Guard Cancel: Fatacon

Guard Cancel is an interview series profiling KOF community members. The goal is to get to know the people behind the tags. Guard Cancel will be published every Monday. If you’d like to be featured, email admin@dreamcancel.com

1. How long have you played KOF? Which KOF was your first? Which is your favorite?
I can’t remember what year exactly it was that I started playing KOF. I do know that ’94 was my first experience with the series. When my dad used to go to a local liquor store near my house to cash his checks, they had a Neo-Geo cab and an Aero Fighters cab near the entrance. I remember looking through the game selection and, lo and behold, there was a fighting game I had never played. The rest, as they say, is history.

I have pretty fond memories of OG ’98 and OG ’02. I know a lot of people would probably frown at me saying this, but, even though it felt pretty stiff, I enjoyed ’99. *laughs*

2. Why KOF over all of the other fighters?
Backtracking to the ’94 story… There was a 7-11 down the block from my house that had SF2:CE, which was my first experience with fighting games. 1 character, 1 quarter. As a kid, quarters could be quite hard to come by. That said, getting 3 characters with 1 quarter?! Sweet! Brazil team all the way (which is why Heidern/Leona are still some of my favorites to play) The funny thing is, if you go to any laundromat around my neighborhood, even today, you’ll find a Neo-Geo cab with ’98 or ’02 or even… 10th anniversary! *laughs*

KOF also, has a pretty interesting lore as far as fighting games go. I remember getting hooked on the Orochi Saga years, hoping other fighting franchises would similarly develop story arcs.

From a gameplay standpoint, KOF/SNK games gave you a lot of options you didn’t have in other games: super meter, evasion, differing jumps, guard options, etc. It felt pretty refreshing to play something out of the ordinary, and, being young, I was pretty impressionable. It kinda just stuck with me, I guess.

3. Are you a tournament player? If so, list your tournament rankings.
I wouldn’t describe myself as highly competitive (skill-wise anyway), but I do enjoy going out to test myself, meet new players, and learn new things. I tend to rank pretty poorly. Admittedly, I don’t practice as much as I should, or even research, for that matter. I tend to try and learn things during tournaments, which may not be the best idea *laughs*

Most recently, I tied for 17th at EVO ’11 and 3rd at the August 21st ranbat at SouthTown arcade.

4. Do you have a local scene or do you rely on online play?
There’s online play for KOF games? *laughs* Joking aside, GGPO is generally filled with HK and South American players. The inherent problem with that is network stability. KOF games haven’t really had a good track record of offering great online play, so I’m hoping we see improvements in the future.

As far as an offline scene, generally speaking, there isn’t much of an SNK/KOF scene in America to begin with. Though the area I live in has tons of old cabs, they’re mostly there for casual play or for people to kill time while drying laundry. *laughs* However, with the popularity of offline console tournaments, I hoping that XIII turns that around. SoCal is planning on introducing XIII at WNF’s so we’ll see how that goes. If EVO ’11 was any indication, I see a bright future.

5. Do you prefer pad or stick? Why is that your preference?
I definitely prefer stick due to my experience growing up in arcades. It’s funny how arcades in America accustomed me to bat-tops, but ever since I had my first ball-top, I’ve never looked back. I must be getting old; my left arm isn’t as strong as it used to be, in order to handle a bat-top. *laughs* I can play with a pad though. With the decline of the arcade scene in America, just to keep up with the series, I had to play console ports on PS1/PS2 (for which I didn’t own arcade sticks, at the time).

6. What advice do you have for new players?
Well, for the most part, if you’re coming into KOF from another franchise, you have to realize that it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame. Because of the options at your disposal, you have to learn to not only utilize those options, but also how to counter them. It’s probably been referenced an exorbitant amount of times, but I can’t stress enough how good of a starting point Dandy J’s beginner KOF tutorial vids are for newcomers. Also, I believe Orochinagi recently made a tutorial of sorts going over the new systems in XIII, but don’t quote me on that. (Shoutouts to Shermie lov… I mean Gunsmith!) *laughs*

7. How do you choose a character and team? How do you choose the order?
For me, a team is generally whoever I consider to be fun at the time. XIII has probably been my most conservative game as far as team selection, simply because I haven’t had a chance to sit down and grind it out for long periods of time.

Casually, the order is just dependent on who I feel like playing point and who I want to anchor with last. In more serious play, I’ll go with an order select that maximizes meter management; batteries first, hoggers last. To take that even further, if I’ve been playing someone repeatedly, I’ll forego the meter management order select and pick according to character match-ups I’m having trouble with (counter-order I guess you’d call it?).

8. Which type of character do you prefer?
I can’t really say that I prefer one style over another. If it was the older KOF’s, I would definitely have said grapplers, but now I suppose I like playing characters having a lot of utility that can switch between offense/defense, or zoning/rushdown.

9. From a purely gameplay perspective, who is you favorite character?
I think Heidern has been a favorite of mine for a long time now. Being a charge character, his offense is really footsie/spacing oriented, and understanding how his normals work when you’re not throwing out projectiles helps to build fundamentals since he’s not as combo oriented. I’m probably comfortable with it since I was a Guile player during the SF2 days. Ironically, I don’t enjoy playing as Ash that much, though it’s probably just because I don’t find him aesthetically pleasing. *laughs*

10. How often do you practice or train in KOF alone?
It’s very rare, to be honest. Unless I’m testing things or working on muscle memory, I enjoy and learn much more when I have real, live opponents (this goes for offline vs offline as well). Personally, I’ve always thought that there is an extent what you can learn by narrowing your horizons, and how much narrower can you be if you only play by yourself?

11. How do you gain new techniques, strategies, setups and combos? Do you watch match videos?
It might sound strange, but if I’d been playing a KOF game (or any fighting game for that matter), I’d be at work or at the grocery store and some random new setup or strategy would pop into my head. I’m a pretty forgetful guy so I often have to make a memo of it on my phone notepad so I can test it later. Problems is, I usually forget to check my phone to even test it, and I won’t remember until tourney day. I have to say, testing on the fly never ends well… for me at least. *laughs*

I don’t really watch match videos unless someone points out specific things to me. I learn more from personal experience, so, even if I see it, I won’t learn anything if i haven’t done it myself. I do watch combo videos though. not necessarily to copy stuff, but to take ideas and expand on them. Creativity of combo videos has always fascinated me, and I’m glad that the new drive cancelling system in XIII has opened up a lot of those possibilities.

12. Have you played KOFXIII yet? Did you like? Will you buy it?
I’ve been playing XIII for about a year total (SoCal and NorCal combined), but with large gaps in-between playing times. There has always been a good amount of competition around so I actually haven’t been able to sit down and have full-on training mode sessions. Even though I’ve had a lot of exposure to the game, I will definitely admit that I’m not very good at the game. *laughs* I hope being able to sit down with the console version to familiarize myself will change that.

Regardless of the recent talk that the arcade version is obsolete thanks to console changes and no word regarding an arcade update, I still support the scene and go out to play or commentate whenever I can. We all need to play our parts and keep people interested and help those who are learning or want to learn KOF.

Definitely going to pick up XIII once it drops for console. No matter what, I’ll be lugging it around to whatever tourneys I’m able to.

13. Will you continue to play older KOF games while playing KOFXIII?
Most likely not. Unless I’m feeling nostalgic or teaching someone the basics, I don’t feel a need to retread what once was. Good memories are good memories, but I don’t want to take away from what we have now. SNKP gave us XIII, and it definitely deserves attention.

Parting words: In a time where the fighting genre has boomed, people are trying to get their hands on something new and refreshing. Even as a longtime fan of KOF, XIII has definitely done that. Whatever or however you feel about the downfalls or the past of the series, XIII has really overshadowed that by taking expectations, exceeding them, and blowing them to pieces. It is my sincere hope that, at the very least, people pick up XIII objectively, with an open mind, and give it a chance. It couldn’t hurt to throw down and learn something new, could it?

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