Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I lose for free thanks to a misprint and my penis!

As usual I started off the weekend with a night of casuals at Akihabara. I played for a bit and had a small win streak that was ended by a beastly Zappa player. I looked around the other side of the cabs after I lost and it was Imo. I played for a little while and did pretty well, winning some, losing some. FAB was there and I played him once or twice and lost. Then I played him again and much to my surprise I managed to beat him. I beat a few more people and then FAB played me again and he won. After playing for a little while longer, eventually players became a bit scarce and it took forever for anyone to challenge me. I hate playing the damn AI so I decided to head to Shinjuku. As I was walking towards the train station I saw a group of top players including Imo and FAB that had left earlier, crossing the street and heading back to Club Sega. I didnt want to just like follow them back in and I already was on my way out so I just went to Shinjuku anyway. I still wanted to play some more though so I figured I would swing Vegas first and see if there was any action there. When I arrived at Vegas I was pleased to see that there were about 10 or so people there playing which is great for 4 cabinets. One of the cabinets had a seat opened. I looked at the screen and it was a Dizzy player with like 17 wins. I looked around the other side and it was H.H. I was eager to play him so I got on the cab. I played him in a few matches and kept getting really close but just not getting that last round. After about 4 games I finally beat H.H. and ended his long win streak. Unfortunately after I won he left the arcade. At this point it was almost midnight so i'm sure he wanted to go home. A few more people played against me but then it got stagnant and I found myself fighting the AI again for longer than I would have liked so I just said fuck it and headed to Current for some beers.

When I got to Current it was semi dead. There were only a few people there. I stayed for a few beers but then most of the people eventually left so it was pretty lame. I decided maybe I would have better luck trying to go to GODZ. When I arrived at GODZ, much to my surprise, the place was pretty lively. One of the bar tenders told me that tonight they were celebrating because the owner of the bar was going to be getting married. Not long after, even more people showed up. It was a group of people that came from PSY. Appearently they closed down PSY early because the owner of PSY is a friend of the guys from GODZ so he told everyone to go to GODZ and celebrate. Among the group that came was Heidi (the norwegian girl who is friends with Masami) along with the other guy who was there with us several weeks ago who was writing haikus, and this other girl that was friends with them who was from Texas. The haiku guy was already wasted. I said hi to him when he came in and he asked where im from. I was like.... dude wtf... and hes like OOOHHHH its you! Sorry man im wasted!!!! He sure was... The girl from Texas, Jessie (an ex Nova employee now living in Tokyo studying english) told me she had an extra ticket to the X-japan reunion concert that was going on at the end of next month. She said theres a good chance she could sell it to me and I was pretty psyched about that since X-japan fuckin rocks and getting tickets to this rare sold out event is pretty fuckin hard. Eventually shit got really crazy. They started busting out confetti poper thingys and like 50 bottles of free champaign. People were just fuckin shaking the bottles of champaign and spraying it all over the place. Everyone started taking their shirts off.. even some of the girls. I honestly hate champaign, i think it tastes like crap. Ill drink just about anything but champaign is at the bottom of my list. However, who am I to pass up free booze at a bar in Tokyo? I just chugged whole glasses of the crap at a time to avoid the taste and chased it with beer. The place stayed opened for extra late, till like past 6 am. Eventually Heidi got sick and started puking in the sink and they were starting to get everyone ready to leave so I just said goodbye and headed out to go sleeping at the usual place.

The next day I headed to the travel agency located not far from the manga kissa I slept at. I tried to make plans for my spring break trip to Thailand. It turns out that the plane ticket is going to cost about $600 round trip. Thats a bit more than I was originally planning to spend. At first I sorta had decided that I was going to go to Kansai for the first weekend of spring break and then head to Thailand from there, but the travel agent told me that unless my departure and return location were the same that it would cost a ton more... meaning id have to fly back to Osaka and then go back to Tokyo from there rather than flying back to Tokyo. Because of this, and the fact that I now possibly have an opportunity to go see X-japan in Tokyo on the 31st of March, I decided that I could just spend the first weekend in Tokyo and then go to Thailand from there. I had the travel agent reserve the flight for me but told him that I would call him early next week and tell him my final decision. However, the urge to go to Kansai is very strong and I really wanna play some Gear at A-cho. Because of this, and the fact that the Thailand ticket is a bit costly, I think I will just cancel the flight and go to Kansai instead from the 1st to the 6th of April. I can just go to Thailand next Spring and this way I will have more time to prepare. I will most likely call the dude tonight and tell him to cancel. He was really helpfull though.

After that, it was time to head over to Chiba. In the back of this month's Arcadia, they have a tournament listed at Messe102 for 2/23 (Saturday, as in the day I am talking about right now). After a long train ride and accidently getting on the wrong train and having to backtrack because the damn destination sign on the train was mis labaled, I arrived at Messe102. Immedietly I knew something was wrong. There were only like 4 or 5 guys there playing and the tournament was scheduled to start in less than 1 hour. I asked one of them if there was a tournament today and he told me that it was actually yesterday. I dont know who fucked up, if Arcadia printed the wrong date, or if the arcade changed the date of the tournament after advertising in Arcadia, but either way I sorta got poked in the butt on this one. The place only had 2 cabs and the players there were decent but not spectacular. I would get on the cab and win about 10 matches and then lose one and then the process would repeat. Eventually I was getting tired of playing there and it was about 7 pm. I wanted to play some more games in Tokyo so I left. When I got to the train platform I noticed there was an unusually large ammount of people waiting for the train. Then I noticed that the sign said that the next scheduled train was scheduled to arive over an hour ago... meaning there was a massive delay. After waiting for maybe 30-40 minutes the train finally came. When I transfered trains at Chiba station there was another delay and it took fuckin forever to get back to Shinjuku. I headed to Vegas again for some more casuals. Played for a little but nothing extremely note worthy happened. There was a female HOS there and she played against me about 10 or so times, failing to beat me. Eventually she stopped playing and then no one else was really playing against me so I called it a night and headed back to Current.

Current was a little more lively this time than the previous night. I just pretty much drank and talked to some people for most of the night. Later at around 4 am some of the Cirque guys showed up with some random girls. They said it was one of their birthdays. As a birthday gift, Sushi (the owner of Current) gave the guy this gigantic gin and tonic in this huge fuckin test tube bottle that looked like a giant bong. They stayed open a little later due to it being his birthday and then eventually the place was closing so the guys headed out with their group of random girls and a full bottle of classy gin that the guy got as a gift from someone at work. Seems like they probably had a nice night. I left and went to sleep as usual.

I woke up the next day excited to finally play in a tournament since there was one scheduled at Shinjuku sportsland. I headed to Vegas first for some casuals but it was kinda dead. Then I figured maybe everyone was playing at Sportsland so I went there. When I got there, only 2 people were playing. I played against this one Millia player and beat him and then he left.... Then I noticed a few girls show up. Then it instantly clicked. I checked the flyer for the tournament on the wall, and once again my dumbass managed to overlook the fact that this was another ladies only tournament. Bummed out, I imedietly left and headed to Akihabara for a long day of casuals. As I was exiting Akihabara station, I saw Osaka B far in front of me on the escalator. He was heading to Club Sega as well. When I got there the place was nice a full of gear comp. There were a few top players there. I played for a while and did generally well. I played against Osaka B and lost, but then after waiting for 2 other people to play I played him again and this time I beat him in a mirror match. After beating a few more people I eventually lost and went around to the other side of the cab. There was a open seat on the cab next to Osaka B so I played there. Shortly after I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see Ogawa grinning cheerfully as usual and he said hi. I played like 2 games and then all of a sudden no one was playing against me. I made a comment to Ogawa that this is boring and no one wants to play me. He jokingly said its because im too strong and they are afraid of me haha. Eventually I got to like stage 9 on arcade mode and just said fuck it and got off the machine and went around to the other side to play against Osaka B again since no one was playing him at the moment. I lost this time but played him once more and much to my surprise I managed to win another mirror match against him. Then for some reason he picked HOS on me a few times and lost and then I think he just started playing on a different cab. I also noticed that after I had moved to the other cab, about 5 mins after a bunch of people suddently just appeared back there and 2 people got on the cab that I was using before which was now completely empty. Bad timing I guess. I played for a bit longer and eventually it was time to leave. I never got around to playing against Ogawa.

Thats about it. I was pretty psyched to play in some tournaments and ended up just playing casuals all weekend unfortunately. As far as next week goes, I have no idea whats going on. The current Arcadia only has listings up until next Friday, so Saturday and Sunday are a mystery right now. I probably wont know if there are any tournaments until I get to Tokyo next weekend. Hopefully there will be something, but if the current trend repeats itself, there wont be much going on during the first weekend of the month.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

AOU, Iron Maiden, and G3 Finals

Friday night I arrived in Akihabara as usual for casuals. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened. Played alright... won some... lost some. I stayed fairly late and then headed to Current in Shinjuku for drinking. I wasn't expecting the place to be very busy tonight but it turned out to be packed as hell. It turns out that tonight was the Helloween and Gamma Ray concert in Tokyo. I knew it was coming up soon but im not exactly a gigantic fan of either of those bands. I enjoy extremely cheesey power metal on occasion but I already decided I would go to Iron Maiden and it was too much money to throw down so soon for concerts. I said hi to a few people I know and then sat at the bar. Someone had informed me that some of the guys from Helloween and Gamma Ray would actually be coming to Current tonight after the show. Current has a history of a lot of big names coming there after concerts in Tokyo so this didn't surprise me much. Most recently, Jimmy Page and Dave Mustaine had visited Current. So after a while a few of the members of Helloween and Gamma Ray showed up. Kai Hansen was there. He used to be the guitarist and singer of Helloween but he later left the band and joined Gamma ray. The guy who replaced Kai Hansen in Helloween was named Michael Kiske (hence the origin of the name Ky (Kai) Kiske of Guilty Gear). Markus Großkopf, the bassist of Helloween was also there. I honestly didnt give that much of a shit that they showed up since I didnt even go to their show, so I didnt go out of my way to talk to any of them or anything. However, when I was sitting at the bar, Markus Großkopf talked to me briefly and we had a little toast and stuff. He was a pretty down to earth dude. There was this drunken Japanese fanboy that was like being all over excited and shit and just blabbering on about how much they rock and are gods and shit to Markus Großkopf. I could tell by the look on this face that he thought this guy was a moron but he was doing his best to just kinda deal with the dude without telling him to fuck off or something like that. So after a long night of drinking I headed out. I got a quick picture with Markus Großkopf just for the hell of it and headed out.

The next day I woke up and headed out to Makahari Messe in Chiba for the AOU convention and the Iron Maiden show (which luckely were right in the same building. When I arrived at AOU the show had already been going on for several hours so there was no line to get in or anything. I went to the desk designated for press and overseas visitors which ended up being the wrong one. They told me I needed a business card to get a badge from there. So the pointed me in the direction to go to where I need to buy a badge. I didnt see where to go at first and then some guy asked me if I needed help finding it and pointed me in the right direction. But then as I was heading over there he stopped me and just gave me a free badge. I have absoloutly no idea why but I was happy to save the 1000 yen it costs to get in and ended up getting free access to the convention. This was the same venue where the Tokyo Game Show was and basically AOU felt like a smaller TGS. It only used about half the space that TGS used. However, there were still booths for all the big name game developers. It didn't take me very long at all to find the Capcom section whos main attraction was SFIV. There was a long line to play, it took maybe about 45 minutes. They had several cabinets, I would say maybe around 12 or so. There were signs on all the cabinets that said no pictures allowed so I refrained from taking any since I didnt want to risk losing my place in line and not being able to play. However, later on before I left AOU I decided I would just get some footage since I was about to leave and didnt give a shit if they kicked me out at that point, so I ended up with a few pictures and some videos (some are far away and low quality while others are decent. I had to wait in line again to get close to the cabinets to get the decent ones.)

So heres about all the information I gathered about SFIV from watching and playing that I can think of off the top of my head. The character select screen features the original 8 world warriors on the top in 2 rows of 4 just as they were in the original SF2. Then theres a dividing line and Abel and Viper are in the center below it. There were no new characters revealed at the show. The way the select screen looks, it seems like there will only be 16 playable charaters total. However... theres no reason why they couldnt simply fit more in so I am not sure of this, but the way it was designed simply suggested that we may only get 16 characters. You can see the character select screen in one of the vids I took. Most of the old characters dont seem very different at all. There didnt really seem to be any new special moves or anything like that that I noticed. A few characters seemed to have gotten new normals. I remember seeing Dhalsim do a sorta floppy arm downward swat sorta punch move that I dont recognize that looks like a new normal perhaps. I noticed that the damage for this game wasnt very high in general. Throws arnt rediculous or too abusable. In fact, even Zangiefs SPD only does about 1/5 life. Abel seems like hes going to be a better grappler than gief from the little I saw of the game. His throws seem to do as much damage and hes a bit faster. However, I have nothing else to base this on and is simply a prediction from seeing a bunch of scrubs play the game for a brief period of time. I noticed that every character only has 2 colors. I dont know if this is only because its a demo but hopefully they will add more since they will get boring fast. So eventually when it was my chance to play, I ultimately decided to just play Ken since hes a character I am familiar with and it would be easier to compare the game to other SF games that way. I played against an Abel player. Characters have more than one super. Ken has both is original super from ST I also saw someone perform his verticle shoryuken super. Everyone also has an ultimate super but I was unable to find myself in a situation to try it out. The input command for Kens supers were for one of them to do qcf qcf p, and the other was qcf qcf pp (as in 2 punches at the same time). Meter doesnt seem to build very fast in this game and I found myself little opportunity to do very many supers (though I was using some EXes). One thing that stood out a lot to me was how laggy the dashes seemed to feel. When you tap back back or forward forward, it takes a little time for the dash to come out, the character doesnt start moving as soon as you hit the 2nd forward or back on the stick. I had difficulty canceling EXes into dashes and probably just dont know the timing for it. In general, some of the moves seemed to be hard to execute... sometimes I found myself missing simple things from time to time like basic hadoukens (which is by no means difficult). The counter attack move that is executed by pressing both hp and hk at the same time comes out a bit slow. It seems usefull but not abusable. I wasnt really sure what to do afterwards so ussually it just knocked the opponent down and did little damage. I tried to do an airthrow with Ken but nothing came out for some reason. Either I executed it wrong or they removed it from the game. Visually the game looks much nicer in person than in any of the vids. I would have still prefered hi res 2d sprites but for what it is it looks nice with the way they did the 3d graphics, and I dont feel the gameplay suffers as a result so much. In fact, it was probably a smart move since there will be less lag with online play due to the 3d graphics. The game still feels very 2d and feels nothing at all like SFEX. I guess it feels more like ST or CVS2 than anything else. As of now they game just feels very basic. I didnt know what the hell I was doing so im sure once I actually have time to sit down with the game rather than playing a couple of rounds and having to get off the machine, I can write better impressions since these are pretty uninformed and I didnt have time to try much out. My opponent didnt seem to know what he was doing at all either but he was playing Abel and just seemed to be trying out random stuff. When the game comes out for real in arcades I will sit down with it more.

As for BlazBlue, there was a long line for this game as well. Visually I think this game looks great. The 3d backgrounds look amazing and before the match starts it zooms from the background into the forefront and the transition looks great. The animation and characters look fantastic. Many people who were standing in line had magazines with stuff about the game and already seemed to know how to execute a lot of combos and do some good pressure strings and setups. I had absoloutly no idea what the hell I was doing. I got to see a move list for the 4 characters that were playable about 2 minutes before I got to play the game. When I got on the machine I tried out a few random moves to see what they did and then my opponent just started rushing me down all beastly. I played as Jin and he seems like a cross between Ky with a little bit of Johnny as far as the way he plays. One thing I found odd was for Jin and the chick with the guns, they have special move commands that are executed by pressing down up and then an attack button. Im not talking about charge down up like guiles flash kick, I mean you just hit down and then up like if you were to super jump and then the button and the move comes out. Personally I found this very irritating because when I would be crouching and then would want to jump and do a move in the air, i would wind up with the special and it really feels awkward. I took a photo of the command list and will post it in the pictures section. I also took some vids of this game as well, some are very far away while others are sorta decent. All in all the game feels pretty similar to Guilty Gear in all honesty... at least the basic way it plays. Air dashing, air recovery after combos, combo system feels the same. I didnt know anything really about the game specific systems so I wasnt able to test it so much. The main character, Ragna, seems to play very similary to HOS. Tager was semi Potemkin-ish but seemed different enough. I noticed he had a projectile that wall bounced on hit and lead to lots of combo potential. Noel seems pretty unique. Unlike SF4 where after the match both players had to get off the machine, for BlazBlue they let the winner play for a little while. The guy I played against picked the main character and while I almost took a round, he knew way more about what to do in the game so I lost 2 rounds and hardly even got to test anything out. The game will feature a total of 10 characters. You can see silhouettes of the other 6 on the big sign for the game above the display, I took a picture of this as well. The game seems like it can have potential and might be great. I really dont know enough about it, but that weird special move command is really stupid and I hope they change it.

As it was getting late, after I had walked around a bit to check everything else out I decided I would take some quick vids before I had to leave to go to the concert. I wanted to play again but I didnt have enough time. When I left AOU there were several long lines of people lined up outside in the hall way for the Iron Maiden show a few doors down. I could have probably stayed at AOU a little longer because it took a while to let everyone in but I was planning based on the time on the ticket which was wrong which sucks. Eventually I got in the concert. They already had the opening act playing before everyone got inside. I dont know who they were but they were alright I guess. Just some generic sounding band with a female vocalist. I got a beer and made my way into the crowd. The place was all standing and it was pretty packed. All the coin lockers were full so I had to take my backpack in with me which kinda sucked. I must say, the security there was pretty crappy. They asked to check my bag on the way in, and they just opened it, took my pillow out, and let me through, even though there was a ton of other stuff in there and I could have brought anything in with me. They might as well have not even checked. But I guess since Japan is a much safer country in general they just dont put so much concen into that sorta thing. Eventually Maiden came on. They played a lot of great songs and they had multiple backgrounds for the stage that they constantly changed featuring pictures from he albums which was a nice touch. Bruce Dickenson also dressed up in a few costumes during a few songs like in the Trooper and Powerslave for example. I took pictures of this as well. They also had a giant cyborg Eddie (Iron Maidens mascot, the name sake for Guilty Gear's Eddie) come out during the last song before the encore which was amusing. The setlist was as follows

Aces High
2 Minutes to Midnight
The Trooper
Wasted Years
The Number of the Beast
Run to the Hills
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Heaven Can Wait
Can I Play With Madness?
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden
The Clairvoyant
Hallowed Be Thy Name

I know the order was different but I cant remember it exactly but they closed with Hallowed Be Thy Name... probably my favorite Maiden song so I was happy with that. Im not really a hardcore Maiden fan but I did enjoy the show and it was good times. After the concert on my way out I ran into Masami (one of the bar tenders from Current). He was there with 2 guys he knows from Norway who were staying in Japan for about 20 days to visit him. I guess they were going to be playing a gig somewhere. These guys said they hated the show. I guess Masami bought the tickets for them without talking about it first so they were dragged along. These guys only seem to like black and death metal and arnt big on anything that remotley resembles power metal. I personally enjoy both but whatever. So it turns out that one of the guys claimes to be one of the best Tekken players in Norway. I told him he should go to Evo. He says every year they hold a tournament to decide who goes. He said he also plays other fighters a little bit, even a little Guilty Gear. We were thinking about stopping at Vegas to play a bit before heading to Current since he was surprised to hear that Tekken 6 was already out and wanted to try it out. We all stood and talked for a bit as we were waiting for another friend of Masami's. Her name was Kana and shes actually a friend of Mayuko (the girl who would often hang out with Chip). Mayuko was still in Hokaido visiting her parents so she didnt go to the concert. We all headed to the train station together and got on a train to head back to Tokyo. The train was packed and we could harldy move. Eventually people started to empty out and we could sit down. It was taking a while so I checked my map and it turns out that we got on the train going the wrong fuckin way. I simply followed them assuming Japanese people who live in Tokyo would know their way around the train system but apearently they dont go to Chiba very often or were just being carless. So we got off the train and then headed back the other way on another train and after a long while we eventually made it to Shinjuku. By this point we were all starving so we stopped to get some food at one of those revolving sushi resturaunts. This place also had draft beers for like 175 yen which is a fuckin deal. We had a lot of food and then headed to Current. We decided not to go to the arcade tonight since it was getting late already. The Norway guys will be staying in Tokyo for a while so maybe I will play againt them next week. So at Current it was pretty busy again and a lot of people from the Maiden show were there. Lots of Japanese as well as a lot of gaijin. There were a few girls there who were also doing the JET program that lived in Chiba. There was also this one girl there covered in tatoos who was an english teacher in Tokyo. She said how she was getting sick of doing it though and might just quit and become a stripper or a dominatrix. She said she has no problem tieing up some loser and whipping him as long as he doesnt touch her. I found that amusing. So basically I stayed till closing and got nice and drunk and headed to the manga kisa for sleep.

I tried to set my alarm somewhat earlier than I normally would because today I would be going back to Chiba again to Game Chariot for the G3 finals tournament. I wanted to try to play in the last chance qualifier. I headed right to the station and took the trip there but it took a little longer than I had anticipated and when I arrived they had already started. MIU was running the tournament and I asked him if I could still enter but he said it was too late. They were 5 person teams so I really dont know if I would been able to find a team anyway. In any case it really didnt matter since I was playing pretty crappy all day and would have most likely been simply a liability to my team mates. I was extremely tired and the competition was just rediculous. Pretty much all the best players in all of Japan were there, including the best of Kansai. They had 8 cabinets set up for casuals and 4 to run the tournament. The girl who often dresses up as the red Millia at Game Chariot was also there as well. The girl who often dresses up as the red Millia at Game Chariot was also there as well. It took forever to get a turn in since even with 8 cabs there were just so many players that you had to wait a long time. I hardly won any matches the entire time I was there and was just in a generally frusterated and irritable mood. I guess it was a combination of feeling a tad hungover mixed with the fact that I was very tired and showed up late and missed the tournament, in addition to all the players just being rediculously good. I beat Nemo and Abegen and a few other random matches but I was losing a lot. A lot of the games were fairly close but I just couldnt put in that extra couple hits which was very frusterating. While waiting for a match I talked a bit with Yoshio (aka spikey haired potemkin) and he told me that his SBO would be himself, Nanashi, and Maruken which is going to be another beastly team to watch out for. Eventually after playing for a very long time the finals started. I missed the first few matches as I was busy playing a match. However, as soon as RF started playing my attention was immedietly glued to the monitor. The final 2 teams were an East Japan team vs a West Japan team. The East Japan team was N (slayer), Haken (Po), 012 (Sol), FAB (Po), and Isa (Eddie). The West team was RF (Faust), Shonen (Testament), N-Otoko (Venom), a Millia player, and the last person im not sure. At the point in which I started watching the finals, Haken had just defeated N-O if I am not mistaken. After that it was RF vs Haken. RF defeated Haken and then he proceeded to defeat 012. Then RF lost to FAB. FAB then lost to Shonen. Isa then defeated Shonen. Final match was Isa vs the Kansai Millia player and Isa once again represented the sheer power and brokeness of Eddie all too well, taking the tournament for an East Japan victory. It was very hype and noisy during the finals and there was just a lot of energy in the room. I got pretty excited as well. After the finals I pretty much had to leave right away since the train I needed to catch in order to get home was coming in a matter of minutes. I said goodbye to MIU and headed out.

On the way home I pretty much slept the entire 4 hours it took to get from Game Chariot to my train station... I was just exhausted. Next week there will be some tournament action going on somewhere in Tokyo. I forgot exactly where but Ill check my arcadia soon and make sure to go. This time I wont have game shows and concerts to attend so I can focus much more on Guilty Gear and should be able to play much better.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Top Player Infested Team Tournament Madness

This weekend started out with casuals at Akihabara on Friday night as most weekends often do. Ogawa and some other top players were there and I got some good games in. Nothing too noteworthy happened. After casuals I headed to Current. A few regulars were there but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. At about 4:00 am I headed to GODZ for a beer but it was dead as hell. They played a few Symphony X songs for me which was cool. After that I left and went to sleep.

Saturday I headed back to Akihabara since there would be a 3 on 3 there today. As usual, I had no team in advance so I began going around and asking various people if they needed a team mate. After asking several people I finally found a HOS player named riri-burasuto (Lily-blast?) that had no team. Our 3rd team member was randomly assigned to us among the left over people by the Akihabara staff, he was an I-no player named Sesanichiko. There were tons of top players at this tournament so I knew it wasnt going to be easy. There were 14 teams total. I checked the brackets and our first match was against Osaka B's team. I dont know who the people on his team were since I think they were randomly placed with him but one was an Anji player and the other was a Slayer player. First match was I-no vs Anji, I-no wins. Next I-no loses to Slayer. Then HOS goes and beats Slayer. Next, HOS loses to Osaka B's Faust. I was assigned the position of anchor so I went last vs Osaka B. Things started off great. I took the first round and was playing well. 2nd and 3rd round were close but I made a few stupid execution mistakes and lost by a little bit. I played casuals for the rest of the time there. The winning team was Isa 012 and Machaboo. I stayed at Akihabara pretty late and played casuals. Ogawa showed up after the tourny was over and said hi. I only played him one time cuz I had a streak on the cabinet next to him for a while so I didnt really have much time to play him, he won. One notable victory I had was against Hakkutsoryuu's Faust. He had a 40 something win streak and I managed to end it. Eventually it got late so I left and headed back to Shinjuku.

That night at current was packed. There were a few guest DJs and lots of new people there as well as a few regulars. Anti (the guy from Finland) came with some of his friends and as he often does, offered me some tabacco that comes in a little pouch that you stick between your lip and gums (sorry, I dont know exactly what this is called, its not chew though). That stuff gives you a crazy buzz. He ended up giving me a whole pack of it since he had a bunch so I had like 3 of them and was buzzing pretty hard. I had a lot of beer and talked to various people. At the end of the night, Masami (one of the bar tenders) was cleaning up and someone had left a pack of cigarettes on the table and it was almost completely full. He offered it to me so I took it since lately ive been smoking a few here and there when I drink on the weekends. The cigarretes were called "Peter Jackson" which I found rather amusing. They were from Australia and the packaging was rather interesting. Appearently, in addition to the surgeon general warning that always appears on packs, in Australia they have a giant ugly picture of a pair of infected lungs with a warning message against lung cancer. Not very appealing at all. Throughout the rest of the weekend I still smoked the whole pack anyway though haha.

The next day I had a choice of either going to a tournament in Yokohama, or a 5 on5 at Shinjuku Sportsland. I sorta wanted to go to Yokohama since I had never been there, but Sportsland was a 5 minute walk from where I slept so I just said fuck it and went there. Plus I had never played in a 5 on 5 in Japan before so I wanted to see how that went. Before I had headed to Sportsland I went to Vegas first since its even closer to where I sleep and cheaper for pre tournament casuals, so there are often a good ammount of people at Vegas before Sportsland tournys. I played there for a good while and ended up getting like a 14 win streak until I eventually lost in a close match to an I-no player. I think I pretty much beat everyone in there at least once during my streak. I asked around a little to try and see if I could get a team going. There was a May player named Suumei who was playing on the cab next to me and I asked him if he needed a team mate. He said he had no team so we agreed to team up. Everyone else who was in there already had teams. Eventually in the middle of my streak the May player said he was going to Mikado to play (which is 1 minute walk from Vegas.... I heard from Chip that Mikado is closing down soon btw which is sad, it has a long history of good street fighter tournaments). After I lost my streak I headed over to Mikado to see what was up. I played against Suumay a few times and the most of the people that were at Vegas showed up at Mikado and I played a bit against them. Then after a while it was getting late so we all started to walk over to Sportsland together. On the way there, a few of the players were giving me props saying my Faust was strong and stuff and were asking about where I was from and everything. I humbly denied my Faust being strong and told them I was from Chicago and that Chicago had a lot of strong players. As usual they were very surprised to hear that the U.S. has barely any arcades and that we play on PS2 most of the time. Upon arriving at Sportsland the place was very packed. The tournament was pretty huge and there ended up being 13 teams (65 players) and just about every top player in Tokyo was there. I certainly picked the right tournament. During signups me and Suumay registered that we would be on the same team and the rest of our team was assigned by the staff among the leftovers. I dont remember all of their names but in addition to myself and May, our team consisted of Eddie, Johhny, and Baiken. I dont know who the people were that we fought, but our first match went like this. Eddie goes first against Axl and loses. Then May beats Axl. Then May loses to Potemkin. Then I go and lose to Potemkin as well. I suffered a brain fart and just got owned in the corner and just basically couldnt do anything. This Potemkin player was pretty solid and ended up beating the rest of our team by himself, I dont even know what other characters were on their team. I played casuals throughout the tournament occasionally watching a match here and there on the big screen. The finals were Isa's team vs Nemo's team. The finals were hype as hell, everyone was yelling all loud and shit, it felt like a fucking US Marvel tournament or something. Isa had Maruken and Zero on his team, I forgot who the others were. Nemo had this really great Chipp player on his team that ended up beaing most of Isa's team by himself but he lost to Isa and the final match was Isa vs Nemo with Isa coming out ahead for the win. So at this point Isa was 2 for 2 this weekend and was at the top of his game. I played casuals there for a bit longer and evetually was hungry so I went to get some food.

Instead of going back to Sportsland after eating I went to Vegas instead, predicting that most people would be doing the same due to lower prices. I was indeed correct and Vegas was packed. I played there for a while, there were lots of good players there. There was a really solid ABA player there that was beating a lot of good players. Kazuki lost to him a couple times. I lost to him a few times in very close matches but I eventually ended his win streak. I hate fighting ABA as I often feel so helpless against her. ABA combos seriously have to do the most damage in the whole game. Eventually at around 9:30 I decided I was going to head to Ikebukuro and try to go to this other rock bar called Paradise City that Chip was telling me about. Current is awsome but I felt like going somewhere new to mix it up a bit. As I was leaving, Osaka B left right after me and caught up with me and we walked to the train station together and had a good chat. He said he was going home. We talked about various things. He told me that my Faust was really strong and stuff but I told him I'm still not very strong yet. I asked him what matchups he has the most trouble with and he surprisingly said Slayer and Testament. While these characters are both extremely powerful, it seems (at least to me) that Faust has worse matchups. I told him I have the hardest time with May and Millia. I also asked him about his SBO team and as FAB had said, they are teaming up, but the Millia player on their team is actually Nakamura afterall.... so that team is gonna be pretty broken. I told him I didnt have a team yet but its cool cuz its still early. Eventually we got to the train platform and he started reaching in his bag and busted out a bag with a box of Japanese pound cake in it. He gave it to me as a gift for absoloutly no reason at all. Osaka B is a totally cool guy. I asked him if he wanted to go to the bar with me for some beers but he said he didnt drink alchohal and was tired and wanted to go home. When the train got to Ikebukuro I got off and said bye to Osaka B and told him id see him tomorrow at the Shinjuku Club Sega 3 on 3.

When I got to Ikebukuro I followed Chip's instructions on how to get to Paradise City. He said it was about a 5 minute walk from the west exit of the station. I walked around for a bit but couldnt find it. I emailed Chip on my phone to ask him how to get there. He called me back and gave me more details. After about a minute later he called me back again and told me he checked the bar's website and that they were closed tonight due to it being a holiday the next day. I thanked Chip and told him id see him in a few weeks since he would be leaving for San Fransisco for a few weeks for a business trip. Having wasted time walking around Ikebukuro I felt like playing more Guilty so I headed back to Shinjuku to play more at Vegas. There were less people there now but a few good players like Nakamura and FAB were still there playing. I got some more games in against various people and eventually everyone pretty much left so it was time to go drinking. I headed to Current since it was pretty much the best bet at this point.

When I got there there were a few people, a group of the Cirque guys, and a few others. I chatted with the Cirque guys and they eventually left, and then I spend most of the rest of the night talked with this girl named Mai and Mogi and Sushi (Curent staff). I decided to share the cake that Osaka B gave to me with everyone and it was good shit, they all enjoyed it. There were also these random Australians there on vacation. They were trying to take a group picture with the staff and I offered to take the picture for them so they could all be in it. Their camera was all messed up and the memory was full and the flash settings were all screwed up so it came out semi blurry. Then they were trying to take another picture later and I offered to to it again but one of the guys made a rude comment along the lines of "thats ok we want it to come out clear this time". Jerk off. When they were ready to leave, the girlfriend of the jerkoff dude wanted to keep drinking. She was pretty wasted and it took a lot of convicing by her boyfriend that it was time to leave. Eventually after a lot of bitching from the girl and negative comments and pouting towards her boyfriend they managed leave. Sushi seemed releaved when they left haha. After that... me, Sushi, Mogi, and Mai were the only ones there. We talked for a bit and Sushi told me that tomorrow they would be closed for the first time in a while. I asked him what he would do with his day off. He said to me in English, "I will wake up, then I will fucking alone. Then I will make breakfast.... and then fucking alone. Then I will watch TV... and then fucking alone. Then I will go shopping and then come home and... fucking alone. Then before sleep I will fucking alone". Each time he said fucking alone, he made the up down motion with his fist hahah. I guess he doesnt know the word "masturbate." It was the funniest shit ever. He was just joking and said how he actually had real plans that day with his father who was coming to visit, but he said he would probably "fucking alone" anyway haha. Eventually it was time to go, they thanked me for always drinking there and I said goodbye to them all and headed out. Got some drunken curry and went to sleep.

The next day I woke up and went to Club Sega Shinjuku for the 3 on 3. When I arrived there werent many people there yet. I played a game of casuals against this one Dizzy player. I beat him 3 rounds in a row and the last round was a perfect ended by me dizzying him and taunting into a forward HS. After that he played me again and I proceeded to beat him 3 rounds again ending it with another perfect. This guy wasnt that bad but I was just in his head. After losing the 2nd time he SLAMMED the cabinet really fucking hard and stormed off. He didnt stay for the tournament hah. Eventually more people arrived and it got pretty packed. MIU was there working as I knew he would be. I had no team once again so I signed up on the extra person list. I thanked Osaka B again for the cake and told him I shared it with some friends and it was tasty. After playing casuals for a bit, MIU called over all the people who needed teams. There was a 2 person team consisting of a Millia player named R-1 and Basara the Slayer player. MIU asked R-1 to choose their 3rd person among the list of extras and much to my surprise he chose me. I guess either the rest of the players were shitty or he actually recognized me as being a good player. MIU then asked me to make a team name. I couldnt think of anything, but all weekend I was getting lots of posative reactions towards the Street Fighter II hoodie I was wearing (even when I was at Current everyone kept getting all excited when they saw the shirt and were acting out random SF specials moves haha) and MIU and R-1 thought it was pretty awsome so they named our team something along the lines of "this shirt is great." I was pretty excited about this team because both of those guys were solid players. Once again this tournament was packed with top players. There were 14 teams. Our first match was against a team of Anji, Testament, May. I dont know who they were but the May player was a purple May who I see around often and Im pretty sure hes one of the top Mays from SBO. We lost RPS so we had to choose our first player. R-1 and Basara elected me to go first. I went first against Anji and won. Then I went against Testament and won again. Up next was May. I was doing surprisingly well since I fuckin hate May and this guy was really good. I won the first round. 2nd round was close but I lost. 3rd round I almost won... he had about 5% health left but I went down unfortunately. I was pretty posative that my team mates would be able to beat May but much to my dissapointment, both Basara and R-1 lost to May as well resulting in what was one hit away from being an OCV by me turning into a reverse OCV by May. I was pretty bummed since I had expected this team to do better but I guess thats how it goes. There were some pretty broken teams at this tournament, including Osaka B, Nakamura, FAB (their SBO team), as well as Isa, Nemo, Imo. I thought for sure that Isa, Nemo, Imo would win it after I saw them win against Osaka B's team, but in the end they actually lost to Haaken's team (I dont remember who else was on it) in the finals. I played casuals for a while after the tourny but was starting to feel pretty tired but did alright for the most part. I managed to beat Zero's HOS which was cool. One thing I found surprising was Basara was playing Sol in casuals and his Sol was really good. It actually reminded me of Juicy G's Sol, probably the most similar to it out of any Japanese Sol's ive played. He beat the same May player with his Sol pretty easily, but seemed to have trouble with his Slayer. In addition I was beating his Slayer easier than his Sol... and I know the Sol matchup probably the best in the whole game. I wonder why he just doesnt play Sol instead of Slayer. Eventually it was time to go so I headed out and played some DS on the train ride home. When transfering trains at Takasaki I ran into Amy, one of the other ALTs who lives in my town. We had a chat for a bit about skiiing and other various things.

Thats about it for this week. It was a lot of fun and the competition was fierce as hell all weekend. Next weekend I will go to AOU to try out SFIV and BlazBlue followed by an Iron Maiden concert in Chiba. Sunday I will most likely play in a Guilty Gear tournament... maybe the one at Game Chariot or something.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More of the same... with skiing!

So I'm not gonna lie... as far as Guilty Gear goes, this weekend was pretty much just the same old stuff with nothing too noteworthy to talk about. There were no tournaments so it was mostly just casuals for 2 days. It seems as if during the first weekend of the month, tournaments are pretty rare.

Friday night I went to Akihabara, played Nemo, Ogawa, and FAB a lot among some other people. I beat Nemo one time but couldnt get wins on the other 2. When I was leaving I stopped to go to the bathroom and then on my way out FAB was leaving just before me and we ended up waiting to cross the street at the same crosswalk so I made some small talk. I asked him if he had a team for SBO yet and he said he would be teaming up with Osaka B and a Millia player (I forgot who he said but it wasnt Nakamura). We got on different trains so I said bye to him and headed for Shinjuku to go drinking at current.

At Current there were a good ammount of regulars and they were playing a ton of great music. One of the guys just broke up with his girlfriend so he showed up with a bunch of friends and did lots of drinking, I did a shot with him. He seemed like he was gonna be alright. Also, Sushi (the owner of Current) played some Symphony X, and when he was looking through the booklet for Twilight In Olympus, he had some Symphony X post cards that were in there that only came with a limited edition special version of the album. He decided to just give them to me as a gift since I go there all the time and hes a cool guy, so I was pretty happy about that. There were also some random guys there who were doing backstage work for one of the Cirque Du Soleil shows that was touring around Japan right now. They said they would be staying at a hotel just down the street from Current until April and they would be coming there pretty often. Most of them were from Canada and the US and they were cool guys so I had a few beers with them too.

The next day I played a few random games here and there at various Shinjuku arcades but they were pretty dead so I eventually headed to Akihabara again. I stayed and played casuals there all day and eventually Matt (hintalove) showed up too. Nothing too noteworthy to talk about really. Won some, lost some... just a standard day of casuals.

That night at Current, much to my surprise, some people had booked a special event there... but unfortunetly it was like some pop song event and they were playing abosloutly no good music. They had some guy handing out free CDs at the door, they were just like cheap burns he made, not even labeled on the CD or anything haha. Im not even gonna bother ot listen to it. The place was packed with people I didn't know just dancing to shitty pop songs. There were also some other Cirque du Soleil guys there this time who also didnt seem very happy about the music being played. Eventually Chip showed up and we both decided that this shit sucks so we went to 16-shots (the video game bar) together. The place was pretty dead since it was sorta snowing/raining at the same time so most people probly just didnt wanna make it out there. We had a few beers and talked with some people there about video games for like 2 hours. In addition to working on ST, Alpha 1 and 2, Chip also did the sound effects for XmenVsSF, Marvel Super Heroes, Xmen:COTA, and MSHvsSF. He asked if I was gonna get a PS3 for DMC4 since he said he worked on the game a little bit before he left Capcom but I told him PS3 is still too expensive for me. Maybe after MGS4 and FFXIII come out ill give it another thought. Eventually we decided to go back to Current for like the last hour. From there I had like a few more beers and then left to go to sleep.

Since there were no tournaments this weekend, I decided that I would just go back to my town right away when I woke up on Sunday. I told my girlfriend that if there were no tournaments this weekend that I would take her to go skiing. My town is full of great ski slopes and it had been about 4 or 5 years since the last time I went. I was planning on going for a while now but was waiting for a weekend with not much going on so this worked out well. We went skiing for about 4 hours or so and it was awsome. This was pretty much Ryoko's first time since she was in 4th grade so she fell a lot at first but she really got better at it as the night went on. I wiped out a few times on the steeper slopes myself but for the most part I was still pretty decent at it. We got lift tickets for only 1000 yen since a friend of her older sister works there so it was a great deal, and ski rental was only 1500 yen for each of us. Were certainly going to go again soon since it rocked pretty hard. Though my legs are pretty sore but its cool.

Overall the weekend was decent, skiing was defintely the highlight for me. At least my dumbass didnt walk around random parts of Saitama for 2 hours looking for a tournament (and failing) like last time there were no tournaments in Tokyo. Next weekend should prove to be much better for Guilty Gear since its a 3-day weekend and theres like at least 2 or 3 tournaments going on, so I will definetly be hitting all those up.