Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Episode 8: A Certain GODSGARDEN Event

     I'm sure you guys know by now the people behind GODSGARDEN6 will be hosting MBAACC as it's featured game. I'm sure you also know from SRK or MBread that Donjon Network's own Silent Shinobi will be restreaming the event along with hosting a little hotel party / tournament for the occasion. What you may or may not know, depending on if you follow me on twitter or not is that I'm in the process of going to Japan specifically for this event. Now I know what you're thinking..."Brandino I thought you said you was done with MB when you played Skullgirls?" and you know what you'd be 100% right if they never announced this event. I was more or less ready to move onto another game unless a big MB event was announced, in the US or otherwise and it just so happens that GODSGARDEN6 is that event. I really didn't have interest in going to GG6 until Shinobi and I were talking about potentially restreaming the event. I just figured if I have opportunity to fly to Alabama and help him restream what is exactly stopping me from going to Japan? So after talking to my older cousin who lives there and agreed to house me during my time there I made a much bigger effort to try and go.

     This particular tournament is sort of weird for me because not only is it my first time playing in Japan, but I really don't have a way to effectively train for me. Generally in US events I have a very good idea on what to expect from my competition from consistently playing them throughout the years, but this time I'm not only going to be in a new environment, but I'm also going to be playing against players I've never played before and who are most likely better than me. I'm not really accepting the advice of just cracking out in training mode because I'm at the point now where training mode isn't really helping my weaker areas outside of keeping my execution up to par. I don't have access to strong, dedicated MB players within respectable distances so I can't even grind match-ups properly.Now you may be wondering why don't I just watch match videos of my competition and to be honest I really don't like watching matches that don't have my character because I don't feel like I'm learning anything from it. The neutral game is play out differently from character to character so what benefit would I get watching a Warc vs. Satsuki matchup? Now this also serves another problem that no one really plays F-Ciel, much less the way I play her so watching match videos, while an option, isn't really a strong one for me. So with that said...how am I going to train up for this event? The answer is simple: not to psyche myself out and just enjoy the experience. I've always had that problem a month or so before a major where I get very, VERY anxious and to be honest I'm still a bit anxious, but it's less about how well I'm going to do and more so just me preparing for the event. I'm essentially in the worst conditions to be training for a major for this game, especially one of this caliber. The best solution I've come up for it is just to treat this tournament as a once in a lifetime experience. Naturally I'm going to aim to do my best, but given the competition I'd be happy to not go 0-2 at this point. I'm just going to play as much as possible when I get there and just not get star-struck when I find myself playing a well known JP player. Not that I've had problem with this playing Garu in the past, but going up against the likes of GO1, Leo, Hare (insert any top JP player here) would be daunting for anyone, but at the end of the day they're players just like anyone else and they'll be prone to make mistakes so I'll just go in and give it my best. Yeah it sort of sucks that I don't have an elaborate training regime for this event, but when the preparation is more mental than actually training what can you expect?

     Now does this mean I'm done with Skullgirls? No. Does this mean I'm putting Skullgirls on the backburner? Yes I am.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Episode 7: A Certain Skullgirls Impression

Doing a better job in maintaining the blog, aren't I? Well I figured since with the semester being over next week I figured I'd have more free time to keep the blog up to at least an semi-weekly basis. Now with that out of the way let me go over my impressions on Skullgirs in greater detail since last post was to focus primarily on what happened in the past 2 1/2 years.

     Well as you know, Skullgirls has been out for almost a month now and I know a bit more about the game now than what I knew in my last blog post. Like I said in my last post I really didn't have any intentions on taking this game seriously, much less playing the game at all. The first time I played the game was at Frosty Faustings 4 and to be honest I wasn't really attentive when I played the game there. I sort of just mashed in order to kill the time while waiting for my MB matches to come up. None of the characters released at the time interested me and I really didn't follow any of the games mechanics so naturally I got scraped pretty badly. I always thought the game could've been fun, but I never took VS games with any amounts of seriousness and knowing that Skullgirls was just that I just let it passed me by at the time. I really didn't bother to do any sort of research for the game until the day the game came out when I decided to give the game a fair chance. I looked at the characters released, looking to see who I liked to play and at the time I really took a liking to Filia and Valentine since they were described as mixup / rushdown oriented characters. From there I decided to look into the mechanics of the game and the one thing that interested me the most was that you could actually decide and play a one man team. Now in case you didn't know, I'm not exactly one to learn multiple characters. I usually pick one and stick with her. Melty Blood? Ciel. Third Strike? Ibuki. Arcana Heart 3? Weiss. You get the idea. I figured with me going into a game that's completely out of my field I should at least try to run a two man team so I decided to run Filia / Valentine. Well that sort of changed a couple of days after playing the game and noticing that my Filia was leveling up while my Valentine stayed a meat shield. It also didn't help that most I played online and offline couldn't get past my Filia so it was then that I decided to run Filia solo and yes people told me that was a bad idea, but me being stubborn I decided to let it rock and it wasn't until Power Up 2012 that I found out that running her as a solo character was a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE IDEA.

      Let me give you a quick rundown with Filia. She's a rushdown character with amazing mixup in the corner and strong 50/50's midscreen. The bad? Well...everything else actually. Her ground normals are terribly unsafe with the exception of her jabs, lights, and standing MP. On top of unsafe normals, she can't safely cancel her normals into her specials since they're either terrible on block or have punishable startup. she gets around this by having an assist of sorts to extend her ground pressure or to make her advances safe. Her normals aren't very good in neutral either since she has such short limbs on most of her normals and they're not active for a very long time, with the exception being J.HP being her best means to approach in most neutral situations. Now because of both her air and ground normals being very sub-par this limits her approach to air dashing and hitting j.HP and despite it being one of her best normals, it can still lose to much better normals and simply out spaced by jumping back and tagging her. Again this can mostly be covered up by having an assist of some kind. Another issue I'm seeing with her is that her good hit confirmable normals (j.MP and cr.MK) prorates her damage to hell which sucks because you use those two normals a lot as part of her combos and it really hurts her damage potential midscreen. Her damage in the corner however is very strong and it leads to reset city so if you're a fellow Filia player be sure to take advantage of that. Overall I think she's a pretty strong mixup / rushdown character ONLY if she has an assist to cover for her glaring weaknesses. Otherwise I feel that you really gimp yourself by running her solo and playing an ineffective rushdown character with absolutely nothing safe.

     Since I talked about Power Up in my last post I'm not going to go into detail about it other than the fact I ran into a lot of Parasoul players running her 2nd. It was then that I decided I had to have an assist backing Filia's advances on top of making her safe during pressure so I figured I may as well try Parasoul. Let me get this out of the way now...I hate this character in every conceivable way imaginable. I hate her playstyle. I hate her design. I hate her combos. The only reason I'm using her is because she's an amazing assist that Filia can really benefit from. Yes you can make an argument about Cerecopter and Hornet Bomber, but I can't play grapplers and I can't get the grasp of Double's entire design at all so I figured I'd go with the lesser of 3 evils and play a zoning'esque type of character. I've never played a zoning character with any amount of seriousness before so when I'm at neutral with her my mind sort of goes derp. My thought process in playing fighting games is to go the fuck in and beat my opponent before I have to deal with any of their BS. It's how I went about playing MB and for the most part it worked out for me and the characters I play. With Parasoul however she's not really meant to go in like that, but play neutral and let the opponent mess up. I'm not one to let my opponent mess themselves up and if I still can't get in the process of just chilling back and chucking projectiles since I really don't use projectiles in that manner with F-Ciel and Ibuki's projectiles are meant to start her rushdown. At this point I'm still using her, but to be honest she's nothing more than a meat shield who I use in the same manor MvC2 players use CapCom or Psylocke AA assist.

     Now I know I've gone on about my characters and how I feel about them so now I'll go on about how I feel about the game and where do I see myself going with Skullgirls. Despite some of the popular issues I see in the game (mainly Peacock and Double assist) I love the game. I didn't expect to like this game anywhere near the amount I like it now. I was sort of going to play Skullgirls with the intent of just playing the game on the side, but after playing the game as long as I have I can safely see myself making this as main game. Despite not having a strong local scene for the game, the netcode for the game is simply the best I've played in ANY fighter and the players I play online and offline whenever I can make a trip to Columbus makes it worth sticking with it. If I didn't like Skullgirls as much as I did I'd honestly say I would be done with FGs on a competitive level since there's not really any other fighter getting released in the near future that I'm crazy for, except MAYBE Persona 4: Arena. With all that said...thank you for reading the blog post and good night!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Episode 6: A Certain Two and a Half Year Reboot

     Ok now I know what you're thinking. What made you decide to come back to your neglected blog? Well, to be honest I sort just remembered I had a blog. I'm still playing fighting games, but I've sort of picked up a new game in place of Melty Blood, which I'll go into greater detail later on this post. I will however give you a quick rundown of what's been going on with me and fighting games between EVO 2010 and now.

     Well EVO 2010 came and went. I ended up getting 5th place losing to Lord Knight and H-F Blade in the losers bracket. At the time I was sort of torn about my placement because in the back of my mind I sort of felt as if I didn't deserve it. Mainly because my bracket was considered the "kiddy pool" due to not having any strong MB players. Personally the only players I felt who had any chance of sending me to losers was Numakie with his abare / random style of play and Nas due to lack of match-up EXP against F-Ryougi. Even when I played those two I pretty much won my matches pretty convincingly. I felt that the "real EVO experience" was going to be the following day when I had to play Lord Knight on stage. Maybe it was because of my inexperience on a "big stage" but I felt really cold and nervous which is pretty out of character for me. I was told that I have strong tournament nerves and even I will say that I hardly ever get star struck or nervous when I'm actually playing someone in a set. When I played my final match of the tournament against H-F Blade I calmed down a bit, but was still playing scared and as such missed huge punishment opportunities which ultimately costed me the set. Overall however I felt as if I played really well against the people I played throughout the weekend. Fast Forward to December 2010 and NEC XI is on the horizon. Now at this point I was sort of slowing down on MB mainly due to major competition in North Carolina (where I was living at the time due to military) more or less collectively dropped the game so I had no real competition and as such I really sort of went into NEC with a "whatever" attitude. At this point my play style has changed a bit being more conservative on meter usage and used more of F-Ciel's frametraps over trying to break the opponents guard. At this tournament I ended up finishing 4th losing to Tonberry, who used C-Kohaku at the time and Lord Knight. This tournament was weird in the sense that I where I usually do really good the day before singles I possibly had the worst showing during the team tournament. I lost just about every game with Pfhor, who was my 2v2 partner, carrying me throughout the entire team tournament. I felt really off losing to people I know I could possibly beat on any given day, but in a FT1 just about anything can happen so I don't find it too odd now. Now I don't know what happen, but during singles however I just got into gear and played MUCH better. I felt that I was on point with most of my play minus a few setbacks during a couple of my matches. I more or less got lamed out by Tonberry in my winners match and Lord Knight (notice a trend? D:) just STEAM ROLLED me in losers. I remember one point in particular where I went to bait a DP and clearly I wasn't high enough because I ended getting pulled INTO the DP and got hit. It was at that point I just laughed and just not gave a fuck for the rest of the set. Anyways that's my wrap up for 2010 and I'll briefly go over my 2011 year as that year was probably my least eventful year as far as FGs goes.

     As I said earlier, 2011 was probably my least eventful year and here's why. For one reason or another I could not attend any of the majors I aimed to attend to: Final Round XIV, CEO 2011 and NEC XII all of which I had to miss due to circumstances outside of my control. Aside from that the only real eventful thing I did this year was pick up Arcana Heart 3 for the PS3 and that didn't last too long. The main problem with the game was that Microsoft didn't bother to put it on it's marketplace so no US360 players had no means of playing the game unless they decided to import the game AND system. Now let's be realistic...no one expects people to do that for a game only 3-4 people in their states will play. The game did have a good following at EVO that year, but aside from that the game wasn't really getting numbers to warrant making it a main game for me. I really didn't play much FGs competitively this year and just played MB "casually" until they announced Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code for the PC. At first everyone was pretty hype for not only for a new MB, but also on a platform that was accessible by most people complaining on the forums...a PC. Now this also posed another problem; the only you was able to obtain a legal copy of the game was buying a LE BRDVD copy of an anime called Carnival Phantasm. The 3rd season of the anime, which also had the copy of MBAACC wasn't available until New Years so this gave us, the MB community, a lot of time to figure out exactly what we was going to do to make out game hype again at majors so myself, Silent Shinobi, Komidol, Kamina, Zar and a few others decided to hype up the first big major where MBAACC was going to be an official game...Final Round XV. We pulled out all of the stops for this: hype promos, interviews with Shin Blanka (the main TO for Final Round), promoting our events to the JPMB community (even getting ECOLE to take notice!) and garnishing an international presence from players such as Canada, South America and Japan. Garu and Chelsea were the two JP players that was confirmed for the event. All this happened happened before the game even came out and a month before the event.

     2012 is here and I'm already starting off in a much better situation than 2011. I was able to make it to Frosty Faustings this past January to run the MBAACC side tournament alongside play an early build of Skullgirls. Now I will say that at this time I had no motivation to play Skullgirls seriously. I really was never too keen on the VS games and it didn't help that I didn't like much of the characters designs so I played the game without any thought put into what I was doing. Melty Blood ended up being pretty small with only 12 players from Chicago and Wisconsin. I ended up taking 1st place. It wasn't until a couple of weeks before Winter Brawl that I decided to drive out to Philly with DaFunkDoc. This event ended up pretty fun despite not having a hotel room to crash in for the weekend....we ended up staying in some random MK players room on Friday and I ended staying at one of the locals place for Saturday. Now at this point my playstyle has completely changed and most people was able to notice and I was able to notice that everyone was leveled up exponentially since I last played them back in the MBAA PS2 days. I ended up placing 5th losing to Tonberry, who's playing C-Maids, and Lord Knight in losers. I felt a bit contempt that I was able to still hang with the majority of the competition, but I still wasn't too happy of still losing to Kohaku...but then again who is at this point!?

     Now we're here at what's the 2nd biggest MB event since EVO 2010, Final Round XV. We ended up pulling a total of 73 players which was more than what I was expecting considering people was talking about not showing up and such. I was really happy to see people I haven't seen in almost two years such as Silent Shinobi, Bellreisa, H-F Blade,  Pfhor, Jaxx, Kid Viper, Kensou, Divine Arc and Voomer who I haven't seen since NEC IX. It was also a blast meeting up with Garu and Chelsea again which I will admit was awesome despite being a scrub in the JP language. Overall the event was pretty awesome with me playing the "Game of Death", watching Kusoru body America in UMVC3 and "Kusoru Gear" as Chelsea puts it :D . I didn't end up making top 8 this major, which is the first time I've never done so since playing MB on a competitive level. I wasn't too upset about it because the level of competition was really stacked this year and it was really cool to hear people tell me how much I've improved despite not feeling so myself. This major was more godlike just hanging out with the community watching random YT videos, getting drunk and playing Melty Blood...which is what the MB community is all about at the end of the day.

     Now throughout this blog you're probably wondering what's up with this Skullgirls picture, I thought Brandino had no intentions on playing this game!? Well that was true until the day before the game came out and I decided to do my research on it. I found the game to be a bit interesting at that point and figured I had the funds on my PS3 already I thought "what the hell. why not give it a shot?" Well I didn't expect to like it as much as I did and it also helped that I found a character I REALLY liked and her name is Filia. She's a pure rushdown character with amazing mixup opportunity and DEADLY mixups in the corner. Her major problem however is that she's also very unsafe without an assist backing her up. She can't safely chain her normals or cancel her normals into specials without getting punished and her air to air game is very weak unless you push J.HP which is undeniably her best air normal for her air approach. I liked the game so much I decided to go to Power Up 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio solely for the game. I ended up solo Filia since I didn't really have enough time to learn another character and I didn't know what I know about Filia at the time. Well, needless to say I ended up making top 8 losing to OMGItzAndre and JetM who ended up taking the tournament. Needless to say I didn't play in the MB side tournament due to wanting to focus on Skullgirls, but I did play casuals with the players after the event was over. Overall, Power Up was a great event with lots a space and the tournament was ran great in my experience so I'll gladly go back next year

     Well that's a quick rundown of the past 2 1/2 years for me. Right now I'm not really playing MB as much anymore and I'm currently on that skullgirls crack with an Filia / Parasoul team. I'll go over in greater detail as to why I'm not really focusing on MB in my next post. I just wanted to give people a rundown on what's been going with me in the past 2 1/2 years. I've also left the military and I'm a full-time college student now living my hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Till next time!