going, but some matches it’s like I’m beating my head into the wall. I also have a bad habit of under utilizing certain moves of his, like EX palm thrusts, and overusing his demon flip and fireballs. I can get a pretty decent zoning game with him, but under pressure I tend to crack. I do like his mixups and how you can use his Ultra in multiple ways: after a back throw, as an anti-air, and in certain corner combos. I just need to get used to his unique quirks, and I think I can be a decent player. Especially once I stop whiffing Ultras.

Speaking of Ultras, I may be setting aside Ryu for a little while. Why? Well, because his main setup for his Ultra involved an FADC’d shoryuken. And on a pad, it’s very difficult to do. Because of the way i have to hold the pad, quickly executing Focus Attacks can be a challenge by itself. And so FADC-ing anything for me on the pad is hard to do in the heat of the moment. The main thing is that the buttons are too close together for me to do it comfortably if I hold my button hand piano-style, and if I use the regular grip with my thumb, certain normal links get harder to do. So it’s a no-win situation for me without constantly changing my grip. Also, it’s getting to be murder on my left thumb So it looks like getting a stick just became a much higher priority.

I should be able to purchase a stick within the next few weeks, hopefully. The pad will have to tide me over til then. In the meantime, it looks like Abel and Gouken will be taking up most of my time, unless I somehow figure out a way to do Ryu’s FADC shoryu into Ultra on the pad reliably.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My first online fights, defeats and victories.

Before I could even begin to play SF4, I have to acquire a controller, right? Logical. So I figured I’d go down to Best Buy, grab a PC game bundle and go home. Not that simple. No local Best Buy has Fightpads or sticks, much less the bundle. So I have to break my personal rule of never buying from Gamestop. I call around to six or seven locations, and only one has a Fightpad, and it’s a used one at that. No matter, I go down there, purchase the pad, and then I go to work. A bit later I get around to examining the pad, which I didn’t have time to do earlier as I was on my way to my job. Problem. The USB port is missing. 

So I call the Gamestop I purchased it at, and spoke to the guy who sold it to me. Initially he said I’d have to take it back, since they didn’t have any others. I replied that I needed the pad, and I didn’t care if he had to pull a port off another used pad and give it to me. He hemmed and hawed at this, so I added that maybe he should call around to other stores, see who has a spare port and instruct them to hold it for me. He hesitated at this as well, so I just said that I’d call him back later. A fews hours later, I call back and he says that he did find the port and that he would hold it for me. Great, that’s one problem gone. After picking up the port, I head to Best Buy, and hey, they have the game with the pack-in anime DVD. I picked it up as well, glad to have the bonus DVD. My excitement about the DVD quickly soured however when I realized the travesty of its translation. But I’ll go into that later.
 Anyway, after some tinkering I get the game installed and the controller drivers downloaded. Now I can play SF4 for the first time. I go into training mode, and pick Ryu. 

I suck. I’m amazed at how bad my execution is. The pad makes performing the moves slightly less difficult, but my execution is bollocks.

I sit in practice mode for a while, trying to get used to performing combos and links. Some of the stuff was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I had a hard time executing his, cr,lp, cr.hp into tatsu. This is considered one of his basic bread and butter combos (BnB). I wasn’t having much success with f+hp, d+hp into special, either. Daigo’s execution is truly beastly to pull links like that off on command. After about 30 minutes of practice, I went online for the very first time. I played about an 45 minutes, and managed to lose most of my first several matches. I’d get a round win every so often, but I didn’t really win much at all. I did get a session in with someone called obliterage, and we played about 7 matches, 4 of which I won. I was pretty stoked about it, and I sent him a gg mesage along with a friend request afterwards. I played arcade mode solo afterwards, working on unlocking characters. So I’ve got Sakura, Fei Long, Cammy, Gen, and Rose.

I’m going to try and unlock Gouken tonight, as he’s who I intend to play as a secondary character, after Ryu. Although that may change when I get an arcade stick, so that I can start learning to use Gen, who has incredibly technical execution demands that pretty much require a stick. The Fightpad is nice, definitely better than a vanilla controller, but it has a slight mushy feeling that makes some precision movements feel somewhat floaty. Still, it’ll tide me over until I get a stick.

All in all, I’m very excited to be getting back into fighting games, even if it’s only on the PC. Still, it’s been years since I’ve seriously played, and I’m looking forward to working my way up the ranks. If you see me online, send me an invite, I’m going by Hiryu ZeroTwo.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New WoW Races confirmed?

From our buddies over at, there is an article that states pretty unequivocally that the new WoW expansion races have been “leaked”. The article does not give clear sources, but it also goes on to say that “Cataclysm” will be the new expansions’ name. Cataclysm was trademarked some months ago by Blizzard, so unless it’s a red herring, that’s one less surprise at Blizzcon.

I won’t spoil the races here, so hop over to and see what you can see.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Have Stick, Will Fight!

I purchased an XBOX 360 TE FightStick yesterday, after some time spent cursing the Fightpad and saving money. And it’s every bit as good as the reviews  say it is. It’s much more precise and sensitive. Maybe a bit too sensitive, as I found myself jumping backwards a few times when I wanted to perform a standing block. I also have to re-adjust my timing on several combos, as opposed to mashing out my 2-in-1’s on the pad.

Finally being able to execute an srk FADC into Ultra online makes it worth every dollar. My movement is much improved as well, I can dash in and out on command, and positioning myself is much easier. The stick also enables me to see if I’m executing moves with the correct timing. On the pad, I would miss some moves but chalk it up to the mushiness of the pad not recognizing my inputs properly. With the stick, I can now tell that it’s in fact my execution that is off. 

I’ve finally fought my way into Championship G2-C, after an eternity spent in D and E. I’m feeling much improved from when I picked up the game some weeks ago, but certain matchups still give me a lot of trouble. Dhalsim in particular is a tough fight for me, as is Rose. I still can’t beat really good players consistently,  but I sneak out a win here and there. I do feel that my arsenal has expanded thanks to the TE stick, as I can pull several combos I wasn’t able to execute consistently before. I do feel that I have a lot to learn, and I’m not making proper use of all the options available to me as Ryu.

In the meantime, I’m trying to develop a secondary character, and I’m torn between Rufus and Abel. I feel that I grasp Abel better, but Rufus has some amazing damage potential. For example, Rufus can hit a jumper with his own jumping hk, and follow that up with EX Snake Strike and do at least 30% damage. His Ultra is also relatively easy to set-up and he’s got a good mixup game. My main issue with him is he requires very precise execution on many of his combos. 

Abel on the other hand, has strong grabs for turtling opponents, as well as a good assortment of strikes. His rolls enable him to bypass projectiles and setup crossups. He also has a ton of health and takes longer to defeat. His Ultra is great for projectile spammers and can be linked to his cr.hp. His Tornado Throw is also very potent. 
And then there is the possibility that this is another symptom of my love for alts in MMO’s. I’m really bad about this, to the point of having nearly a dozen different characters that I all play, yet not really getting very far with any of them. I guess no matter what game I play, my indecisiveness will always surface.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let’s Do This! Coming back to Street Fighter.

Once again I’m late to the party, but this weekend I hope to finally be playing Street Fighter 4 online…on the PC. Yes I know I’m nearly a month late to the PC release, but I had been focusing on the console versions since launch. I’ve been watching match videos on youtube, perusing multiple forums, and just absorbing information about the game in general. For someone who has yet to play the actual game, I’ve spent a remarkable amount of time just reading about it, and vicariously experiencing it through forum discussions and match videos. 

Unfortunately, my current financial situation prevents me from purchasing an Xbox 360, SF4 and a fighting stick. It was only recently that a light bulb lit up in my head when I realized that my gaming PC is beefy enough to run SF4. So I can snag the game and a decent fighting stick for less than $100. 

This is not my first exposure to Street Fighter. I grew up in Asia about the time Street Fighter 2 and Fatal Fury first hit arcades. I still fondly remember my dog-eared copy of EGM that had photos and descriptions of each fighter’s special moves, as well as a short bio on each character. I recall acting out the special moves of every character for my oldest nephew, and describing each fighter to him. Sadly, in those days I was pretty young and was not good at understanding the finer details of fighting games

. I wanted to be good at Ryu, but I didn’t have the skill to do fireballs or shoryukens properly. I would often jump accidentally when trying special moves. I settled for learning Guile, because his charge moves came easier to me. And I got pretty decent against the computer, but was still a scrub against better players. I rarely won versus another player, unless he was inexperienced like me. I also played other stuff like Fatal Fury, but I would play every version of SF that came out.  Still, I was never more than a mediocre player.

I would return to Street Fighter when Capcom released New Challengers and Super Turbo. I quickly discovered that I sucked with Cammy, Fei Long and T Hawk.  After King of Fighters debuted in 1994, I gravitated to it. I played significantly more KOF for a while and started to learn proper move execution. About the time KOF 95′ came out, I knew how to perform most special moves on demand. Still, my game relied on using mainly the strongest normals and special moves. I didn’t use pokes, footsies, or jab strings. I was basically a player who used Hard Punch and Hard Kick for everything. I also played Street Fighter Alpha, and its sequels during their arcade release, but I was playing more KOF than SF at this point, and it wasn’t until Street Fighter 3 that I finally “understood” the game. I got pretty good at SF3, nothing amazing, but I did pretty well in my local scene. 

Unfortunately, some time after SF3 3rd Strike was released, I fell out of the fighting game scene for many years. 
And so, more than eighteen years after Street Fighter 2 came out, I’m returning to Street Fighter, and to Ryu. Ryu has always been an iconic character, his ending in the original SF2 really affected me. I remember it to this day. He’s the solid, well-balanced “basic” fighter archetype that has spawned countless imitations across the fighting game genre. Strangely, I haven’t really tried to use him since the New Challengers. Even in the Versus series, like Capcom Vs SNK and Marvel Vs Capcom, I intentionally avoided using Ryu. I sort of had a mental block about using him, since all my attempts at “mastering” Ryu had met with failure. Also, he’s always been a well-rounded popular character that gets picked by many players. And so in nearly every game I would use a character that was “different”. I used Guy in the Alpha series, and Yun and Makoto in SF3. 
This time however, I’m gonna pick Ryu. I’m a better player now, with a better understanding of the game, the fighters and the engine. I think that now that I’ve gotten all this experience under my belt, I’m finally ready to use him. It’s kind of a cool feeling, to come back to a character that I had originally wanted to play, but for one reason or another I passed over. I also have a different mindset now. I’m going to approach this as a learning experience, not as a way to show my “skills”. I must credit David Sirlin for writing a series of articles collectively called “Playing to Win“, that taught me many things. Not just about fighting games in general, but also about the mental barriers that a mediocre or “scrubby” player has to overcome in his head to succeed. Hopefully, the next time I play against someone with Ryu, I’ll be playing to win, and to learn.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

KOF XII: Rebirth is Re-botched

If you have more than a cursory interest in 2-D fighting games, the release of SNK’s flagship fighting series on July 24th is well known to you. However, what you may not know yet is that somehow SNK has taken the game that could have theoretically turned their fortunes around in the USA and royally screwed the pooch with it. No, I’m not talking about the graphics, engine or gameplay. I’m talking about the netcode. 

Reports from multiple websites and forum posters reveal that the online play for KOF XII is nigh-unplayable. A patch was released for the PS3 version shortly after launch to fix the lag issues, but it seems to have not had a noticeable effect as well as adding some bugs to the game. Compared to BlazBlue, or even SF4, KOF XII fails painfully in its implementation of the online experience. Players report difficulty connecting to matches, and laggy inputs when they do get a match going. Character Select lag, even. Other issues include being able to re-map the button assignments of the other player online and unintuitive menus with a lack of certain features. The poor online experience only emphasizes the poor single-player AI. The AI is so bad that players report no difference between the difficulty setting, the AI is equally stupid. So if you don’t have any local friends to play against and were depending on the online play, you’re currently out of luck. The patch has also been uploaded to XBL recently, but results are mixed. I wish to quote someone from the PA forums who summed up my feelings on this with a masterful post.

slash000 wrote: View Post
Yeah, I mean, SNK has always had a kind of small but strong following over the years. They’ve always been niche.  This was their opportunity to kind of re-invigorate their main franchise, and bring in new (or returning) fans.
And they dropped the ball, big time. Seriously. This was their opportunity to go from a tiny hardcore
fanbase to expanding to at least the more broad fighting game market (which itself is still small honestly).  But all this game has done is made everyone who took new interest, or renewed interest, in the KOF franchise, and basically made them feel like a shmuck for taking interest and having renewed faith in SNK and paying $60 for the game. Even those among the big longtime SNK fanbase are getting pretty sour over this. It’s a major problem. Not only is this going to completely turn off a large portion of would-be potential fans, but it’s even starting to wear down on fans that have followed SNK for a long time. What could have been a rebirth for the series both in appearance and style AS WELL as market appeal is turning out to be something that is doing more damage than good, possibly with greater negative effects in the long term.

He’s completely on the ball here, I’m saddened to say. I love KOF. I’ve played it since its inception in 94′. But this really sucks. It sucks even more because the game itself is very good! The art is beautiful, the engine solid, and the animation is breathtaking. I don’t even care that Mai isn’t in this game, I just want it to be playable online! I know that it’s not too late, perhaps a miracle patch is being worked on as we speak, but I really hope that if they do manage to fix this, that the damage done to KOF and SNK’s rep isn’t irreversible.