Sunday, July 12, 2015

Spider-Man

Friendly neighbourhood...

As Marvel prepares to reset the Universe once again, the Spider-Man comics (amongst many others) will once again start with all-new issue ones.

If you follow me on my frequent nerd rants on Facebook, I talk alot about the longetivity of Western comics versus Japanese Manga and how the Western comics struggle to keep their characters relevant for centuries and centuries to come... Often leading to these retcon events, as we are witnessing now... Something I'm not a very big fan of.

But that's another story for another time... Just like Comic Book movies having too much of an influence on their source material... Another story for another time.

Whatever direction the new Spider-Man books take, I want to tell you more about this character that I love dearly and why I love him even more than other Superheroes of that time.

I never read DC. I never followed the books. I know one or two things, but wasn't fan of their books. Stan Lee once said that the biggest problem he had with Superman is that he was too good he could do no wrong. There was something about that that bothered him. I guess it sort of bothered me as well. Superman is indeed too strong.

Marvel was always my preference. Spider-Man was the first character I knew about and read.

Now bare in my mind I was just a kid... The things I look out for in Comic Books were characters with amazing costumes, action... you know, boy stuff... But even then, as a kid, the first thing that struck me was that Uncle Ben had died due to Peter's arrogance... Where the whole "With great power comes great responsibility." originated from... That was the first thing that struck a chord with me.

Spider-Man is very human, as human as you and me. He is a hero you can relate to, going through things you would go through. For me, what I always love about the Spider-Man story is the triumph of a loser making good with his life, despite adversity, despite everything, becoming a hero to rise above all and marrying the girl of his dreams, yes, M.J is the greatest... This is the part about Spider-Man I love the most. I'm sure it gave many kids, myself included, that belief that you could do it too. That's why Spider-Man is amazing.

I've enjoyed so many Spider-Man story arcs over the years... The Venom arc, when Todd McFarlane was drawing it... Even the newer stuff where they screwed the lore upside-down, I thought they would be bad books... But I actually really love the Superior Spider-Man run as well as the One More Day storyline.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, however they change the Spider-Man comics, let's hope and pray, the heart of the story always stays the same.

-

Fun Fact! The artist(s) that I think draws the best Spider-Man is Mark Bagley and Todd McFarlane.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The End of an Era - Street Fighter 4

The End of an Era - Street Fighter 4

Capcom has just announced that the "highly anticipated" Street Fighter 5 (SFV) will be released in the Spring of 2016. That marks the end of the Street Fighter 4 (SF4) series which only lasted about 7 years... Seems like it was just 2008 yesterday!

It also marks the end of many other things. Quite possibly Fighting Games as a staple in the Arcades... To a certain extend, maybe even the death of the Arcades as SFV is exclusive to the PS4 and PC, which from a business perspective makes more sense. The days of the Arcade are better to be left as a memory and any hopes of actually reviving it seems absolutely unrealistic. The Arcades, like any other business, has to generate revenue to be sustainable, cabinet games that run on 50 cents a game aren't going to give you that.

As the tournament front moves towards the console era of gaming, SF4 surprisingly did not last very long as compared to its predecessors, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (Turbo) and Street Fighter 3 - Third Strike (3S), which have both achieved legendary statuses as a classic tournament game. Equipped with perhaps too many unbalance things that actually make the game perfectly balanced (A somewhat misplaced quote from a friend.) People still talk about these games with enthusiasm, as proven by the fact that you can still, on occasion,  catch the Ol' Skool Turbo Players duking it out on a Friday night at the Bugis arcade. 3S, while probably is the hardest Street Fighter game to master, is extremely entertaining to watch at a high level and is frequently requested for at tournaments.

Third Strike - The best version of Street Fighter in my opinion

The longevity of such games was one of the key inspirations in the development of SF4, as I briefly read Producer Yoshinori Ono, wanting SF4 to be played for another 20 years so the announcement of SF5 comes as much of a surprise to me.

And now, on to the more important question, What do I think of Street Fighter V?

I was asked this question on stream at the ALPHACUP last Saturday and while my brain was telling me to go ape on it, I actually gave a very low key account on my thoughts of the game.

From all the footage that I've watched thus far, the initial game trailer, demo exhibition matches between Daigo and GamerBee and also the recently announced inclusion of Nash (Charlie) as a playable character in SF5, the game seems to rely heavily on the use of the Unreal Engine 4 to really make that PS4 money shine. High impact graphics, characters flying through walls, yada-yada... Perhaps that sort of thing would impress the average gamer, but to me, I find the game sluggish, slow, a big question mark on whether it will become THE main event game at any tournament, THE sort of game that will be competed for 10s or 1000s of dollars... The same questions I asked about Street Fighter x Tekken, (Which I thought was an awful game by the way.)

Oooh, scary...

The theme seems recurring, with every new Fighting Game introduce by Capcom, and that theme is to make the game more assessable, make it easier for people to play, make it so that more people will play...  Then we throw a bunch of useless DLCs in and make them buy... I think in desperately trying to keep the business of video games afloat, the simple idea of making the best Fighting Game ever is lost. I'm talking about the glory days of Fighting Games... When Capcom went head-to-head with Neo Geo... Amazing titles after titles were released, each with it's own one up over the other... Fatal Fury... Samurai Showdown... X-Men: Children of the Atom... (To a certain extend Art of Fighting because you could make the female characters show their bra if you finish them off with a Fireball, great Fan Service.) All these games were so unique in their own sense, I remember as a kid going to the Arcades that I would find it really really hard dividing my pocket money (which was very little) just so I could PLAY ALL OF THEM! If SF5 was to be released in the Arcades today and I brought my kid there, I bet the only thing he would say is, "Wah, the graphics very nice ah?"

Awesome

But of course, many people said the same thing about SF4 when it was released, that it was a game for scrubs to play. Which isn't exactly true, SF4 is a game where scrubs could beat pros, if they did the right things at the right time. SF4 turned out to be a great game actually, I have my qualms about the AE Version though but they fixed that with the rebalancing patch, Version 2012. SF4 also brought me many new friends and brought me along a very long journey (Reference Round1.sg, TXL...), I was given the opportunity to establish myself as both a Commentator and Emcee for the game as well as being a Community Leader. (In a way, I was like an Ambassador) When SF5 hits, who knows... I might be too lazy to learn the game all over, would be a nice time to say goodbye to the whole show in general and just leave it for a new set of individuals who might want to do these things with the same passion I had back in 2009, cheers to that and all the best.

So I guess the bigger question is, what do YOU think of Street Fighter V?

With ♥,

The Vice Capt.

Jonda

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"There are no problems, only solutions."

I remember the first forms of Social Media and messaging tools on the internet, they were wonderful ways to speak, like you couldn't in the presence of peers. An avenue to express your thoughts... Sometimes just one thought, to tell by not telling, share by not sharing, hopeful someone truly meaningful would get you.

Surely you've kept a good wall on Facebook or feed on Twitter... One in which you can look back with fond memories. I looked back at mine... With much disdain at times, wondering why indeed I spoke a certain way or did certain things. Of course they are not all doom and gloom... Just that, I always come across a particular post or a message or a picture that sort of sours the memory of the past year(s).

"I shouldn't have said that." "I could have handled the situation better." "Why did I say that?" Thoughts like these run through my mind as I go through them. Makes you wonder why I even started clicking in the first place.

I, like you, live with some demons that never stay buried. Regret... Even then is a word I hate to succumb to... But yes, I do carry the weight of some of them till this day, Mostly those of unresolved stories that I wished would have turned out different.

I wished I was a better person then, as I wish I was now.

I hope you do not think of me as self-righteous, but it is with much sincerity that I hope everybody takes a few steps back tonight and think about all that venomous rants and hate you read about on Social Media everyday, some of which written by yourself, some of which written by first, second or third degree friends that you have recklessly "liked" and "shared".

I hope you do not think that this aimless cloud of negativity that you have irresponsibly build, can go away with the feign of ignorance and a casual wave of the hand.

Problems are hand-made, just as solutions are.

We start with our own two hands, before we reach out for another.

It's time we ended the cycle of hate.

With ❤︎,

The Vice Capt.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Love Your Life

Love your life. Your happiness is yours, do not let anybody tell you otherwise. Do not be afraid. "For those who are in power do not give it up so easily." Time is a constant that only moves forward. You lose a girl, you'll fall in love again. You're down in debt, you'll earn it back again. But when time is lost you do not get it back even if you wanted to pay for it. Your life, live it. Your life, love it. Your choice, make it. Everybody has a choice. There is never a situation otherwise. There is always a choice. Do not let anybody tell you otherwise. The majority do not like to deal with their choices, they'd rather walk themselves into a wall. But you don't have to be like them.

Why not be yourself for a change? Why not be true?

Negativity is a commoner's problem. Remove yourself from it. Your life, love it with everything you've got. Stay true, stay focus.

"Everything will be alright in the end."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Official Sleight of Charm x Team Xialan First Collaboration T-Shirt


We are really excited to announce the next phase in Vagina X's life and we're kicking this off with a Kickstater-esque campaign to launch the ALL-NEW Sleight of Charm x Team Xialan T-Shirt. Printed on original American Apparel t-shirts, we have decided to take this project completely E and use the kind services of teespring.com so help us get this t-shirt to production! As always, TXL makes no profit whatsoever and we have set the cost of the tee at it's bare minimal of $19 USD! Reserve yours now!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vashion Vips from the Vice Capt TWO - Chanel with an extra "N"


“There is a time for work, and a time for love. That leaves no other time.”


- Coco Chanel

Something's been bothering me for the longest time. I've watched it, seen it grow out of nothing. A once elegant pair of Chanel earrings, so sparkling it blinds, so elegant it commands respect, place in the hands of the perfect woman, the perfect beauty, now, worn by every trendy Toa Payoh Ah Lian with a Sports Car Boyfriend in arm. A reminisce of that once familiar era in the 90s, where top Fashion brands like Valentino, MCM and Versace, were massacred by the Zha Fit Yans of Cineleisure and AMK Jubilee.

Those earrings were actually nice, they would make a great gift for my lovely wife on our wedding anniversary.

And then it came to pass, that the Chanel necklace is now the most sought-after Fashion accessory of every girl. It don't matter if you are Skeleton King or fat, Abigail Ugly or Goddess, Ba Ge or scrawny, EVERY GIRL must have A Chanel NECKLACE. Even though that necklace is so fucking ugly. It is so fucking ugly because that chain is too thick and it doesn't shine, the pendant looks boxy and stiff and is similar to a pendant I'd buy for my beloved dog's collar. Yet every girl must have it,must wear it. Even if they know nothing about Chanel, even if they own nothing else by Chanel, they'll wear that Chanel necklace proud, with their Levi's Jeans and Kate Spade bag. Nope, no wrong here, nothing wrong at all.

Look all that aside, the bottom line is, you look silly. If you can't pull it off, don't force it. There are tons of luxury goods out that that'll flatter you. I'm not one for jewelry, neither do I claim to know a lot about Chanel as a brand, but at least I know what over-saturation is. What is this... Some kind of Primary 4 level Moral Education on Peer Pressure? You see your friends wearing one, you also must go out and buy one?

Just because you can afford luxury goods, doesn't mean you should wear them.

Friday, March 28, 2014

TXL, BLP and All Other Acronyms Associated With The FGC / Memoirs of a Vice Capt. - THREE

Arcadia

Arcadia, the arcade from across the Bugis Street, closed it doors for good on the 24th of March this year, 2014. It was a great place for me really, where I began, where I grew, what I became in the FGC, I owe most of it to Arcadia. (and Colosseum. The people basically who powered these houses) It was the story we all worked really hard at, that we hoped would come out strong and victorious, but... There is always a but...

That's not what this is about. The whole "Memoirs" series had to come to this at some point in time. And about time, we take it back to THAT time, loaded with controversies, accusations, turmoil, hate... You name it. Just when you look back, you take all that away, it is also a story of milestones, achievements and happiness.

It was right around that time, planning for Round1's Birthday tournament, (Or was it after...) well, I got news that TL who had quitted Round1 wanted back, and was allowed back in. As one of the founding Fathers of the local FGC and the initiator of many things, he assumed the role right away and took charge. Battle Medley Singapore (BMS) was created that year to become Singapore's premier Major, as well as the coveted Tougeki SBO Arcade Tournament held qualifiers in Singapore for the first time in the history of the competition, much of that, you have TL to credit for putting those on a plate and getting the meal started.

But (always a "But"), we all did not agree immediately, the committee was divided. A division so great that would lead to a stepping down of 2, and the team was now cut to 4. I for one wasn't too happy with the SBO gig, because TL took it upon himself to touch base with Tornado (Management house of Arcadia/Colosseum) to work out a sponsorship for the event. Arcadia was always gonna be the direct competitor of our then no.1 supporting arcade, TKA, since they placed themselves right in the heart of Bugis, many saw that as a offensive move to try and take a piece of the pie. Nonetheless, TKA was doing many a good things for us then, with the support and such and I, was the sort of person who preferred to remain loyal to brands and services, to people who treated me well. I was very, very unwilling to do this. It was comparable to a footballer sponsored by Adidas, to be seen in public decked in Nike running gear.

So then, thanks to a 4 hour long conference call between TL, Ah Tet and I, nothing changed, we were still gonna go ahead and do BMS and SBO with whatever limited resources and manpower only thing, TL told me to go take the SBO project on my own, gave me full reins. Which at first I thought,

"Fucking smart. I never wanted to do this, you go give me full control like it's a big deal and then you go do the big one with BMS and the Japanese stars and the new version of Street Fighter. Damn good this deal." (The community at that time had no idea Choco and Momochi were headed to Singapore as the stars of BMS.)

Sometime later, we were at this hugely awkward meeting with some big shots from Tornado, hammering out the details of the sponsorship. I was there, Ah Tet was there... TL... I can't remember who else... Some were busy playing game across the street and I vaguely remember someone in that table said,

"Where is Eloise? Get her to sit in this meeting." (If you are familiar with the TXL timeline, Eloise would go on to become E.Tan and star in many famous TXL stories and take picture with you all.)

And this relatively tall, or was it the heels, tall, lady... Or a girl... Or a girl who looked kind of matured... Or what was it... Well this lady walk right through... The door... to our table, with a smile, and a dimple, and thick makeup, and I instantly INSTANTLY knew, just WHY she was sitting in for this meeting. They think they can wind up a bunch of nerds into making stupid decisions just by placing a very attractive lady in the meeting and making her the direct point of contact. HAH. Well clearly, they are underestimating these bunch of nerds.

Was what I thought.

Eloise and I would gon on to become very good friends thanks to the SBO project. Even before friends, we formed a remarkable work partnership, the likes of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton... Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore... Batman and Robin... You get the idea... It was so good until rumours started circulating within the scene, which would later become a staple of the scene, the part about gossip I mean, that we were perhaps too close... That there was something going on... Suddenly my agenda was a point of contention, people started doubting my integrity, questioning my standpoint, if it was for Round1 or for Tornado.

Less we forget, I never asked to be in this position. I never asked for this project, I did not want to do it. So...

Anyway, Eloise and I were in contact virtually every day. And any other day, I was seen having lunch with her, or she would pop by Bugis for a quick catch-up, and the thing about it was, we were always communicating, back and forth, throwing ideas, we had so much creative input together, so much we wanted to do with the SBO gig you wouldn't imagine. We wanted to turned the whole thing into a festival, take up the atrium space in Iluma, run a bazaar together with the tournament, it was gonna be a spectacle! And we pushed at every idea, we knocked on every door till they were closed, then we opened another. We could not stop.

In the end? SBO wasn't such a bad experience now was it? 2 qualifying stages, 1 Grand Finals for a trip to Japan to represent Singapore at SBO. Played at the club, Se7en (Now defunct), we had official merchandise, t-shirts and badges we sold to cover back costs, custom designed by the wonderful Matte. Eloise got us happy hour beer and a custom menu just for the Grand Finals where Vx and I sold a record amount of Chicken WING. Arcade cabs hooked up to 3 FUCKING BIG cinema-type screens on the wall. We had our own DJ, resident FGC DJ Niko, with a killer setlist to warm things up. Long before CEO did the ring walk-ins, we did it with tailored soundtracks for every team to walk out to. (My personal favourites were Dixon's team walking out to Taylor Swift and Paul's team walking out to Livin' on a Prayer) We streamed that shit out for what must have been a 8.95 divided by 3 million quality of the finals and had only 30 viewers! THE WHOLE SHIT WAS CRAY.

And I loved every minute of it. Right from where it began, to where we shut it down. That SBO Qualifiers, was and still is, my proudest moment in the FGC. And I couldn't have done it, without the support of everyone from Tornado... Zen... Eloise... Daw... That intern... Those shirt and tie people... I owe it much to them for they never said "No", they never said I could not do anything. They listened, they seek my advice, they gave me advice, but most of all, they trusted in me to make this work.

If I could turn back time and do it all over again, without a shadow of a doubt, I would jump at the opportunity... Minus the 4 hour long conversation on the first day of Chinese New Year.

Eloise would continue to help me even after the SBO gig. We pushed for a major overhaul of the BlazBlue community with the help of Arcadia. As much as TXL was born from Arcadia and Colosseum, so did Rebel2, and most people wouldn't know this, the nights Vx spent doggingly pushing for the Rebel2 concept and getting them housed under Arcadia.

When Yama came to me, many months later, after I was done with SF... Or BB... Again very much prepared to watch my hands off the FGC for the umpteen time, Yama came to me with the idea of starting a Wednesday NIght Fights kind of thing to kickstart and build hype and players for the then released Marvel Vs Capcom 3. What you would now come to know as BFF, Battlefield Fridays, was born from Iluma as well, this time as it was something we had to run on console, Colosseum opened their doors and their private gaming rooms to let us run this. Desmond even went as far as to allow us to use the projectors and that FUCKING BIG CINEMA-TYPE screen on the wall to project the matches. All for dirt cheap, I mean, what he was charging us, if that fucking big cinema-type screen were to malfunction under our care? What he charged us wouldn't even cover half of its repair fees.

BFF grew into something more than Marvel later, we started running other games and even went back to doing SF, which the good Technicians of Arcadia helped with unplugging and bringing the cabinets up to Colosseum and hooking it up to those fucking big cinema-type screens again. Week in and out.

Yet with all the support they provided for me, I never could match my only given KPI. I never could grow a player base in Arcadia. I never succeeded in increasing their existing player base. With BFF and Rebel2, I thought I could drive players there to practise and host training sessions, but that fizzled out and didn't sustain itself. In the end, the world became all too realistic. You never could take the TKA out of the FGC back in those days and players always complain about the lag cabs at Arcadia or the fact that nobody plays there so it would be a waste of time. No amount of convincing could change this. It became increasingly frustrating on both ends and you could see at that point, my working relationship with Tornado was coming to an end.

Adding the politics to the bag and a whole new plate of shit to deal with from in and outside of the community, it finally came to an end. We sort of reached a mutual understanding that was unspoken and we both just parted ways amicably and all activities that were running at Arcadia or Colosseum came to an end.

-

I am pretty sure I missed out on a lot up there didn't I... I didn't even mention about the great Singapore GameFest, that was worked with Tornado and Project RAMPAGE (What is this? Yet another product born from Iluma) but I guess that's another story for another time.

I've worked with many people in my time there, whether it was coming in as Jonda from the local FGC, Jonda from TXL, Jonda from RMPG or Jon Lim the Part-Time Graphic Designer, I can touch all 4 of my hearts and say, I was truly blessed to have met and worked with all of them and I will never forget the support they gave me right up to the end, the hospitality and privileges they gave me and still do, everything, I will always be indebted to. I love Arcadia, Colosseum, Se7en and Chef Daniel's, Eloise, Daw, Zen, Shunli, The intern, those shirt and tie men, the waitresses shuttering back and forth with the Chicken WING., the Arcadia Technicians (The indian one, the 2 chinese ones, the malaysian one), Shawna, Liyana, Desmond and Lynette and a then baby Leona, Daniel, Donald, Afiz, the prawn noodle aunty who remembers me till this day, everybody else who has been a part of my life and my work there, this is my sincerest shoutouts to you.

With ,

The Vice Capt.