The Fighting Game Diaries: It’s (not) the little things

While learning a fighting game, there will be pitfalls – like learning anything. These can be mastering a new move or combo, struggling against a character or player – a whole bunch of stuff. Sometimes these pitfalls end up being pretty deep. The sort of deep that induces the wondering of “what if I can’t do this?”, “is this beyond me?”, “what am I meant to do?”. It’s a dark place. It’s a little lonely, and a little scary. In some cases, downright terrifying (it can be applied to things other than video games). In that place I find myself clinging to anything positive, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

All of that is to say during my time with Strive I have been inside my head a good few times. But, I have, as of late accomplished a few things that I had done before. I have been trying to do. In some cases, I have not done things I have been trying to do – but I have been trying them. And that’s fine. The first step to doing is trying. With that there will be failing. I gotta keep trying. It’s all progress – no matter how small each individual step is.

I have finally made myself use the roman cancel system. I somehow gained over 200 wins while ignoring them. Well, ignoring is the wrong word. Forgetting they are there would be more appropriate. But I played enough people who are good at the game, and I realised they have to be used to unlock higher level stuff. Spending so much time not using them means I do have make myself do it. Sometimes that means saying it out loud. Recently, I managed to get a good one. Well, for me. I got a Faust in the corner and did a simple Baiken combo – close slash, heavy slash, kabari and follow up. A nice four hitter. However, this time I roman cancelled after the kabari follow up. Faust hung in the air, I got two or three more hits, the wall splat, and Fust went through the wall. I was very excited. It came after a rank down also – and I still enjoyed it. That might be the best part. Rank downs normally get me feeling cranky – here I got on with it and learned something new. That’s almost as much progress as the mechanical progress in the game.

I dig this.

I also managed to roman cancel, run under someone and then hit them back across to the other side I’d never managed it before, and I managed it here. Again, super excited.

Not massively impressive – but I’m trying new stuff and getting better her and there. I’ll take it.

I mean, I have messed up a few times. A roman cancel in the middle of nowhere, a roman cancel at the wrong time or a missed roman cancel. But the more I try the more I chance I have of improving with the system. It’s all good.

I made improvements in the combo department. It’s not like watching a master (not even close), but now I can actually string attacks together. It started in training mode and eventually it bled into matches. Right now, I have only 2 or 3 combo routes, none of them are aerial so there is lots of work to be done. But I can now string attacks together in a way I could not before. It feels pretty good. Much work to be done, but the work done so far feels pretty good.

In retrospect I could have cancelled after the kabari follow up – but progress is progress. Initally I would do slash – slash – far slash and that was that.

I have also incorporated punching and kicking more into my offence. I used to depend a lot on the slash buttons – I put that down to being a Souls player and seeing that Baiken has a sword, let’s use the sword a lot! But now I have been using punches and kicks. Mainly punches. It can help to get out of a jam, where a slash would take too long to warm up. However, I have encountered another problem – turns out punch can be mashed. I sometimes mash. A lot. It gets me out of a jam, but it means I can’t combo off it, and I am probably in another jam not long after. Something else to work on.

All of these little bits of progress did result in me getting back to floor 8 after a cycle of 7 – 6 – 7 – 6- 7 – 6 (repeat as necessary). Which should be good. Right? Progress is good. However, I know what happens when I fight 9 and 10’s in the park. It’s pretty obvious which of us is the floor 8 (or 7, or 6 – there’s a chance I’ll be back down there) and who isn’t. I can make a decent start, but then I get overwhelmed, my inputs get sloppy and it’s not hard to watch a set snowball to 0 – 5 and worse. Occasionally I sneak a win here and there – I went 3 – 5 in Baiken mirror match with a floor 9, which is okay but that’s the best it’s gotten.

Not many people read this blog. I mainly write these posts because I like writing. It’s a good place to express myself and my thoughts. Honestly, it scares me seeing how far away I am from the 9’s and the 10’s. Never mind the Celestials. It scares me because of how good they are, and it scares me because I don’t think I know (right now) how to get that good. I mean it shouldn’t – because it’s a video game, and that’s low on the list of things to be anxious about – but I know I feel it. I watch YouTube videos of people who are good at the game, and sometimes it feels like we are playing different games. It’s not just the mechanical skill – it’s the mental game. Knowing what’s coming, setting things up, conditioning someone – it’s so much more than I am capable of (right now).

That’s not counting the characters I struggle with (Hello Nagoriyuki, Ramlethal, Testament (post patch – we playing Ikaruga now) and Leo!) – all common at the higher levels.

I love Strive’s Soundtrack.

I guess all I can do is keep pushing on and figure this stuff out. And cling on to all the bits of progress I make.  Never stop just go – don’t care how many more scars I get. That’s cheesy I know but damn it, Ky’s theme is so good. And thematic for the post – I think it works.


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