In the first of a new Champion Series on Game the System, we chat with Evan Weston of Sydney - the Street Fighter 2 arcade Twin Galaxies world record holder
Game the System: So where do you originate from? Have you always been a Sydney-sider or did you just happen to end up here?
Evan: I am originally from Wollongong NSW. I moved to Sydney in 1995 for work. I've lived in and around Newtown for most of that, with a year in Manly, and a couple of years in Maroubra.
GTS: What do you do for work?
Evan: I’m a Network and Security Consultant.
GTS: How long have you been playing games in general?
Evan: Since my family got our first home computer - a Commodore Vic 20. From there we went to a Commodore 64 and I stayed there until I bought a Super Nintendo for Street Fighter 2.
There was an arcade pretty much across the road from where my Nan lived in Dapto, so I went there a lot when we visited on the weekends. They always had stuff up loud in attract mode and from my Nan's front yard I could hear the attract mode music for Final Fight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Street Fighter 2. Our local ‘fish-n-chip’ shop and video rental store also had lots of different arcade games over the years. Ones I remember are Snow Bros, E-Swat, Wonderboy, WWF Wrestlemania, Golden Axe, and finally Street Fighter 2 and eventually Champion Edition.
At home I would play stuff like the Last Ninja series, Turrican 2, Rainbow Islands, Bubble Bobble etc. I love the C64 and I’ve still got my childhood one.
GTS: What attracted you to Street Fighter?
Evan: Probably the same things that drew most kids of my generation to it to be honest. Street Fighter 2 is the highest grossing arcade game of all time after Pac-Man and Galaga, so it was very popular. If you count every version from World Warrior through to Grand Master Challenge, I imagine it must be close to the highest. People talk about the early 80's being the golden age of arcade gaming but for me, I think it roughly starts with Sega-16 through to Capcom CPS3.
I can still play Street Fighter 2 right now and have moments which are epic to me. Fighting Gouki in SSF2X. Seeing and hearing the credit roll after a 1 credit clear. The artwork and the characters are all still beautiful to look at to this day. Compared to a lot of old games Street Fighter 2 holds up extremely well I think. I especially enjoy playing the CPS2 versions with Q-Sound hooked up to good speakers.
GTS: How long have you been playing Street Fighter, and how long have you been playing with the intention of getting Street Fighter records on Twin Galaxies?
Evan: I was twelve years old when Street Fighter 2 was released, and from SNES onward, Street Fighter games dictated what home system I would buy. After the SNES I got a 3DO for SSF2:X, and later an import PlayStation with Street Fighter Alpha 2. After that I got swept up in PC gaming for many years with the Quake series and Starcraft. I never really stopped playing Street Fighter 2 though.
I started to play for high score when a local barcade opened - 1989 Arcade Bar and Kitchen in Newtown. My wife and I had previously seen The King of Kong documentary and thought it was great fun. 1989 had a high score board up on the wall, so I put up a score on their World Warrior cabinet and out of curiosity we looked up what the Twin Galaxies score was - to our surprise we found that I had already beaten it! At the time I owned a Hyper Fighting board and my Supergun. A quick trip to eBay and $80 got me a World Warrior B and C PCB, and a few months later I put up my first score on Twin Galaxies. From there I found that I enjoyed gaming for high score. Having small children, it’s a nice way to game because you can play a game for 45mins or so late at night when everything is quiet and still have a lot of fun with it. I think arcade games are the best kind of games for people like myself who are time poor.
GTS: What are your thoughts on holding the Street Fighter 2 arcade world record score? How did you feel when you got it, and how do you feel now?
Evan: I thought - and still think - it’s hilarious! I doubt I will hold it for too long, but I am also happy that at least a couple of other players are posting up scores too. I feel that Street fighter 2 is one of the greatest games of all time so I would love to see it get the kind of attention that other ‘golden age’ games get.
GTS: Do you have a preferred character in the game?
Evan: I always preferred Guile, Sagat and Ryu, but for high scoring in Street Fighter 2 games, Ken's Dragon Punch with all its invincibility is a really powerful tool when playing to get perfect rounds.
GTS: Is there any particular reason you have chosen to play the older Street Fighter games, rather than the modern ones?
Evan: No reason in particular. I did try to get into Street Fighter IV, it was fun, but it never really felt as good as SSF2T or 3rd Strike to me. Street Fighter V didn't even launch with an arcade mode…
GTS: Do you have a favourite game or genre of games?
Evan: Obviously fighting games are a favourite. I got hooked on Quake, Starcraft and even Diablo 3 more recently with the Rift speed running. I like RPG games too: Diablo 2, Chrono Trigger, Zelda 3: Link to the Past. Super Metroid and the Mass Effect games are favourites.
GTS: And what is your favourite of the Street Fighter series?
Evan: Super Street Fighter 2X: Grand Master Challenge.
GTS: Do you feel you have any particular strengths or weaknesses in your gameplay? A particular play style or approach? Or something that gives you that edge in getting Street Fighter world records?
Evan: My weakness for sure is my execution, years of playing on stiff MCA joysticks has made me quite rough with the controls. I am slowly breaking old habits and getting a bit better - work in progress.
My strength might be that I seem to be able to find consistent safe strategies and I have a tendency not to make mistakes when it matters like on the last few bosses. I like to be methodical and consistent and that works out for me most of the time. In the long run it might hurt me because I don’t have the time to grind out attempt after attempt hoping for riskier lines of play to work out. Maybe I can revisit some games later, as since playing Hyper Fighting I think I have learned some strategies I could take back to Champion Edition and improve my score.
GTS: Do you have any particular highlights or things that stick in your mind when it comes to your gaming history?
Evan: I would never have imagined I could do 24 perfects in a Street Fighter 2 game on hardest difficulty a few years ago. Doing Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition with 24 perfects in 36 rounds with 3 Vega claws was very satisfying at the time.
One thing that really sticks out is the first time - as kids - when we got past the 8th character in Street Fighter 2, and then the 3 bosses appeared on the map. That moment was so hyped up, all of us kids around the machine wondering what was going to happen! I hope maybe my kids will experience that moment one day while I’m watching.
GTS: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
Evan: Straight out of school I studied in an electrical trade, and lately I have been getting into repairing PCB boards and equipment as a hobby. I recently repaired a broken Snow Bros PCB and a CRT monitor. It's a bit of a challenge as I live in an apartment with very little space. Other than that, I used to do some tabletop war gaming, but I don't really have the time that that hobby demands anymore. Lots of activities with my kids now, I am slowly introducing my 5-year-old son to games.
GTS: What’s the next big goal for you in gaming? Are there any records you’re hoping to achieve on Twin Galaxies, or maybe other gaming goals like tournaments or high level play?
Evan: There are a few sites other than Twin Galaxies that have scores for arcade games such as MARP and old Arcadia and Gamest magazines. I would like to post up scores for the Street Fighter 2 games that are in the ballpark of the best scores on those sites and hopefully attract more people to play Street Fighter 2 on Twin Galaxies. There is an old record for Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo that would be nice to beat. The scores for Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike on Twin Galaxies aren't very high, so I might put something up for that. Maybe Samurai Shodown 2. Ben from 1989 wants me to do a score on his Street Fighter 1 board - not too sure about that one…
Other than that, I have a few games I would like to 1 credit clear. I have never been good at shooters but would like to 1CC one as a kind of ‘gaming bucket list’ item. I put in some time trying to get good at Ikaruga but that game was not the best choice for a beginner, even though it’s still a lot of fun. Maybe something like Area 88 or Progear would be realistic. Other games I have on the bucket list to try and 1CC are Strider, Final Fight, and Ghouls’n Ghosts. Maybe Marc from Game the System could run a Ghouls’n Ghosts zero-to-hero program for me one day…
Game the System would like to thank Evan and his family for their time and contributions to this article.
Production, Writing, Art Direction: Marc Bell
Photography, Design, Art Direction: Matthew Venables - http://mvenables.com