I was in Toronto this past weekend, just in time for the Street Fighter Tribute launch party being held by Udon and The Beguiling.
The party was held in a bar across the street from The Beguiling, but I wasn’t sure if books had to be purchased in the store first, so I took advantage of the confusion and headed there. I may be only the second person to buy both Street Fighter and King-Cat comics in a single purchase. At one point a man wearing a snappy grey suit and fedora burst into the store and stomped down the main aisle. I don’t know why Seth was in such a hurry, though for a brief moment I thought he was there to participate in the tournament. I should have known better. Seth is obviously an old school Street Fighter fan. None of this Street Fighter II bullshit.
The area outside the venue had a huge pile of giveaway comic compilations and posters. This was a great idea considering the attendance of a number of people who had never read the comic and were only attending the event for the competition. I hope Udon got a few extra readers out of the effort. I picked up the first collection of the Street Fighter Alpha manga, and will be sure to buy the second volume on my next visit to Toronto.
Inside, over a dozen contributors to the book stretched out along two walls of the room, with the remaining wall space taken up by video projections of various Street Fighter skirmishes. When I approached the merch table, one of the organizers thought I was there for the competition and took my name down. I hadn’t played in years.
While I was waiting for the tournament to start I bumped into a bunch of former animation colleagues, at least three of whom made it into the book and were signing. Eventually a few more familiar faces popped up, and during the tournament we took turns drunkenly cheering each other on.
My first nemesis was my doppelganger circa 1992, all long hair and gangly limbs. The only notable difference was that he brought his own controller to the tournament. This was a common sight and was the detemining factor in separating the pros from the amateurs, though it was a waste of time considering arcade-style controllers were made available to us.
Surprisingly, I won the match. My opponent’s downfall was in trying to anticipate my strategy when I didn’t actually possess one. I didn’t even know which buttons were which at first, and only used the first two I tried. Every time my opponent readied himself for a special move that I had no chance or intention of actually pulling off, I would stroll in and kick him in the face. This continued until he was knocked on his ass.
This couldn’t last, and I was defeated in my second fight by someone who had learned to temper his chaotic button-mashing with actual tactics. I only found out after this match that I had been playing on the wrong setting, choosing “Normal” over one of the other, more appetizing options, like “Hyper” and “Super Turbo”. I doubt it made a difference considering I wouldn’t have been able to pull off any of the moves available to those settings anyway, but I’m pretty happy I was able to keep it real, Wizard’s Castle-style.
I stuck around until the final match, shown above, which was easily one of the greatest fighting game battles I have ever seen. It was best 3 out of 5, and they went all the way, with each round ending with only a smidgen of life left for the victor. In one fight they each landed their attacks at the same time with no visible difference in their seemingly empty life counters. The crowd was silent as we watched the bodies fall to the mat, waiting to see who would be the first to stand and claim victory. It was glorious.
I had over an hour to kill waiting for the next bus out of town, so I wandered over to Yonge St. Walking over to Funland and throwing a few quarters into Rival Schools or Metal Slug has become a conditional reflex over the years, something beyond my control. Funland closed down a couple months ago. I guess I still haven’t gotten it out of my system.