Given the week we’ve all had, my first instinct upon coming home from work today was to sit back in my chair, eat myself sick, and watch a bunch of silly internet videos. My second, third, fourth, and eighth instincts then insured that was how I was to spend most of my day. It’s been… rough, and hard to get away from things, which is why my game choices have consisted mostly of comfort food lately.
But there is something for me to be happy about. This silly project of mine; the whole write about games every day for a year thing? I’m almost done. I actually stuck to it. And now I look at that list of games that I made so long ago; the essentials that I needed to say something about, wondering if and how I’ll fit them in with little over a month remaining. Most were leftovers from a never-finished favorite games piece, staples that I knew I’d get around to playing anyway, even without this obligation. In the case of many, however, I would put off playing them, waiting for that perfect time where I’d possess the combination of time, energy and perspective to do them justice. This is why it’s taken me so long to write about 3rd Strike.
Anyone that identifies as a writer knows that the whole concept of “waiting for the right time” is a fool’s errand. Some of the best things I’ve ever written were in the middle of night, not taking a second to think before my fingers hit the keys. It’s not difficult to explain why I like 3rd Strike so much, especially back then. Even ignoring the fact that my entire social circle at the time consisted of people in the fighting game community and that there was nothing else to play (outside of Marvel), I would have been drawn to the game anyway. It was too different for me not to be.
It’s important to remember just how much people hated Street Fighter III in the beginning. In its original form, it wasn’t even going to include Ryu and Ken, taking the “New Generation” moniker to its extreme. This went about as well as you’d expect, using each iteration after that to try and gain back some of that lost audience. “Look”, Capcom said, “these new characters are pretty much stand-ins for the old ones anyway”, but for many it still wasn’t enough.
For a lot of the reasons that people hated it, I loved it. I wasn’t old enough to get in on Street Fighter 2 at the ground level, so the skill gap was already too much for me to overcome. But 3rd Strike – that was my game. All of those weirdo newcomers were my characters. I didn’t care if it was harder to learn or too much of a departure from the familiar. It was an odd perspective that I was being exposed to for the very first time; typically more than willing to join in the rallying cries of “they changed it so now it sucks” whenever my preferred media was tampered with. I still do that, justified as I may feel in my reasoning, but I also understand the power of falling for something at the right place and time in your life. It’s like when people argue that your favorite Mario Kart was whatever entry in the series you played first. 3rd Strike was the first Street Fighter I took the time to learn, arguably the only one I’ve ever been good at.
You never forget your first love. I sure as hell haven’t.