Play on when you’re losing the game / Play on, ’cause you’re gonna make mistakes / It’s always worth the sacrifice even when you think you’re wrong / So play on, play on – ‘Play On,’ Carrie Underwood
Shortly after my post on the awesome music of Battle Arena Toshinden, I rediscovered my love for the music and everything about the entire franchise of Street Fighter. I splurged on this awesome Street Fighter 25th Anniverary Collector’s Set and haven’t done much with my free time but watch the Blu-Ray (Cheesy Saturday morning cartoon series first, because who can resist seeing M. Bison’s enthusiastic “YES! YES!” on the small screen?), listen to the soundtrack (And download other tracks not included. Also, not really part of my free time since I listen to it at work.), and play Alpha 2 and Alpha 3 (My favorites in the series) on the PS3. Like Toshinden, Street Fighter was a big part of my childhood, but unlike Toshinden, I’m full-blown obsessed with Street Fighter again.
A lot of us are taught at a young age that video games are just a waste of time, but it’s funny that now that I’m older, I see how much they teach me about my reality and my dreams. This past weekend, I dabbled into Arcade Mode of Super Street Fighter IV after not really caring that we had the game in our house since its release. I’m not going to get into details, but I had hit a big snag in my never-ending job hunt, which in turn brought a lot of enduring terrible feelings. I turned to the PS3 controller to unbury myself in sorrow and escape into a realm of mindless entertainment.
One of the main reasons why I love Alpha 2 and Alpha 3 in the Street Fighter series is because Sakura is in it. I’ve just always loved her sassy schoolgirl charm, and of course, her fighting style is similar to Ryu and Ken‘s, two of my other favorite characters to play as. Naturally, I selected her as my character going into the Super Street Fighter IV battle.
It’s not obvious, but like films, songs, TV shows, and theater productions, video games can tell compelling stories. In Street Fighter and many other games in the fighting genre, every character has their own motivation for entering an arena, and for fighting that one person at the final or near-final stage. For Sakura, it’s her idol Ryu. In Super Street Fighter IV, she seeks to fight him to show how strong she has gotten since their last meeting. Part of Super Street Fighter IV‘s appeal to me is how cinematic it is, and the dialogue is actually in English (Which can be toggled with the original Japanese voices) so us folks who only know English can actually understand the conversations the two have during their fight. The Sakura/Ryu dynamic is so fascinating. She’s a very eager student and he’s a true and dignified warrior who always wants to get better, and he encourages her to keep at it too.
It’s sweet. However, from an occasional beginner-level gamer standpoint (I should mention this is played at “Easy” level, but there is also “Easiest” and “Very Easy,” so I’m two steps ahead), that is one tough mothertrucker to beat. Beating the game all the way in other Street Fighter games was simple, but Super Street Fighter IV is more of a bitch than I imagined. I learned this as I spent about two 30-45 minute sessions Sunday and Monday to beat Ryu at the rival stage. The closest I got was a double K.O. A DOUBLE K.O. Only that would ever happen to me.
Then I had an epiphany: Ryu is a giant turd. I don’t really mean that because he’s still one of my favorite characters, but the dude is only there for me to beat him, yet I’m getting beaten by him. Watching Sakura getting knocked around and knocked down was like watching myself over the weekend and watching myself as my heart broke with every job rejection I’ve received over the past two years. But I had to keep hitting ‘Start’ on the ‘Continue?’ screen. I had already gotten so far, especially with the tribulations that were Zangief, Hakan, and Blanka (Why I had trouble with those three in particular, I don’t know) Why not just beat this last guy?
But I never did beat him, because realistically, I was going to turn off the console and get on my computer to write this blog entry (And eat, sleep, wash dishes, take a tinkle, etc). Near the end of Monday’s gameplay, I seriously contemplated if I should switch the difficulty level two tiers down just to get through Ryu. But morally, I couldn’t, and I won’t. Even “Easy” is hard, and getting to an endpoint is never easy.
It’s all just like my road to get to where I want to be: Winning a match is like getting the invitation for a job interview. The fight itself is that interview and application process, trying to stand out, impress, defeat doubts, and emerge victorious. Losing is the rejection. Sometimes you’ll be frustrated by and tired of it. You’ll shut down and not fight anymore, but then you’ll switch back on, fight through and win more matches, lose other ones, keep losing the big fight, and hit ‘Start’ on ‘Continue?’ anyway.
My spirit took a beating this weekend in my real-life journey. I’m so blessed to have such a positive support network to encourage me to keep fighting. But it took me handling a PS3 controller on an animated character to fight computerized opponents and struggle against them to make me realize that.
One day soon, I’ll knock down that last brick wall in my path—just like one day soon, my Sakura will beat Ryu.