Welcome back, friends. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and you're ready for NEC because it is nearly upon us. Since we've been granted a fifth Sunday, it's time again for a special edition of the Dynamek Perspective. However, in lieu of the holiday, I decided to focus on what I'm thankful for.
Now, 2014 was a big year in gaming... especially for me. This was the year that my involvement with the FGC got kicked into high gear. After all my years of just playing games, I took a small step 'behind the veil' & learned more of what makes this scene tick. Suffice it to say, it is a FAR more complex machine than I originally considered. In doing so, however, I came to appreciate gaming that much more for it. Over the last few months, so much has happened and since I generally use this time to speak on a personal level, here's what made my year in the FGC worthwhile:
First & foremost, I wouldn't even be here talking with you now if it hadn't been for Kick-Punch-Block. It was at APEX 2014 when they approached me about joining their ranks. Initially, I was hesitant because I'm usually unable to find the time to practice and ultimately play at a high level due to the fact that (as I've stated before) I don't compete. However, I was reassured that competiting wasn't a prerequisite and the rest is history. My time here has been amazing. Not only am I given the opportunity to speak my mind, but I'm in the company of men & women who challenge, motivate, support and inspire me on a daily basis... it honestly doesn't get much better than that.
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let's get down to the real reason we're all here: gaming. As I'm sure most of you are aware, we're going to be getting Tekken 7 soon. The fact that the series has even reached that number is amazing, in & of itself, but that's not why I bring it up. I'm thankful for this game because it's taking a risk by officially ending the Mishima storyline. In doing so, it's going to grant us a sense of closure that most series (emphasis on that word, series) never achieve. The precedent for this decision/risk was set by Tekken 3 when they decided to pick the story up almost 20 years after the events of the second game. No matter how you slice it, that was a ballsy move & it paid serious dividends because T3, from both a critical & commercial standpoint, is the highlight of the series. All this isn't to say that the series won't continue, but the provebial book is being closed on a significant chapter in fighting game history.
Speaking of history, another game that's taking risks & another reason I'm thankful is MKX. After wearing its welcome with the FGC a little too thin, the kind folks at NetherRealm Studios got their act together & gave the world a simply amazing reboot to the series. With the slate now clean, the game was free to revise the story that we've been holding dear for the last few years. In an act of bravado that matches the aforementioned Tekken fast forward, this latest installment takes place 25 years in the future of the retconned timeline. This opens the doors up to any number of possibilities regarding the canon and that sense of the unknown is exciting. Matter of fact, one of those possibilities has a name: Cassie Cage. And, yes, that name implies exactly what you think. It's one more detail that draws a parallel to Tekken 3 and, frankly, that's not a bad thing.
Moving on, I'd like to talk about Capcom for a minute. It's no secret that I have been VERY critical of the company & its practices as of late. However, I am going to give credit where credit is due. I'm actually very thankful for the news that they're talking to Dimps about (quite possibly) the next Street Fighter installment. For anyone who is unaware, Dimps is the studio that gave us the brilliant (but criminally overlooked) Rumble Fish games. If any of the strategic qualities of that series find their way into the next SF, the FGC as a whole will be better off for it.
While we're on the subject of Street Fighter, I'm going to take this oppportunity to admit that I'm thankful for the upcoming Omega Mode. Not because it's going to change my mind about Capcom or anything, but because it is simultaneously new & nostalgic. "New" in the sense that it's going to drastically change how everyone, casual players & veterans alike, approach the gameplay. "Nostalgic" because, for those who are old enough to remember, this is pretty much Rainbow Edition for this generation of the FGC. Seriously, who didn't enjoy the sheer madness that was Rainbow? It'll be nice to have a throwback to those crazy, halcyon days. Ironically, this now turns Ultra into an anime game, which I think is going to possibly ruffle some feathers, but I also think it will open some roads to discussion.
Speaking of anime games, something that just came entirely out of left field & took the FGC by storm was UNIEL. (For the record, I am fully aware that it has a much longer, proper title, but I'm sticking with this acronym for the sake of brevity.) Here's a game that takes the fast pace of your Continuum Shifts & Personas, but keeps the footsies game of the 2D genre. On top of that, the best part of this game is that it's something relatively new. It's practically a throwback to the old days where a great game could come from anywhere. UNIEL has gotten a remarkable reception, it has incredible momentum & it is gaining a notable community following. Seriously, the sky is the limit for this title & I am gladly going to pick up a physical copy in a few months.
However, it is impossible to even breathe anything anime or 2D related without mentioning the real star of the show... Guilty Gear Xrd! To say that I'm thankful for this game is an understatement. I actually dropped what I was doing when I was first told about it, which was unfortunate for me because the something that I dropped was my (old) phone. Neither here nor there. I can't imagine anyone NOT being hyped for this game's release. The soundtrack alone is enough to keep you involved & entertained. What more could anyone ask for in a game?
Finally, I'm going to give thanks for the game that has kept me entertained & involved pretty much all year: Skullgirls Encore. If this choice leaves you scratching your head a bit, allow me to explain. I remember seeing the first version of this game way back when during Winter Brawl a few years ago. The visual style of it caught my eye and, since I'm a slave to my curiosity, I started digging around for information. The more I learned about it, the more I wanted to play. When I finally played it, I was taken in by its charm. Furthermore, I came to realize that it was a title made by the FGC, for the FGC. Unfortunately, the bottom fell out because of some legal quagmire involving Def Jam Rapstar. What one had to do with the other is beyond me. Thankfully, after a few concessions were made, it came back earlier this year. What I've loved so far is that the game rewarded loyalty by allowing everyone who downloaded the original game to upgrade for free. Not to mention the not-so-subtle jab they took at Capcom, which was brilliant. More importantly, the schedule they follow in terms of character release keeps the game fresh. By the time you've gotten a good feel for a character, an understanding of their playstyle and a gameplan of your own regarding teammates... here comes a new character to switch things up & make it feel brand new all over again. Simply put, it keeps me coming back for more.
For all these reasons, I am thankful. Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.