Friday, July 16, 2010

Handsome Fighters Never Lose Battles

Like rewatching a movie from your childhood or rereading a book the younger you once enjoyed, looking back on old video games poses considerable danger to fond memories. In about two seconds, your adult eyes can recognize that this once-radical thing actually sucks and is totally for lame losers. However, sometimes the loved thing actually holds up, and when the older, (presumably) smarter and (likely) more jaded you re-encounters it you realize that you were not, in fact, a lame loser for liking it.

Today, I was happy to find an in-game, on-screen pixelated masterpiece from Street Fighter II — a thing that I once loved in a way that can only be measured in quarters and sore thumbs. The image depicts the game’s four bosses, who, based on the fire burning beneath them, are maybe also arsonists in addition to being martial artists. (Martial arsonists? Who torched the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang?) Looking at the image now, I feel exactly what I’m supposed to and what I felt when encountering these big bads back in the day: “Those guys look so cool… and they’re going to beat the living snot out of me.”

street_fighter_II_bosses

Superficially, it’s nothing spectacular, but it works for me, aesthetically and emotionally. If these guys were in a band and this image was the album cover, I think I might want to buy that album, even though the music that this image would be associated with would probably be terrible and screechy. In any case, I felt reassured that so many sunny afternoons had been spent inside, getting challenger after new challenger knocked to the ground, unconscious. These four guys were a challenge.

And then, unforch, I found another image that maybe didn’t hold up so well and made me reconsider the fears I have that video games were and are lame and that I truly did waste my childhood.

street_fighter_II_gorbachev

Yeah, the Russian fighter’s ending — achieved once he defeats the vaguely Nazi-looking military man shown above — has him Russian dancing with Mikhail Gorbachev, even after Gorby had no U.S.S.R to be president of. Hokey-ski. Embarrassing-grad. On one hand, I feel like this says more about what Japanese people think Russians are like. On the other, it makes me realize that perhaps not every aspect of Street Fighter II stands the test of time.

(Both images via Game & Graphics.)

Street Fighter, previously:
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