I knew I didn’t suck THIS much

Everyone was saying that I needed a fight pad or an arcade stick to hold my own in Street Fighter IV. I was trying to avoid purchasing yet another game peripheral, but it was discouraging to get my ass kicked by shotos throwing fireballs and shoryukenning all over the place. I passed by my local game store on the way back from lunch and poked my head in just to see if they had one of those Mad Catz Fight Pads in and SUCCESS, they had just gotten a box of them in. I didn’t want to be a stereotype, but I couldn’t help picking the Chun Li one. All the others were ugly.

I was doubtful of how the Fight Pad would improve my game since I relied on the analog stick of the 360 controller most of the time. WOW. What a difference a good d-pad makes. I was pulling off combos left and right without even having to think about it. I could string quick moves together and end with an ultra easily.

Charge characters are still a bit difficult to play, but I think I’m slowly getting used to it. For charge characters, it’s easier for me to hold the controller with my left hand “piano-style” instead of regularly. Of course, that makes it awkward to press the left trigger so I need a way to work around that.

As for the quality of the controller, it’s not so good. The controller feels super light, which usually is a good thing, but in this case, it feels cheap. I’m glad I’m not one to frequently throw controllers because I don’t think this one would take much of a beating. For $40, I hope the controller holds up to at least a year or two of wear. I’m going to be pretty angry if the buttons stop working after a month.

One thing buying the Fight Pad taught me was that the Xbox 360’s d-pad is AWFUL. I can’t believe I had been using it for so long.

Street Fighter IV

I’ve been slacking off with writing this past week and a half thanks to the release of Street Fighter IV. Other than playing SF II to death on the SNES when it came out, I never was a big fighter fan. If you break games down enough, they’re nothing but pushing buttons. This is painfully clear to me in fighting games, so I always lost interest in them quickly.

That’s why it came as such a surprise to me that I was enjoying Street Fighter IV so much. What Street Fighter II was in the early 90s, that’s what Street Fighter IV feels like now. The game feels like II with high-def graphics and an updated fighting system that still pays homage to the old battle system.

I’ve heard people complain that the combos in this game are too hard to pull off, but I’m not the most seasoned player and I can do most of them if I try. The only drawback is that playing on the Xbox 360 controller is an exercise in patience: the analog stick makes it hard to play charge characters consistently but the d-pad makes it hard to do quarter-circles quickly. When I first got the game, I tried looking everywhere for a Madcatz gamepad just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the 360, but after a few hours of practice, I think I’m getting pretty decent with the analog stick on the regular controller. But then, I’m a pretty low-medium level player.

Challenge Mode is a much-appreciated addition to Street Fighter. Whenever I play a new character, I go through the mode in Challenge Mode which teaches me all their main moves. This helps a lot in teaching how the character moves and what techniques to use with them. Unfortunately, it’s still no preparation for going online. I still get pwned pretty badly in ranked matches.

The biggest complaint I have about Street Fighter IV (other than the 360 controller) is that there’s a whole roster of locked characters. I don’t mind one or two locked characters like Akuma and Seth, but when a game locks more than that, I feel cheated. I paid in full for the game, why can’t I use all of the characters from the start? Luckily, most characters are easy to unlock: just go through Arcade Mode set at 1 round, 30 seconds on Easiest difficulty with the unlocking character.

I was afraid when I bought Street Fighter IV that I’d get bored of it, or the community would be too hardcore for me to compete, but that’s not the case at all. I’ve been playing with people on my buddy list and it’s hilarious even when I lose. The animations are just so over the top — I can’t help laughing when I get beat. Fighting game fans don’t need any encouragement to pick this up, but if you enjoyed SF II at all, give this one a chance too.