Blanka Slate: Starting over again in Street Fighter V

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Hello. Today, I will return to the public biffing of Street Fighter after a long absence, with a single rule: I can only play as Blanka.

To explain: I haven’t played a game in this series since Street Fighter II, in which this Brazilian bootleg Hulk was a classic character. But he was only added to Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition last week, where he is described by the game’s roster as “unemployed”. Join me in pretending that the release of this wildman is the reason I have decided to fight online in SFV, and not because I thought of the headline “Blanka Slate” first and then had to come up with a whole feature to justify using it.

Here’s the idea:

I can only play as Blanka.

I will fight three new opponents online each day, for three days.

I will tell you how bad I am.

Based on my recent performance in Tekken 7 (a fighting game to which I also recently returned) it will be OK. In that game, I have risen from dung-encrusted bottom rung to slightly-less dung-encrusted second-bottom rung. However, I am a time-starved combatant so I’ll only fight three people every day, and chalk it up as a win if I can survive three days of fireballs and bodyslams. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Day 1

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I’ve already cheated. It’d be silly to face other players without understanding the basics of my green weirdo, so I take on Blanka’s story mode instead of heading online. It’s basically two fights and some anime. I learn much about Blanka’s character in the process. Did you know, for instance, that he is a doll salesman?

At one point he breaks a claw machine in a blind rage, furious that his toys (based on his own likeness) are considered by the schoolgirls of Japan to be hideous monstrosities and not at all cute. He is both feral and sensitive, like a sad baboon.

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I try to do the challenges. These are practice areas where you attempt to chain combos together against a composed AI dummy. However, my reflexes are too slow, my thumbs too old and creaky. A chunk of Blanka’s repertoire – his important rolling attacks where he barrels across the screen – are beyond me. I can’t time the flipping of the controller’s stick well enough. This is quite a handicap. Imagine if Sonic suddenly forgot how to spin, or if Solid Snake forgot how to repeat the thing someone just said to him with a question mark on the end.

So I get frustrated in challenge mode, and just start mashing all the buttons. They teach you never to do this in fighting games. It’s very bad. But I am Blanka. I am wild. Wildness won’t be contained or taught. Wildness isn’t about being patient or composed or “practicing”. Wildness is about doing what’s in your heart. So let’s go online and be wild!

Fight 1 – Rashid

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This player demolishes me. He is all spinny air kicks and windstorms. He moves so fast I cannot keep up. He’s flies around the screen like a really panicky bird trapped in a green house. A bird with fists. I fight him twice, because I love to get kicked through walls.

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Result: LOSS

Fight 2 – Ryu

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This Ryu seems equally menacing, as you can see in the above image, which depicts me being struck in the gonads by a blue fireball. He is grounded, well-rounded but sometimes pounded. I win a single match against him out of three, then he turns his back on me and quits. Possibly seeking a more formidable match-up. “I can learn much from your wild spirit,” he says, walking away. He must like how I punch the air with purposeless fury.

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Result: LOSS

Fight 3 – Birdie

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It’s this player, fighting as Birdie, who indulges me the most. At one point during our fights, he seems to stop and just watch me, as if he’d never seen a Blanka before. I win a match, then he wins a match, each of us waving our arms around like a pair of spooked chimpanzees flailing at the empty jungle. But my wildness wins out. I push him up to a bus at the side of the screen. He has nowhere to go. All my instincts suddenly screech:

“JUST MASH THE BUTTON THAT DOES THE ELECTRIC THING”

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One of Blanka’s special abilities, which even I remember from the old days, is to repeatedly press a punch button and become a continuous ball of electrical pain to anyone who touches you. It strikes me as completely just and fair to do this when your opponent is cornered. To those of you who call it vicious or barbaric or “trolling” – who am I to dismiss the animal inside all of us? I tap furiously at the punch button, putting Blanka into an endless electrical rage. Birdie doesn’t know how to cope with this and is electrocuted three or four times in a row, until the game finally announces a crispy KO. It arrives to me like the “ding” of a microwave, as Birdie is forcefully discarded into the bus.

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Result: WIN

Conclusions: It has been a good day, with many lessons. Principally: if someone as lacking in dexterity as I am is to win with Blanka, then they must be a dirty, dirty animal.

Come back tomorrow for more Blanka Slate, in which I suffer further humiliations against another three foes.

Read part two of Blanka Slate

22 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Sitting there constantly zapping was a mainstay of my Blanka times in SF2. See also Honda’s hundred-hand slap, and Chun-Li’s kicking deal.

    Being cheese is what these games are about.

    • Addie says:

      You do get locked into the animation for a second, which means any competent opponent will punish you for it if you miss. As will relying on cheesy tactics; the counters are obvious and you will lose. Plus if you’re sat next to them, the frantic tap-tap-tap on your gamepad will give your tactics away.

  2. automatic says:

    Blanka is one of the first joke characters to be seen in fighting games. CAPCOM should have pictured it as an american vaudeville freak show character. It would make much more sense.

    • fuggles says:

      It doesn’t need to make sense that’s why he is appealing. He was not a joke character, kids all thought he was great, the author thinks he’s great and he’s not racist. I have never known anyone so anti blanka!

      • automatic says:

        I’m not anti Blanka but how can he not be a joke character? Afaik there have never been no green monkey-like beast men anywhere in RL. Saying otherwise would be racist. He’s a fool figure, a clown. A lot of fighting games have those. Would make perfect sense in a circus. Not so much as an unemployed, toy industry entrepreneur.

        • fuggles says:

          Because he’s awesome, not funny.

          • automatic says:

            A fool does not need to be funny. It is just a character that is so out of place it’s usually shuned for that. Fools exist in almost every mithology. Loki is a fool. A lot of fighting games have those. They may be awesome but they may also be just silly.

          • fuggles says:

            I think you take him to close to heart. He’s infinitely better than dhalsim for instance. There was always one irregular character and always brilliant – he bit people’s faces and there was blood! In a world of stretchy men, fireballs and an evil bus conductor he was not out of place.

          • automatic says:

            Because he’s brazilian and I’m brazilian too. Although a poor stereotype, in India culture you may find fakirs like Dhalsin. There’s nothing like Blanka in brazilian culture. Not even native people in Brazil who really live in the jungle are savage. They have pretty sophisticated cultures and misleading them for savages only causes them suffering. That’s why I prefer to think of Blanka as a clown, a joke, a fool. Something that would be out of place anywhere in the world, and at home in a place like a circus.

  3. Jokerme says:

    You are playing it wrong. You must choose Blanka-chan costume. This is all wrong…

  4. April March says:

    You know, Brendan, one of these days I’d like to see you do one of these articles on Brawlhalla. It’s the only fighting game I’ve enjoyed other than Smash Bros (which it takes a lot from). For instance, in most fighting games a combo might be something like pressing punch three times to become a ball of electricity. In Brawhalla, a combo that you make by pressing punch¹ three times involves your character punching three times.

    ¹OK, technically ‘light attack’, since there isn’t a punch button on Brawlhalla. You got me.

  5. Kefren says:

    Oh, I loved SF2 in the arcade. We had one at university and I once burnt a pan of kidney beans because I got too caught up in it. I would always play as Blanka, and if I lost I would start all over again rather than continue – which meant I could then play for ages on just 20p. I got so good I could beat almost anyone else, whatever character they played. I adored that game. Simple and fun.

    I bought SF4 and hated it. Over-complex, tons of new systems that made little sense to me, the simple charm was gone. Maybe I should just buy and SF2 cabinet one day and go back to the game I loved.

    • Bremze says:

      SF4 had what, one major system mechanic over Super Turbo which is focus attacks and Ultra moves which are supers but with a different gauge?

      There’s a reason SF2 is the blueprint for every 2D fighting game ever since.

      • Kefren says:

        Those terms ring a bell as being part of the stuff that didn’t make sense to me. There was also stuff about counters or whatever. I prefer the system of learning the moves and just working out when to use them, not all the extra stuff with rage and so on. Likewise I prefer to defend/block by just pushing away on the joystick. The SF2 system was simple in terms of only having six buttons and a handful of moves to learn, but deep in then putting them into practice in the best way. SF4 was just overwhelming to people like me.

        • Bremze says:

          Super Turbo has almost the same system mechanics as SF4, you just didn’t/don’t know about them because… the game doesn’t tell you anything which developers can’t get away with nowadays.

          • Kefren says:

            The one I played was Street Fighter 2 (I think it was Turbo or “normal”, I definitely don’t recognise the Super Turbo appellation), so maybe it didn’t have all that stuff. Thanks for clarifying the version I meant! Definitely the older simpler versions were the best for me.

          • Det. Bullock says:

            IIRC “Super Turbo” is a fan nickname, the original Super version was also known as “the new challengers” because it included Cammy and other new characters but reverted to the original gameplay speed, Super Turbo was the later version which re-upped the speed and introduced the super move gauge.
            Probably it is to avoid confusion with an earlier version (without the additional characters) that was also called “turbo”.

          • Kefren says:

            Cammy definitely wasn’t in the version of Street Fighter 2 I fell in love with, which was this one: link to en.wikipedia.org

          • Bremze says:

            The full name of the last SF2 release was Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo but it’s generally called Super Turbo/ST.

            The differences between the versions are very minor. CE added more characters and mirror matches, HF added more moves and sped the game up, SSF2 upgraded the arcade hardware and added even more characters and finally SF2 included throw breaking and super moves.

            If anything, SF2 had way more grimy stuff that you had deal with than in most modern fighting games. Touch of death combos, frame trapping fireballs, command throws on your wakeup that can only be escaped by landing a one frame reversal, and every single thing Vega does.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Super Turbo was some new-fangled thing imo, I’m pretty sure Kefren is talking about actual old school Street Fighter 2.

        edit, after trying to read the wiki entry it looks like the turbo and sure versions came out not that long after the original, but in my head they were some arcade-only unicorn versions because they never came out on the Amiga.