Fruit Uppercut

Mountain Dew recently released a new line of drinks branded Game Fuel. Clearly and unabashedly aimed at gamers, these new beverages will help rockets fly faster, guns reload more quickly, and frag grenades do more damage to opponents.

12 pack container of Mountain Dew Game Fuel drink. [Formatted]

PepsiCo icon-external-link-12x12 , the drink’s creators, designed the cans to have a re-sealable lid and a no-slip grip to prevent spills on expensive gaming hardware—this is important because nobody likes shorting-out an $800 graphics card with a $3 can of soda.

Game Fuel features a special combination of caffeine and theanine to reduce the unique kind of fatigue that is caused by zero-movement marathon gaming sessions. Intake of large amounts of theanine also increases the frequency of rare item drops.

Current flavors include Charged Cherry Burst, Charged Berry Blast, Charged Tropical Strike, and Charged Original DEW. Additional flavors are currently in development and available for preorder: Napalm Nectarine, Headshot Watermelon, Pomegranate Plasma Grenade, and Nuclear Winter Chill.

Street Fighter II Software Versioning

There were some missteps back in the day when Capcom was enhancing and refining the original Street Fighter II. For those who are not in the know, this game instantly established itself as the greatest thing, like… ever. After the original—let’s call it SFIIv1.0—the first revision, Champion Edition, offered some minor graphical and gameplay improvements, plus four more playable characters; let’s call this SFIIv1.1. Turbo/Hyper Fighting came after that, with new character moves, programming tweaks and sped-up gameplay; let’s call this SFIIv1.2. Super Street Fighter II followed, and four awesome new characters were introduced, but there were some astonishing changes that were made along the way, like a host of swapped graphics and sounds. This was a much more substantial update, so let’s call it SFIIv2.0. Most of these changes were equal to or better than what was replaced, but a few—like the radical modification of certain characters’ voices—were absolutely, completely and unquestionably totally fucked… but I digress. Super Street Fighter II Turbo arrived last and maintained the same general format as its immediate predecessor, but made many important gameplay enhancements, and introduced a new secret playable character; let’s call it SFIIv2.1.

There were a lot gamers out there that were rightfully expecting a new version of Street Fighter II to land in 1995; let’s call it SFIIv2.2. Alas, it never came to be, but this version would have had additional gameplay balances, more new standard moves for characters, differentiation between throws and impact-grabs, secondary walking animations for the boss characters, and (more subtly) music change/speed-up only occurring when the loser of a previous round is approaching defeat in the current round.

The bad updates in the v2.x releases were taken with the good, but not without a readily identifiable pang. As such, there could easily have been a SFIIv3.0 in 1996 with further gameplay balances, one or two more characters, improved opponent AI for the single-player experience, an operator toggle switch for bonus stages in the setup menu, unique interactions in home stages for each character (à la Vega’s climbing of the fence in Spain), removal of chip-damage victories, and MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OTHER CHANGE THAT COULD EVER BE MADE TO THE GAME: removal of the estrogenized voices for Guile and the announcer. Ideally, the excellent voices that were used for these characters in the v1.x releases would be restored, or convincingly mimicked.

And for what it’s worth, any Street Fighter II aficionado who knows his ass from a hole in the ground will agree with every point made above, without hesitation.

Interestingly, instead of SFIIv2.2 and a string of SFIIv3.x releases, we got Street Fighter Alpha, which sounds sort of like some preliminary version of a new type of Street Fighter software. Then we got Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: Double Impact, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike, but never any further revisions of Street Fighter II. WTF Capcom?

I guess Ultra Street Fighter II on the Nintendo Switch—which was released well more than 20 years after Super Street Fighter II Turbo—is a vindication of sorts. At first, it seems like the long lost SFIIv2.2 that should have existed in 1995. Sadly, the game is more an oddity than anything else: two so-called “new” characters have been added, but both are actually clones of existing characters and have only superficial changes to their movesets. This unearthed relic is really just an ultra-low-effort release, and not the unthawing of hibernated super-potential. Let’s call it SFIIv2.11, or maybe SFIIv2.105.

The most significant improvement in Ultra Street Fighter II is that the original Japanese art is finally being used in the U.S. instead of the long-standing American art-style (see the Super Street Fighter II arcade marquee above for an example of the latter). The American art was special in its own way, but so much less at the same time. Some people say it’s terrible—I can’t really agree or disagree with that sentiment.

One of these days I’m going to talk to Capcom about making SFIIv2.2 a reality. With the right finesse, this would be a very profitable endeavor. Hopefully it will produce a healthy foundation for future revisions, and eventually a SFIIv3.0 release.

Definition of the Word “Sport”

Golf is a very peculiar sport. A person hits a ball across wide expanses of land to try to put it into a tiny little hole that is far, far away. In between, there is water, short grass, tall grass, and sand traps in random configurations to make this task more varied. This is done 18 times over many hours and, at the end, the person with the lowest score wins.

It is a game that can be played by only one person, unlike most other sports where two or more people are required. Strangest of all, there is no running in golf. This seems contradictory—how can a sport not have any running in it? That’s like a sandwich without bread, a dog that doesn’t bark, or an ice cream parlor that doesn’t have ice cream cones.

Golf is most certainly a game, but is it a sport? I would say it has more in common with video games than it does with baseball, soccer, football, or hockey. With video games there are eSports icon-external-link-12x12, but are video games really sports? I think if golf is a sport then so are video games; and by that same measure, if video games are not a sport then neither is golf.

Cover art to the video game "Beavis and Butt-head Bunghole in One". [Formatted]

Regardless, there are a number of things about golf that are really lame. Firstly, no running, as mentioned above—this makes it very attractive to people who only do things that don’t require any physical activity. Secondly, the average 18 hole golf course requires somewhere around 150 acres of land—this is enough space to build about 50 [!] baseball fields (~3 acre requirement), or build 750 homes (~5 homes per acre). And what is the upkeep like for so much land? I can only imagine the irrigation and gardening bills to maintain 150 acres… and some of these fancier golf courses are pristine. Thirdly, golf is strongly associated with higher living. This means that it attracts a lot of rich assholes, and wannabe rich assholes. Apparently, the more money you have, the more free time you have to spend at the golf course and so the better your game gets. This makes sense—what else would you do with your free time other than devise clever and subtle ways to flaunt your success in front of others? “Hey Charlie, I scored another birdie on the third hole. That’s the second time this week!” “Hey, that’s great, Ralph. (Way to go, you fucking piece of shit..!)”

There are aspects of golf that I definitely appreciate, such as the extreme physical control that is necessary to land a ball on the green from 250 yards out, and to sink a putt from 8 yards across uneven ground. The mental aspect of the game is very high, and it is perhaps the only “sport” that bests baseball in this area. Still, I think the world would be better off if there were more baseball fields and less golf courses. From an economic and health-conscious point of view, it makes too much sense: more people would be serviced by the land, there would be less cost in maintaining the grounds, and people’s sports interests would shift more toward playing baseball which is actually physically demanding and thus promotes exercise and a good diet.

I have played a little golf in the past, and probably will again in the future, but it will most likely be with my baseball buddies. Truth be told, there is a good chance we will be drinking a little beer and making inappropriate remarks at other golfers, particularly the ones who have been spending too much time on the putting green. In other words, we will be drawing attention to the bad behavior that already exists around us and doing so for our own personal delight.

Happiness is a Super-Turbo

SKL Arcades & Amusements icon-external-link-12x12 came out today to give my broken down Super-Turbo icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 arcade machine a sorely needed tune-up.

I have wanted an arcade version of Street Fighter II since I was a kid, and have probably checked Craig’s List and eBay listings off and on for more than ten years. I finally broke down and bought one last September from a kind but conflicted gentleman in Sacramento; his girlfriend was making him get rid of it. She had clearly put her foot down in the most convincing of ways—in that special way only a woman is capable of—and he was going to give it to me for an even $1000.

We had a very pleasant visit, but there was a recurring expression of pain in his face as we were talking, and I noticed that he became increasingly unnerved as we approached the transaction-phase of our meeting. This pain was in no ways contrived, and since I am not without empathy, I gave him $1200: an extra $200. This was still a good deal for me, and it took a little bit of the edge off the evening.

I am going to digress for a moment so I can also share that this gentleman had Stephen King novels strewn about the living room, and collectible comic books adorning the walls. This lead me to ask if he was a Stephen King fan and he responded, “I am now.” Understanding his meaning, I then asked a rhetorical question: “Is part of the deal that she also read some of your comic books?” He paused for a moment, his eyes temporarily transforming into windows that revealed the compounded depths of a man’s soul when it reaches this particular crossroad in life and must fumble a decision—no response was given.

At least it was Stephen King and not William Faulkner. He will be okay, and there is a good chance that some of the comic books will survive.

The colors in the cabinet’s CRT monitor were a little bit off, and the screen jiggled from time to time, but it was in excellent shape overall. I also received an additional board for Super Street Fighter II icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12, the previous iteration of the game. About three months ago, the power supply burned out which rendered it unplayable, but a new $40 replacement part installed by a pair of skillful hands from SKL got the game running again in no time. Most of the display issues were also fixed through fairly simple adjustments and recalibrations. The screen-jiggle persists, however, as the monitor PCB will need new capacitors for this to be corrected. This is a relatively minor visual problem and a decent amount of time will be necessary to perform the repair, so it will be a job for another day.

We live in an era of ultra-HD displays, but a healthy and color-rich CRT monitor can still work wonderfully for gaming. I also found out that the cabinet was produced by Data East icon-external-link-12x12 circa 1991 and it likely housed Captain America and the Avengers icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 when it was produced.

The original battery was still in the game board, meaning that it was pushing 24 years in age! This is pretty amazing when considering that these things are supposed to be replaced every five or so years. When the battery fizzles out, the game board fizzles out with it—forever. This bizarre phenomenon is infamous in arcade gaming circles and came to be known as the dreadful suicide battery icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12.

Given the cabinet’s heritage, and the fact that it uses the CPS-2 icon-external-link-12x12 game boards, it might be appropriate for me to pick up a copy of Marvel vs Capcom icon-external-link-12x12 icon-search-12x12 at some point in the future. CPS-2 uses what are essentially giant cartridges and this allowed a Capcom arcade system to be transformed from one game into another without much difficulty. Other CPS-2 titles include Super Street Fighter II (mentioned above), X-Men: Children of the Atom, Dungeons & Dragons, X-Men vs Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, and the entire Street Fighter Alpha series.

This arcade machine has been and continues to be an instrument of joy—in its previous form (“Avengers assemble!”), in its present form (“Hadoken!), and in any additional forms in-between that have been lost to time.