With the American Super Battle Opera qualifiers coming up next weekend, I thought it'd be fun to check in with the tournament director, Jason Wilson. He's a really tough old schooler who has been running tournaments big and small for many years now. Good luck to everyone heading down to Nashville to fight it out!
Quick blog news: 1) I updated the previous post. 2) AFO (BL), Muneo (OS) and Numa (BX) Q'ed for SBO. 3) No more updates until next week.
NH2: Could you tell us a bit about the qualifier venue, Game Galaxy? How has running the arcade been going so far?
DreamTR: It's been quite a ride, we've been open since Nov 2008 and it's not our only location with arcade machines, it just happened to become a centralized location for us to grow out of by pure random luck. We opened with about 60 machines shared with another person and now we currently have 125 machines on the floor and another 80 or so in storage. I used to actually "draw" arcade room when I was in elementary school, trying to create the perfect arcade with rooms based on genres (and when I saw game rooms like this in Japan I was amazed) but I thought I was probably going to open more of a game store when I got older as opposed to an arcade purely based on arcades being relatively extinct these days.
I'm pretty sure we agree that fighting games are more exciting when played in an arcade - why do you think that is?
The essence of competition is played out better in a public venue. People always argue that they can play at home for free and just hang out there and do what they want, but not every community has players that want to go to other people's houses and at a public place it is bit more exciting knowing you have to "win" to stay on the machines. Comfort levels are there at home, but learning to adjust (especially in a tournament setting) is crucial and first learned at an arcade. People also have to realize that many schedules conflict, and the joy of an arcade is that communities can gather and use it as a central gaming hub/meeting place that will only breed more competitive nature as new people "see" the VS battles going on and become intrigued by this aspect of gaming.
What made you want to run the SBO ST qualifiers?
Super Turbo to me is a legacy game and it is the last of the arcade Street Fighter games still being played. No home version was ever agreed upon as a suitable comparison for the game and I think based on EVO's track record with different games each year on multiple consoles/arcade for variations of Super Turbo and even Anniversary Edition one year really conflicted a lot of players at one point, but hardocore players all agree the arcade version of Super Turbo is the only suitable version. I think with CVS2/3s at least having multiple playable home versions and a lot of people overlooking the classic mode of HD Remix as a suitable practice venue, you have what really is an important arcade game that is still holding up well in pockets of the United States and telling that it is still a viable game in Japan.
Who are some of the tough local players at Game Galaxy? Which characters do they use? Any special tactics people watching the stream should look out for?
Our strongest players all play Super Street Fighter IV (including myself) almost exclusively and because of the age difference in players, not many of the HD Remix players ever cut their teeth on a real arcade Super Turbo machine. Our strongest Super Turbo player is not entering the tournament, but our second strongest in the state, Tad "Alphakami" Griggs, a Chun-Li player who placed top 5 at Final Round in years past, will be entering as well as Jacob Ford who won our Super Turbo qualifier tournament allowing him to automatically be in the semifinal bracket in the first of three SBO qualifier tournaments we are holding on July 24.
Have you found time to get some casual games in? What characters have you been using lately?
I stopped playing Super Turbo the day Street Fighter IV came out. I have played some casual games but the lack of serious competitive gamers for anything other than Super Street Fighter IV in the arcade creates a large void for anyone who does come up to play the game since 99% of the players will play SSF4 instead. When I do get a chance to play ST these days, Zangief seems to be my character of choice, but I always used the entire cast, so it just depends on my mood.
I know you're not the Tennessee / Kentucky Super Turbo coach, but just pretend for a moment: what would you tell local guys to focus on when fighting Phil's DJ? Jeron's Bison? Immortal's Vega?
Watch Phil's charge times, respect his wake-up abilities, he has a hard time with grabs, Jeron you have to concentrate on knocking him down and crossing him up more, and since you really can not jump at Immortal you have to hit him low and knock him down with ground game mixups and sweeps.
Looking past the qualifiers, what advice do you have for the winners for doing well at the main event?
Get accustomed to Japanese style Astro Cities as much as possible in arcades in Japan before the tournament. Everyone has their own comfort zone and like in the old days, this is one of those tournaments where you will need to get used to the layouts, cabinet, and noise. Other than that, just relax, take a deep breath and represent the USA well!
I want to wrap up with something a little different. You guys have a wonderful line-up of Pinball games. What goes into keeping the machines running? What are some of your favorite pins and why?
Proper cleaning and ordering of parts and maitenance. We would put more pinballs in there if we had room, but they don't make as much money as we would like, therefore we have to be careful with how much we spend on them.
My favorite pins are Elvira and The Party Monsters, Demolition Man, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and The Sopranos. We have a lot of good ones at the arcade like Theatre of Magic and Addams Family; most of those really are from a time period where I was playing them at locations that involved Street Fighter but they were the "side pieces" and they really were something I completely enjoyed over the years when traveling to arcades. There's a ton more pinball machines that I love, but each one of them will have a specific piece of history moreso as to when and where I played them as opposed to why I like them...