Last Friday night, in a somewhat sketchy section of Brooklyn, I was beaten up. Badly. Don’t worry, Mom: it was a virtual beat-down, one that took place at an underground videogame event called Street Fighter Fight Club. And since the first rule of this fight club is that you do talk about fight club, I’ll give you the lowdown. To promote two of their upcoming Street Fighter games, Capcom has rented out dive bars in various cities, wired up a bunch of Xbox 360s and PS3s, and invited a few lucky gamers to slug it out for a few hours. It was New York City’s turn on Friday. The Brooklyn venue had an appropriate hole-in-the-wall vibe: dim lighting, musty smell, graffiti on the walls. So it was a bit strange to see a dozen stations running Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix on flat-panel TV sets.
More than 300 invited guests turned out and despite everyone being forced to take turns playing and some occasional power outages — due to some antiquated fuse boxes — the mood was festive inside. (The picture at left shows EW photo editor Samantha Xu posing with someone dressed up as Ryu.) Outside, as I left to go home, it was a different story. While walking to the subway, a real fracas broke out between two locals. I wisely suppressed an urge to shout “Round 1: Fight!” and quickly walked away before things got really dicey. Despite this disturbing ending to my evening, I had a blast at my first fight club. I was never a Street Fighter fan (I’m more of a Tekken kind of guy), but SFIV looks terrific and I’ll definitely be playing a lot of it when it comes out early next year. With two new SF titles coming out soon — and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe dropping next month — the dormant fighting genre seems to be making a Rocky-like comeback. What think ye, Popwatchers? Are fighting games a relic of the ’80s and ’90s? Or do you still like to ocassionally open a can o’ videogame whup-ass? And if so, what titles do you play?