The Dreamcast is 17 years old today. Man, I remember the launch just like it was yesterday.
Actually, that’s not true. It launched during a period where I wasn’t playing games. Also, my memory doesn’t go back that far. I’ve had concussions.
What I do remember quite fondly however, is my very brief run as a “serious” member of the Fighting Game Community. By that, I mean that there was a good year or so where I only played Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Marvel vs Capcom 2. I wouldn’t say that I was particularly great at either, but I was constantly surrounded by some of the best players around, picking up what I could through osmosis. It wasn’t until that experience that I really understood how a certain segment of gamers could strictly confine themselves to one genre like that. To get any good, you pretty much have to. Fighting games are a commitment, which has served as both their draw and their biggest barrier to entry.
In the early 2000s, the genre was in a bit of a dark age anyway. The FGC, which never had a reputation for being particularly inclusive anyway, was very small and unwelcoming. Part of that had to do with online gaming still being in its infancy, but also, those games I mentioned weren’t exactly easy to jump into. 3rd Strike (which will get it’s own entry soon, I’m sure) was a highly technical game directed exclusively towards the hardcore base. MvC2, on the other hand, was a different kind of scary.
A lot of the magic is gone, but even now, watching high-level Marvel can be overwhelming, the screen filling with a controlled chaos. In a lot of ways, it’s like watching a musician produce something you could only dream of, an exhibition of dexterity and muscle memory that take years of practice. It’s why I never really become anything other than an above average fighting game player, despite the knowledge base I have. I simply like too many other games to commit. You could say I’m a gaming polygamist, while members of the FGC are serial monogamists. I vividly recall one of my friends at the time telling me that you could put 1-1 of Super Mario Bros in his hands and he would die on the first goomba because he simply never had time to learn those mechanics. This was, of course, after he stomped me into a fine paste with his double Wolverine-Sentinel team.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have went with Magneto, Cable, and Goomba as a counter.