Monday, July 14, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm...

This weekend there were no tournaments scheduled, but it certainly wasn't uneventful in the least. My girlfriend Ryoko was originally supposed to have a business meeting in Tokyo on Friday night and was going to come to Current after it was over for the first time ever. Her business meeting was actually canceled and moved to next month, but she still ended up having the day off as well as Saturday off. She spent Friday morning in Takasaki (the biggest city in my prefecture) where I met up with her on the way to Tokyo. When we got to Tokyo, we started off by going to Akihabara. She wanted to go check out this one store that sold Totoro stuff but it ended up being closed. We did a little bit more shopping and then we swung by Akihabara Hey! game center for a bit to check out the Tatsunoko vs Capcom location test that was going on there. It wasnt crazy packed and I got to play after waiting about 15 minutes. I didnt want to stay there too long cuz I had all weekend to play it and I really didnt wanna make her sit and watch forever. I ended up winning 3 times so I played 3 games and then I had to get off cuz they impossed a 3 win limit. I picked Ryu and Morrigan because they were characters I was familiar with and seemed like a good team to start out with. The game felt good and pretty similar to the old vs series games from before. Ill get more into my impressions of the game later on.

After we left Akihabara we headed to Ikebukuro Shakey's Pizza and got some all you can eat! We both got so fucking stuffed but it was delicious, and she said it was the best Pizza she has ever had (which is probly true since were in Japan heh).

After that it was already getting late so we headed to Current. When we got there it wasnt extremely packed but a decent ammount of people were there and I knew most of them. Sushi, Mogi, Masami, Matt, SPG (Chris), and a few others were all there. Matt was sitting at a table in the back with the Christian girl who was there a few times before who was friends with slutty chick (who already went back to England a while ago). Everyone was pretty happy to finally meet my girlfriend. Kyle was gonna come drinking with us but we called his ass up and he was being lazy and said he would come out tomorrow instead. Nothing increadibly different happened than ussual but we all got nice and wasted. Later on, Chip showed up as well. Ryoko said she liked Current and said she wants to come again sometime. Matt wanted to go do karaoke towards the end of the night but Ryoko was pretty wasted and was getting really tired. After Current closed it was time to find a hotel. I wasnt going to take Ryoko to a manga kissa for obvious reasons lol! So Matt, christian girl (who were gonna get it ooonnn), Ryoko and I walked around the love hotel area of Kabuki-cho trying to find a hotel that wasnt already full and didnt already double the price of the room due to it being past 5 am and there being limited selection. Matt said he actually took christian girl to a love hotel like last week and they found a place for like 7000 yen. Most of the places we came across ended up being like 12000 yen or more (some were over 20000 yen for only a few hours!). After walking a lot we finally went into the Toyoko Inn which is just a regular hotel. They had one room left and said we could get the room for like (OVER!!) 9000 yen and stay till 11. That wasnt a very long time to sleep but we had something else in mind that took priority over sleep and we really were probly not gonna find anything better so we just decided to stay there. Matt and christian girl said they would find a different place.

The next morning we woke up and checked out. Got some food and walked around for a bit. Ryoko actually had to get back home because her aunt was visiting from out of town and she had to pick her up from the station since her parents were both working at the time. Since we didnt really have enough time to do anything extremely special we decided to head to Club Sega Shinjuku to visit MIU, since Ryoko had met him before when he stayed over at my place. When we got there, he was indeed working, and we also were surprised to find that Club Sega got 2 Street Fighter IV cabs a week early! I was gonna wait to play till Ryoko left but she insisted I try now so I played like 2 games and then I walked her to the train station so she could get on her train to go home. When I got back at Club Sega I stayed for about maybe 2 hours playing SFIV. This was my first time playing the final version of the game. It felt waayyy better than it did back at AOU which was an extremely early version. The controls felt perfectly responsive and I have to say that the game is actually pretty fun. Certainly feels a lot like ST but different enough to make it fresh. I tried out a few different characters such as Ryu, Sagat, Dhalsim, Viper... but in the end, I pretty much decided to stick with my old friend Blanka. Seeing as how Blanka was the first fighting game character I ever really "mained" in a game, and the fact that he feels a lot like his old SF2 incarnation, it felt right and I had the most success with him overall for sure. There were a lot of people so the waiting time to play was kinda long, so I didnt really wanna mess around with too many characters, but after I sit down with the game more and see how everyone plays it may change, but im probly gonna main Blanka. I must say though that Vega (Dictator) and Zangief seem to be dominating the most so far, and will most likely end up being top tier. After having played for like 2 hours, I said bye to MIU and decided I would head to Akihabara to play some more Tatsunoko vs Capcom.

DISCLAIMER: These impressions of the game are probably going to turn out very wrong when the game is finally updated to its last version and people actually have played it enough to learn all the broke shit you can do. These are very early impressions and are based on playing for a very short time so if I end up being wrong on a lot of my predictions then well... dont flame me too badly :P

Throughout the day at the location test, the number of people fluctuated greatly. There were times when I had to wait a long time, there were times when almost no one was in line to play, but there were always a good number of spectators. They had 2 setups going, one was for 2 player vs mode and the other was one player arcade mode vs the CPU. It seems that Gold Lighton is only going to be a boss CPU character, I cant really see them making him playable. He always has super armor and doesnt block and he takes up the whole screen. When You fight him, its zoomed out so far it looks like you are playing Arcana Heart lol. Hes very slow but does tons of damage and can interupt any attack. However, I never bothered to play arcade mode sijnce the line was long, I just played vs mode the whole time. I noticed that the select screen is setup in a way that there may not be very many characters beyond whats already announced. The way its set up, perhaps they could rotate around and fit more characters in the back, but im not really sure how thats gonna work with 2 seperate cursers trying to select a character. I hope theres a lot more characters though. I tried out Morrigan, Ryu, Batsu, Souki, Tekkaman, Ken, and Casshern. Overall I ended up using Morrigan and Casshern the most often. Most of the people there (including myself) didnt really know wtf they were doing so I didnt get to see too much advanced stuff going on. There was this other foreigner there and he was doing a good job of ninja taping some matches all sneaky like. He was also nice enough to let me barrow a 100 yen coin after I got to the front and realized I didnt have any change.

Some basic info about the game. Personally I think visually the game looks very nice, and people complaining about it not using sprites need to stop. I love sprites as much as the next guy (im a fuckin Guilty Gear player!) but I honestly dont think the game suffers at all and still looks and feels very 2d. All characters in the game have an air dash. You can call assist with the tag button and tag with back and tag button. Theres some special feature you can use to sacrifice your red health in order to flash and extend combos. It like cancels the recovery on whatever move you use it after which allows for extended combos. I saw other people use it but I didnt know how to activate it. It doesnt seem to use any super meter. The game features mid combo tagging but I dont know how to do it and I didnt see a single person use it all weekend. The 3 button makes the game feel more limited in terms of using normals for zoning and poking but I think the game doesnt suffer a whole lot from it. You can still get different normals by pressing a direction and the button just like in Guilty Gear for example, so its not that bad. Push blocking is really good in this game. Here are quick initial impressions so far of each character...

Morrigan plays really nice, her multi directional air dash gives her tons of mobility and mixup options. Her mixup game almost sorta feels like I-no which was cool. She can combo into her level 3 super pretty easily too which is nice. I can see her being good in this game. Her assist isnt so great though, she just throws a soulfist.

Ryu also feels good. Hes got all his old tools but having his kick special from SF3 gives him good combo options. He can do a ground chain into the kick and then combo his level 3 shoryuken super and it does TONS of damage. His shinkuhadouken is more or less just as it always has been. You can easily combo into it but it gets scaled a lot. He can combo shinkuuhadouken off of regular huricane kick. Also, his huricane kick always goes straight, it doesnt use jump momentum ever. Having an air dash feels really cool for Ryu too. His assist is just a hadouken and didnt seem so great. I can see him being good though.

Casshern was a lot of fun to use. I can see some good okizeme potential after knockdown if you summon his dog properly, but the dog comes out slow otherwise and I hardly ever saw anyone get hit by it at all (theres 3 version of it by the way, one hits you, one bites you and holds you in place, the other shoots a flame thrower out of its mouth). His specials are overall pretty good and seem usefull. though im not sure how safe his lightning punch is yet... it seems dangerous on block so not very abuseable, but his short hop ground slam move seems good. I also noticed he had a sorta knee upper move (kinda like Joe Higashi) and it wasnt listed on the move list. It was done by doing a backwards DP motion. His level 3 super seems nice and does tons of damage. His range on his normals arnt fantastic though but hes pretty fast. He seems above average probably.

Ken (Gatchaman) seems like the fastest character in the game, with multi directional air dash, teleport, dash attack move and just overall fast speed. He also doesnt have great range but he can rush down very well. He has a maximum spider like super and it does TONS of damage for a level 1.

Tekkaman... I dunno, I was really hoping he would be great since I love him as a character but hes very slow in general. He didnt feel very effective when I tried him out but I think perhaps he has potential once people figure out some stuff they can do with him. When he throws is lance as a projectile, it does lots of damage and multi hits, but then he has to go pick it up and he has to fight with his hands until he picks it up which is kinda a big disadvantage. His damage was decent but I dunno... he doesnt seem so great to me so far. However, as an assist character I see potential with him. He has a chord pull grab move sorta like omega red and I can see it being used well as an assist, it points upward for the assist version, but he has 3 different versions when you are playing as him. Also his jumping hard attack seems like it might have crossup potential, but it comes out a bit slow.

Souki... he plays pretty basic and doesnt have many moves at all, but he has autoguard special moves and it seems pretty effective and goes through tons of shit. It also knocks the opponent high into the air if they get hit by the auto guard swipe. Overall hes probably the slowest character in the game but he does lots of damage. He also has a dragon install type move which seems pretty good.

Batsu, seems pretty average all around. Hes a bit slow but his specials are good. I dont really see him having anything very dominating. Damage is pretty average I guess. Hes just kinda a straight forward character from what I can tell. However, he does have a very fast air kick special that lets him play a good runaway game and he can keep people at bay with his fireball.

Yatterman was used a lot but I didnt bother trying him out. He has a quick overhead which seems good for mixup. He doesnt seem to do much damage though and his supers seem pretty crappy overall, very easy to block and dont even do that much damage. I didnt try him so I really dont know honestly how good is gonna end up.

Polymer seems pretty solid but I didnt try him either. I noticed people doing some nice long ground combos with him. He seems like a pretty technical character but I dont really know much about him to be honest.

Chun-li seems pretty solid. I didnt try her out either but she seems to be a lot like her MVC1 self and her old level 3 super was nice to see in this game. She actually didnt get used much so I didnt see much of her.

Alex.... I must say, Alex seems broken right now. Probably the best in the game (?). He can combo into his super on the ground and afterwords the opponent gets dizzied. He can then do another combo into the super again! This right there is enough to pretty much kill someone with a full life bar. The super does a TON of damage and the damage doesnt get scaled after the dizzy. I dont know if the dizzy is escapable but I didnt see anyone get out of it. He wasnt even very slow at all, he was pretty fast. All his stuff seemed pretty usefull too. I think they really need to tone Alex down...

After playing for a few hours I just didnt really feel like playing anymore and had an urge to play some Gear so I went to Club Sega down the street. When I first started playing I felt really off because I was playing so much Tatsunoko and it feels way different than Guilty Gear, but once I got used to Guilty Gear again I was fine. I stayed for a good while and did alright. Ogawa, FAB, Basara, JT, and several other well known players were there. As it got later I got a call from Kyle who said he was gonna go to Club Sega Shinjuku to play some SFIV with a friend of his from China. I said id meet up with them there.

When I got there, Kyle's friend was playing 3S. When he was done we all played SFIV like twice each. There were still a lot of people there. Kyle's friend was mostly a SF player and did pretty well with Dhalsim but he got destroyed by a Gief player. Kyle then tried to beat Gief with Ken but lost. I beat the Gief with my Blanka but then I lost to some other dude (I think it was a Guile). After that, Kyle's friend wanted to play me in AC because he heard I was good at Gear and he used to play the game a lot. He picked like HOS, Po, and Sol on me but wasnt really able to do much against me. He did the best with Po because well... its Potemkin lol. After that we grabbed some quick food and then headed to go drinking.

Matt was at Zin (the bar that I went to that one time before I went to Kansai). He said there was a birthday party going on for some hot chick there and a bunch of the regular girls from Current were there. We decided to go there and check it out. When we got there, it was mostly packed with hot Japanese girls (most of which I knew) dressed in various skimpy outfits. One chick with giant boobs was dressed as a maid with bunny ears. They put the ears on me and I took a rockin picture. The chick whos birthday it was had this tight leather thing with thigh high fishnets that had bows on them. It was pretty top tier. Megu was there as well. Matt was chilling with this one super metal chick who sings death metal vocals in like several different bands. I forgot her name but I see her pretty often. Matt told me how he eventually found a hotel to bring christian chick to the night before but pretty much didnt sleep all night and hadnt even gone home yet. He was wearing the same clothes haha. He had been drinking all day today too. We all had a beer and then everyone said they were planning to head to Current soon. Matt, Super Metal Chick, Kyle, his friend, and I were going to go ahead and everyone else was gonna leave shortly after. As we were on the way out, Heidi showed up with some other chick. She said she would meet up with us later probably. On our way to Current, we ran into SPG Chris and a couple of his Norwegian friends. They said they were just at Current and it was dead. They were on the way to GODZ which was having its 6th anniversary party tonight. It was like 2000 yen to get in with 2 drinks and you got a GODZ coffee mug lol. We decided we would go kill some time there and check it out and then go to Current later once more people arrived.

GODZ was pretty packed and you could hardly even move. It was more or less the ussual stuff at GODZ except it was way more packed than it ussually was. It was extremely hot in there. They were showing music videos on the huge giant flatscreen as ussual and played lots of good stuff, but the music was too loud to really have a conversation. I made sure to get my money's worth on the mandatory drinks from the entry fee and got some Wild Turkey (mmm). Kyle and his friend didnt really seem to be enjoying GODZ much, and the rest of us wanted to head to Current soon so we decided to leave and give it another try. SPG Chris and his Norwegian crew left with us as well.

When we got to Current it was now good and packed. In addition to most of the girls that were at Zin before, Chip and Sawa were there, as well as Taka, and a few various other people. Sawa told me it was her birthday next weekend but I wouldnt be able to see her since im going back to the US, so I bought her a shot. I introduced Kyle's SF friend to Chip and he was really excited to meet someone who used to work for Capcom and helped to make so many of the classic SF games he loves so much. As the night went on everyone got wasted and it was good times, and to be honest I hardly even remember most of it! haha... After Current closed, we all decided we wanted to keep drinking, so we headed to GODZ. In addition to just about everyone that was at Current, Sushi and Mogi came to drink with us as well after they closed the bar! At this point I was pretty shit faced and most of Zin was a blur. I fell asleep for a bit at some point. We ended up staying there till like 8 am! This time I went back to the Manga kissa as ussual.

Since my plans for today was more or less just playing various games I didnt need to wake up early or anything. I woke up around 2:30 or so, got some top tier Wendy's 100 yen menu, and then went to Club Sega Shinjuku for more SFIV action. Unfortunately this time, people kept fucking playing beginner mode which is just vs the CPU and it was taking FOREVER to get a turn in. I was there for like an hour and only got to play one time. I did get to see the boss, Seth, though which was kinda cool. He has a vast array of special moves barrowed from other characters (like Dhalsims fierce punch, a dragon punch, Urien shoulder tackle, wall dive, and other stuff) as well as a few original ones, and his Ultra where he sucks you into his belly and spits you out looks absoloutly hilarious. Waiting around and watching people fight the CPU was getting boring so I decided to head back to Akihabara. I started out by going to Club Sega cuz I had an urge to play more Gear. There were a few really well known players there once again today. At first I felt really sluggish because I got like no sleep all weekend and just felt drained from so much drinking. However, after playing for a little bit I started to get better and got some good matches in. Eventually Matt showed up and not too long after, Kyle showed up as well. We played for a good few hours and then decided to go check out the TvC loketest again, but those guys wanted to get food first so we stopped and got some Curry. This time at the loketest there were a lot more players that seemed to know what they were doing, most likely since the game has been there all weekend and they were able to learn some stuff. This is where I saw the broken Alex player dominating really hard. I really didnt get to play very long though since I had to take the last train back soon and it was already getting late. As I was leaving, Kyle was playing some AC so I said bye and Matt decided he was gonna go play some SFIV since he didnt try it yet so we headed out to the station together and then I got on my train and slept the whole way home.

This weekend was fun as hell and I got to hang out with tons of people and play tons of new games and it was nice finally being able to drink with Ryoko at Current. Everyone said she was really nice and very cute. This is the last blog entry I will be typing for a little while since next weekend I will be going back to the US for about 3 weeks (being able to take an entire month off with vacation days is fucking sweet... I love my job!). Ill spend the majority of the time in Chicago, visiting my family and getting wasted and playing games with my friends. Then, on the way back to Japan, I will stop in Vegas for EVO for the weekend and then return to Japan that Monday morning. I look forward to seeing many of you at EVO. Please come out and support the Guilty Gear tournament that will be going on there. Just because its not run by EVO staff doesnt mean it will be any less hype, and EVO should be good times anyway. The following weekend will be SBO and it will surely be an epic weekend indeed! I will make sure to write a full report about my SBO weekend experience! THIS SHIT IS GONNA BE FUCKIN METAL!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Children of Bodom and the End of Tougeki Qualifiers

Approaching the weekend, I once again was unsure of my team, so I simply emailed everyone in my phone again. Most people didn’t reply and the few who did had already formed teams. This weekend was the very last Tougeki qualifiers (aside from the last chance quals the actual day of SBO, in which entrants are selected at random, meaning there’s no guarantee that people will get a chance to enter). Saturday would be the B-7 block final and Sunday would be the C-4 block final at Shinjuku Sportsland. However, I would only be entering the Sunday tournament because Saturday I had a ticket to see Children of Bodom live!

Friday night, I stayed in Gunma because Amy, one of the other ALT’s in my town, would be going back to the US soon. The Board of Education was throwing her a farewell party and of course, I and the other ALT in our town, Cynthia, were invited. Cynthia asked me to pick her up on the way to the town office so I swung by and got her in my car. On the way there, she dropped something on the ground so I turned the light in the car on so she could see down by her feet. We arrived at the town office and from there, everyone took a bus to the banquet hall where the party would be held. I was expecting a typical traditional Japanese style enkai but this turned out to be totally different. I don’t remember the name of the place but the sign referred to it as a “New York style wedding hall.” Basically the place was extremely modern and trendy looking with really crazy furniture and designs. The staff was mostly girls wearing sorta formal looking suites but they all had really whacky and artsy looking ties. The room where the party was being held had a bunch of round tables just like there would be at a wedding reception. There was also a huge buffet table and a full bar. The food was excellent and they had a nice variety of various things, some Japanese food, some American food, some Italian food, and some Chinese food. I got nice a stuffed, and I also had plenty of beer. The party pretty much played out like most other enkais I’ve been to. The head of the town office give a speech and then a few other people gave short speeches and then Amy gave her farewell speech. After that, Cynthia and I went up and presented her with flowers and a gift that was given by everyone from the town office. I made various small talk with people and stuff and got nice and full of beer. After about 2 hours, the party ended.

Much to my surprise there was no after party planned, so Cynthia and I figured we would organize one last minute. We convinced a bunch of people to go do Karaoke. Amy couldn’t go since her boyfriend was meeting her at the train station soon, but the bus dropped about half the people there off at the Karaoke place. It was the same place that had the panty vending machine in the lobby that I had been to before haha. We drank a ton more beer at the Karaoke place and stayed for I think about 2 hours. I invited Liz to join us since the place wasn’t all that far from her apartment and I had made plans to drink with her some more after the 2nd party. After that, Cynthia, Liz and I, met up with some of Cynthia’s friends who were other ALT’s who came to visit. We went to some Izakaya place for a few more beers but I don’t really remember much after that. Cynthia was in the bathroom for a really long time and she ended up passing out on the toilet haha. Eventually it was time to go, so Cynthia went with her 2 friends and I went with Liz to her place to crash on her couch, since getting back to my apartment at this point was pretty much impossible.

The next day I woke up like soaking in sweat. It was a very hot day and Liz didn’t have air conditioning on. I immediately took a shower and changed clothes. Liz called her family back in Oregon and was on the phone with them for quite a while. I ducked out for a little bit to head to the conbini to get something to eat and drink. I chugged like a 900 ml bottle of sports drink pretty quickly. I got a sandwich and an icecream bar but I didn’t have much of an appetite for the sandwich since my head was hurting pretty bad, as it always does after an enkai. Luckily, Liz gave me some headache medicine. Eventually she finished talking with her family and we headed to the train station to take the train to Tokyo together.

We eventually arrived in Tokyo. We split up at Akihabara station. Liz had separate plans and I was going to the concert soon, but I had about an hour to kill until the venue opened the doors, so I figured id kill some time playing Gear at Club Sega. There were a decent amount of people there but no one that was really noteworthy. I think I probably played about a little over 20 games, and I lost maybe twice only. I ended up staying a bit longer than an hour cuz I had a streak going and didn’t wanna leave. However, eventually I got up and left cuz it was getting pretty close.

When I arrived at he venue (Studio Coast in Shin Kiba), they had already opened the doors. They were selling Bodom merchandise in front of the building. I wanted to get a shirt, but they were all out of medium size and they were selling them for 3500 yen which is sorta expensive so I ended up not getting one. I went inside, got my mandatory 500 yen beer, and headed into the concert room. Tons of people were already in there. Almost right away I ran into Ai (one of the metal insanity event night regulars at Current) and her brother. They said this would be their first time seeing Bodom live (while for me its my 3rd time as I have seen them, twice back in Chicago). After a little bit of waiting they finally turned the lights off and the opening act came out. They were a Japanese thrash metal band called Outrage. If I had to compare them to someone, I would say they sound a lot like Slayer. They weren’t like amazing or anything, but for an opening act that I never really heard much of before, they were pretty good. They played for about 45 mins which was pretty long. After that, there was a brief intermission while they set up the equipment and then the lights went off and everyone started going crazy. From all the previous concerts I have been to in Japan, I had come to the conclusion that the Japanese are simply not a very wild crowd at shows. They are often pretty mellow, don’t make much noise, and don’t really move around too much. But that was before I had gone to a Japanese Children of Bodom show. As soon as the lights went out everyone just went fucking nuts, and immediately just SLAMMED forward towards the front, just squishing everyone really hard (this was an all standing show obviously). Once the band started playing, the place basically turned into a giant mosh pit and people were just going nuts. Plenty of crowd surfing and slamming into eachother, and quite frankly, you pretty much had no free will as to where you were going to move. The whole crowd just sorta would all flow in one direction and then youd get swept along with it. Trying to actually not get completely squished and keeping your balance was actually a pretty good workout, I must say. Normally I don’t mind this, and many of the more extreme metal bands I have seen in the US have been much like this. This time, however, there were a few minor problems. It was a hot fucking day, so I wore sandals, and I wasn’t really expecting the crowd to get this nuts. As a result, people were constantly stepping on my toes and it certainly didn’t feel very good. In addition to that, all the storage lockers were full, so I had to wear my backpack the whole show. At one point, the zipper came undone and it was open for a while. I have no idea for how long but some dude was nice enough to inform me and zip it for me.

Bodom played fucking awesome as always and the sound was pretty good. The keyboard could have been turned up a tad bit higher but it was still audible so it was all good. I don’t remember the exact order of the setlist but the songs they played were…


Silent Night Bodom Night

Hellhounds On My Trail

Follow the Reaper

Living Dead Beat

In Your Face

Needled 24/7

Banned From Heaven

Mask of Sanity (at this point they introduced the band in the middle of the song and then continued to play)

Someday You Will Cry

Hate Me

Angels Don’t Kill


Hate Crew Deathroll

…after that, they keyboardist, Wirman, started to play the intro to some Michael Jackson song as a joke, and Alexi was like, “sorry, but I don’t think that shits gonna fly here, what else do you got for us?” and then he started playing the into to ….


…which was the last song. Alexi stressed how much he loves coming to Tokyo and everything and said we were a fuckin awesome crowd and shit. The crowd really was totally fucking nuts which was awesome and was nothing like any other Japanese concert I had been to. There were a few foreigners there, but I was impressed with how many girls were there! Way more than youd ever see at any death metal show in the US! Tons of them were hot too, it was pretty awesome. After I left the show, it became apparent to me just how sweaty and wet I was. I was COMPLETELY SOAKED in sweat, and it was not just my sweat, but hundreds of people’s sweat. It felt like I had just jumped into a pool with my clothes on. One of the most disgusting feelings ever. I headed for the station and thankfully it wasn’t ridiculously crowded, so I was able to get on a train pretty fast. The train was air conditioned and since I was soaking wet it was pretty uncomfortable. I started getting chills, like the kind you get when you start to get a fever. The only thing on my mind at this point was that I wanted to take a shower.. very, very badly! I got off the train at Shinjuku and decided before I did anything else, I would go take a shower and change my clothes… I seriously reaked bad. I went to like 4 manga kissas until I finally found one that had a shower and didn’t have a waiting list. It felt great to clean off and stuff. The problem was that I only had one clean shirt with me which was supposed to be for tomorrow. I wasn’t really expecting this to happen. Also, I only had the shorts I was wearing at the show, and they were still soaking wet and kinda smelled but I had no choice but to put them back on, but at least I had clean underwear. My other problem that while my backpack had opened up during the show, apparently my deodorant and contact saline solution had fallen out. I went to a conbini and bought some axe body spray and sprayed down my stinky ass shorts and stuff and after that it was tolerable aside from the dampness. My backpack was still kinda soggy too so I just c carried it instead of wearing it.

After I was finally cleaned up I headed for Vegas to play some more casuals. Kyle had called me earlier and said he was gonna go there to meet up with me for some games. The place was packed with all the big name players such as Imo, Mike, Kazuki, HH, Kifa, Oguma, FAB, Osaka B, Basara, En-slayer, and several others, just to name a few. At one point I was getting some change over near the Super Turbo machines and this one kinda randomly came up to me and asked me in perfect English if I was that guy who has that blog online. I assumed he was talking about this blog so I said yes. At first I thought he was Japanese but he was actually an Asian-American who used to live in NY and played at Chinatown Fair. He’s mostly just a Street Fighter player. He said to just call him Z. He said he found my blog on accident on a google search trying to search for information about G-Port Las Vegas game center lol! Anyway, hes here in Japan studying English. He wanted to watch me play for a bit so he watched me beat some Jam and Kyle’s Ky. He seemed like a cool guy, so im sure ill run into him again sometime. I talked with Kyle and since I didn’t have any team lined up yet, we decided we would try to team up, but we still needed a 3rd. I figured Id just ask Matt if he wanted to join us. Kyle also informed me that the winner of Today’s B-7 finals was Kaqn/Kazuki/Inoue! An unexpected team, and they are now playing in SBO finals. We played for a bit longer and then I got a call from Matt who was near Current and wanted to eat. I was hungry so it sounded like a good plan. Kyle decided to go home, but he said he would meet up with me tomorrow at Sportsland.

Matt and I ate at a restaurant near Current and had a good meal, he agreed to team with us tomorrow. We then went to Current. I was hoping that Children of Bodom might be there but they weren’t there when we arrived. There were, however, a TON of other people, most of which were people that I knew and were frequent regulars, and like more than half the people there were girls haha. It was a pretty awesome night at Current honestly. Drank a ton of beers, chicks were like making out and stuff, people were just getting wild and having a kickass time. Chip was there also, and he told me that Kunko and the entire staff of Lemon-ya bar in Osaka were there visiting! They were in town for a Motley Crue cover band concert lol. It was cool to see all of them again too. I talked briefly with Chip about Tatsunoko vs Capcom and he doenst really have much inside info on the game, but he thinks its coming along nicely. I will get to test it out next weekend at the location test in Akihabara. They stayed open about a half hour later than usual because it was packed and everyone was having fun. After saying goodbye to everyone I headed to the Manga Kissa. I tried to convince Matt to just stay there too since the tournament was like 2 minutes walking distance from there instead of going all the way home but he wanted to go home.

I woke up in the morning to find an email on my phone from Matt, saying that at some point I guess he found out that Megu has a boyfriend after all, most likely the dude in that Dust and Bones band shes always traveling around Japan to see. Also, he said that he woke up on the Yamanote line after leaving Current, at Shinjuku station… which would mean he rode the entire line at least once around (the Yamanote line goes in a big circle around central Tokyo). When I got to Sportsland there weren’t that many people there yet, but it was obvious that most of them were plobly playing casuals at Vegas since that’s always the case before Sportsland tourneys. I got a good amount of casuals in and around 12 pm, which is when signups were supposed to start, people piled in fast. Before I knew it the place was so packed you could hardly move around. Kyle showed up too and signed up our team. I mailed Matt, who hadn’t arrived yet, to find out where he was. He replied saying that he probably wouldn’t be able to make it on time, so we had to find another team mate. Kyle said he knew this one guy who lived sorta close to there, but wasn’t a very serious player. I said it was better than nothing so he called him up. Shortly after that, I ran into Umemura. He asked if I had emailed him recently and apologized, saying his phone was still broke. I asked him if he has a team for today and he said he already did. However, he said that the well known Johnny player Suzume needed a team mate. I told Umemura to hold on while I consulted with Kyle. Kyle said he would rather team with Suzume than the random friend of his and said his friend didn’t care so I went back to Umemura and told him to lead me to Suzume so we could tell him to join our team. However, I misunderstood Umemura initially. Actually, Suzume already had one team mate and just needed one more. I once again went to consult with Kyle and ask what we should do. He told me that I should just go ahead and join Suzume’s team since I would have a better chance with them, and he said he probly wasn’t ready to take on Ogawa and stuff. I asked him if it was really ok and he said it was fine. I told him we would team up again sometime at another tournament or something for sure. He stayed for a little but decided that he was gonna go home and take care of some business that he was gonna delay to play anyway so I guess it worked out. I told Umemura I would join Suzume so he led me to where he was and I talked to Suzume and he welcomed me on the team. Our other team mate was a Millia player named Zayasu. I was able to hunt down the tournament registration dude and tell him to cancel my original team and to just add me to the other team. He was ok with it even though registration ended since it wasn’t registering a new team. After they made all the brackets there ended up being around 45 teams! That’s 45 teams of 3 people, which is 135 entrants! This is probably the largest tournament ive been to in Japan outside of last years main SBO event itself. People traveled from all over Japan for this. In addition, tons of the other teams that had already qualified this year showed up just to watch and play casuals, so the place was just dead fucking packed. They had 5 cabs for casuals and 3 for tournament matches, but they only had one large screen hooked up to one of the tourney cabs so it was hard to watch the tournament sometimes. I honestly spent most of the time just playing casuals.

Eventually after what seemed like a really long wait, our first match was called. We were to play against a team of I-no, Ky, Venom. Suzume went first with his Johnny against I-no. The first round he was about to get perfected and I-no was just throwing the shit out of him but he started to come back. He still lost though. The 2nd round was a bit ugly too and he lost. I asked our Millia player how he was vs I-no and he said he wasn’t sure so I said I would try. The first round was close but I lost. I managed to win the 2nd round but in the 3rd round I had another narrow loss. I was pretty bummed at this point figuring our final SBO tournament chance was already as good as over. At this point I had no idea how good our Millia player was but not only did he take out I-no, but he proceeded to beat Ky AND Venom for the win! He was just mixing everyone the fuck up and had extremely good footsies! What a great Millia player! This sorta caused me to gain a new hope and I vowed to fight hard! I played a few more casuals and eventually they called our next match which was against a team of Zappa, Slayer, and ABA. Once again, Suzume went first with his Johnny against Zappa. He struggled and once again lost to Zappa. I said I would go next again. This time I managed to take Zappa out 2 rounds, ending the 2nd round with a close victory by a sneaky backdoor teleport from fullscreen away while Zappa was busy throwing ghosts or some shit. Up next was Slayer. I hate Slayer but I somehow managed to beat this guy pretty hard 2 rounds straight. This match was on the big screen and people were getting a bit hype while I was playing. Finally was ABA. Both rounds were very close but I lost both of them. I still really hate this matchup. It was up to our Millia to once again save the day, and sure enough, he pulled out another win for us with a great performance! After this match, Matt showed up saying he caught the end of our set. I played like one match vs an Axl player in casuals and won and then they quickly called our next match. I honestly don’t remember who was on their entire team, but they put this one pink ABA player first. Suzume went first again and lost, followed by myself who got beat up, and then our Millia also got rocked by ABA… and thus the OCV by ABA concludes my SBO 2008 qualifier experience. I honestly wasn’t really that upset. I was glad that we at least got sorta far. This really was probably like one of the hardest tournaments Ive ever entered given that EVERYONE good was there that hadn’t qualified yet and Ogawa’s team was the final boss (lol).

After I lost I told Matt I hadn’t eaten yet all day and suggested we get some food. He said RTL from dustloop was there too and asked him if he wanted to join us but he wanted to stay and watch. So Matt and I went to get some grub and then returned. I pretty much played casuals the rest of the time I was there. I honestly don’t even know who the team was that won the whole preliminary. I wasn’t watching and it was so hard to get near the brackets I couldn’t check who they were. I got to see a few matches in the finals but it started pretty late and I had to leave after seeing like 2 matches. I saw Minami Chipp’s team beat some team and I saw Mike OCV a team. I told Matt to send me the results on his phone. In the end, Ogawa’s team went undefeated but Kifa’s Faust almost took out his team. He beat Imo and Mike and came close to beating Ogawa and pulled off some crazy double pogo bomb combo but it wasn’t enough. So Ogawa’s team is the final team to qualify for SBO!

On the way home I pretty much slept the entire time. When I arrived back at the train station and went to my car which was parked at the town office across the street, I noticed that the battery was dead! I forgot to turn the light off inside my car when I was driving there earlier! Doh! So I called my girlfriend and asked her to come save my ass and drive me home just before my phone died. She picked me up and drove me home and I walked to work today. Im gonna head to the town office by train and get my car back shortly. So yea… in the end, my SBO qual experience was great and I feel like I did my best. I don’t feel ashamed for not qualifying espessially since so many increadibly well known and talented players didn’t qualify either. There’s just only so many spots and it’s a brutal set of tournaments. Im still gonna try for the last chance qual but theres no guarantee ill get to play, just like with last year, so who knows, no real expectations. In any case ill be at SBO to watch and give a full report! Next weekend I will get to play Tatsunoko vs Capcom and my girlfriend, Ryoko, will go to Current for the first time ever! Should be fun times!