The King of Fighters ’95

The King of Fighters XV came out this week, and is awesome, probably the best KOF in many years. In getting hyped for this coming release, my friend Hazel and I spent pretty much all month playing other games in the series, while I personally did that thing where I pulled up that old nostalgia of playing on real Neo-Geo cabinets and remembering my fervent teenage fandom.

A bit of history, before I actually start talking about the game I’ll be reviewing today: growing up, I used to go to a lot of arcades back when those still existed. This would have been back in the 90s, when Street Fighter 2 was the hottest game in the world. Funny thing is, I can count on one hand the number of SF2 machines I ever saw at those places. There were a lot of Mortal Kombat machines, and entire rows of Neo-Geos. There was more excitement between me and my friends over the fact that there was a Samurai Shodown 2 than the fact that Street Fighter had four new characters, only one of which wasn’t lame as fuck, and that was only because Cammy’s extremely flat ass hung out of her outfit.

Anyways, I spent a lot of formative years with Fatal Fury, World Heroes, and the previously mentioned Samurai Shodown. Then one day, a new game showed up: The King of Fighters ’94. I thought this was a pretty wild game: you could play as three characters at once, some of whom I recognized from the other games. The new characters looked pretty cool, too; there was Tiny Freddy Kreuger and The Fat Guy With The Giant Ball. There were The Guys Who Played Sports, Army Guys, and Guy With Bandanna Who Shot Fire But In A More Stylish Way Than Ryu. And of course, the Fatal Fury team. Fatal Fury might actually have been the first fighting game I have ever played, so Terry and company always have a spot in my heart.

As I got older, arcades kind of, you know, died. I eventually figured out how emulation worked, and proceeded to spend my teen years replaying these old games, except now I had unlimited quarters and was completely spoiled for choice. Plus, with the internet and fan culture, it was very easy to find a lot of KOF fansites and message boards, back when those still existed (though some have survived the transition into Web 3.0), and getting to find out all this lore and this extra shit SNK only ever released in Japan. SNK, if nothing else, are a company very, very good at providing fanservice, and I’m not just talking about Mai Shiranui’s massive Oingler-Boinglers. This was a company that would bring its voice actors into a studio and have them cut whole albums. Like, have you ever wanted to hear Terry Bogard rap? I mean, you probably didn’t, but he did.

The King of Fighters became more than just a series of really hard games I was bad at because the AI was really cheap. I got to obsess over these really cool looking characters, listen to arranged versions of the games’ music, and ogle the extremely spicy fan art. I was (still am) a big supporter of the Kyo x Iori pairing, and of fucking course I “read” all of The Yuri and Friends. To cut an extremely long tangent short, I really fucking love these games because 1) they are stylish as fuck and 2) because it felt like you were rewarded for being a fan. At least until shit went south after 2000 and SNK got bought and sold by about 80 different Pachinko companies.

In between these two phases of my life, I had been given a copy of KOF ’95 for the Game Boy for my birthday. I was excited, because oh my god it has the Team Edit, so you can make your own teams, instead of the pre-set ones you had to pick in ’94! I played the absolute fuck out of that game every day during and after school (because I sure as fuck wasn’t paying any attention in class). I would play it at home. I loved this game, and loved the characters and they cutesy art style they all had on the Game Boy. I knew all the secret codes by heart (press Select about twenty times when you turn on the Game Boy and you can play as Saisyu, Rugal, Nakoruru, and pick the same character more than once). So much fun. My favorite character was Kensou, because he wore shorts, and I also wore shorts, but I got made fun of for wearing shorts. See, I was a very skinny kid, so I got called “Chicken Legs” a lot. And on days where I wore cut-off shorts? Oh man, that was rough. Only faggots wore cut-offs, and in those days and at that age, being gay was a fate worse than death! I would ask my mom and dad to please get some pants, and they would say no, I spent money on those clothes, and I took the time to cut those pants into shorts, so you are going to go to school and you are going to wear them! Anyways, Kensou wore shorts and shot fireballs, so he quickly became my favorite character.

Now, a couple of things to admit to here:

1) Once I got the original Neo-Geo games on my PC, I never played this version again until it was time to write this.

2) I front-loaded this post with a ton of nostalgia talk because, upon replaying this game, I made a horrible discovery: that The King of Fighters ’95 on Game Boy is absolute fucking dog shit.

I remembered this game being great! Then, I played it. The controls are beyond unresponsive, with massive input lag. Landing any kind of attack is a matter of luck. Jumping causes you to fly from one end of the stage to another, making jump attacks completely useless. It plays like one of those “Strret Figgter vs Nortal Kambot.nes” bootlegs. Of course, this being an SNK fighting game, the CPU will take every opportunity to fucking kill you immediately (kid me must have been smart enough to turn this shit down to “easy” or something). Attacks, when they actually do come out, have next to zero range on them. Projectiles are always dodged by the enemy, so trying to spam those is a fools game. A little PROTIP from me: the key to victory is picking Ralf, Kim, and Eiji, and simply using their special moves, which do more chip damage than actual hit damage; a properly aimed dive kick from Eiji can one-hit KO an opponent.

This game is so bad, and I am so bummed. I thought that I would write a little thing about this fun game I played as a kid because a new game in the series is out. Instead, I have to shake my head and question how I was ever able to find enjoyment in this. It wasn’t like I was starved for good Game Boy games. I had Mario Land! I had Kirby! I had Space Invaders! I had Link’s Awakening! There was not a stark lack of quality in my library that my standards were so low for KOF to clear it. Was it simply me being a stupid kid and “oh wow Neo-Geo game in my pocket” was enough to give it a thumbs up? In only a few years, the Neo-Geo Pocket would be out, and show how a handheld KOF game is supposed to be done. As it is, this port is a meaningless roadbump. Now all I have is this fond memory that isn’t as good as I remember it. That sucks.

another year

The yearly bill for this site was due on Monday. Obviously, I paid it, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to read this. Running this has been a lot more worthwhile of an investment in that last couple of years, and I’d like to keep this going for as long as possible.

There is a problem, however. My hosting provider has decided that the costs are going up next year, and I guess I don’t get any sort of grandfathered clause or anything to not have to spend more money, despite being a paying customer since 2006. So, I have decided that I am really going to get my money’s worth even more than I have lately. This is, essentially, my house, and I feel like living in it. This has mostly been a space for essays and reviews and such, but what if I did more shitposting? What if I just, you know, fucking posted stuff for the sake of posting? Having fun? Didn’t follow any sort of rules other than my own? Post some songs or some lewd shit I found online. I have done this every now and again, as recently as December, but I feel like I should be fucking around more often. Here’s a couple pictures of catboys I found online. Why am I posting these? Because why not? You’re welcome.

Speaking of December, things have definitely been a lot better in the old brain region since then. Turns out, it’s actually a really good idea to simply cut out a lot of unnecessary bull shit in my life before I get completely Jokerfied, rather than simply mostly Jokerfied. Avoiding discourse, or playing Guess Who? Sexual Predator Edition, and shit like that has been great. I have spent my time since then simply enjoying myself: playing TV Games, watching an*me and indie wrestling, and generally being a perverted little goblin in my private time. Trying to enjoy my mid-30s as best I can during year three of “oh fuck, my chronically ill ass better not go outside unless I absolutely need to!” I’m under a blanket in my Gamer Chair, playing a pirated copy of Bayonetta on PC (in case I need to justify piracy to any new and probably now former readers, I’ve already paid for it twice on two different consoles, so fuck off), and listening to a fucking ton of death metal and Post-Rock. Oh yeah, I’ve been listening to death metal more regularly since December. Strangely, it’s very good at helping me focus and pay attention when I’m working on stuff. I could really stand to include more goth metal in the playlist.

That’s how I’ve been. As for how I’m doing, I’m just vibing, bro. Waiting for King of Fighters XV to come out next week and kick my friend Hazel’s ass in it (the opposite will happen). I plan on getting back into streaming on a regular basis, looking at cool and obscure old stuff. AEW Revolution is the beginning of March, the same day as the first race of the new F1 season. Hoping for a ring that actually explodes and a season that doesn’t end in bull shit, respectively. Other than that, I plan on remaining chill as fuck. Write some cool shit. Finish making some cool games. I want 2022 to be the year I finally wash and dry clean my brain of many years of garbage.

Think I’ll end this with more pictures of erotic maid outfits. That seems like a good idea. Like I said, fuck it, this shit is about to cost a hair under $200 next year, so I may as well go all in and post whatever the fuck I want, up to and including examples of an extremely mild fetish I have.

How about another song too?

tony hawk’s pro skater 1+2 remaster

I remember when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 had come out. School had let out for the day, and I had made the five minute walk over to a friend’s house. My friend was sitting in his room, Playstation on, and he looked at me and said, “look!” He had already gotten his copy of THPS2, and was skating around in the school level. He always got games at release, not because he was loaded or saved up his money, but because his older brother worked at Hollywood Video, and constantly stole their games to either sell or for his and his brothers’ enjoyment. Think he’s still doing time in prison for armed robbery.

Anyways. I remember watching him fly around in the school, a level that looked and felt bigger than any level I had played in Tony Hawk 1, to the sounds of Papa Roach’s “Blood Brothers,” the only time it has ever been acceptable to listen to Papa Roach. The game grabbed me in a way few games had grabbed me up until that point. Now, I had definitely played through the first game. More than once, even. But, especially in retrospect, Tony Hawk 1 feels like a trial run for all the things Tony Hawk 2 would do. I love Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. It is one of my absolute, all-time favorite games, and I make it a point to play through it at least once a year since I first saw it in 2000, getting a 100% completion in every level. I have every park layout committed to memory. I sing along to every song, except for the couple of Hip-Hop tracks where I need to Follow The Rules. I mess around with the Create-A-Park editor, making a fun little box of ramps and rails. It will never get old.

Back in 2020, I got the Tony Hawk Remaster on the PS4 as a birthday gift. Then a week ago, I got it on PC for a price that may as well have been free. I only offhandedly talked about the PS4 game back when I played it, describing it as “Tony Hawk, but with more stuff.” This is true, but I feel like there’s more to talk about, and that’s what I’m going to do here.

I’ve said in previous posts that I would consider Resident Evil on the Gamecube the best video game remake there is. This is because my stupid ass was so wrapped up in the RE series that I forgot about Tony Hawk. As far as I am concerned: me, Ramona, in 2022, says that the Tony Hawk 1+2 Remaster is the actual best remake. It is everything I loved about the original games, but better. It runs better, looks better, sounds better, controls better. As a game, it is flat out a better experience than loading up the original on my PSX. There’s some new songs, some new skaters, the Create-A-Skater is slightly more robust, and that Create-A-Park is a thing of wonder.

none of these are my face

sp**d

I’m trying to be careful here, because the whole thing about this trend of remakes and remasters is built upon a cynical foundation of marketable nostalgia; do you remember [THING]? Well, here is [THING] again, with some high-definition graphics now! Rarely is there ever a feeling that one of these games is put together out of genuine appreciation for what made the original so great. At risk of falling for my memories being marketed to, I don’t think this is the case here. This isn’t just Tony Hawk, but better. I play this, and it’s 2000 again. I’m back in my friend Brian’s condo, in his dark, windowless basement/bedroom. It’s the weekend, and we’re planning on being up all night, filling up on candy and soda we got from the Safeway down the street. We’re going to listen to loud music with the blacklight turned on, enjoying our stolen video games, talking about girls in class we want to fuck, because this is an escape. We live in a shitty neighborhood, come from broken homes, and are still recovering from the trauma of being straight up physically assaulted by some police officers only a couple of months prior. Landing a sweet combo of over 100,000 points to forget about being slammed head-first into concrete, having drugs hastily shoved into my pockets, and some pork-scented fuck forcing me to put my fingerprints on a gun. And what could we do about it, call the cops? This is definitely not an innocent time, yet it is one I still look at fondly because the human brain does not make any sense. I’m doing cool, physically impossible tricks with a skateboard because the world outside kind of sucks. It feels good to illegally experience the breadth of the Playstation’s peak (1998-2000) under the calming glow of a blacklight, listening to Jack Off Jill albums over and over. Riding around schools and parks with my friend and calling each other gay as a pejorative because otherwise we would give in to the darkness. Well, actually, my friend would give in to the darkness within a year or two. I have no idea what he’s up to these days, assuming he’s even still around.

Tony Hawk Remastered trades on nostalgia, and for once, I don’t mean this as an insult. Like skateboard culture itself, this is a game where the loners and the weirdos can fit in just as easily as anyone else. Playing this brought back a flood of memories, both good and bad. Not just memories of playing the game nearly 22 years ago, but memories of a different time, a different world even. The memories are the same and the skating is the same. Despite all of the new additions, it feels like nothing has changed, or that I went back in time. I don’t think this remake would have been nearly as good otherwise.

The original Tony Hawk had a particular aesthetic that it well and truly landed: that Y2K, pre-9/11 style. We (“we” meaning “kids”) were leaving the edgelord 90s, and making our way into the hopeful future. Then, well, everything happened, and that came to a screeching halt. The remake is explicitly set during a wide-scale COVID shutdown, with the schools being closed in lieu of at-home learning, and messenger planes in Ventura telling you to “Wash Your Hands” and “Wear A Mask.” Weird how one game can manage to be a time capsule for two very different times. When I played Tony Hawk 2, school sucked, home sucked, the streets sucked. I bet there’s a whole new generation of kids out there who will play this during a time when home sucks, school sucks, the streets suck, and now there’s the threat of a virus that world leaders are using as a proxy eugenics tool. And I bet that just like me, the kids who make it will look back upon this game fondly. Maybe they’ll play it once a year, too. PROTIP: store-brand soda is cheaper, allowing you to buy more of it when you don’t have a lot of money. Strawberry shortcake ice cream bars and Creme Savers (strawberry or orange) go really well together. One more PROTIP: if you know a guy who gives you weird pills after class and you held onto them until the weekend, don’t make the mistake I did and try chewing them like a fucking Flintstones tablet; only bad times ahead.