09th Mar2011

2011 South Korea Visit – Part 1 of 2

by Rip


First off, I would like to thank Check 6 Gaming for helping me get to Korea for Tekken Crash Royal Rumble. I had an absolutely amazing time out there so figured I should write up a quick report about my experience.

Although I’ve traveled to Japan in the past, this was my first time to a non-English speaking country completely on my own. I was to land at the airport, take a bus to some city, then meet up with ldMaxi (aka David from GosuTekken) who would take me to the hotel. While completely intimidating, it ended up being easier than expected. Public transportation in Korea is very good. Bus and train systems are easy and the cabs are relatively cheap.

After the bus ride, I met up with Anakin and Maxi, and we took a cab.. directly to Green Arcade! Suitcase in hand, we went up the stairs where I got my first peek at the legendary arcade. Having been to Japan twice, I figured that I would be prepared to see multiple machines, but seeing FORTY Tekken 6 cabinets in ONE room is truly unreal. Much larger than it looks in the videos, however I’d find out later that was only because it was a weekday and not at its busiest. For those that don’t know, Green Arcade is pretty much a Tekken only arcade (there are 2 music games U Beat I think its called), but other than that, its all Tekken.

Soon after arrival I was introduced to the co-owner of the arcade aka the ‘mom’ of Green Arcade. I had heard that people at the arcade called her ‘mom’ etc, but figured it was kind of like a joke thing. When she saw me though, she came up, grabbed my hands and was just smiling really big. She put both her hands on my face and said some stuff in korean (that I couldn’t understand of course), but it was obvious that she was extremely happy to have me at her arcade. It was quite surreal and I ended up giving her a hug even though I didn’t know her at all. At the end of the trip when we had to say bye to her she was very sad, she shed some tears and kept asking us when we were coming back.

The sense of community/family there is unmatched at any arcade I’ve ever been to. From what I’ve heard she has basically promised the guys there that she’ll run the arcade as long as she lives. Looking back on it now, I really can’t say enough about how much of her life she puts into that arcade. Regularly she makes coffee and brings it out to everyone. The arcade stays open until people stop playing (the less people in the arcade the more machines she turns off the later it gets). So if theres 16 people at 3am, then theres still 8 back to back machines running. She goes into her office and sleeps inside. If people need change late at night (300won per game = ~$0.27 US), some of the regulars go open the door and get themselves change! There is just so much trust in the arcade.

Which reminds me, one of the days I forgot my ps2 controller on one of the cabs at peak time and left to go get dinner. I realized my mistake at dinner and was hoping it would still be there and when I got back it wasnt! I asked if anyone had it, and of course, someone had returned it to the office and it was wrapped up PERFECTLY. I mean, I have never wrapped my controller up that perfectly and I’m not sure it even comes out of the retail box treated so well.

So anyway, after that initial introduction to the arcade, Knee joined us and helped get me checked into the hotel. Maxi, despite living there for a year and a half still only knows about 8 things in korean (left, right, forward, hello, thank you, bye, sorry). As limited as his korean is though, the trip would have probably been disastrous without him there to help us get around/setup dinners/wake us up etc so a HUGE thanks to Maxi. The next 3 days would be spent 30% asleep, 50% green arcade, 20% eating/alcohol, 10% discombobulated. I don’t think I’ve ever played that much Tekken on a regular basis ever.

The skill level at Green Arcade is probably the highest in the world. I found myself constantly trying to compare it to the skill level I played against in Japan (Ive been to Japan twice in the last 2 years) and at first I couldn’t say that one was better than the other. Most of the time I kept flip-flopping between the two, but overall now I would say that Korea’s average skill level is higher. Its hard to say it with absolute certainly because the playstyles are very different between the two, but also very different between some korean players as well. My feeling though, is that USA and Japan play similarly or have similar understandings of how to play the game primarily on spacing/punishing/whiff punishing and using their reactions to maximize damage from those things. Korea, on the other hand, seems to rely more on overall character knowledge and using their reactions to guess better based on their knowledge of what the opponent is doing/going to do and their own character’s best options in those situations. The other thing to consider is that Japan has a couple of good arcades for top players to go to, while in Korea its pretty much just Green Arcade so theres a higher concentration of top players.

Personally, I had an EXTREMELY difficult time with my playstyle in Korea. MUCH harder than in Japan. I chalk this up to Japan not having top Law players (thus inexperienced versus Law) while Korea has MULTIPLE top Law players (Malgu, Isaac, No Name, etc (and of these I only got to play Malgu in my time there)). Playing in Korea made me feel like the USA does not know how to play against the character Law. I felt like all of my offensive options were 50/50 either I get minor damage on the opponent or I die. Another problem I ran into was that early last year I decided to dumb down my Law (simple combos that do ENOUGH damage), however in Korea they play on +1 (about 10% more health) so VERY often I found that I wasn’t doing enough damage to kill off my opponents. Another smaller issue was that there was a small noticable amount of lag on the ps2 converters. Fab and I both found it harder to punish correctly/break grabs when playing on the converters but not as much on the sticks. The majority of my time there I spent playing on the sticks because 1) I’m not terrible on stick anymore and 2) I can slide faster on the sticks than I could on the pad. Come Royal Rumble time though, I felt kind of obligated to play on the ps2 converter and didn’t want to deal with people asking me why I played on stick when I could have played on pad.

In the next part I’ll write about my experience at Royal Rumble itself!

NSFW – After dinner with Barcas, Tuhon (2nd Qudans), Easy Combo Mania, Maxi, Fab, and Anakin

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