What it is, what it is, what it is... shed no tears! Your boy Aphro has survived his travels & come back to throw down some more crazy sounds to breathe life to your beatdowns. This month's Anthem is taking it back to the old school...
This song right here should not need any introduction. However, because I'm not a fan of doing things halfheartedly, allow me to elaborate. What you are currently bobbing your head to is the beat of Eric B. & Rakim's unmistakable classic "Don't Sweat the Technique" off of their legendary 1987 album, Paid in Full. Now, I understand that most gamers rocking the sticks these days are a little too young to appreciate (or even know about) this track. I also realize that this is another example of me showing my age, but no worries... I got you on this.
Long before the days of autotune, grills, obvious samples & afrocentricity, hip hop was young and still finding its way. The genre was blossoming outside of the neighborhoods & playgrounds, beyond the basement parties & back alleys and into the ears of the country at large. Sure, there were detractors, but change of any kind always meets opposition. That was the beautiful thing about it... the culture of hip hop, at its core, was born from that ideological clash. The Four Elements became a way of life for a generation. And despite some... contamination of its essence, hip hop still endures. That very strength is at the heart of songs like this. Every single audible facet of its sound can permeate your being and give every person who hears & appreciates it a unique type of power.
So how does any of that tie into gaming, or even fighters for that matter? Hell, it is October, after all... where's the connection to Halloween? Well, I'm glad you asked. You see, even though this may go down in history as quite possibly my most eccentric/esoteric pairing, my choice this month is a perfect match for this classic because he himself is a classic in his own right.
The only nose that might just be as famous as Pinocchio & Cyrano de Bergerac, Mr. Karate! (Understand that I know full well it's Takuma Sakazaki beneath that infamous mask, but for the purposes of this particular article, I chose to spotlight his alter ego.) If you are a fan of SNK from any chapter in its tumultuous saga, then you know everything you need to know about this man. For those that know their history, Mr. Karate checks off the "old school" box on the list by being the canonical first end boss in Art of Fighting. Since their sprites rarely ever show signs of aging, it's next to impossible to visibly discern that the events of Art of Fighting take place in the neighborhood of about 10 years or so before those of Fatal Fury. (The more you know.)
He checks off the "technique" box by, both literally & figuratively, being the father of Kyokugenryu. Furthermore, he is a practitioner of the fighting style's most difficult discipline, Shoran. This is apparent by his use of the Shourankyaku attack. Now you might be wondering how anything regarding this guy would constitute as "scary" and that's perfectly normal. Well, there's the obvious reference to the dreaded Tengu of Japanese folklore, but there's a very... interesting flip side to that coin.
The wonderful rub of this character is that, for all intents & purposes, he somewhat classifies as comic relief by blatantly denying the fact that he is (obviously) Takuma underneath the mask. However, all that tomfoolery goes right out the window once he "gets serious". When Takuma reaches this level, things get downright terrifying. He is so ungodly strong that Maxima, a walking scouter the size of an NFL linebacker, cannot adequately measure or even gauge his power. To put this into real-life perspective, that's like owning a refrigerator which simply cannot EVER lower the temperature of a particular item because it's too hot. To further stress the sheer daunting might of this old man, the penultimate boss of KOF XIII, Saiki, actually gives him his due props despite the fact that one of these two is a soul stealing, egotistical, megalomaniac/wannabe time bandit that has a small army of preternatural warriors at his command... and the other is a septuagenarian in a culturally specific Halloween mask. Think about that.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.