ScrewAttack vs FUNimation USFIV Battle

This Thursday, October 23rd at 8pmPST/10pmCST, ScrewAttack will be going up against FUNimation in a 4 vs. 4 battle royale in USFIV. For those interested on seeing which of the two companies has the best players, you can check out it on either the Screwattack or FUNimation channels.

Capcom Cup 2014 - Location & Details Revealed

On Saturday, December 13th, sixteen of the world's best Street Fighter players will battle it out for over $50,000 and the title of Ultra Street Fighter IV World Champion. 

As the culmination of the first season of The Capcom Pro Tour, both Capcom and Twitch are pulling out all the stops to ensure that our grand finals, The Capcom Cup, will be a spectacular experience for all types of Street Fighter fans. 

The battle will be going down in the heart of downtown San Francisco, at the historic Warfield Theater .  This 2300 seat concert venue has a fantastic stage, balcony seating, and will feature commentary feeds for the crowd so you can follow along with the action live.  We are also proud to welcome The Megas, who will be rocking your face off with some killer Street Fighter songs throughout the show. 

There will be a ton of fun Street Fighter related activities on hand, including some awesome booths from our Sponsors, cosplayers, as well as signing sessions and announcements from legendary producer, Yoshinori Ono. 

For the ultimate Capcom Cup experience, we are launching a new VIP program, limited to 300 tickets.  Our VIPs will receive a premium seat on the ground floor, as well as a SWAG bag featuring the official Capcom Cup t-shirt, program book, and more. 

Best of all, the VIP ticket will get you exclusive entry into the official afterparty, going down at the Folsom Street Foundry .  There will be tons of games, an open bar serving Street Fighter inspired drinks, as well as other fun Street Fighter related activities. Come party with Capcom, Twitch, the top players, and other VIPs as we celebrate the conclusion of the first year of the Capcom Pro Tour. Tickets will go on sale shortly via EventBrite for $75.00. Check back soon for the link!

Save the date and spread the word, this is one Street Fighter event you are definitely not going to want to miss.  Stay tuned to for further details, and we hope to see you there!

When gameplay and narrative get along

Hey guys: remember Resident Evil on the original PlayStation? Let’s talk about it. 

In its time, Resident Evil was considered groundbreaking for placing both player and character in a highly restrictive scenario with very true-to-life rules and consequences. Characters—and players—were required to keep track of and maintain supply of their ammunition, healing items, and more as though they were real-life commodities. It may be hard now in this age of narrative-driven, realistic games to fathom that that was ever a remarkable thing, but remember that RE came at the tail end of an age where virtually all video games were action platformers instilled with zany dream-world logic, where items were intangible icons obtained by running full-speed at them and bullets were giant yellow balls that spewed endlessly from your guns with perfect, unwavering trajectory and impossibly fast firing rates. 

↑ We used to just not ask questions.  

In Resident Evil, bullets came in bullet boxes. If you wanted to fire bullets from your gun, you had to find boxes of bullets, stop, pick them up, load them, and then properly ready your gun to be fired. Furthermore, shooting an enemy in the head would produce a different effect than shooting it in the torso, would produce a different effect than shooting it in the legs. It was up to the character—and player—to aim the gun at the desired body part for the desired effect. All of these things were groundbreaking in that, despite the preestablished lunacy of the video gaming medium, they all made logical sense. Given the narrative scenario presented by the game, even (nay, especially) someone who had never played a video game before might have assumed that any or all of these elements would be in play. 

↑  Nothing  could top this level of realism.

And so it was in this way that Resident Evil was, for many video gaming enthusiasts of the 1990s, the most immersive game ever, placing players more thoroughly in the shoes of a protagonist (two, actually) than any game they had experienced before it. Whether players were conscious of it or not, Resident Evil marked a new milestone in what would come years later in certain erudite circles to be known as ludonarrative resonance. 

I understand if you find that word to be daunting—even the word processing software I’m using to write this, whose sole job is to process words, didn’t recognize it. Likewise, I understand if you think the word is pretentious: “I ‘on’t never needed no lu-do-na-ree-tive resomacation to teabag your momma last night!” you may be thinking. Rest assured, there is a whole separate essay to be written on the teabagging phenomenon. But also rest assured that ludonarrative resonance is just a fancy—and handily succinct—way of saying “that thing where the game gives you a good reason for doing the stuff you do instead of just arbitrarily slapping rules and objectives together.”

If you’re unfamiliar with this idea, I recommend you check out this essay by Escapist forum-goer Jezixo. But I’ll try to summarize it here as succinctly as possible. 

The “ludo” aspect of a game is its “gameplay”—the things you can and can’t do as the player; the ways you interact with the game, as dictated by its rules, including its control scheme. Virtually every piece of interactive entertainment has this, however simple. The “narrative” is the greater context provided for those rules and actions, be it through cutscenes and text, or simply the “skin” of the game itself&mda**** graphics, sounds, and music. Mega Man, for example, without its “narrative,” is just a game about a square hitbox rising, falling, and shooting out little pellety hitboxes at other square hitboxes that disappear after contact with X number of pellets. With its narrative, which is primarily conveyed via simple graphics and sounds, it’s about a noble robot boy jumping around and blasting other robots created by a mad scientist bent on world domination. In Mega Man’s case, the narrative is simple, but pretty crucial to the player’s motivation. Otherwise it’s just a convoluted set of arbitrarily rules you have to memorize. 

“Ludonarrative,” then, is the combined interaction of these two elements of games, and “ludonarrative resonance” is when those two elements are in harmony—that is, in Jezixo’s words, when “the player is allowed to do things and given a strong reason why they should do them.” This is the opposite of the more oft discussed “ludonarrative dissonance,” which is when, to again borrow Jezixo’s words, “the player is allowed to do things which they are only given reason not to do, or disallowed from doing things they are only given reason to be able to do.”

If, for example, a game’s cutscenes portray the protagonist as someone averse to physical violence, but the “gameplay” segments encourage you as that protagonist to murder dozens of people, the so-called ludo and narrative elements are dissonant with one another. How much that matters is of course up to each player to decide, but I do feel that this dissonance is often what’s at work when people describe a game or aspect of a game as “video gamey.” It seems to be something that avid gamers just accept about games, but that can alienate people less familiar with the medium. “They just spent ten minutes of exposition establishing you as a noble samurai and now you’re beating up the locals and taking their money!”

↑ "You told me these wings were legendary, and now I find you dying horribly?!"

Nowadays, most games are made up of ludo and narrative components that are sometimes resonant, sometimes dissonant. Returning to the Resident Evil example, consider how the game goes to great lengths to establish a very real-world philosophy toward possessions: namely, that they are finite commodities that take up space, are exhaustible, and scarce. This is both an aspect of the Resident Evil narrative (i.e., Jill and Chris, trapped in a mansion, must scavenge for supplies and be selective in which ones they carry) and an integral gameplay system (i.e., you must scavenge and be selective). In this sense, the ludo and narrative are resonant—the player has a convincing reason for doing the things he or she is required by the game to do. After all, Jill and Chris only have so many pockets. And it’s not like they knew there would be zombies here when they packed their equipment. 

At other times, however, players are required to suspend disbelief. Certain “safe rooms” scattered throughout the game contain item-storing chests. Inexplicably, an item stored in one of these chests can be retrieved later on from a separate chest in a separate room, as though the chests are all connected via some magical item vortex. As far as I’ve witnessed, most players seem okay with this. The game is convincing enough overall, and this this one concession the game offers is such a boon to the player, that it proves to serve the greater good with no substantial drawback. The designers might have been able to come up with a more convincing narrative for the system if they’d tried, but given the technical limitations of the time and the unobtrusiveness of the simple box system, albeit magical, they probably just bit the bullet. I’m no pro designer, but I can’t think of a better system that would have worked on the tech and preserved the solitary atmosphere of the game. Besides, the box has since been embraced by the Resident Eviling community as one of the “video gamey” charms of the earlier games. 

↑ The item box may have been a crack in RE’s realistic facade, but it’s hard to complain when it’s so damn helpful. 

At any rate, I think that sort of shows how games can have a combination of resonance and dissonance between their “gamey” and narrative elements. Sometimes games are gamey, and that’s okay! But I do think the video gaming medium is at its most interesting and admirable when those two elements are in harmony.

Thinking about it, Capcom has actually explored this harmony in some interesting ways over the years, both big and small. The following is a list of cases some colleagues and I thought up, but I wholeheartedly encourage you guys to contribute your own in the comments!

  1. Devil May Cry 4 - The Red Queen.

    If you haven’t played Devil May Cry 4, I hate you. Just kidding. But I do recommend you play it. Nero, the game’s newly introduced protagonist, wields a sword called the Red Queen, which unlike most swords, can be revved like a motorcycle engine. Revving the sword with perfect timing during an attack causes it to power up the subsequent attack, which can in turn be revved to power up the next attack, and so on. To rev the sword, players press the L2 button or Left Trigger as Nero in the game does pretty much the exact same thing, flicking the sword handle’s trigger. This is reflective of a recurring element I have noticed in Capcom design, which I call “tactile resonance” or “haptic resonance.” I’m not sure if there already exists another term, but what I mean is that the actual control input, the action the player literally does with his or her hand—which, to be sure, is part of the “ludo”—is designed to resonate with the on-screen action, which is an element of the narrative. As an example of ludonarrative resonance it may not be as deeply integrated as Resident Evil’s survival concept, but it’s a pretty neat idea. Consider how rare it is for a controller input to have any meaningful correlation with the character’s in-game movement. On a PlayStation controller “X” is usually Jump, but that’s a tradition rooted more in ergonomics than in a desire to mimic the act of jumping on a controller. In other words, no game’s narrative ever gives you a “good reason” that a button with an “X” on it should represent jumping.

    New innovations in input methods such as motion and touch control have led to something of a proliferation of this concept, but I feel it’s still rare for a game to do it as classily or with as much respect for precision as Devil May Cry 4. 

    Recent shooters have adopted a tradition of using a controller’s “triggers” to replicate the real-life sensation of pulling a gun trigger (and indeed the triggers themselves have become more trigger-like over the years), and yes I feel this would be another example of “tactile resonance.”

  2. Monster Hunter (the first one) - Attacking with the analog stick.
    The original Monster Hunter on the PlayStation 2 was a quirky, quirky game. Man was it quirky. If you’re a newer fan of the series, you may not know that you originally had to use the right analog stick to perform attacks. In the history of video games, Jet Li is the only one to do that and live to tell about it. But Monster Hunter gave it a go! The relevance here is in the fact that the stick motions sorta kinda mimicked your avatar’s weapon motions. This was most apparent with the Great Sword: tilting the analog stick upward would cause the avatar to perform an upward slash; tilting left would activate a horizontal slash. I wish I could say that the tactile resonance extended beyond that, but the many weapons of Monster Hunter were simply too complex and nuanced to be express fully with a rubber-tipped knob. I do like to imagine a world where switch axes are controlled with transforming controllers, but for now I’m happy with the reliable clickiness of traditional button inputs.

  3. Okami, Okamiden   Drawing stuff, being a deity.
    Okami on the PlayStation 2 presented another simple example of “tactile resonance” with the celestial brush mechanic, wherein players draw certain symbols with a magical in-game brush by mimicking the brush’s motions with the analog stick. The resonance was debatably enhanced even further through the use of the Wii and PS3 versions’ motion controls, such that players were able to actually wield the controller like a brush in their hand. But I feel the tactile resonance truly hit its peak with Okamiden on the DS, where players were able to literally draw the desired symbol on the screen with a stylus. We even released a brush-shaped stylus for full effect. It’s a simple idea, but another rare case in which the player and in-game avatar are performing nearly identical acts.

    More interesting still is the deeper ludonarrative resonance the brush mechanic presented on a conceptual level. Think about it: In control of a divine avatar (the “mother to us all”), the player is able to freeze time at will and manipulate the two-dimensional game world with his three-dimensional “brush” as simply as one manipulates a painting by adding new strokes to it. The player with complete cross-dimensional control over the game world is not unlike the all-powerful, transcendent deity presented in the game itself. In some sense, a person playing a game is perhaps always comparable to a deity in that he or she is exacting control on a world from outside that world’s confines, not to mention the fact that the player has the power to shut off that world at any time; but only in Okami do both the narrative and the ludo highlight that idea. 

  4. Steel Battalion - The entire freaking idea.

    Steel Battalion on the original Xbox was, it seems to me, the comically uncompromising culmination of the tactile resonance concept. I say this with utmost respect for the work and as a proud owner of that rad, rad Steel Battalion controller. But think about it: The game holds that tactile resonance with such importance that no traditional controller would do. Instead, they created a one-to-one replica of the in-game cockpit controls that cost $200 at retail and included two control sticks, multiple pedals, and about forty light-up buttons.

    According to the game’s Wikipedia article , one of the primary objectives of Steel Battalion as stated by producer Inaba-san was to show "what can be done in the game industry that cannot be done in others.” I feel that the gaming medium shines its brightest when it creates these ties between player action and narrative context, and I suspect that that belief was at the heart of Steel Battalion’s development.

  5. Street Fighter - Street fighting.

    I touched upon this in my blog about the many parallels between Street Fighter and Monster Hunter, but there’s an incredibly clever bond in the Street Fighter series between the in-game narrative context and the psychological experience players have when at the helm against a human opponent. On a psychological level, Street Fighter matches are incredibly similar to the experience of actually engaging in a martial arts bout, and I’m confident that anyone who’s partaken in both will agree. Just as Ryu and Ken would actually have to read and manipulate one another’s psychology, so too do the players. Moreover, the special moves in the game mimic the actual experience of practicing specialized martial arts techniques that require precise execution in order to be effective. It’s simple and it’s brilliant: The narrative depicts two people having a fight; The ludo requires that two people have a fight.
  6. Dragon’s Dogma - The Ur-Dragon.

    Dragon’s Dogma is in fact full of unique examples of ludonarrative resonance, from the way its Pawn Sharing mechanic is explained narratively to the story’s cyclical nature which coincides with subsequent playthroughs. But to me the most interesting example, perhaps on this entire list, comes in the crusty, purply form of the Ur-Dragon .

    For the sake of this topic, I will talk only about the online version of the Ur-Dragon. For the uninitiated, this battle in the game differs from all others in that it is an asynchronously cooperative experience that incorporates all other online Dragon’s Dogma players. Narratively, as the Ur-Dragon phases into the dimension of a given Arisen, so too does he manifest in that corresponding player’s game, presenting a boss battle. All damage done by the player to the Dragon in a ten-minute span is tallied up, and the Dragon flies off, phasing into some other dimension (i.e., another player’s game) to face another Arisen, whose contributed damage will in turn be added to a grand total.

    Once again, the ludo aspect and narrative aspect are in resonance, which, yes, is probably an easier thing to achieve when the story deals with magical, mysterious beings since you can explain away crazy gameplay mechanics with an equally crazy narrative and no one will call foul. But the game’s acknowledgement of the existence of many concurrent Arisens spanning an equal number of dimensions means that its narrative takes into account the fact that multiple people bought Dragon’s Dogma. That, after all, is the only way that the Ur Dragon story makes sense. In fact, the more people who bought and played the game, the more damage is done more quickly to the Ur-Dragon.

    This, in my mind, goes beyond ludonarrative resonance into something I’ve never even heard of before—like, I don’t know…resonance between the game’s market success and its narrative. Weird, right? For the record, more than 420 “generations” of Ur-Dragon have lived since the game’s release in spring of 2012. That’s a whole lotta asynchronous cooperation.

    ↑ Rare footage of the online Ur-Dragon actually dead!

  7. Dead Rising - Doin’ it your way in the zombie apocalypse.
    Dude, you could write a whole essay on how Dead Rising is relevant here. In fact, I did . In short, it’s a game with a setting, but it’s “about” whatever you say it is. We love Dead Rising ‘round here. 

I know I say this at the end of every one of these mammoth posts, but phew! I, for one, am exhausted. So now it’s your turn! I want to hear your examples of times when a game’s “ludo” and “narrative” components are in glorious harmony. It could be big, integral things, or little bitty things like the way Mega Man’s charge buster is executed by holding and releasing a button as though holding and releasing the shot itself—I think that counts!

Or if you don’t have any examples but just have some feedback on this here post, I welcome that as well! Thanks for readin’! <3

USFIV Available on PS Now for PS3 and PS4

Good news North American PS Now subscribers! USFIV is now available to play through the PS Now Open Beta on both PS4 and PS3. For those who might not be aware, PS Now allows you to stream games directly onto your console. So head over to PS blog for more information and stream USFIV now!  

More Capcom PC deals on GamersGate

More Capcom PC deals this week with GamersGate's string of Capcom 48-hour sales. Expect to see Capcom deals on their site now through October 5th, starting with the ones below.

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara - $14.99 | $7.50
Resident Evil 6 - $39.95 | $10.00
DmC Devil May Cry - $49.95 | 24.98
Ducktales: Remastered - $14.99 | $7.50
Resident Evil 4 HD Remastered - $19.99 | $10.00
Fairy Bloom Freesia - $7.99 | $1.60
Resident Evil Revelations - $49.95 | $12.49
Remember Me - $49.95 | 24.98
Dead Rising 2 - $19.95 | $9.98
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition - $29.99 | $7.50
Resident Evil 5 - $19.95 | $9.98
Bionic Commando: Rearmed - $9.95 | $1.99
Devil May Cry 4 - $19.95 | $4.99
Dark Void - $9.95 | $1.99
Age of Booty - $4.99 | $1.00
Dark Void Zero - $4.95 | $0.99
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (Four Pack)  - $89.99 | $22.50
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record - $29.95 | $14.98
World Gone Sour - $4.99 | $1.00
DmC Devil May Cry Costume Pack DLC - $3.99 | $2.00
Resident Evil 6 Onslaught Mode DLC - $3.99 | $1.00
Remember Me: Combo Lab Pack DLC - $3.99 | $2.00

USFIV Version 1.03 Patch & Omega Mode Announcement

In our continuing desire to ensure that USFIV is a game by the fans for the fans, we will be releasing the version 1.03 patch in October. This patch will address some issues that were pointed out by the community, add the delayed wake up option to the dummy in training mode and for our PC users, more improvements to the online experience.

The version 1.03 patch improves upon the version 1.02 patch released earlier this year by addressing more of the issues brought to our attention by our most diehard fans. Some of the fixes you can expect to see are the Decapre and Rolento changes introduced in the Ver B. patch reverted, as well as Cody’s Light Ruffian Kick once again causing a hard knockdown against airborne opponents as it did in AE 2012. There are more fixes being included, which we’ll disclose closer to the release date.

For those of you out there who desire to practice your setups in the face of delayed wakeup, I’m pleased to announce the addition of the delayed wake up dummy option in training mode. Now that this setting is available, I’m really eager to see how this will advance the game and if anyone will be able to create setups that account for both normal and delayed wakeups.

And lastly, for our PC players, we’ve heard the concerns you have voiced and have some fixes coming your way that should definitely improve your online experiences. For example, we noticed that when players were in the middle of matches, they were still getting pinged by those outside of the match, thereby creating slowdown. We’ve fixed it so that this will be no longer the case. Additionally, a few other connection fixes are going in as well, all of which should reduce the connectivity issues experienced by players.

We’re not stopping there however! In our ongoing effort to make sure that Ultra SFIV is the greatest version of SFIV yet, we plan to bring you a completely new, completely free and most importantly completely fun version of your favorite 44 characters in Omega Mode later this year!  

For those wondering, Omega mode is a completely new mode in which every character has been modified and outfitted with new normal and special attacks, resulting in a refreshing take on the characters you’ve come to know and love over the last six years. As the primary goal for this mode was fun, we placed more emphasis on making the characters feel new, than on their balance. This means that strong, fan favorite attacks such as Ken’s Shinppu Jinrai Kyaku and Sagat’s Tiger Raid make their return while other characters such as Zangief gain new abilities, like being able to combo into his command throws.    

Words however, don’t do this mode justice, so we’ve decided to show a quick video of the madness you can expect to see with in Omega Mode.

Now I know the next question that comes to mind is, “will this be playable online?” My answer to that is “it most definitely will be!”  But as this mode is for fun, Omega mode will be restricted to unranked matches only. Additionally all official Capcom tournaments and Capcom Pro Tour affiliate tournaments will use the default Ultra balance, not Omega mode, as the tournament standard.

Once again we would like everyone for their continual feedback. We are committed to making sure that USFIV lives up to it being the best iteration within the SFIV series yet.  Be sure to check back later on for a full breakdown of the version 1.03 patch and for more information on Omega mode as it becomes available. 

EDIT: Pointed out that the version 1.04 patch is scheduled to come out in October, while the new Omega mode will be coming out later this year.

EDIT 2: The patch was incorrectly listed as "1.04" when it indeed "1.03." All instances of "1.04" have been replaced with "1.03."

Player Spotlight Series #2

It's that time again for some more Capcom Pro Tour player interviews. This week we bring you: America's favorite villain, Filipino Champ; CvS2 Legend, Bas; and America's sweetheart; EG|K-Brad. 

So check out the interviews. You may learn something new about your favorite player that you may have not known before.

Filipino Champ


D44 Bas

Street Fighter II composer Yoko Shimomura reflects on her inspiration

Hey guys: What if I told you the inspiration for Blanka's theme in  Street Fighter II came from a paper bag? Oh, you'd say I'm full of it? Well, what if  Street Fighter II  composer Yoko Shimomura told you? Now who's full of it? 

The Red Bull Music Academy is now three episodes deep in their beautifully filmed game music docu-series, "Diggin' in the Carts,"  and Episode 3 - The Dawn of a New Era includes a terrific segment on Capcom and Street Fighter. Skip to 7:34 for that segment, but the whole video, and indeed the whole series, is terrific!

Massive Capcom sale on PSN

::UPDATE:: Darkstalkers Resurrection added!

If last week's Capcom sale on Steam made ya jealous, you may be interested to know there's  another Capcom sale happening on PSN RIGHT NOW. So many deals! Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen for seven bucks?! What a world. Full list with links below.

Darkstalkers Resurrection $14.99 | $7.49
Devil May Cry HD Collection
 - $29.99 | $11.99
Resident Evil 4 HD - $19.99 | $6.80
Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition - $29.99 | $14.99
Resident Evil 6 - $19.99 | $9.99
Okami HD - $13.99 | $6.99
Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite - $19.99 | $9.99
Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen - $19.99 | $6.99
Street Fighter: Alpha 3 Max - $5.99 | $2.99
Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millenium 2001 - $9.99 | $4.99
Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X - $9.99 | $4.99
Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo HD Remix - $9.99 | $4.99
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record - $19.99 | $6.99
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike - $14.99 | $3.75
Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection - $26.99 | $13.49
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix - $9.99 | $4.99
Resident Evil: Revelations - $39.99 | $13.49
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara - $14.99 | $7.49
DmC: Devil May Cry - $39.99 | $15.99
Capcom Fighting Evolution - $9.99 | $4.99
Street Fighter x Tekken - $39.99 | $9.99
Lost Planet 3 - $39.99 | $13.49

Tips for enjoying Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight

Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight released recently on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, and I’m dead set on having people notice. So far, 100% of the times I’ve mentioned this game, someone has chimed in about how it was once panned in a comedy video series whose shtick is angrily panning video games. 

A more even-tempered examination of the game, however, will reveal that it is brimming with innovation, nuance, variety, and quality, and well worth your five bucks even if you didn’t pay the original asking price of…::does research::…5,800 yen. Holy cow. 

With that in mind, I present to you the following terribly important points about this game. I hope that they will help you get the most out of it and stop at least one of you from letting the foul-mouthed ranting of knee-jerk internet culture from poisoning the well. Street Fighter 2010, if not a true Street Fighter game, is without question a true Capcom action game, with the same mad-scientist level of technicality we’d already all come to expect from the publisher even by just 1990.  

One more thing before I get into it though: I’ve taken some images and information from the Japanese fan site  Game Kommander . In addition to a complete illustrated walkthrough of the game, the site features videos of high-level play, a complete detailed explanation of all of the game’s techniques, powerups, and enemies, scanned advertisements from the game’s marketing campaign in both Japan and North America, and several insightful essays on the topic of Street Fighter 2010. It is an incredible site, and quite probably the most work anyone has ever done pertaining to Street Fighter 2010 since the ragtag team of developers actually created it. I don’t know who runs this site, but I suppose I should put a handshake on my bucket list.  

Now then! Some things to know.

1. You have to master the backflip. 

This is the first thing you should know about the game, and it may not be very intuitive unless you’re used to Capcom action games. I have seen people criticize this game for being frustrating and never once mention the backflip mechanic, but the entire game is designed around the pretense that players will be using the backflip mechanic profusely. If you aren’t using it, you’re probably really frustrated. But don’t complain—learn!

So here’s how it works: 

Step 1) Stand still.

Step 2) Press jump. That’s the “A” button.

Step 3) In midair, press Left or Right on the D-Pad—whichever is opposite the direction the player character is facing. 

Note that you cannot initiate the backflip if you are in the middle of running, since that will cause you to jump forward, at which point pressing the opposite direction on the D-Pad will just cause you to pull back the trajectory of your forward jump. Done correctly though, you will cause the player character (Ken Masters in the North American version!) to execute a glorious backflip, which both looks really cool and has a very important function: during the backflip animation, Ken is invincible. This is his, and your, primary form of defense. Use it aggressively. Use it often. Use it to jump through enemies and enemy projectiles. Don’t just dodge—attack the enemy with dodgingness!!

↑ An artist's rendering.  Woodblock print, c. 1784

It’s a really fun mechanic, and makes you feel like an acrobatic champ when you use it to adapt to all the crazy crap happening on screen. You can also adjust the trajectory of the flip while it’s being executed, giving you quite a bit of control over your own positioning. Compare to similar maneuvers like the dodge rolls in Monster Hunter, Lost Planet, or Devil May Cry—they all have invincibility frames, but none of them let you adjust the length or trajectory of the roll once you’ve initiated the animation. Advantage: Ken.

Firing a plasma shot mid-backflip will cause Ken to execute a midair downward shot. I’m not saying this was the inspiration for Dante’s “Rainstorm” technique in Devils May Cry 2-mC; but it does look exactly like it. 

↑ And bear in mind, this  is the coolest animation in  Devil May Cry 2.

It also presents another strategic element, insofar as it gives the player an offensive option (this is the  only  way to shoot straight down) that requires you to commit to a jump. In practice, the backflip-downward-shot combo essentially works like a counter attack. Eat the damage and retaliate all in one smooth motion. And all this with the extremely limited input set of the NES controller. 

As one final but significant point, the backflip can be upgraded with the acquisition of a Flip Shield Capsule. This makes it so your backflip actually causes damage to enemies, elevating the technique to God Tier. Pro tip: Try and maneuver the backflip to get multiple hits on an enemy in a single flip. Can be done!

2. Master all your other moves, too.

In Street Fighter 2010, you press Down and B to shoot a plasma blast diagonally up. I’ve seen people try miserably to come to terms with this. “To shoot up diagonally, you have to press down and B,” one reviewer notes. “I am so glad you don't actually need to use this attack ever!” This reviewer also describes the game as “the best game I have ever played,” so I’m glad it didn’t kill the experience for him. But there are two things I want to stress here: 

  1. Learning a new input in an NES game, even one that may not seem intuitive, takes approximately one second. Complaining about it, on average, takes at least five. In one popular video review of the game, the reviewer dedicates fifteen seconds. My goodness.
  2. This input is only counterintuitive if you are thinking only of the direction of the shot: “Why press down to shoot in an upward trajectory?” But remember, Ken Masters is a martial artist. Don’t act surprised. The plasma shots he fires in this game are all powered by the force of his punches and kicks. Press B to do a simple jab, shooting the plasma straight ahead. Press Up and B to punch upward, shooting plasma straight above you. Press Down and B to do a roundhouse kick using the lower extremities. If you’ve studied martial arts in any capacity, you probably know that a roundhouse kick is a technique by which the practitioner swings his/her leg diagonally up and forward. If the foot were to emit a plasma ray that continued along the trajectory of the kick, the ray would shoot out diagonally up. But the executer of the attack is of course still aware that he/she is using the lower extremities to perform the maneuver. There’s the logic. Need more convincing? Well, strictly from a user experience standpoint, holding Down (or any cardinal direction) on the D-Pad is a whole lot more comfortable than holding a diagonal, and holding a diagonal would also increase the likelihood of the player accidentally stepping forward, which, in addition to being quite lame, would also make it harder for the player to bust out the backflip, since, as we’ve established, you can’t do the backflip while you’re moving forward. Please RT.

↑ The Angry Video Game Nerd on the controls: "It's as if the controls themselves are too futuristic and advanced for anyone to comprehend." While that would be a very cool case of ludonarrative resonance, I'm afraid it simply isn't true. Ten to sixty seconds of attentive play should be all it takes to get the basic controls down. 

Once you’ve gotten all that sorted out, you will discover that the kick does serve its purpose. It’s one of Ken’s most powerful attacks, and it allows you to attack a high position from a low position. When leveled up, it has a distinct, boomerang-like arc that allows you to attack enemies above and behind you. Learn that trajectory! 

Additionally, did you know that the kick is actually part of a powerful, four-hit combo? Simply hold Down and press B four times to do a kick, kick, punch, punch series. The moves are slow, but deal heavy damage in relatively few shots. 

↑ Ken deals a swift kick to his opponent, the nefarious "Brian." 

Hold Forward while attacking to do a series of what’re known as “Hyper Shots.” Ken unleashes a barrage of slow and heavy hook punches that do big damage. Use it on bosses when you don’t have time to get a lot of regular shots in.

Jump and press B to do an acrobatic jump shot. The jump shot is a relatively safe way to do high damage. Use it to pick off little enemies when you find yourself in an area with precarious footing. It’s also the single quickest way to break destructible objects and uncover powerups. 

Ken also has the ability to climb vines, walls, and columns. This mechanic is a bit nuanced, and I think it eludes people at first. To cling to a surface, you must hold A, the jump button. Once you're clining, you can let go of A, but if you’re not holding A when you jump at a surface, you’ll just hit the surface and continue falling alongside it. This, too, can be mastered and used to your advantage. Try jumping at a climbable surface and intentionally falling to a strategic altitude before pressing A again to cling. This is particularly important in Area 2-2, which is entirely an auto-scrolling vertical climb. You can’t attack from a climbing surface unless you are at rest, which is hard to do when the murderous bottom edge of the screen fast approaches, so you’ll have to make masterful use of the cling mechanic to fake out the enemies as they home in on you. It may seem chaotic at first, but it can be done with just a bit of practice. Learn to climb; that’s why Area 2-2 exists.  

↑ Back when vines took more than six seconds.

3. Momentum is important.

In Street Fighter 2010, you collect powerups hidden in destructible objects. For every two powerups you collect, you gain one “level,” up to level five. The higher your level, the greater your attack range. This is of utmost importance. If you can maintain a high level, the game is infinitely easier since you can maintain a safer distance from all enemies. When your level is low, your plasma shots are barely longer than your limbs themselves, meaning you must get right up in the enemies’ highly treacherous grills to engage in deadly future-combat. In Street Fighter terms, it’s the difference between a hadoken and a fierce punch.

When you die in this game, your level is reset back to zero. Past level three, you lose a level each time you’re hit until you’re back down to level two. Effectively, this means that the worse you do, the worse you’ll do. If you’ve ever played Gradius then this will be a frustratingly familiar concept, but remember that this is all part of the game. Gaining levels as quickly and efficiently as possible becomes a top-priority concern. You’ll find yourself memorizing powerup locations and plotting out the safest positioning for taking out specific enemies. Don’t lose your momentum, or you’ll be pedaling uphill instead of coasting. Who didn’t love that metaphor?

4. All difficulty is surmountable, balanced. 

In an essay from the previously linked Japanese page , the author describes Street Fighter 2010 as an “action game of the highest order,” but also “one of the most underrated Famicom games of all time.” 

The author attributes this to two specific reasons: 

  1. “It confusingly wears the Street Fighter moniker, which speaks nothing to the game’s incredible level of polish.”   
  2. “The high level of difficulty.”

It’s easy enough to understand the first reason. A lot of people discovered this game after the Street Fighter boom ignited by Street Fighter II’s release in 1991, and were disappointed to discover the complete lack of resemblance. It’s important to stress, though, that 2010 actually came out a year before the SFII boom, when the identity of the Street Fighter brand was still up in the air. Remember that the originally planned follow-up to the original Street Fighter was a side-scrolling beat-‘em-up called Street Fighter ’89—later renamed Final Fight. As it stood in 1990, Street Fighter 2010 was in fact the second of just two Street Fighter games. The divergence of style was hardly remarked upon at the time. 

↑ Can you believe characters like Cody, Guy, and Poison were almost in a  Street Fighter game??

Regarding reason number two, the above author says the following:

“It’s true that 2010 is likely one of the most difficult games in the Famicom’s massive library. But to be sure, by no means is that an unreasonable difficulty caused by insufficient testing or lack of balance.

Even the most severe sections of the game have winning strategies, and the game is made such that, with enough practice and repetition, you will see the end. Dig even deeper and you’ll find that the game is so delicately balanced that you’ll eventually be able to pull off perfect runs. This is not an unclearable game."

By design, a lot of the enemy behavior in this game is based on procedural algorithms, which means there’s an element of randomness each time you play, but also that that randomness has a logic to it. Be thoughtful in your approach, be ready to adapt to the situation using all the tools you’ve been given, and you’ll get through it eventually. 

5. This game boasts a serious staff pedigree.

-Designer: Miata Yamamoto - Ghouls ’n Ghosts (Arcade), UN Squadron (SNES), Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse (SNES)

-Programmer: H.M.D. - Mega Man (NES), Mega Man 2 (NES)

-Composer: Tamie - Bionic Commando (NES), Strider (NES), Sweet Home (NES)

I mean come on.

6. The game has you traveling across five planets, and each one has an actual cohesive motif.

I just think this is cool. Every few stages you jump to a new planet, but each planet has a cohesive concept—one is overrun with vegetation; another is a desert; another is cold, sterile, and mechanical. It’s easy to get distracted by the game’s high difficulty and miss it, but it’s cool how much work and thought went into actually connecting these bite-sized worlds with a sort of visual consistency.

↑ Scenes from the desert planet.

↑ Wait a minute...Statue of Liberty....That was  our planet!!

7. Here’s what high-level play looks like. Watch and learn.

Planet 1

Planet 2

Planet 3

Planet 4

Planet 5

In closing, I leave you with one final quote from GAME KOMMANDER:

It’s not a game with low barrier of entry. It’s not a game for the mainstream. But it is without question a masterpiece. Among those who have cleared it, 2010 is frequently heralded as one of action gaming’s best. See for yourself how unembellished that statement truly is.

I tend to agree! Check it out, guys—it’s pretty neato.


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