Hi fellow KI players,
It’s time for another community interview with high level players from the Japanese KI scene. This time I am sitting down with kappy and RET(NUCOren). Kappy, once labeled the best Spinal in Japan, and RET(NUCOren), a highly respected Japanese Jago player, will both join me as I kick of the new season with some early impressions of Season 3 from Japan.
Be warned as this will be a very long read! Almost twice the normal size (2000 words). I expect it will be a nice break from grinding for that Ranked promotion, or that flipout tech that’s really not there (lol). I am still editing the piece so bear with me (and my spelling mistakes).
As always, I conduct these interviews in Japanese and only positives were expressed by the two gentlemen about KI. Any misunderstanding comes from my translation or interpretation. Lastly, the interviews were conducted separately, so there will be some references made back and forth between both players about each other.
First up is kappy and then followed by RET(NUCOren). Anyway, I will stop talking. Enjoy the long read!
Hello Kappy, some of us remember you from Kombo Klash Japan last year, but just in case could you introduce yourself to our UltraCombo readers.
"I’m Kappy, living in Aomori, Japan, where I mostly play KI online. The name kappy comes from one of the mangas (=comics) that I used to read when I was still a kid. Up until this day I have been using this alias as a player.
"As a kid, I grew up casually playing SNK titles such as Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury, and a few others. It wasn’t until 2010 that Super Street Fighter 4 was released on home consoles that I became serious about playing fighting games. Around 2013 after the release of Darkstalkers Resurrection I pretty much got into Vampire Savior series. My main was Zabel (Lord Raptor), while just going by his appearance, Rock was the coolest character for me. This is probably what I look for in a character, and that’s why I picked Cody (in SF4), Necalli (SF5), Spinal and now Arbiter in KI. In this respect KI has a lot of cool looking characters like Fulgore, Glacius, Arbiter, Aganos, Cinder…
“Anyway, Vampire Savior was my first experience playing online. At the beginning of 2015 I ran into Killer Instinct for the first time. Before, I used to like fighting games for the challenge it would bring to you as a player but what I think is attractive of today’s fighting games is that you can sort of see your own growth and learn (as you get better) even without direct contact with others.”
So, why KI?
"Why I started playing KI? Well, as the number of online players for Vampire Savior started dwindling, I was looking for something new to play besides both this game and SSF4. Up until this point I had not played any overseas fighting games, but the combo structure, breakers, and other concepts looked rather interesting to me.
“I decided to look up some online videos where I noticed Ogty (famous KI player and tournament organizer in Japan) breaking down Top 8 matches at EVO 2014. It was really seeing KI tournament footage that made me decide to try out KI with its huge combos, and of course hearing the announcer scream “Ultraaaaaaa!!!” after you finish (your opponent with an ultra).”
Please give us your take on season 3
“The balance changes are very interesting. In particular, the new techniques that the Season 1 characters received, who sort of stood in the shadow of season 2 characters (in terms of available tools). Also, the new breaker system where you end up outside each other’s attacking range, I expect will contribute positively to the game’s overall pacing.”
“As for my main Spinal, well, I am not so sure about him yet (laughs). Besides his new instinct I had hopes for a few new things to help his game when not in instinct. Still his instinct is something I must further experiment with of course. Of the S1 and S2 characters, I would have to say that Omen and Fulgore have caught my attention. If you take a Fulgore who has so very few weak points, if you master him then you could end up with one of the strongest characters in the cast.”
“These days I am trying out Arbiter who is a very interesting character and probably the number one in terms of popularity in Japan. The Season 3 characters all have this crazy attractiveness to them that it really raises my expectations for the remaining S3 characters. Especially Gargos!”
Can you reflect a bit on the changes to your main Spinal or other S1 characters?
“This season I haven’t yet played Spinal enough as I am trying to figure out Arbiter these days. So whatever I noticed is largely theoretical. Curses and Instinct have changed dramatically. Curses will allow you to potentially stop your opponent from using any instinct. Before this, characters like Sadira, Thunder and Wulf would have a chance to change momentum just by popping instinct. That will be less the case going forward.”
“However, no more draining of the opponent’s resources, or automatic skull regeneration, this makes Spinal players having to even more carefully use their own resources. Especially, if you look at the speed of new S3 characters like Rash and Kim within this context.”
“As for other S1 characters, I used to play Glacius and although there have been damage reductions etc. to him, he does have many new tools. So, I might have to give him another look. Orchid’s combo potential has also increased with her dash cancels. Still, the most stable character has got to be Fulgore. Whatever these S3 characters bring, he still has his DP and projectiles for an answer. Fulgore remains an attractive character in my opinion.”
How about the new joiners in S3? Any comment on for example Rash, Kim,…?
“Funny that while having this interview, Domy just won the first tournament (organized by Ogty) with his Rash, LOL. Rash can close any distance suddenly and this can be difficult for a character like an Arbiter. He can get rid of Kan Ra’s swarms, and he can fight you whether you are zoning or not. However, Glacious or Omen with their unconventional projectiles do pose a problem for Rash, or even Fulgore and Cinder with some of their invincible moves will make it difficult for him, I believe. Still even though Rash is cool, Arbiter is way cooler and that’s why I am trying him out (laugh).”
Any guest character that you would liked to join KI?
“A Mortal Kombat character…but with age restrictions and all (laugh) that would probably be difficult.”
How about new features or modes?
“An online training mode has been mentioned and I fully agree. There is lots of communication needed between players and now we are using twitter, other apps, etc. to discuss gameplay related information. An online training function with some communication abilities would help also new players tremendously. The CPU settings can be a bit of a nuisance when you want to emulate a certain situation.”
“One feature I also hope will be improved is the replay function. (watching) replays always bring(s) you back to the top of the list, inadequate rewind functions, no way to find players’ replays by region,… Maybe not fair to compare to SF5 but that one works a lot better in being able to find the replay you want.”
Recently the competition released SF5. I know you played SSF4 before, can you talk to me about this latest release?
“Yeah, I am really enoying Street Fighter 5 so far. And every day I am juggling between the two (KI or SF5) as to which one to play. The SF5 battle system is actually very simple with good pacing, and online is good for me with very little lag. Like others, I also wished there was more single player content, though. That being said, the easy-to-understand system and not so complicated moves will help newcomers to the fighting game genre, a role that also KI could also fulfill by the way. As I mentioned, I played Vampire Savior and I feel that both VS and SF5 are games that share a similar way of exchanging attacks within their respective mechanics. In SF5 I play the highly damaging Necallli, while I am waiting for Urien’s return.”
Any last words before we close the interview?
“With KI’s Windows 10 release I really hope that the number of KI players increases. There are players like a Domy who are preparing months for EVO, but I hope that also new players who are not specifically aiming for the highest (like an EVO) will have plenty of opportunities through online tournaments. Simply an increase of tournaments to enter would make me happy.”
“I am honored to have this interview but I would also love to see interviews with other Japanese players like RET(NUCOren) and Keisuke who are also fantastic players. Anyway, I’m sort of jealous at all these young players as we are entering the age of e-sports.”
“Unfortunately for me, this year I won’t be able to attend EVO as it’s too difficult to schedule with my daytime job being so busy. Of course, if events like Kombo Klash are coming to Japan then I am surely joining. For the time being, I act as training partner for other Japanese players who will go to EVO this year, while also having some fun myself playing KI.”
(little did kappy know about me interviewing Ret(NUCOren) too. Please feel free to take a break as we go into the final part of about 500 words)
Hi RET. Could you please introduce yourself to our audience.
“I started my fighting game career about four years ago playing Soul Calibur V. Coincidentally, I watched the EVO Soul Calibur tournament as well around this time. My main changed over the years as I started with Rafael, then Nightmare and finally played Pyrrha Omega (with her short reach but high damage). Out of all of these characters Nightmare was definitely my favorite one.”
“I first learned about KI while watching EVO last year. Seeing combo breakers and counter breakers was pretty interesting. So I ended up not going for a PS4 but bought KI (laughs). Usually I pick basic characters when starting a fighting game, which is why I ended up playing Jago. I haven’t switched since.”
Could you give me your thoughts so far on the Season 3 changes, including your character Jago?
“Jago definitely feels stronger than in Season 2. But as usual, he is tougher to adjust than some of the other characters in my opinion. And because of that, looking at his new juggle potential, his use of flipout, combined with the new season 3 tools, I cannot feel but satisfied.”
In Japan many seem to think that characters like Spinal, TJ, Hisako and Kan Ra have become weaker this season. What are your thoughts on this?
"In Japan there are some Kan Ra players and while one can say that he indeed became weaker, I believe he is about right as far as I could judge from fighting actual matches against him. Before this, he was just too strong in my opinion. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to fight against a TJ or Hisako yet, so I won’t be able to tell about the strength of these characters. As for Spinal, yes, he definitely has become weaker after the balance changes. You have players like kappy, nken, kirino, who are all Spinal players and who are currently lamenting this fact. As a Jago player, this makes me happy (laugh).
However, in Japan we are still enjoying the new characters and haven’t been able to play around a lot with original S1 and S2 characters. There are still lots of unknowns and there could very well be something interesting hidden among the existing characters."
Any S3 characters you are trying out?
“After seeing that trailer I want to simply try all of them. Currently, I started playing around with Kim Wu and soon I will be doing the same with Rash.”
What about game modes or features that you would like to see make it into KI?
“All Japanese players talk about having an online training mode as we would really like to be able to experiment with other players. It would be nice if we could have such a feature.”
Thank you RET for this interview. Before we close our interview, any thoughts on your KI goals for this year?
“Thank you. Even though I am not famous like a Tokido or a Domi, therefore taking part in this kind of interview is kind of a new experience for me. Up until now I have been trying to improve my game by addressing issues in my game one by one, but for 2016 I want to leave a lasting impression by getting some good results this year. Also this year I am definitely attending EVO! And of course, I hope that the Kombo Klash tournament will come back to Japan too this year. My goal is to reach the top 8 at EVO and for this I am practicing daily!”
Well that’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed this latest insight. Hopefully in the near future Ogty (the well-known Japanese player and TO) and I will have some time soon to meet. But for now, please like and enjoy S3!
(PS: oh yeah…i am on twitter too apparently)