Friday, August 15, 2008

Drunken Master

Soul Calibur poster; image from SoulCaliburUniverse.comThose of you who follow my Twitter or just know me in general are more than aware that Soul Calibur IV recently came out for the XBox 360 and PS3. And, no surprise, we already had the Special Deluxe version pre-ordered to pick up the day it came out. This is one of my favorite video games to play, for so many reasons. I've actually been playing the series since the Dreamcast days, which also coincides with when I first started dating Andrew. So perhaps there's a little nostalgia there. But more so, I think it's because it's so easy to pick up that you can mash buttons and pull of amazing moves, or you can plan your attack and look cool and kick butt.

Now, you may be surprised to learn that I haven't always been a fan of video games. Sure, I grew up with an Atari joystick in hand; I'd play computer games on my Apple IIe/Macintosh SE with my sisters; and we even had a short time where we got to borrow our friend's Nintendo 64 and play Mario to death. But as I grew older, I got more nervous about looking stupid in front of people, especially in that boys seem to pick up video games much more quickly than girls, and they're not afraid to just start playing. When Andrew first got the Dreamcast, I knew that if I wanted to spend time with him, I'd either have to be happy watching him play video games and finding something else to occupy myself while in the same room, or else I'd have to get past the "oh, I'll just watch (because otherwise I'll look stupid in front of him because I suck)" and actually play a few times.

My girl, Seong Mina; image from SoulCaliburUniverse.comSo, I tried a few games. And I did suck. But he didn't make fun of me like I thought he would (bonus points for him), and after playing a few times through, I got better. And I started having fun; not worrying so much about what I looked like, and getting caught up in the world of whatever game we were playing.

Then I picked up the controller to play Soul Calibur because there were cute girls and weapons and you could just sit there and beat up on each other. Andrew was the master and everyone was afraid to fight him, but I knew by now that he would be nice to me, so I tried it. The magic that flew from my fingertips to my chosen character was beautiful. Andrew's Astaroth lay writhing on the ground a few seconds later, my petite little Seong Mina proudly standing over him, pointy stick in hand. "Oh, did I do that?! Hee hee!" And thus the addiction began.

Cervantes; image from SoulCaliburUniverse.comAs I played more, I wanted to learn how to control my players' moves more; pull off their cool-looking and major-damage-invoking special combos at will, not whenever my button-mashing fingers happened upon the right sequence. And that's what's great about this game. It's the only video game I've ever seen where consistently the females who pick it up for the first time can kick butt over guys who haven't played before. In fact, at one of Andrew's family reunions a number of years back, his sister-in-law picked up the controller, started playing Cervantes (a cool-looking ghost pirate), and pulled out moves we had never seen before. She so consistently whooped people with this character, we dubbed her The Idiot Cervantes. And she loved it. Seriously, guys, if you have girlfriends or wives or sisters, etc. whom you really want to try video games and they just won't - let them try this game. And let them pick out their own cover for the controller (that will make it theirs, and they'll feel special, especially if they can pick out whatever color they want).

girls kick butt - Cassandra; image from SoulCaliburUniverse.comBut I digress. The other part to this game that makes it long-standing and great for beginners or long-time, serious players, is that there are combos that you can learn to whoop people at will; the more time you put into learning a certain character, the more it will show. Plus the character creation mode they've added in the last two has been fun and added even more hours of enjoyment (girls, it's like playing with dolls, except then you get to take your doll out and proceed to kick butt and talk a little smack if you're so inclined - there's even a taunt command).

So my fear of video games reduced, I started playing more, and realized that I do enjoy certain types of games - fighting ones being top, and shooting ones more towards the bottom. But the best part (and the whole reason I learned to play the Halo series) is playing them against other people. It's the social aspect. We would have traditional BBQs Labor Day and Memorial Day where everyone would bring an XBox, a TV, and a copy of Halo, and tons of food and beverage. Our largest involved 20 people simultaneously playing Halo in a friend's garage - and the joy that comes from hearing someone react to getting smacked upside the head by the butt of your gun, or run over by a vehicle, or having a rocket launched into their face - really, it's priceless. Like I said, it's the reason I learned to play Halo. I didn't say I was good, but I'm great with rocket launchers and sneaking up behind people and butt stroking them (that means hitting them with the butt of my gun, people - minds out of the gutter!). Or our smaller parties of 6-8 in our family room, eating pizza and messing with the people's elbows or hands while they're trying tSophitia kicking butt against Astaroth (Andrew's fav); image from Gamespot.como make a move, or "don't look at my screen! I can't help it, it's right next to mine!". Good times. I miss those times a lot since we moved to California and our friends stayed in New Jersey. XBox Live has made it possible to still play together, but it's not even close to the same thing.

Oh, and the title of this post is the nickname I got after our very first BBQ for the paintball team (where all this started). It was what-came-to-be-standard 11am till whenever (meaning at least midnight, often later), and we brought a variety of video games to keep us busy, along with other activities. We ended up on Tekken (my second favorite fighting game) at the end of the night, and I had been pretty consistently beating the other folks (oh, did I mention I'm usually the only girl playing, and often the only girl at these parties? Yeah, welcome to the world of paintball). Suddenly I start losing, and go to take a swig of my Mike's Hard Lemonade - but it's empty. I call for another, and Andrew brings it to me. A swig of that and I go back to playing and kicking butt. Thus, Drunken Master was born. It's even on my team paintball jersey (another way I was made to feel special, even though I didn't play on the team, I just went to almost every event!).

sunset with a dodo bird; image from SoulCaliburUniverse.comSo, a few months later. Paintball tournament. This one's a week long, in the middle of nowhere PA, and there are literally over 1000 guys. I was the only girl with the team, and it's the only time I have almost gone out of my mind with too much testosterone around me. The only other girls around were the booth bimbos, and I wasn't about to try to strike up a decent conversation with them. I couldn't even get a hold of any of my female friends on the phone, just to talk to! So, I played Tekken. I wasn't always fantastic, but there are certain characters I can kick butt with. We're sitting in the hotel room, playing, and a friend of one of our teammates comes in (someone we'd never met before). He plays against me, happens to beat me (although not by much), and proceeds to say, "You play pretty good...for a girl." The entire room went silent. I just looked at him. He had no idea what he had stepped into. Every guy on the team is looking at each other, wondering who's going to kill him first. Instead, our teammate (his friend) says, "Get out. Now. I'm not kidding. Right now." And the guy ran out of that room. It's a good feeling to know you've got all those guys backing you up.

casual Tekken (no, this is not the show-down); me with the red-haired ponytailAnd, this one has to be told. Andrew loves to tell it to people - brag a bit for me. I like it, it's sweet. So, same paintball amateur open. Greg Hastings (of Redz and the XBox paintball game fame) had a booth set up for Redz, and happened to be a sponsor of the team, and knew some of our guys pretty well. They had a couch, TV, and XBox set up at their booth, and one day we walked up and saw a ton of people gathered around, watching this kid beat up on people in Tekken. But he wasn't just beating people, he was being a jerk about it. So Andrew says to me, "why don't you play him?", with a smile on his face. Well, someone had to put him in his place, and 4 beaten-down people later, I took the controller. I pick a character - not my strongest, but not my weakest, to see what he's got. He beats me up, but I get a feel for how he's playing this one character, Eddie. Now, with Eddie, if you can get him going, you can keep him moving the whole time. He's a pretty cheap character to play with, and a lot of the reason this guy kept winning. So I decide to play the guy with Eddie myself - Eddie vs. Eddie. Round 1: I Perfect the guy (this means he didn't get one hit on me). Round 2: Perfect! OK, cool, let's go again. Nope. The guy is so furious, he jumps up, throws his controlscantily-clad can be an advantage against guys - Ivy; image from SoulCaliburUniverse.comler on the ground, and stomps off. The crowd (who has grown larger in the meantime) starts clapping. It was my victory against jerks - especially those who underestimate girls. Greg sits down next to me, and I say "wanna play?", shaking his head, "No way!". But it was fun.

So all you girls out there, just know that it can be fun, some boys can be jerks, but they can be put in their place, and you don't have to play, but try it once to see if it's really something you don't like. It's certainly not worth being intimidated by - I've learned that! (Oh, and those skimpy outfits on the women? Use them to your advantage - they're great at distracting guys!)


Clau said...

I love playing those 'beat 'em up' games. I always feel so powerful when I can make those digital chicks in their skimpy outfits kick ass.

I remember the PRN days when we'd play Tekken(?) with Evan and Andrew W. and the crew after work.
I'd play the Panda or Log just to be silly.

vivzan said...

This was such an awesome read! I never played any of the games you're playing but Soul Calibur sounds fun. I like that you and Andrew are social about it, play together and with groups of friends. That story about the jerk that played against you in the hotel room and everyone's reaction... wow, it just shows what a good crew of guys they are.

I never played a lot of video games at home (pitfall was big for me, LOL). This probably has to do with always going to arcades and not having siblings to play with and the culture of going up in South Florida where you're outside all the time. But I loved video games and would go to the arcade all the time. Racing games were my specialty (Loved Turbo) and I recall playing Joust a lot and the classic games of the 80s. I still love arcades. I admit to carrying a charged powercard in my wallet for Dave and Buster's.

Rock Band is the game that really turned my thoughts around on home video game systems because it's not a socially isolating game. I just love it!

Your post definitely inspires me to get a system for the home but living alone, I know that it would keep me at home instead of out. I like the situation you have there where you're playing with Andrew and friends. I guess I gotta find myself someone into video games!:-)

Chelc said...

Clau: yeah, the Panda and the Wood Robot guy (Moka-Jin - had to ask Andrew the name!) from Tekken were hilarious to mess with people!

Viv: Andrew and I have a stack of Dave & Buster cards from his bachelor party that people didn't finish up. We've been looking for an excuse to go down there and use them! It's interesting to hear how you prefer the arcade, because I always feel like I'm spending so much money when I could be playing as much as I want at home! But I get the social thing, especially if you didn't have others to play with at home. I had 3 sisters, so it was always trading off who got to play and who had to sit out!

I agree, that Rock Band is great in being social. XBox Live has a huge advantage over the other systems that way. It's a lot of our "social life" now! You should definitely get your own system - then we can play online! And Clau can join too! :D 4 person band, right there! We'd rock!!

vivzan said...

You two have a stack of D&B cards? I'm jealous! I'm totally addicted to the trivia game they have. It's really easy for me and I'm super fast on it and win crazy tickets. The gifts you can win these days really suck though.

I'm seriously going to consider getting an Xbox, just to play with you guys (and to get better at RB :-).


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