With sf 4 release this summer and EVO coming up i polished a piece i did last year.
Also, i’m still not 100% sure about the Japanese translation in the middle. It’s supposed to say: “Hey, Rock, you know why they call it Devil’s Mountain?”
“Because that’s what the emporer’s wife calls him.”
Street Fighter on Mars
I woke up watching Tv wearing sunglasses. Before I wiped at the corners of my mouth, Augustine Nicosia said his famous line from Eight Months in Arizona: ?I think you just don?t give a fuck.? I put my chin to my chest and yawned big. Now that he had died a few weeks ago, they had been playing all of his early movies.
I turned around and looked out the window to see how far we had made it. The moon was out there in a sea of stars, like a pale titty surfacing the water in a dark ocean. I saw a reflection of myself in the window, half dark and in shadows like something someone could draw.
Tanaka and Yoshiro were sitting across from me. Both of them were sitting back deep in their seats with their arms folded over their chests. Yellows, reds and blues were moving around in Tanaka?s glasses like a Tetris. They were watching match vids from off a screen placed in between them. It was something I should?ve been doing, if watching match vids before a tourney didn?t make me so nervous.
I got up to use the restroom. Tanaka and Yoshiro both looked up at me. I pulled at the sleeves of my flight suit fixing it, then gave them a head nod what?s up. They both gave me one back almost in unison. Tanaka?s was small, and Yoshiro?s was very deliberate like mine.
I knocked on the door even though the occupant light wasn?t on and we were the only three to use it. I could see myself coming in through the door in the mirror. The light inside was a bad bright and it made my face look sucked-up. I took a piss and noticed that they had a poster up of Chun-Li from the old Alpha series. They also had a picture up of that Jean-Claude Van-Dam guy when he was young. I took off my sunglasses and threw some water on my face. I tugged at the shoulders of my flight suit fixing it and straightening it out.
When I walked out I caught Tanaka pointing at the screen. Yoshiro had his hand resting over his mouth and was nodding in agreeance. When Tanaka saw me coming he jerked his arm back under his other arm like the cat that got caught with the goldfish. I thought: that was teamwork right there. They were probably watching match vids of my last tourney.
The Japanese were like that; it didn?t matter who won as long as they were Japanese. The United States were different, arcades were getting violent. Learning new characters or combos at the arcades was nearly impossible unless you were ganged or clicked up. A Nobel Prize will go to the first person who can create complete lagless online play. I spent the first ten years of my career on home consoles. My teacher was Terry Bogard, a twenty year arcade veteran who had also dated my sister in high school.
When I first met him I was ten. It was my birthday and I was sitting on my bedroom floor watching afternoon cartoons. My sister and him came through the door, wearing their red and blue school uniforms, singing happy birthday to me. I could see my sister holding the present behind her back. I had to wait for them to finish. Terry was singing and moving around one of his arms like if he was the leader of a band march. They made me feel trapped, like if I had been hiding underneath the kitchen table and everyone came down to eat dinner.
While I was opening up the present my sister started cleaning my room, putting my toys away, throwing my dirty clothes in the closet hamper. Terry said, ?Nice room, Rock.?
My sister said, ?No it?s not, it?s a mess!?
Terry was sitting down, bouncing on my bed. ?Well it?s not as bad as mine.?
?Yeah, what are you? A ten year old??
I had finished stripping off the silver wrapping paper and had gotten down to the box. Terry hoped off my bed and said, ?With a fat dick.?
My sister said, ?You ass! Don?t teach my little brother shit like that!?
They had bought me Capcom?s Galactica console. It came with the game Survival of the Fittest. He started to hook it up to my TV.
My sister asked him: ?What are you doing??
?Hooking it up for him.?
?I?m not going to sit here while you play video games with my little brother.?
?Come on now.?
She nagged at him, ?No, let?s go.?
?He?s not going to be able to hook it up himself.?
?I don?t care.?
They stopped seeing each other a few weeks after that.
Fifteen years later I saw him again. I had started fucking up, playing online mmo?s. My parents had to block our satellites. I started going downtown to the tech bars, staying three or four days straight. I fucked off jobs, school, relationships with normal women. They had to rehab me for a year and a half. I was out and at the corner store buying a coke. I saw him at a deposit window getting his money ready. He was wearing shorts and a faded purple t-shirt buying two bottled beers. He eyed me oddly when I walked by, something that a cop would do.
He asked me: ?You Cammy?s little brother Rock??
?Yeah that?s me.?
?Remember me? Terry Bogard.?
I started to see the resemblance. ?Didn?t you date my sister??
?Yeah, how is she??
?Remember, I got you that Galactica for your birthday??
?Yeah, I was ten.?
?You still got it??
?Nah, I got rid of all my consoles.?
?That?s sad. It?s worth a lot now.?
?Well, you know,? I shrugged.
?What fighter do you play now??
?None. Like I said, I got no consoles, and it?s best I stayed out of arcades for awhile.?
?Yeah, I?m done with arcades too. I did very well for my run; whooped a lot of ass.?
?I heard. How come you didn?t go global??
?You know, I got a wife and kids now; can?t be flying around here and there all the time.?
?Thanks.? He deposited his money, grabbed the beers, and we walked out.
He asked me, ?So what are you doing now??
?I got that new Capcom Rush 3. I could use some competition.?
I laughed, covering my mouth with a hand. Then I told him: ?I don?t want to waste your time, you?ll crush me!?
?Come on now, I?ll teach you how to play it.?
?No way, man, you?re too good.?
?Ah, not so. I?m an old man. I?ll teach you everything I know.?
And that?s how it started.
For the next ten years he taught me everything he knew. Five times a week. Everything from Rush 3 to the last of the Capcom?s SuperHumans series. How to play using a pad. How to play as a ground fighter: sitting back on my knees like a Samurai. Cheap patterns, bait patterns, tech attacks, rush recoveries, sacrifices, revenges, combo setups, popups. And the most valuable of them all: the throw. He always had this little bit he said when he would win because of throws: ?I remember when everyone was still stuck learning combo pop ups and tech attack. I?d tell them, ?So what? I just threw you three times in a row? and won!??
After his wife left him and took the kids he started drinking a lot. A week had passed and he called me over to practice. He was already drunk when I got there. I could tell when I saw his face on the vidcom because I really didn?t see it. It was a quick ?Who?s there? Ok.? Something manic.
When I got inside he had everything setup already and had been playing against the computer. We sat down and I looked at his face. His big forehead looked like a seashell, left out dried and old in the sun. He eyes looked bewildered in a sad way, like someone had just snatched an organ from his stomach. Two or three nights later he started getting drunk enough where I would beat him ten games straight. After a couple of weeks it started to get boring. He said that I had become better than him, hiccupped and burped, then said it was time for me to go into the arcade circuit, then nationally, maybe global. He said all that staring at the Tv, sitting on his knees with the pad loose in his hands and the score 0 to 10. He stopped returning my phone calls and wouldn?t answer his door. A little while later I heard he moved to a different district.
I started entering the small arcade tourneys. Two years after my first few I placed top three at the National?s. Three weeks ago I beat all the other U.S. players for the United States representative spot on Mars. Japan had been the first to colonize the planet, and for the grand opening of their new arcade, they had been flying the best Street Fighters of the world up for a tournament.
Augustine Nicosia?s movie was on the part where they duct taped ten pound dumbbells to his hands and made him run six miles through an old city desert.
The screen blipped, then it showed a Japanese stewardess with an active volcano in the picture behind her, who told us to prepare for a landing at Devil?s Mountain. Then the message started over again and said the same thing in English. The lights dimmed, the screens collapsed and went under our seats, landing belt harnesses came out over our shoulders.
Yoshiro nudged his elbow against Tanaka, then said to me, ?Rock, nande ano yama wa Devil?s Mountain to yobareteirutte shitteru no??
?Kouteino saisho no tsuma ga kare wo sou yonda kara da yo!? He started busting up, big time. He laughed so hard nudging Tanaka that even Tanaka cracked a smile. I started laughing and went from a smirk to a smile showing my teeth.
After we landed we were shown to the press rooms where my sponsor and her team were waiting. They brushed and straightened up my suit, attached my green cape to it and got me ready to be announced on the big screen.
They had flown up the Gig Wig to do the announcing. When it was my time to come out on stage, he said, ?United Statesu kara wa! He gonna? kick! You ass! Yeah!? Then started yelling, ?Rooooooooock!?
They started chanting my name: Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! My sponsor was next to me chanting my name with her fist. She was hunched forward and had a big goofy grin on her face that made me laugh. I looked back and saw most of the press chanting my name with closed fists, or chanting my name and clapping it. Big Wig was on the microphone chanting my name and stomping one of his feet hella hard. I walked out on stage, and stepped in sync to each Rock they chanted. Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! My heels landed with each one. Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! I stuck my chest out, and had my shoulders so strong, that it felt like if I would?ve bumped into a concrete wall or piece of wood I would?ve shattered it. Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! When I got to the podium I took a B-Boy stance and mean-mugged the audience. Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! All the lights went on me. They turned on some fans and made my cape start flying back. Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! I leaned into the microphone. Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! The chant was still going but got quieter. Rock Rock Rock Rock? Rock Rock Rock Rock?
I said into the microphone: ?I will stain, my hands, with your blood!?
The crowd went nuts. They blasted out fireworks from the stage and the lights flashed like thunderstorms.