By the time we had seen the dealer's room, artist's alley, and the art show, we were ready to spend some more time in the game room. As we entered, we saw several TV units setup against both the left and right walls (pictured above). In the back right were a couple DDR setups, and two Guitar Hero setups left of that. In the far back of the room were three large screens, one running the Saturn, and two Wii units on the other screens (pictured below).
The consoles on our left were running several different fighting games. Multiple Street Fighter games, Soul Calibur 3, as well as other 2D fighters I didn't recognize. Additional units in the back, between the Wiis and Guitar Heros were running some Naruto fighters that I wasn't familiar with either.
We split up and wandered off towards different parts of the room, and I went over to see some mad DDR skillz. I assure you, I was not disappointed. First, I watched a couple of people duke it out on a very challenging song, containing some really fast footwork. Now, I may not be anywhere close to their level, but I can usually tell whether a song is more or less difficult. This particular one appeared quite hard with many half and quarter steps mixed into an already quick tempo.
What impressed me the most, was that the winning player was a girl who looked like she was maybe 16 years old. Normally, people tend to become very animated while playing DDR, swaying and moving to the beat. The faster and harder the song, the more vigorous the movements tend to appear. Yet this girl, playing a very hard song, was hardly moving at all. Her feet were hitting every single step, often perfectly, yet her upper body was very much restrained. I don't believe I have ever witnessed a DDR player being quite so graceful, calm, and collected. She was the epitome of the "tech" style. My only regret is that I did not take any pictures in having been so mesmerized.
The DDR unit on the left had another two players competing, and once more I was impressed by the performance. Player 2 was not just doing well, but he decided to give all onlookers a nice show. He did the entire song backwards, meaning that he was facing us instead of the screen. This of course meant that he wasn't able to see what he was doing, yet he must have memorized all steps in order to pull this off. At the end of the song everyone gave him a round of applause, myself included, and deservedly so. An excellent representation of "freestyle" technique.
Having watched other people play for a while, I was ready to try my hand at something. Unfortunately, the game I was least rusty at was Soul Calibur 3, but it had been over a years since I last picked that one up. Silly me I had not anticipated playing it at the con, and it didn't occur to me to practice before coming. As Nikki and I awaited our turns, it became quite clear that Player 1 was very skilled. Nobody could beat him in the best out of five round setup.
When my turn came up I naturally choose Xianghua as my character (pictured above). She has always been my main, and I could at least remember some of her moves. I knew that victory was impossible, but I was ready to give it a try. First round I had pulled out many of my moves, and was mostly trying to remember how to play. Not entirely surprisingly I won. But that was of course my opponents opportunity to study my tactics. After that, he pretty much had me figured out, and I lost the rest of the rounds. Once again, not at all a surprise.
Nikki's bout went a little differently. She decided to try and throw him off by using Voldo (pictured above). I must say that she held up better than I did. Her first round was about the same as mine, where she easily defeated him. In the second round, however, things got a little more interesting. Nikki continued to surprise her opponent with Voldo's crazy antics and defeated him a second time. This, I suspect came as a bit of a surprise to all of us. Player 1 was not going to hold back after that, and pulled out all the stops, relentlessly barraging Voldo with his attacks, round after round. At the very end, he managed to get the win using a ring out. Nikki gave him a dirty look.
I think she did quite well for not having played the game just as long as myself. But then she always kicked my butt at Soul Calibur anyway. We even have a great little dating story about it, but I'll save you hearing that one yet again.
We waited around for a second try, hoping that that we would do better, but in fact we did worse. So I guess we should practice if we're going to attempt playing this game next year. That, and I should brush up on my Tekken skillz as well, with it being more my forte than Soul Calibur. I was sad not to find Tekken in the game room, but I learned that it was present both before we came, and after we had already left. Go figure.
Once we had our fill of the game room we made for the exit. Before leaving, one other screen caught my eye though. At the end, towards the DDR games, there was a Shuttle PC running an indy fighter. I first thought it might have been a Fighter Maker creation, which sported so many characters on one screen that you could hardly make out the portraits for being so small. Upon further research, however, I believe it was actually MUGEN. Now I'm tempted to try and get it running on my system. I think that this is a good sign, having a free indy fighter represented at the con. I might chime in next year to suggest running Super Cosplay War Ultra, which is a blast. Of course I suck at that one about as much as I do at most 2D fighters, but I still enjoy it.