Hey gang! This is a multi-part series about my love of fighting games. It covers my humble beginnings as a child, my obsession as a teenager, and how I became the Canadian champion as an adult. Go here to read Part 1, then go here for Part 2, and come back when you’re done for Part 3. It ends on a cliffhanger again, so subscribe to my RSS feed or Twitter account to get updated when I publish Part 4 (someday).

It’s the summer of 2002, and I’ve just moved to Montreal, Canada from France. I have left my life behind for the second time, and at this point am kind of tired of rebuilding. Think about it: I moved to France when I was 15, and took a couple of years to make close friends that I cared about and that accepted me. Then halfway through my 18th year, I left it all behind to start again.

The problem was, this time I didn’t have high school to make friends in. I wasn’ t in the same classroom, with the same people, every day of the week. Instead, I was at university, and as we all know, North American universities have different classes with different people in them every day.

It was really hard to create a connection with people that I saw 1 hour at a time, twice a week. More importantly, I was fed up with having to make new friends all the time. So I did the only thing I knew: I went to my local arcade.

It was called Pinnochio’s, and it had only one Tekken machine: the dreaded, evil Tekken 4. Let’s take a moment to talk about that game.

Why Tekken 4 Sucks

For those of you that don’t know, Tekken 4 is sort of the black sheep of the Tekken family. It was innovative in that it introduced a couple of brand new elements to the Tekken series. For the first time, stages had walls that limited the space available, and also made wall combos possible. Certain stages also had terrain that players could maneuver around, such as pillars and slopes. Gameplay-wise, the left grab was replaced with a push, which you could use to push/pull your opponent to where you wanted him. Just-Frames were also introduced, requiring very precise timing to get the moves you wanted to come out.

Unfortunately, the game was built with a few huge flaws, which weren’t so apparent at first glance. The walls and strange levels made infinite combos possible for certain characters, a gross abberration in the Tekken series. The character balance was off as well. Certain members of the cast, such as Jin and Steve, were incredibly overpowered, rendering many matchups completely useless and no fun at all.

Perhaps worst of all, the character movement, ie sidestep and backdash, were grossly nerfed. For a series that became famous thanks to its revolutionary movement, which was kicked off 5 years earlier by Tekken 3, killing the characters’ ability to maneuver was a big mistake. And to compound it all, the strongest members of the cast were given jabs that moved them forwards, effectively meaning you could 1,2 your way to victory, and your opponent couldn’t get out of it.

Finally, the game was glitchy as fuck. Check the video below for some hilarity.

Videogames Brought Me Friends

Back to me. I went to Pino’s, and began playing Tekken 4, which I sucked at. Thankfully, as with my situation in Geneva, I went often enough that I got better at the game. I began to see some regular players show up at the arcades, and although they weren’t as talkative with me as they were with each other, I still had lots of fun playing with them.

They sort of had an arcade etiquette, which I soon learned. If someone put a coin on the machine, they got the next game. When you’re beating someone down hard, and they haven’t won a round yet, give them a mercy round, because they’re paying, and it sucks to lose three straight really fast. Finally, if your opponent doesn’t know how to beat what you’re doing, tell him. It’s the only way to get them to improve, and it’ll also help you get better, because you’ll learn to counter their counter.

I got used to playing with them, and having a good time at the arcade, but I was still missing some real friends. I went on Tekkenzaibatsu, and looked for players in the Montreal area. Sure enough, some people responsed and I met up with them at the arcade.

After a couple of games, they realized I was pretty good, and one of them, Shyft aka Adam, invited me back to his house. We all took the bus about to his place, and started playing on his PS2. I shocked them all by talking shit like a psycho.

“Oh yea my little bitches, can you handle all my low kicks, look how much damage I’m doing to you. You like it, YOU LIKE IT! God I’m so amazing, I’m gonna beat you all down and make you cry. Did you like that, whore?”

After tolerating me for a little while, Adam said “Dude, stop talking all this shit. We don’t do that around here.” I was terribly embarassed, and shut my mouth. Thankfully, they didn’t take it personally (and over the years, they learned to shit talk as well. But I’ll talk about that in Part 4). We all had a great time, and Adam and I became fast friends. I hung out at his house every weekend after that. I would show up on Friday night, and we would play games, eat junk food, smoke and drink all the way through to Sunday afternoon.

It was magic. Through Adam, I got introduced to the other members of the community. Al_X, QCPrince, SmokingDevil, Trevor, Jim, Joey, Biggs and many others all became my friends. We would all get together, at someone’s house or the arcade, play games and have fun.

It took a while, but once again, thanks to fighting games, especially Tekken, I made some real friends. I still see most of them to this day, although some have moved on from games to other pursuits.

And Adam? Saying he’s my friend would be wrong. At this point, 9 years later, we are brothers. He took me to my first rave, taught me about life in Canada, helped me become more social. We went to tournaments together, partied together, lived together, and travelled to Tokyo together. He was the first friend I made in Montreal, and to this day has never let me down.

Who knew fighting games could bring people together in such a way? But then again, things in Canada were only just beginning.

Continue To Part 4

4 comments add your comment

    • I know, isn’t it funny that such an unlikely friendship would develop over our shared love of a videogame?

  1. Oh boss I have tears a bit <3. Love the story bro! Takes me back to those good days and makes me remember why I was so in to the scene!

    • Yes boss! We had so much fun in those days, back when the world was young. The only thing we worried about was having enough cash on Sunday to buy some dirty Belle Province 75¢ hotdogs 😀

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