I have wanted a tattoo for a while now. I practice yoga, and I skateboard. And yogis and skateboarders often sport tattoos. I just can’t seem to commit to a design. Inked Magazine recommends finding a tattoo that you connect with. Greatist suggests picking something that is "meaningful or beautiful, silly or fantastic."
Well, Capcom's Street Fighter 2 is a little of all those things to me. Yes, it's a little silly, but it's also fantastic. And the game is meaningful to me. As for the beauty, have you seen ChunLi?
So what makes Street Fighter 2 so special?
A. For one thing, I put serious time into the game.
There was no Konami code for it. If I wanted to win, I had to train. And that's what I did for countless hours. I drilled combos and counterattacks against the computer, against my friends, against opponents--sometimes switching off second rounds.
- The difference between switch hand and pump dragon punches
- How to block jumping attacks with moves like E. Honda's fierce punch
- How to use glitches like Guile's handcuffs (in the non-championship version only)
- How to start combos with neck kicks
B. I miss how life was when SF2 was released.
It was still the golden age of coin-op arcades. Every mall had one, and every arcade had an SF2 machine that was being played by someone like me. Competitors stood side-by-side. The person who wanted to play the next match placed their quarter on the bezel of the machine--a gesture sadly unfamiliar to the younger generation of gamers. And the winner stayed in.
Championship Edition--the version I love the most--came out in March 1992. This was a year after the release of the SNES and three years after the Genesis. Back then, no one seemed to care that the game was a little racist. As NPR pointed out, ethnic stereotypes were common in video games from the 80’s and 90’s.
I was much younger then too. I couldn’t even drive yet. My life mostly revolved around hanging out with my friends, winning my matches, and protecting my two quarters—that’s what it cost to play. And I could stay on the machine for hours with just 50 cents if I played well. At no other time in my life have I so fiercely guarded two coins.
It would be 15 years before I would create my first machinima theater piece for the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It would be 15 years before I would have to worry about scheduling rehearsals, creating performances, and writing blog posts like this one. Coincidentally, it also would be 15 years before the iPhone would be released, changing the gaming landscape forever. And I miss how simple my life was back in those days.
Times sure have changed. People rarely play video games together standing side-by-side or even sitting in the same room. Online gaming has become the standard, with Xbox Live recently reaching 55 million monthly users. Local online multiplayer games are dying out, and the Wii U already is dead. And, much to my disappointment, even Halo got rid of its split-screen mode.
As for arcades, they’ve been pushed into the dark corners of suburban bowling alleys—at least, that’s where the last one I visited was. The Verge wrote a eulogy detailing the decline and death of the American arcade. All this makes me more than a little sad.
I have played some great games in the 25 years since SF2 came out. Among them, SF2 holds a special place in my heart, a place earned through sweat and tears paid in 50-cent increments.
A quick internet search shows that I'm not alone in my love for the game, and there are lots of SF2 tattoos out there already. Here’s one from Kotaku.
Now only one question remains. Which character should I get?