Monday, 15 October 2012

Birthday/Christmas wishlist

For whoever decides to read this blog post and is feeling generous for 17th February:

  • Ticket to EVO with flight, hotel and tournament entrance for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2
  • Pac-Man cuff links (can be a day out at Namco Station and just play lots of games)
    • While you're at it, get some Tetris ones. 3 for £20 on Zavvi last I checked
  • Pac-Man Belt (like Jade's one preferably from Tales of the Abyss)
  • 3DS console (XL or normal, I don't mind either way)
    • Second circle pad
    • Tekken 3D
  • PS Vita console
    • Memory card
    • Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
  • Whatever Tales games I haven't got hard copy of yet
    • Tales of Rebirth
    • Tales of Phantasia
    • Tales of Legendia
    • Tales of Hearts
    • Tales of Innocence
    • Tales of the Tempest
    • Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology
    • Tales of Eternia
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the new world
  • Any official Tales Soundtrack (except Graces F that came with Day one edition)
  • Plexi for Soul Calibur V stick (Hori or Madcatz, either is fine as I have both, preferrably Madcatz as I'll be taking that to tournaments)
    • Artwork for it (preferrably Tales related)
  • A session where I can just sit on a setup for a good 5 hours or so playing video games with lots of people
  • Big bowl of the best fried rice
  • Box of chicken (preferrably spicy wings from Favourite Chicken)
  • A chance to meet Hideo Baba (Tales Producer)
  • Trip to Japan and visit lots of arcades
  • Trip to USA and play lots of top players in Marvel
  • A day in the Namco Offices in any country
  • Playstation network credit (GBP)
  • Someone to fix my red ringed Xbox (and a hardrive would be nice as well)
  • A sponsor to send me all over the country/world to take part in competitive gaming
  • More time in life
  • Travel, accomodation and entrance for a UK tournament
  • Travel, accomodation and entrance for an international tournament
  • A Banapass
  • An OTG (On The Go) cable (micro USB to USB A)
  • Tales of Vesperia First Strike Blu-Ray

Friday, 20 April 2012

Why I dropped my Vanilla Marvel team

First of all, I have broken my New years resolution on updating a weekly blog (last updated... like 2 months ago?). I have no intention on making it weekly again unless I get some serious motivation to do so.

Anyway this post is for those who keep asking why I had dropped my old vanilla Marvel team of Zero/Spencer/Dante. It was very strong and indeed does have so much to kill a player. Resets, mixups, silly pressure... definitely a rushdown orientated team. Spencer for resets, Dante for combo extension and mixing up and pressure. Both compliment Zero very well and still do however, it lacked a few things and the changes into Ultimate does make it not as viable as it used to be. Between the === is just the fine details for whoever wants to read but to summarise, just read beyond.


First of all, lets talk about the buffs and nerfs:
+ Zero can Buster cancel everything except hypers
+ Different angle of H Setsuizan making it easier for ambiguious crossups and mid screen combos
+ Raikousen crosses up in corner
+ Spencer got Bionic Bomber (OTG move)
+ Faster zip wires
+ Can cancel Gapple>Punch into Hypers
+ Dante has easier execution on just frame cancels.
+ More Devil trigger options
- Zero and Dante can no longer benefit from the reset hitstun and hit decay from the DHC Glitch
- Zero has more hitstun decay on his combos
- Fully charged buster is soft knockdown now
- Spencer practically got no nerfs other than DHC glitch capabilities
- Dante more hitstun decay so much harder BNB
- More pushback on a lot of his moves so even simple things like MMHS>j.MMHqcfL>S>j.MMHqcfH drops midscreen which affects a lot of his combos

Overall it seems that it the general strategy is the same, just harder combos (and no more full screen buster into Oki) and no more DHC glitch. Better pressure but harder to do combos once I do have them. Tbh, I'm fine with the changes. It comes down to the flaws with the strategy that I have.

Thing is that even in Vanilla, I had to rely on either DHC glitch or a reset in order to get a kill on a character because Zero's damage output was and still is pretty poor tbh without lightning loop (which I couldn't do consistently which I really should've). Now that the DHC glitch is gone, I can't maximise the damage anymore so it makes relying on very gimmicky resets and mixups or X factor to kill them which is quite a risk because once they know them, it won't work as well anymore and obviously using X factor early is always risky as then I won't have it anymore if I really need it like getting out of blockstun or if I lose 2 characters, etc

I also struggled against good keepaway especially characters like Deadpool as it was a pain to get in and I prefer to be in their face. Since I have no beam assist (that goes horizontally at least), it does make it very difficult to get in and like I said before, without X factor or DHC glitch I would have to rely on a gimmicky reset to kill them (unless I build a ridiculous amount of meter to DHC/Level 3) so if it messed up, they could get back out and I'd have to try and get in all over again.

The other reason why I had decided to stop using this team is that I had found Zero very boring to use after a while (well, after playing for a long time). I felt very braindead and I didn't think I was improving myself very much but I usually am a player that is dedicated to characters and teams as I understand them best.

Now during the PSN blackout, I had taken the opportunity to just mess about with a variety of the cast. Captain America is one of the ones I had really liked but felt was missing a couple of things and was extremely situational because of the lack of corner options so I decided not to pick him up for the rest of Vanilla. Then the announcement came for Ultimate and I had picked up Cap but I still liked using Spencer so I used him as well. I was determined on trying to make them work which was very hard at first. I started by obviously learning the combos that were there for Cap and slowly developed them specifically for Cap and Spence and managed to find some resets and new tech for Cap as he is a very underplayed character including a solid corner combo which utilises all of his new buffs.

During this time, I had messed about with a variety of assists and settled on Doom simply because he could extend combos very well for both Cap and Spence to the point where I can do touch of death form anywhere. It also was due to some inspiration from one of the first Ultimate week 1 or 2 combos that I saw for Cap where Doom missiles will hit after Hyper Charging star as well as the fact that my favourite Marvel player, GX who I had been watching for quite a while since Vanilla because of his amazing Spencer had also used Doom (and Hulk). He could touch of death so easily because he can get another 2 Up Verticle Grapples (UVG) which does unscaled 80k damage. However, the flaw with the strategy using Cap is that it is fueled by meter so I had to work on a new way of getting rid of a character if I didn't have enough meter.

Over time, I developed a very dirty reset. At first it was an extremely subtle high/low reset then it became an extremely dirty high/low/crossup/throw reset which people just do not see. I had also found that there was another Cap/Spencer player on SRK who had also shared a variety of Cap and Spencer tech including an extremely strong mid screen BNB that looks pretty sick. I say thank you to Kei of SRK.

Doom however was my biggest liability because his movement is very different to every other character I have used in that everything is tri-dashing. It has taken a long time but only recently I have got used to using Doom as a character, not just as an assist as I now utilise TAC combos and wall to wall combos as well as being able to now rush and even keep away if needed. To that, I say thanks Cheech for helping me with the little bits on actually using Doom as well as some of the inspiration and ideas on using him.


When it came to strategies, the two teams were very different. The Zero team focused on pressure, gimmicks and rushdown. The Cap team focuses on getting that first hit through frame traps and Hidden Missiles as well as a high risk game using Charging star and Hyper Stars and stripes to bait out attacks relying on missiles to make things safe.

The Zero team is better against teams that may be more willing to block or can be conditioned to block however struggles heavily against good keepaway, while the Cap team is almost the jack of all trades as it can deal with zoning and keepaway thanks to charging star, is an anti teleport because of Hidden Missiles and can kill Thor 3 times through from cr.L and a couple bars of meters.

Cap is a very underused character and has so much potential. So much has yet to be found which is why I prefer using Cap. Nothing wrong with Zero, I just find Cap more fun than Zero. And Dante is annoying to use now because of dropped combos and converting off a random hit.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Review on the Soul Calibur V launch event!

Alright a little late on this blog post but heck, it's here now.

Over the weekend, a launch event took place for Soul Calibur V where many fans came and had a couple of special guests. It was free and although the bar was free, I don't think that was why they came.

As I entered, greeted by one of the best Soul Calibur players in UK (King of Hyrule) I was amazed at the number of setups there were and many other surprises for me to find.

There were the finishing touches being made like installing the game and the streaming stuff being tested out by none other than EXdragon Project but the setup was just brilliant. What surprised me was that there was an upstairs with even more setups where I was thinking that for a moment that Namco were being a little optimistic with it. As I was talking to one of the Tekken guys who runs Snake Pit to know a bit more about the Tekken community and events being held, I hadn't realised that the place was starting to become pretty crowded and I was seeing many familiar faces everywhere at the event but two people stood out as they entered, Kayane (Marie Laurie) and Prodigal Son (Ryan Hart). It wasn't exactly a grand entrance, came in started talking to some of the familiar faces they recognise and before you knew it, an exhibition match was taking place with Kayane and King of Hyrule. Some amazing top play was taking place which you can find on [INSERT LINK HERE FOR STREAM ARCHIVE].

As I swayed away from the match being played on the big screen, I noticed that every single setup was being used. This was great as Soul Calibur V had only been released the day before and the feedback on Soul Calibur IV wasn't exactly brilliant so it was great to see so many people taking an interest in the game. Many familiar faces from the competitive scene, many unfamiliar faces who I feel that I probably will run into sometime in the future.

I met many great people while at the event, from various returning players to the Soul Calibur community, many new players, special guests and people with close relations to Namco Bandai. It was great especially when there was a queue for people to get the chance to play Kayane in a winner stays on best of 3 for about half an hour. Not surprisingly, she stayed on from beginning till end.

Since many people at the event had a competitive nature, Namco decided to do a tournament afterall. Many people entered where it ended up being groups into a top 4 elimination. I decided to enter myself and quite embaressingly... went out on the first match. Yea one match and no sound and I'm salty that I was done within a couple of minutes but watching the top players play on the big screen after that was really inspirational that I want to strive to get better and beat them all! Congrats to Talon for winning it with his very scary Pyrrha.

There was only about 20min of the event left so I took that chance to challenge Kayane to a match. Every setup was still being used but managed to secure one. Unfortunaely I had to find a stick as we only secured a pad setup so while she had her own one, I had to find a stick, quick. Managed to get one and boom, I'm ready.

With King of Hyrule and Joukisan (Joseph) there to help support me, we both picked Leixia and a mirror match was going to begin. I had a slight advantage in that I've seen how she had been playing on the big screen and on the French stream from earlier that week so I had a rough idea on her playstyle while she has no clue on how I play Leixia. Thing is that I have had no tournament experience of Soul Calibur so I was not used to top level play.

The match had begun and I had all my focus only on the match. I couldn't hear any cheers or whispering words of advice so it was just me and the game. Once in the game, Kayane is just another player that plays the game. Not one of the top Soul Calibur players in the world, just another player that I can play against. Using knowledge from when I watched her play before and what knowledge I already know of Leixia, I managed to win 2 rounds but so did she. It came down to the last round for both of us and it was close. Both of us had extremely low health where it was anyone's game with any hit. I decided to take a risk where unfortunately it did not pay off where she won that match. There was enough time for a rematch where I managed to win a round but did come close many times to winning. I lost it in the end so after a hand shake, it was GGs.

I had only realised after on how well I did against a top player. Because I was outside of the match, she is not just another player, she is one of the best players and I came very close to beating her. Considering that what King of Hyrule said that there wasn't a single other person that came as close to beating her like I did, it made me realise how much potential there is for someone who has not had any Soul Calibur tournament experience to get better and to surpass even the best players who have been playing it for years. I don't know if it is because the battle system is too different or the character just isn't like what people are used to but I think that with an influx of new players coming in, Soul Calibur players over the years had better watch out!

Anyway I hope that you enjoyed reading this (or you skipped to this last paragraph lazy bums). I really do recommend going to future Namco Bandai UK events as it was brilliant and is a great place to meet both competitive and general fans of the game. You can learn a lot about the fighting game community, not just Soul Calibur/Tekken so long as you talk to the right people and it is free! Oh and there is usually a bar which is always another incentive to come.

Thank for reading.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Guest Characters in fighting games

Over the many years, we have seen characters from other games coming into a fighting game. A perfect example is in Street Fighter Alpha, we see Guy from Final Fight joining the cast. Now, I wasn't around during the arcade era but I know that if I were a big Final Fight fan and they bring in one of the fan favourites into another game, I'd definitely be curious to see how he fits in!

In recent games, there have been many guests coming into games such as Soul Calibur II having Link from The Legend of Zelda on the GameCube version, Heihachi from Tekken on the PS2 and Spawn from his own comic. Namco kept up this tradition with Soul Calibur IV having Star Wars characters (which had extremely mixed reactions), Broken destiny on the PSP having Kratos from God of War and now with Soul Calibur V coming out, Ezio Auditore from the Assassin Creed series.

I would make a more detailed history on guest characters in fighting games but I really wanted to express my thoughts on Ezio in Soul Calibur V and comparing it to the Star Wars characters in Soul Calibur IV among some other examples like Street Fighter X Tekken.

Star Wars is a very big franchise with a hexology of films with many spinoffs and game iterations. Even to this day it is still selling with the Bluray release, many Lego Star Wars sets and games and of course the recent MMO The Old Republic. This must've made those many fans interested in Soul Calibur so a very unique marketing scheme especially since they included the new Star Wars character named The Apprentice. He was the main character in the Force Unleashed which was released around that time so it was beneficial for Star Wars fans on a little teaser of a mysterious character.

However, there were many issues with it in that they had played very differently to the rest of the cast so they had been banned in tournaments. Another issue was that there was option for Japanese voices but Yoda and Darth Vader just didn't sound right so you either had to stick with English or put up with it (this is more of a personal problem with it). There were many other problems with them being in the game but I will not speak for everyone that had a problem with it.

I personally didn't mind it as it had the Star Wars music which I liked. It didn't really add much for me but it didn't really take away anything as I never really used them but they had the one thing that made them stand out from the rest of the cast and it is the fact they can use the force. No other character except these three characters could use it so it made them quite powerful if in the right hands as they can control spacing and the distance between them and the opponent.

Now with Soul Calibur V coming out, Ezio is the newest guest character. With the Assassin Creed series having so many fans who are already gamers, I find it is more fitting that he is in. He doesn't have his own separate silly force meter or any particuar mechanics different to other characters making him in my opinion, a viable character in the roster. Sure he has crossbow but with the new system mechanics, it makes it easy to avoid. I believe that he will be a tournament viable character from what I've played so far but really, it comes down to the community to decide whether he should be used in tournaments or not.

From a marketing point of view, he is a brilliant addition as Assassin's Creed is one the of the biggest names in the charts and has a very big fan base. It is almost certain to attract the attention of the Assassin's Creed fans as it is out on both Xbox and PS3 and those are the consoles Soul Calibur V is coming out on so put 2 and 2 together and there are hopefully more sales and if those fans stay, there will be more Soul Calibur V fans which can help drive future Soul Calibur games.

So if you did skip the wall of text, here is my little conclusion:
Ezio is a great addition in my opinion and I think he can fit in tournament play as well as increasing the Soul Calibur fanbase. As to whether the theory meets reality, we'll have to wait and find out!

Thanks for reading


Monday, 16 January 2012

What exactly is a fighting game scene?

Something I was thinking about when making a reply on Neo Empire where I was proper angry about the following post:

"If Soul Calibur manz don't go to this event, I have no faith in the SCV scene.
I mean you get free shit if you go.

How can you pass that up?"

I was going to reply with the following:

"Not everyone can go to every event that has Soul Calibur (or any game for that matter) and saying that you have no faith in the scene is damn outrageous. If everyone can go to every event then fine but this is reality where people miss some whether it is location, money, clashes, etc. Anyway, this game is getting a lot of great reception where new faces (including myself) are appearing to make the scene. A scene is not just there out of nowhere, it has to be created."

Then I thought to myself as I was typing out the last bit, what exactly is a 'scene' in fighting games? Is it the number of people who play it competitively? Is it the people who talk about it frequently? Or is it simply something as simple as the number of people that has tried it?

I'm curious on what people call a 'scene' so please leave a reply either on here or on my Twitter and I'll make a little compilation of what people's ideas are.


P.S. I do not intend on exposing anyone so if you do find the actual post of the quote, don't mention me if you are going to talk to him about it.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Demo review

My first review on this blog! I don't know if I'll do any more, it just comes down to whether I feel like doing one which probably I will when I get to try Skullgirls and Tales of Graces F.

This review will contain no spoilers of the demo.

I played the first FFXIII and I quite liked it as a nice easygoing RPG. Not too difficult only the extra stuff can be tricky like getting 5 stars on every battle in the labyrinth (which I don't think I ever did) and getting the best equipment in the game. It had a very in depth story, a little confusing at times because of the terminology but I got it at the end. Visuals are beautiful as half of it is CG film while the other was quite well done with the in game 3D models.

Now I was never a big Final Fantasy fan as this is the first one I've sat and played through till at least the ending (I tried to do every side quest but PSN came back on :p). The demo this review is on is the PAL PS3 version.

Let's start with the controls. Compared to the first one, it will feel very familiar but one thing that is a bit weird but easy to get used to after a short while is pressing circle to jump. Now I know this might sound a bit silly but in the first one, you couldn't jump so having a button to jump is a little weird. The other change is that when you press R1, you use your little aide character or 'pet' called Mog in place of taking drugs who is used for finding hidden items (which was a really unnecessary feature imo). Now I haven't been keeping up with all the changes with FFXIII-2 but I think he is used as well for grabbing items which can't be reached by you however there wasn't an opportunity to do so in the demo. As for all the other controls, it still is the standard left stick to move character, right stick to move camera, X as an action button, triangle for menu, square for map.

In battle, the controls will feel right at home if you have played the first FFXIII. They say that it has been improved but the only thing I have noticed is that the time from pressing X to the character actually attacking is slightly quicker otherwise it really is the same without the summons. There is still some delay when pressing the action and the character actually going to attack which is annoying.

Now onto the graphics. The demo is introduced with a cutscene showing off the town you will be in using the CG video which still looks brilliant. They have really set the standards on what they can produce in the first Final Fantasy XIII. The opening cutscene shows that they can still keep up the standards of what they did before. After the first cutscene, you are taken into another one which leads to a boss battle and it is a big one. They have in the middle of the battle some QTE (quick time events) where you have to do a certain action in the middle of the battle and if successfully done, it leads to another mini cutscene where you can take off more damage on the opponent or avoid attacks. However, one thing I noticed was that the frame rate drops during these cutscenes so the fluidity of the battle does kind of slow down.

Once the battle is finished, there is a small town in rain. The rain effects are alright but not amazing as the characters don't really change with the water effects like soggy clothes and the lighting of the scene does make it slightly hard to see (but that could be because of my TV) so you may need to change the brightness accordingly. There is also access to a dungeon where enemies would appear after you travelled a certain distance and a pretty cool timer effect in a red zone appears which is pretty cool. The battle effects in a small battle are the same as FFXIII so it is to a high standard but a little disappointing that it isn't updated. Still looks cool none the less. There is one part when you get far enough in the demo where you go into this maze which is set up really well as if you are in a dream place which was set out really well. The menu has been changed slightly so you now see bigger portraits of both characters however, one of the most prettiest parts of the first game in terms of graphics was the crystarium system which unfortunately they have changed completely so it doesn't fill up a track leading to another stone which you can do bit by bit or by holding the X button.

Now the sound. The first one used an orchestra (or sounded like one) doing their music but now they have gone for more electronic sounds which I think is a downgrade. The music isn't very nostalgic at all however that may be because it is just the demo and in that part of the game, it isn't very far into the story as it is only Chapter 2 so no familiar music will be heard.

Now time for the remaining gameplay features which I have missed out. There are many changes that have been made which you can mess about with through the menu. For a start, you can change your leader. In the first one, you couldn't until near the end of the game which is great for employing specific tactics. The crystarium system which was how you got new abilities or changes in stats have also been changed where you have to have at least the right amount of CP in order to get the upgrade otherwise you can't fill it up even part way which you could have done before. This makes it quicker to get through levelling up and things but at the cost of making it all pretty and nicely animated.

Also there is a Pokémon system where you can capture monsters and you can use them in battle as your third character. Each monster has its own class like Ravager, Medic, Sentinel, etc which is an interesting addition as you can level them up through making them take certain things. At first I thought it was like the weapon levelling up system but it actually is that items give certain amount of experience and stat boosts and  you need enough of the 1 item to use it on the monster to level it up. Personally, I think it is quite interesting system which can develop a lot of tactics as each monster has different stats, moves to learn, etc which is why I nickname it the Pokémon system.

And finally before the conclusion, monsters drop gil, the currency used in the game which makes acquiring money easier for getting potions, etc instead of getting items of enemies and selling them which was annoyingly tedious especially trying to get high value items that have a low drop rate.

So all in all, it has some improvements and some downgrades but it is overall an improvement. I look forward to seeing and trying out for myself some of the more advanced battle mechanics and tactics.

Out of 10 I give it 8/10 but that is mainly because the first FFXIII had really set the standards especially with the graphics and music so it is very noticeable that they had focused that little bit more on the game mechanics.