(Image provided by the Official Arcade UFO website )
As a gaming advocate, it’s funny that I have never actually visited a serious “Fighting Game” arcade with high quality competitors, imported up-to-date games, and Japanese-style buttons coupled with their arcade layout. It’s something I had longed for, but had never gotten a chance. In Dallas, I knew nothing of an arcade that carried such things, as Dallas rarely even got large-scale fighting game tournaments (Only one I know of is “Absolute Battle“).
However, as of today in Austin, Texas, I finally got that experience at Arcade UFO. The time spent here proved to be enjoyable and I do wish to go back, and had more time to play. Before this experience, the only “Arcades” I had visited was in Southwest Center Mall (Previously known as “Red Bird Mall”) here in Dallas when I was a kid, before it moved out and had games such as Super Street Fighter II. And also, the first place that I discovered Marvel vs Capcom 2 (One of my top 5 favorite games of ALL TIME), “Game Works”, before it close down in the Summer of 2010.
Going to give my account of what all I seen, the experience there, and what I expected versus what I was given.
Being out with my sister and my mother all day long, I was anxiously waiting when I would get to go to Arcade UFO after spending time with them. I checked the their website (www.ArcadeUFO.com) and it showed that their hours for Tuesday was 3PM – 1AM, perfect, just opened no more than 15 minutes ago. As I finish trading out a pair of shoes at the Nike Outlet, and my sister finally finding a red shirt to wear to her sorority activity at Cato, we began to head towards Arcade UFO at about 7:00 PM (Central Standard Time), getting there no later than 7:30 PM.
As I pulled up, I notice that there are two people going inside of this place that have the windows blocked out by a pull down screen of some sort. As I get up, I look out the window and see a sign saying, “Arcade UFO”. Wanting to make sure I save it, I pull out my T-Mobile G2 Android Phone, go for the camera option (making sure the flash was on) and took a picture; seen Here. I got it good enough, but it was too dark to really see it in it’s full glory (which is why I actually took the picture from the site to use as my first picture). Putting away my phone, I step in.
My sister, alias “Choklat Geisha”, said that this place was pretty small, and I was disappointed at first. In this room, they had a couple games, consisting of two “Bullet Shooters” (Death Smiles:Mega Black Label being one of them), a music game, “DJ Max Technika 2”, and a few more. At first, I thought this was the main room and was actually thinking it was the main room, “It can’t be this small… she said it was small, but not this small”. Desperately I looked for a door, there had to be more than just this, “They said they had Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition on their website; Four cabinets, but I see none”. That’s when I noticed a door leading to another section of the place. (I’m taking pictures as I walk through the place with my cell).
As soon as I walked through the door, to my surprise, I see two games that have been imported over that haven’t been released in the US yet, Arcana Heart 3 and Melty Blood: Actress Again (View Picture). I immediately thought about my friend known as, “RaS”, because he had just imported Melty Blood: Actress Again not too long ago for the Playstation 2; In addition, he was going to import Arcana Heart 3 on Playstation 3 since I was still hoping for an official Xbox 360 USA release.
After this, I glance over from those machines, and I see three more machines; BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, The King of Fighters XIII, and TEKKEN 6:Bloodline Rebellion (View Picture). I was psyche’d that they had “KoF” XIII, since I had been wanting to play it since The King of Fighters XII was such a lame way to present SNKP’s “20th Anniversary” for the series; The King of Fighters XIII from videos looked as though SNKP corrected mistakes from the previous addition to their series but we’ll see soon enough. I had traded in TEKKEN 6 not too long ago, but it would be nice to give that a shot, and I hated that they had BlazBlue:Continuum Shift and not BlazBlue:Continuum Shift II. But hey, you can’t have everything you want, decent enough.
Though, soon enough I found the “meat” of the place…Super Street Fighter IV:Arcade Edition. They had it setup on two beautiful High Definition displays, and four cabinets as promised (but was more like two 2v2, not four 2v2). This machine was a dollar a play, and I didn’t mind, I came with money-in-hand and was ready to lose it all if necessary. Though, before I immersed myself into the game, I decided to look around at what else they had.
Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Azumanga Daioh: Bubble Trouble (Kind of reminds me of “Bust-A-Move”), and Mr. Driller G were some of the other titles that they offered up for players to enjoy. Taking this in, I thought it was about time for me to play.
(Click here for a complete list of games they offer, list from Official Arcade UFO site)
-[ Preparing to play ]
(Picture of me holding a Arcade UFO Token)
Well, I had brought with me about $20 or so to play, that should be sufficient. Heading over to a guy with a green vest, reminding me of something a school crossing guard would wear, or a construction worker with the words “staff” written across the back, I asked did they use coins. Though, this was stupid as I had read earlier all about their coin system on their website, but it never hurts to do so, not knowing if it was current information or not. Soon he began to explain to me about the coin system and that you got “bonus” coins depending on how much you did, this way, returning patrons actually got a deal for using more money they would use anyway, makes a lot of sense. So, I put away my singles and just placed $5 into the Token Machine, which was good for 20 tokens ($1 = 4 Tokens), which was the same as putting five $1 in there, but this was a lot quicker than having to stick them all in one-by-one.
-[ Taking on SSFIV:Arcade Edition ]
Seeing as I had played both Street Fighter IV vanilla, and Super Street Fighter IV on Xbox 360, and also owned a Street Fighter IV Round 2 Tournament Edition Arcade Stick, I felt confident in my ability to perform, and sure enough, the buttons felt the same way as they did at home. Though, I felt it weird that the buttons were pink and green and not any other color, even the ball top on the Arcade Stick was pink, strange colors.
(Something cool I found was that whoever was playing on the 2nd set of Cabinets actually got their match available for viewing via a hanging HDTV on the wall in the middle of the main room. View Here, Neat huh?!)
To start off with, I picked Makoto (considered my “Co-Main” in Super Street Fighter IV) and noticed immediately to my right that the guy next to me was playing Akuma against a Makoto who was on a win streak (I later played this Makoto, and his was WAY better than mine. I can tell you that Makoto was majorly buffed on the small things in AE. Such as the fact her anti-air move, Fukiage, seems to have more upper body invincibility, and it also appears as though st.MP, one of her best moves in Chocolate Super, seems as though it’s faster, same with EX Karakusa) I picked Makoto mainly because I was talking with RaS earlier that day about her changes and if they would be viable or not, and him saying, “Man, you have GOT to get in a few games with Makoto”, mainly because I was with Sakura Kasugano as of lately in my character preference. Match started and I found myself doing very well; nearly perfected him in Round 2 of my first SSFIV:AE match, and I won again after he picked the same character when he continued (Sorry, do not remember who he used). After this, he used El Fuerte, and I pummeled him yet again, 3 game win streak and I was feeling unstoppable… and that’s when Shit Got Real.
I was blown away, I was handling my own at first but then fell apart. Yang moves his feet when he hops into the air, making it hard to know when he’s going to throw out the move, and he can cross you over from quite a distance so I found it hard to tell which side he was going to land on. This guy also has quite the block strings, able to FADC out of some hits and continue the block string, ending in his Mantis-Style Slashes (Torou Zan), the second being hard to punish (That or I didn’t know HOW to punish it yet), and overall, he was quite the deadly competitor and what I ended up lamenting about Arcade Edition. I mean, I thought Rufus was TOUGH, well, I’d take Rufus any day of the week. In fact, before I left to go play another game, the guy who was using Yang was on a 24+ Win Streak before he was finally defeated. Dude’s going to be a problem.
Also, I took my time at the machine,and played with Sakura Kasugano and Cammy White, I noticed a few things that weren’t very…satisfactory.
Ultimately, the game looks good, Yun and Yang are going to prove to be a problem (Even though I didn’t get to see Yun in action, nor did I play as him); but we will see what happens in the future… just.. can we have a moment of silence for TK Canon Strike?
While I was there, I of course, played a few more games, and I want to cover those, even if I don’t know too much about them; just stating what I experince.
The King of Fighters XIII – This game was a big improvement over it’s predessor. Some of the best music I’ve heard in years, the controls are nice and fluid and everything is beautiful in sight. The pixalation that was present in KoF XII seems to be gone, and has a more fluent and non random combo system (i.e. Critical Counter System) and produces top-notch, fast paced action. I didn’t play any human opponents but I did fight agains the CPU, and did win a couple of stages with my team, but eventually lost to a King that spammed the hell out of her projectile.
Well, I know now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this game is going to be added to my want list, and eventually to my libarary when it is released. I didn’t play it anymore beyond this because I didn’t want to waste money training on a game I didn’t know how to play when I couldn’t visit regularly, but it was nice. Though, I did see someone with “Mr. Karate” practicing in a training mode on the Arcade Machine, I wonder how they managed that… (I have no idea how to do it is what I’m trying to say, Lol).
“Team RoK the Reaper” on the right
Arcana Heart III – I’m fairly new to Arcana Heart, what I’m saying is, I haven’t played it for years and years, not since the import of Arcana Heart 2 (Which was pretty F’in terrible). However, I’m hearing the game is a perfect port on the PS3 console, at least what I’m hearing. I was going to pick this up, but after playing the game and seeing and hearing a few things, I am majorly unsure.
First off, I don’t really care for the graphics at all, or how slow they seem to be going at some points and times. Also, the simply fact it’s not available in Wide Screen without those perverted side panels makes me uneasy, I mean, I don’t want to give off the wrong impression, y’know? Maybe I’ll stick to Vanguard Princess.
Melty Blood: Actress Again – Really, it feels the EXACT same as it’s PC equivalent, which is a good thing, bad thing is, I haven’t played MBAA in so long that it should be judged as a crime. Lol, if you aren’t sure what’s all good with Melty Blood (Or you haven’t updated and been stuck playing Melty Blood: Act Cadenza ver. B), feel free to check out MeltyBread for information on the game, characters, playstyle, and community; featuring things such as videos, tips and tricks, and locations of communities and tournaments.
TEKKEN 6:Bloodline Rebellion – Y’know, it has been a long time since I played and traded in TEKKEN 6. I use to enjoy it but I had no friends that played TEKKEN, which made it boring and I eventually traded it in. Something that also really bugged me about this game was the whole “Rage” System which I felt was bad for a game like this. Often, at least online, (And here at the Arcade too), I found myself winning solely from the extreme damage output from being in Rage from low health; hopefully they remove this for TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2.
The characters I used in TEKKEN 6 happened to be Emilie (Lili) De Rochefort and Julia Chang. Seeing as I didn’t remember anything about Julia, I kept Lili and fought against whomever was playing at the time, I didn’t even know I remembered how to play. But before long, I was pulling off combos, doing the same things I use to do and pulling off her 10-hit combo with ease, including the follow up that took about 75% of your life.
The person I was playing was first Alisa, then switched over to other characters (Jin, Kazuya) and eventually someone else stepped up playing Rodger Jr. Ugh, this match was annoying because he kept doing his little hop thing, and side stepping and swipping me and tripping me with his tail. It was difficulty to avoid because I had to get back to the whole “Side-stepping” frenzy they did do in TEKKEN, plus I didn’t remember Lili’s parry for punches, nor did I remember some of her other combos that started when her back was turned; it also took me about 2 more matches to remember she had launcher into BOUND combos, but by that time, I was frustrated with the game and left to play more SSFIV:AE edition.
I played a few more games, but none really worth mentioning. They were all enjoyable and I want to play then more than I already have, but only had a few hours to really delve myself into the whole Arcade Experience.
-[ Perks of Arcades ]
Arcades provide a good social gathering place to meet new, and interesting people. Even though I did not speak to a lot of people when I was there, focusing on enjoying everything and gathering material for this article, I did notice a lot of talking and advice being exchanged. It seems as though people are unified under similar interests and willing try to help others improve, I even had someone attempt to help me when I accidentally Canon Spike > FADC > Forward Dash instead of Back Dash when I was trying to set up Cammy’s Ultra (And missed). I let him know it was an accident but thanked him for his advice, that’s the kind of thing I like.
At home, you don’t really have anyone to give you advice, what happens if they don’t have a mic? Also, what happens if they have a microphone and are unwilling to really talk because they want to move onto the next match? There’s so many factors effecting this I don’t even want to think about, but 9/10 times, everyone at an arcade has a mouth to speak.
Also, with Arcades, you don’t get rage quitters most of the time because you can clearly see who your opponent is. You get a cool place to hang out and you get an experience unlike any other. The talking and lively atmosphere just gives you a feeling of warmth and piece, at least to me. The robust amounts of swearing, button mashes, and declarations of victory were more than enough to give me feelings of bravado when it finally became my turn to take a shot at the current “Champion”.
Skills you’ve been practicing at home are put into effort in a real-life scenario, and you get to see the fruits of your hardworking labors.
-[ Downfalls of Arcades ]
Well, you lose out on the comfort of your own home, the environment you’re most use to and the setting that you think is ideal for you to perform you best at. You lose out on using your own stick and your own custom settings, if you have any at all. The atmosphere can be thick and unpromising and it can make some nervous for others to watch them. I for one, ended up getting “Perfected” by that Yang one round and thinking to myself, “Thank God I wasn’t on Cabinet 2″ which is the one with the setup that shows the entire arcade on the main HDTV hanging in the center, but I was still embarrassed.
Also, I find that the Arcade can be unforgiving. Veterans will always butcher those who know little or nothing; and it can be hard for ANYONE to integrate into something that they feel they will continue to lose with. The biggest downfall is the loss of money; it helps the arcade to thrive, and it should be motivation to get better so you can game more without using as much, but for those that are just starting and beginners, or even those that are having a bad streak, it depletes your pocket like you would not believe and makes you think twice about either buying a new game you can have forever, or coming back and watching your cash vanish in a matter of hours for a pile of losses.
-[ Final Thoughts ]
There are not many arcades left, even Arcade Infinity threatened to close it’s doors not too long ago, and got an extension which may just be delaying the inevitable. But it’s good to play at one of the last surviving TRUE Arcades and have a good experience to write and tell about.
I plan on going back, and hopefully my skills will be up by then, and maybe they’ll have BlazBlue:CS II as well. (I played as Ragna, my secondary, and had to deal with a Bang a few times, ugh, can’t wait for his nerfs). It isn’t very big, and they don’t have every single new Arcade game out, but it takes lots of money and effort to get these machines, and the fact that they are keeping the arcade tradition alive earns them everything I can spare when I can.
I urge everyone who has not gone to an arcade to go to one before they’re all gone, we need to keep them around as long as we can. As fighting game fans, it’s our HERITAGE and where Champions have been made. Even if you aren’t very good, what’s the harm of going down to your local Arcade at least once or twice a week and playing $5-$10 worth? You get in some good times, some memories, improve, and you help keep your local arcade a float. Those machines cost thousands and thousands of dollars, and they are doing it for US, the fighting gamers and for the love of gaming period. They don’t make much profit, if any at all; the best we can do is to go and support them and the cause.
Seen this one the way out and thought it was pretty cool. Would love to attend, but why would you hold this on the SAME day Marvel vs Capcom 3 is coming out? I found that to be pretty weird. Also, EG Marn will be there tomorrow, taking challengers and streaming live. Ugh, wish I could’ve went.
Support your Arcades! Reaperman out.
(For all pictures taken, check out the album on my FaceBook here)