There historical female military leaders are here to kick butt and chew bubble gum, and they're all out of bubble gum.
Amanda and Becky Talk About Street Fighter, Part 4: Street Fighter IV
by Amanda LaPergola | 2:44 pm, September 28th, 2012
This month, the Street Fighter series turns twenty-five making a lot of us feel extremely old. To celebrate this mile-stone, Becky Chambers, our resident video game expert, and Amanda LaPergola, our resident Street Fightologist (a title Amanda has given to herself), have sat down for a series of chats about the nature, function, and cultural impact of the series.
Last week, Becky and Amanda talked about the dark days of Street Fighter III and the awesomeness of Makoto. This week, they finish the series with a discussion on the latest chapters in the World Warrior Saga: Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV. Let’s join them now in an undisclosed chatroom …
Becky: And so we come to the end.
Amanda: I hate when things end. Everyone is always “all things must come to an end, the circle of life, etc…” Screw that. I hate endings. Everything should go on forever. The circle of life can suck it.
Becky: Wow. Them’s fightin’ words. Which is appropriate, considering. To start, I have a question about the general principle of street fighting.
Becky: In Street Fighter IV, the whole setup is that the baddies have organized a championship to find the best fighters in the world. So, global tournament. Catering to the crème de la crème of the fighting elite. I literally fought one stage under a bridge in front of a small handful of children. I mean, come on.
Amanda: Hey, those kids are really into it.
Becky: Sure they were, but if you have the resources to make secret evil bases and do weird science, you can book more professional venues.
Amanda: But it’s a street fighting tournament. You can’t have a street fighting tournament in an air conditioned stadium. You lose all credibility.
Becky: Speaking of a loss of credibility, can we jump right into talking about Crimson Viper?
Amanda: Must we?
Becky: It seemed like a decent segue.
Amanda: Yeah. Sure. Crimson Viper.
Amanda: I do not like her.
Becky: Nor do I. I am also really concerned about her. Her breasts appear to start at her collarbone. I think she needs to get that looked at.
Amanda: Here is my issue with Crimson Viper: she’s confusing. As a character, she is confusing. Just look at her backstory: She’s in the C.I.A.! Oh wait, she also works for S.I.N! And she’s a mom! Also, also, she fights with a super suit! TOO MUCH STUFF!
Becky: I did not get the whole CIA switcharoo at all.
Amanda: Even her fighting style is confusing: she kicks fire, she has lightning hands, she can make earthquakes. She can even f***ing fly! Why is she f***ing Iron Man?
Becky: She’s like Diet Iron Man. Diet Confusing Iron Man.
Amanda: What really grinds my gears is that Crimson Viper was specifically made to appeal to an American market.
Amanda: Capcom did research about what American audiences preferred, and their conclusion was Rockabilly Angelina Jolie in a super suit. I think the inherent problem with Crimson Viper is that she was designed to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. That’s why she’s tough and powerful and anti-heroineish, but also a loving mother. Which, in the right hands, can work. But Capcom does not have those hands.
Becky: Quick! Let’s make a character with ALL THE THINGS!
Amanda: I especially love the fact that Capcom claims to have “designed around the concept of a 20-year-old single mother.”
HAHAHAHAHA, no. As you might have gathered. Crimson Viper elicits strong feelings in me. I feel about Crimson Viper the way Chris Sims feels about Gambit from X-Men Which is weird, because I feel the exact opposite way about Gambit, but anyway…
Becky: C. Viper really set me off during her rival fight with Chun-Li. Or whoever wrote her did, at least.
Amanda: OH SNAP C.V. NO YOU DIDN’T!
Becky: Okay, a few things. First of all, Chun-Li is currently on assignment with Interpol. She does not give a f*** about who is looking at her legs. Secondly, Chun-Li likes her legs, and that’s all that matters.
Amanda: And for the record, a lot of men like Chun-Li’s muscular legs. Like, A LOT a lot. In ways I would not care to know about, actually.
Becky: Thirdly…yeah, what you said.
Amanda: I think someone is projecting her insecurities on her better developed, less convoluted opponents. Ahem, Crimson Viper.
Becky: If my life was that confusing, I’d probably be a little insecure, too.
Amanda: I remember the moment when my feelings about Crimson Viper evolved from mild annoyance to full-on hate.
Becky: Do tell.
Amanda: It was in the animated OVA that came with special edition packages of Street Fighter IV. There is a scene in which Crimson Viper just beats the hell out of Cammy to get Ryu to awaken the Satsui No Hadou in him, because reasons. She nearly nearly kills her. And she goes about it very smugly.
Becky: Oh, hell no.
Amanda: I was all, “BITCH, YOU DID NOT JUST TRY TO KILL MY SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE!”
Becky: Does Cammy get a second shot at her?
Amanda: Well, when Ryu sees his friend get hurt so badly it does awaken Satsui No Hadou.
Becky: Uh oh. We have established that this is a very bad thing.
Amanda: He pretty much owns her, which she seems surprised about. “Oh my God, he’s going to kill me!” she says. Well, you did just awaken something that translates into “The Killing Intent,” so….yeah.
Becky: She really didn’t think “Killing Intent” all the way through to the very end, did she? What happens then?
Amanda: Then…she flies away. Goddamn Crimson Viper.
Amanda: I really like the OVA, by the way. The animation isn’t great, and it’s a little talky, but I think it really nails all the main characters.
Becky: The anime sequences in the game, however, were fairly terrible. I had no idea what was going on.
Amanda: Yes, the anime sequences are a bit dodgy.
Becky: Let me give you an honest-to-god recap of Chun-Li’s prologue. Someone screams inside a building. Two dudes speaking in unison are about to jump into action. Chun-Li says the situation — which is never defined — is too dangerous for civilians. She stops a car with a combo attack. Then Guile shows up. The end. Or, the beginning, I suppose.
Amanda: If I remember correctly, the anime sequences were added in at the last minute due to the popularity of the animated trailers Studio 4℃ produced.
Becky: It shows.
Amanda: But, I will confess, the idea of animated intros and endings excites me. I’m one of those nerds who like seeing my favorite Street Fighter characters outside of a street fighting situation. Like doing their laundry or something. The actual execution of those segments left a little to be desired. Except for Dan Hibiki’s scenes. They are perfect.
Becky: You can’t go wrong with the underdog.
Amanda: You can’t go wrong with Dan Hibiki, period. He fails so hard, the fail loops itself and becomes win.
Amanda: I think Street Fighter’s characters work best when they start out simple and are given time to develop.
Becky: Indeed. In a game where the story is really only there for flavor, you can’t make things too complicated.
Amanda: I think that’s why Capcom decided to make Street Fighter IV a sequel to Street Fighter II, rather than a follow-up to Street Fighter III.
Becky: I did not know that, and that makes so much more sense now. I was wondering where Chun-Li’s orphans went. I was worried.
Amanda: Don’t ever try to teach your children to count using Street Fighter. “One, Alpha, Two, Four, Three…” No, the really confusing part was trying to figure out how old Makoto and Ibuki were.
Becky: Wait. How old are they?
Amanda: In Street Fighter III, they are about seventeen or so. In Super Street Fighter IV, they’re…twelve?
Becky: Sounds like the perfect age to travel the world unaccompanied, getting into back alley fights.
Amanda: Makoto could handle it, though. She was born headbutting out of the womb.
Becky: Makoto continues to be my favorite.
Amanda: That’s what I love about Super Street Fighter IV: all my favorite characters are in it. Cammy! Chun-Li! F***ing Makoto! It’s like they made the game just for me!
Becky: Yeah, see, bringing in new characters is fine as long as your old favorites are there. Ahem, Street Fighter III.
Amanda: Unless the new character is Crimson Viper. Have I mentioned how much I dislike Crimson Viper?
Becky: You might have. You know what new character I did like, in a guilty pleasure kind of way?
Amanda: Juri Han?
Becky: I’m a sucker for over-the-top Chaotic Evil.
Amanda: Not going to lie, I love her. I think my first reaction to seeing Juri was “She’s evil! Yay!”
Becky: She’s not a teenager! Yay!
Amanda: She taunts everybody! Yay!
Becky: She stomps on Seth’s swirling yin-yang abs! Yay!
Amanda: I respect Juri in a weird sort of way. It’s the same kind of way I respect Bellatrix Lestrange and Princess Azula.
Becky: I love both of those characters. You just can’t go wrong with a no-holds-barred villain.
Amanda: And Street Fighter was long overdue for a proper female villain.
Becky: I learned an interesting tidbit about Juri, thanks to the folks at GaymerCon. Apparently, she likes the ladies.
Amanda: Juri likes violence. She would date violence, if she could. She’s a Hurtmasexual.
Becky: Is that a technical term?
Amanda: It is a technical term that I just made up. Also, in my spare time, I write Juri/Violence romance fics.
Amanda: But Juri fits into the Street Fighter universe. She makes sense in that world. She would not make sense in, say, Downton Abbey, but in Street Fighter she’s just fine.
Becky: Street Fighter is the perfect place for megalomaniac sociopaths. That’s why Bison remains the best of the main villains, in my book.
Amanda: And I love the fact that she’s nobody’s hench-wench. I mean, she starts out as one for Seth, but her motivations are purely her own.
Becky: She STOMPS him. Literally stomps him.
Amanda: That moment is pure, distilled win.
Becky: Somebody needed to stomp Seth. The second stage of his fight was a royal pain in the ass.
Amanda: I think Juri was channeling a lot of players’ feelings in that moment.
Amanda: Everyone hates Seth, another graduate along with Crimson Viper of the School of Having All The Things. He is the worst Street Fighter boss, ever.
Becky: And that’s including Captain Speedo of the Illuminati, so Seth’s sinking pretty low, here.
Amanda: Well, Seth is pretty much naked, when you think about it, so he has one-upped Gill, there.
Becky: He’s kind of Doctor Manhattan-esque. Which is cool, until you factor in the yin-yang sphere. What the hell is that, anyway?
Amanda: It’s called the Tanden Engine, and it gives him the powers of Cheap Bastardry.
Becky: Oh, you mean like teleporting so I can’t hit him? Or piledriving me into the floor? Or spamming Sonic Booms at my face?
Amanda: TWO Sonic Booms, you mean?
Becky: …I may have some built-up resentment against Seth.
Amanda: Those feelings are natural. Just let them happen.
Becky: That was seriously one of the most frustrating final boss fights I’ve played through in recent memory.
Amanda: I just want to know what happened to the Street Fighter villain names. You go from M. Bison and Akuma to Gill and Seth. Those are not names that scream “bad-ass.” Those are names that mumble “nice young man from temple.”
Becky: Seth was apparently named after someone at Capcom. Someone important.
Amanda: Oh yeah. Seth Killian. I like Seth Killian. He helped invent EVO and seems really passionate about making the gamer community an accepting place…helped found EVO, I should say. It sounds like B.L.E.C.E. when I say “invent.”
Becky: By the way, worst acronym ever.
Amanda: BOILING LIQUID EXPANDING CELL EXPLOSION. I am not even making that up.
Becky: It’s like science Mad Libs.
Amanda: The B.L.E.C.E. stuff is purely incidental. It’s just another excuse to have a tournament and try to kidnap Ryu. You can just refer to it as The MacGuffin Project and be on your way.
Becky: Teeth-gnashing boss fight aside, I have to say, I really dug the combat in Street Fighter IV.
Amanda: Oh, the combat is great. The controls are liquid smooth, and the focus attacks are a big improvement over parrying. Still, no air blocks. I miss air blocks.
Becky: But it made me realize something I’ve neglected to explore this month.
Becky: Well, see, halfway through the game, I was having fun, but not as much fun as I felt I should be having. And then it hit me. I’ve been playing all of these games alone. I don’t know what it was about Street Fighter IV, but that’s when it really struck me that these games are meant to be played in pairs.
Amanda: There is a lot to be missed when you’re playing alone. There’s a dynamic and an energy that cannot be replaced with AIs or even online matches.
Becky: Yeah, I thought about playing online, but I knew that wouldn’t do it. This is a game meant to be played on your couch, with friends and snacks.
Amanda: Or in an arcade. With friends and snacks. I think people still host tournaments for that very reason. That and bragging rights. And also snacks. My point is, I’m hungry right now.
Becky: Do you know if they’re planning to continue the franchise?
Amanda: I would think that they would. Street Fighter IV proved very popular. It pretty much revived fighting games in general.
I don’t know what Capcom’s plans are. They seem to have this habit of putting out at least three games per series (like Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter II Championship Edition, etc.) before moving on to the next “chapter” in the franchise. As of press time, Street Fighter X Tekken is the latest fighting game hotness.
Becky: I didn’t have time for that one. My thumbs were tired.
Amanda: That’s okay. I decided early on that crossover games might be too much for us this month. The Marvel Vs. Capcom series alone needs at least six weeks.
Becky: Have we forgotten anything? After a month of barreling through these games, I don’t know what I’m going to do once we put this to bed.
Amanda: I know. It feels like closing a show.
Becky: Yeah. Except without the cast party.
Amanda: I will have to drink enough for the both of us.
Becky: That’s noble of you, Amanda.
Amanda: Let me ask you this: What have you taken away from this month?
Becky: A fond appreciation for a genre I had very little experience with. Somewhere in me, there is a little girl, too shy and quarter-less to spend much time in the arcade, who is very satisfied that she could go back and learn how to move beyond button mashing. And…I kind of love these games now. I love the ridiculousness, I love the absurdity, I love the kitsch and the color and the action.
Amanda: I feel like I’ve just indoctrinated you into my religion.
In a good way. It’s not easy to explain this love I have for this silly, awesome game. I’m glad I was able to pass it on to at least one person.
Becky: Have I done well, senpai?
Amanda: You have made me proud, kopai. And I am not crying right now. My eyes are leaking adrenaline. Because I am so pumped. Yes.
Becky: These aren’t tissues, they’re COMBAT SHEETS.
Amanda: These pained, wrenching sobs you hear are actually my battle cry. WAAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH! *hiccup* COME AT ME *sniff* BRO!
Becky: You know that moment in the movie when Guile turns Zangief’s thumb the right way up? That’s how I feel right now.
(Some time after our heroines finished their discussion, Becky sent Amanda the following picture via Twitter.)
(Then, more adrenaline leaked from Amanda’s eyes.)
Amanda LaPergola is also a freelance writer and a non-union actor. Mostly, though, she serves a lot of food. She is also on the Twitter.