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February 27, 2012

Soulcalibur 5: Thus Spoke Cervantes

I've played my fair share of fighting games this console generation…which is to say, almost all of them.  I’m nothing special in terms of skill; at the very least, I’m not one of those “Flowchart Kens” you hear so much about.  Even so, going up against an enemy that can turn me into sauerkraut is pretty much an average Wednesday for me -- to the point where I don’t even flinch at the thought of hitting Continue against the average “SNK Boss.”  You know the type.  A ridiculous damage and defense boost.  Insane speed and virtual clairvoyance.  Often, a screen-filling super move.  Or just moves that make you want to slam your head against every wall in your house.

I’ve taken on and beaten plenty of ‘em.  King of Fighters XI’s Magaki?  Your fireballs won’t stop me forever.  Street Fighter 4’s Seth?  Eat a Flash Kick.  Tekken 5’s Jinpachi?  Miraculously, defeating him is as easy as using a jump kick over and over -- a universal move that the transformed Mishima can’t help but take every time he gets up from the last hit.

But then, something happened.  It was a fateful night in Soulcalibur 5 -- a story for the ages.  Now, if you’ll allow me to invoke the muses…

On a chilling moonlit night now past
My brother begged the die be cast
To take his mantle, ease his pride
And venture to where victory lied.

“That wretched Kilik, such a fool!
I only wished to look quite cool
Through rapid strikes and swiftest edge
That spiky hair I hoped to hedge!”

He paced about, and bit his lip
Contemplating his next quip.
“That staff of his is quite the threat --
But face him and you’ll win, I bet!”

A call to arms, a push to fight
I saw his tactics come to light
To goad me into vicious measures
And partly for his viewing pleasure.

“You seek a duel?  Then fair enough.
We’ll see if I am up to snuff.
I’ll raise my blade against thine foe
And grant a taste of abject woe.”

A moment’s breadth was all I needed
To feel my breath grow quick and heated;
I’d face my brother’s greatest foe
With Raphael’s torrent of blows.

Before you think I’ve put on airs
My blade has sliced all those who dare
To stand against me in this game --
I’ll best them all, kin, friend, or dame.

Such was my being, half-score ago
When one birthday I would know
The joy of swords, the eight-way run;
My foe’s defense would come undone.

Yes, I had played game number two
With Raphael’s grandest debut
Though seasons passed, and hours gone
My inner warrior lives on.

Three, four, and five I’d owned as well
But with fifth game, I’d raise quick hell
With highs and lows, I’d bring defeat
To foes, whilst atop nimble feet.

“Legendary Souls -- that’s where
My greatest rival hides his lair?”
I asked, and the confirmation
Only raised determination.

With Raph in tow, I went all in
To now avenge frustrated kin
But to my shock, my foe proved strong;
His blows, precise; his reach, too long.

“What sorcery is this?” I yelled.
Such savagery I’d not beheld
In any game, where foes would pound
Even on those that lie aground.

I drew on power long untapped --
As if this poet had now snapped! --
Through quickest blows and raining strikes
I thrust his head upon my pike.

“Today I triumph!  One foe down!
It merely cost me twenty rounds!
But never fear, my task’s not done;
My fight won’t end till mode I’ve won!”

I felt a rolling swell of heat
At the thought of new foes to mete
Out losses via rapier’s grace
Like Fenrir’s fang, yet smooth as lace.

And so I ventured to the ring
Twice in a row, the game did sing
Of foes who swung such massive blades
They batted me about in spades.

But every loss was but a trifle;
My fighting spirit never stifled!
“Nightmare -- you beast! -- though you are fast
I’ll keep my guard; your stage I’ll pass!”

“And Siegfried, power mixed with guile
Bewitching with your countless styles
Your stances won’t leave me entranced;
You’ll soon behold my vict’ry dance!”

So it was written, for all time
Immortalized within my rhymes:
Kilik, Nightmare, and Siegfried down
And soon enough, I’d take the crown.

But as they say, four equals death;
So came the beast to draw last breath
From Raphael; the room did chill --
And for a time, my heart grew still.

“Cervantes?!” I did blurt aloud
As I beheld his ghastly shroud.
The phantom pirate stood before
My swordsman to even the score.

I steeled myself to brave the fight
Unable to repress my fright.
Somehow I knew, in my mind’s eye
His ship was where my dreams would die.

I did my best, mixed up my blows
But soon fell prey to dastard’s throws.
His strength and speed, beyond my ken;
His blades, far worse than lion’s den.

“A teleport?!” I yelled too late;
I had no time to contemplate
A heartbeat’s time was all it took
To steal my win -- just like a crook.

But worst of all, his spin assault
To make me brave a fierce tumult
Of spiral blows, to rend my flesh
Faster than even Gilgamesh.

But he did not merely throw it out;
No, to ensure a speedy rout
He flung me down, and with three spins
Drained half my soul -- often to win.

“Impossible!  Such brutal force --
How could he deftly run a course
That shredded me, and all my limbs
And all that from a flighty whim?”

“His guard’s too strong; blows won’t connect
Too often he’s the architect
Of my disgrace -- my moves and plans
Dashed about with but a hand!”

Twas not a statement said simply once
But countless times; a foppish dunce
Cervantes made me out to be
With perfect rounds quite reg’larly.

And when he staved off daunting twirl
(Making me weep like some schoolgirl)
A sonic blast from loaded gun
Was all it took to end my fun.

“This cannot be.  Surely he jests;
Against this foe, I’ve done my best!
My every tactic, merely dashed
Cast in his flames -- and burned to ash!”

I placed my pad upon the floor
Agape, unfit to absorb more
Of torture from the pirate lord;
Even my brother had grown bored.

“The moon, she sets,” he then announced
Having witnessed every trounce.
“I suggest you now retire
Before your mind becomes too dire.”

I lowered my head, and felt fatigue;
That ghost proved well beyond my league
And countless fights, their toll I felt
As if he’d stripped me of a pelt.

“Confound it.  Yes, you’re right; I fold
Mayhap my mission was too bold.
To best a game, while still untrained
And now I must depart in shame.”

“O damnable fate!  Tricks of God!
For my hubris, I am but sod!
Impulsiveness has left me dead
And thus, farewell!  I’m off to bed.”

And so it was that I did part
With jagged lump of coal in heart.
Beneath my sheets, I knew lament
My iron will, that ghost had bent.

Yet as I drifted off to sleep
A certain fact began to creep
Into my mind, to taint my thoughts
To assuage my gloomy lot.

I’d bested bosses oft before
Even at the cost of scores;
Continues that I used in droves
Went towards besting dastards loathed.

And so if I should claim a win
I needed only rise again
To hone my blade, hasten my steps
And further boost my gaming rep.

I turned my head upon its side
A smile thus began to stride
Across my face, as plan I shaped
To have my vengeance ‘gainst that ape.

“Cervantes!  Cretin!  A.I. wretch!
My spirit’s here; you’ve yet to fetch
My head.  And by the planet’s turns
Beware my wrath!  My soul still burns!”

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