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Benjamin Hall
Screenwriter , Illustrator , Author
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Who’s the best?

‘Cyborg Hunter’ was a crap game. Not only was it crap, it was too hard. Much too hard. I had a love/hate relationship with it. I wanted to finish it, but a particularly rotund boss on something like the 4th level always got the better of me with his infernal red laser. A little Internet research and I learn that the boss who ruined my Cyborg hunter experience was called ‘Cytra’. Cytra and his vessel, Cyborg hunter appeared on the Master System in 1988. I was 4 years old… I like to think that explains my inability to defeat him. Cytra. Pfft!

For as long as I can remember videogames have been at my very core. I have a tremendously fond memory of a youth spent in the local arcade, watching older kids… ‘masters’ pummel challenger after challenger on Street Fighter 2.

The more I think about Cyborg Hunter, and the total annihilation that it slapped in my face, the more pleasure I derive from decimating an opponent with a little panache.

I’m not suggesting I imagine Cytra each time the ‘YOU WIN’ logo is blazoned across my screen… rather I think early defeats lead to my ‘completist’ gamer attitude. Very quickly my brother and I become obsessed with the concept of ‘being the best’. As we grew up in that dingy smoke-filled arcade, our goal was to fill the shoes of the aforementioned older kids. Street Fighter 2, Samurai Showdown, Final Fight, Golden Axe, a side-scrolling beat’em up where the protagonists can turn into raging beasts… these are the games that nurtured our competitive streaks. Cytra’s laser wielding ways may have bullied me into submission years ago, but in my newfound battleground, I learnt to fight back.

I remember the first time I finished Street Fighter 2 in the arcade. Remember the fear that came with facing M.Bison. A modest but audibly present group of onlookers surrounding me. I came to enter my name and… froze. Benjamin Richard Hall. The allotted three-letter space is perfect, no? BRH? BEN? I faltered because after all the work it felt a little disappointing. BEN. My heart sank. I punched out the abbreviated version of my given name and walked away from the machine.

I don’t remember the exact date that my brother created his own pseudonym, but it had a tremendous impact on me. Alexander was, before my eyes, transformed into AKO. It had a ring, albeit a visual one. A visual ring!? Okay, stay with me here. I was envious. Immediately the kudos that his victory over whatever game he’d been playing seemed more epic. More exciting. It was special. I was so used to seeing ‘ALE’, but ALE was no more. AKO was born.

After a few moments of [limited] creative thinking followed by a bash at the game of choice [perhaps killer instinct] I came face to face with the same title screen. Enter your name. I stared, wide eyed at the pixilated flashing letters. A timer counting down from 99… goading me. BRH? BEN? No. Not this time. I wanted in to the rank of gamers with tags and pseudonyms and kudos and secrecy. ZEN came quickly. I didn’t give thought to its longevity.

Approximately 15 years later and I’m staring at the first comic book that I’ve produced. DevaShard. I flip to the credits… Writer, Zen.

It’s a cute moment. Each time I sign a book or hear someone ask about ‘Zen’ I’m transported back to that arcade. My brother at my side. We’re playing street fighter 2, wasting money on games and wasting oxygen arguing over who’s the best. Not who’s the best out of Alex and myself. Not even who’s the best out of AKO and ZEN… but the only “who’s the best” that EVER mattered. The only “who’s the best” that we needed to argue over. The only “who’s the best” that we STILL argue over. RYU versus KEN.

…it’s Ken, by the way, folks. Ken is the best.

over 11 years ago 0 likes  2 comments  0 shares
Photo 97845
http://hk.youtube.com/watch?v=8FQ-0vqHAro
over 11 years ago
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only you know who is your soul pale!!!
about 11 years ago

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June 24, 2008