Since starting the ComicFighter Twitter account, maybe a year or two ago. I have come across some very interesting individuals. Some of these people are doing unique and exciting things. Some of them are fun, nice or just plain interesting. In hopes of furthering friendships with these people, while also alerting our own fans and getting their message out I thought that interviews might be a great platform.
IkariLoona has always been incredibly friendly and insightful through communication and as you will read, they have been doing a lot of interesthing this. Thus I present, ComicFighter interviews IkariLoona.
ComicFighter: Tell us a bit about yourself…
IkariLoona: I was in my teens in the 90’s when the fighting game genre boomed happened, so the couple of decades that has passed since should give you an idea of the age I’ve grown into by now. With those influences in my formative years also came a taste for the genre and a lot of the peripheral arts associated with it, like writing and character design.
Growing up in Portugal, which felt incredibly distant from anything happening in the medium, I kind of developed a penchant for researching what info I could find on the topics that interested me and trying to organize them in some way – often this has reflected on things like link-filled forum posts, but it’s a mindset that’s served me well professionally, as I’ve worked as a technical writer for about a decade now.
I’m living in the Netherlands for work nowadays, so while learning Japanese might help me enjoy and research the Japanese media I enjoy a lot better, that’s really not the language I should be focusing nowadays to better deal with other day-to-day aspects of my life.
Something I’ve dabbled with more recently is video editing, as I get the impression that video tends to have an easier time reaching people nowadays, and some topics dear to me feel a bit underrepresented in the format – the notion of “cultural duty” to share what you like and care about has been no my mind a lot (and mostly affects stuff like my maybe-excessive retweeting), tempered with the concern that I might not be the most fitting talent to represent those things I care about well, but I guess what I do eventually finish and release out in the world might get someone who cares about the same things and act on their “I can do better!” impulses, which would ultimately be a win.
ComicFighter: I would have to say that I (rabite) do that “cultural duty” thing as well. As I don’t scan comics, translate them and post them as much as I did years ago but there are a lot of amazing artists and fanarts being posted on twitter that I would like ComicFighter fans to see.
ComicFighter: How did you hear about ComicFighter?
IkariLoona: I think I found the site one or two years ago through Twitter, and I recall trying to read through all of the strips in it, since at the time I couldn’t quite filter them by a general SNK category (it would have been handy to link to something like that from the SNK subreddit; I think there was a KoF one which would have left some stuff out, but I’m not sure). I don’t think I finished reading everything, trying to check it on occasion through my phone, so it was hard to get a feel for specific artists.
I did notice that stuff like the Falcoon SNK online store comics are featured there now too, which might make it simpler to read all of them, and if something similar is applied to the translated Naruyuki Quest ones SNK posts on their global Twitter as well (since the official site only seems to feature the Japanese version), that could be a nice resource too.
ComicFighter: As I should have expected, SNK fandom seems to be much stronger, and for some reason people really like the Tekken comics although there are only about 2 on the site. Perhaps that person that posted was our own Saltamiya.
ComicFighter: Have you ever seen anything similar to ComicFighter?
IkariLoona: Orochinagi.com used to feature a lot of KoF (and sometimes CvS) 4-koma manga, although that’s apparently a bit more out of focus nowadays.
I also recall that some site used to host translated 4koma based on several Super Robot Wars games – dra-mata.com, I think, but that seems to be down nowadays.
ComicFighter: Indeed, the common answer. Are you a SRW fan? Who is your favorite Super Robot? Personally I like Gunbuster and the Macross Valkyries, aside from Transformers which I don’t think have a presence in the game.
IkariLoona: I used to enjoy this old sitcom called Herman’s Head, which was an older, more adult version of the concept in the more recent Inside Out by Pixar – it’s an interesting depiction of different and often conflicting tendencies in the human mind, and it was interesting to see them arguing and working together, and taking control of the titular character at different times. So I find it kind of baffling that with all the robot show out there where the mech has multiple pilots, the dynamics in those tend to look comparatively a lot simpler, often consisting of a clear leader, and everyone else only appearing to be there for strictly mechanical reasons (which can’t be that efficient compared to automation) and moral support. So, in an effort to research that storytelling medium more and its history, invariably I came across SRW, and to this day I find interesting things in how it converts character traits and plot points into mechanical elements of the game (like the levelling curve for the princess eventually aligning with the other pilots in SRW W’s take on Go Lion, the base for Voltron, despite her joining the team practically at level 1 while the others are much higher), or how it weaves multiple stories together that were designed separately – I love me some crossovers, and the writers often deliver. And then there’s the fascinating tapestry of the OG characters and games, where nowadays newer crossover games seem to be written with their OG integration in mind while the OG games set up events whose counterparts have happened in past crossover games, to say nothing of just about everything Banpresto has released in the past, regardless of its availability or translation status. Officially translated SRW games are half the reason I got a PS4, the other being KoF XIV.
Regarding non-SRW mecha, I’m very fond of Ideon as a story, even if the mecha itself looks clunky at times – it is pretty much a story of the difficulties people have trusting each other and getting along regardless of how much they have in common, and possibly human impulses at their best and worst. Odd design choices and time probably don’t help its appeal nowadays, but it’s one hell of a ride – I wonder in how much trouble one could get with its rights holders if the series and first movie were edited into 2 movies to make for a more palatable experience with less filler, to make a triology like the one made for the original Mobile Suit Gundam…
Design-wise, I find odd amusement in things like how apharm from Virtual On basically has camo pants despite its size and environments, or how the Valsione from SRW is basically its creator’s masterpiece, but adapted to look like a giant doll because his daughter thought it was ugly or something. Something like EVA-01 looks great to me, but my mind can’t shut up about how it looks too thin to be able to stand at its size. I used to find the bike armors from Mospeada really cool as a kid, but rewatching that in more recent years made them look a lot more underwhelming, even if the concept was still kinda cool.
ComicFighter: What is your favorite Game types, games, systems?
IkariLoona: I enjoy fighting games, although I’ve always had some trouble with execution issues like combos – I’m more of a “one well-placed move at a time” kind of player, which is why I’m hoping stuff like Samurai Shodown still has a future.
Generally anything that focuses on and works well well with storytelling tends to get my interest. Crossovers in particular can be fascinating, if even without branching paths or much player agency on the story it works well with what it sets out to do, like how Project X Zone 2 plays with the interactions between characters and lore from different series and adapts the mechanics of the source games to its own system. Something like Crusader Kings II can also be fascinating at a completely different level, having a lot of room for agency and surprises.
ComicFighter: Favorite Characters and why? What moves?
IkariLoona: There are so many with completely different appeal for each, especially if one looks at how they’ve developed over the years.
For example, it’s been interesting to follow Tung Fu Rue from the mention in the original Fatal Fury’s manual that he used to train Geese and Jeff, only to see one killed the other; we find another student in Cheng by FF2, but like Geese, he doesn’t seem to use any moves that resemble his, although maybe some underlying principles are still in there somewhere; we see him share a stage with Chonrei in Real Bout Special and train him in a couple of RB2 endings, so we get a glimpse at a legacy preserved, and now in KoFXIV we see him guide the new generation of KoF protagonists, with one of them, Meitenkun, while clearly having a distinct identity and style of his own, also has much clearer signs of Tung’s teachings in his arsenal than any other the other students we’ve since since the landmark game in SNK’s fighting game career that was the original Fatal Fury – not bad for a character visually derived from a master from Dragon Ball, and he’s just one of many.
Geese was an easier character to like before I found the bit about him being a police commissioner during AoF2 was a matter of the localization of that game taking some liberties, but there’s still much to respect about him, like how his moves demand of his players the kind of training and ability to anticipate opponents he’s supposed to have himself.
Chonrei giving up power for autonomy, Ryo growing into the Mr Karate he’s supposed to become, Vanessa pulling off sexy with subtle body language and her eyes alone, Leona keeping a troublesome side of her in check and learning to make use of it on her own terms, May Lee embracing her love for tokusatsu by doing the closest to living that reality she can and training under her nation’s most famous martial artist, Alice basically embodying the spirit of South Town by using moves from just about every notable person there, Ralf just being joyfully and explosively brash in his attitude and attacks in the arena to apparently even out the quietness is more stealthy missions require… again, there’s a lot to like, and these are just some SNK highlights for me.
Outside that, I have nothing but respect for Poison in and outside the games, rising up from being Roxy’s palette swap thug in Final Fight to representing Street Fighter in its crossover with Tekken while in universe becoming an entertainment entrepreneur; Mila from Dead or Alive for her more grounded style and story about beating her idol in a series that revels in its sci-fi and ninja shenanigans; Baiken from Guilty Gear for pulling off “no eye, no arm, no problem”.
Outside the fighting genre there are quite a few, but I find myself gravitating to the likes of Namco’s Valkyrie for the wholesome classic tone, despite only experiencing her through crossovers like Project X Zone, or Iroha from Final Fantasy XI who really should get to represent her game in stuff like Dissidia instead of Shantotto, since in-universe she basically represents the legacy of the players and her game’s world, and the in-story and symbolic associations with Phoenix reflect both in her design and abilities in an elegant way.
As for moves, I’ve always had a soft spot for brutal stuff like Ralf’s Mounted Vulcan Punch, which feels pretty satisfying to land, and maybe something more recent like Xanadu’s The Wisdom might be related to that too in a way, although its charm feels completely different. Gameplay-wise I might be a bit quick to gravitate toward projectiles like HaohShoKoKen though.
ComicFighter: What do you play now?
IkariLoona: Depends a bit on the day and the medium, but every day I spend a little time on Final Fantasy XI and a few mobile games like Metal Slug Attack, Final Fantasy Record Keeper, KoF98UMOL and more recently Triple Triad (so it’s part experiencing SNK exclusives of the medium, part seeing how FFXI is represented in Final Fantasy crossovers). Longer gaming sessies recently have tended to involve Super Robot Wars V, and I foresee a bit of Last Blade 2 in my near future now that it’s on Steam.
ComicFighter: I downloaded that FF app that was supposed to include Triple Triad but it wasn`t out yet so I will look back into that, how are you enjoying KoF98UMOL and which version are you playing?
IkariLoona: I play the international version of KoF98UMOL – the focus is mostly on trying to advance through the main and Elite missions, but instead of focusing on a few specific characters to do so, I tend to spread out my upgrades a bit to allow newer and weaker characters to eventually catch up with the ones on my team, so that’s taking me ages, and the game has a lot of mini-games to farm through for stuff, which can burn through an obscene amount of time if one doesn’t refuse to play through some things – I can only imagine how long it could take if it didn’t have Raid buttons…
Curiously, I recently saw some footage of a mobile Dead or Alive game that appeared to use basically the same system, with only aesthetic differences like the menus, and the battles being displayed in super-deformed 3D – maybe it’s by the same developer, or the system in general is way more common than I though, but it helped to make KoF98UMOL feel a bit less KoF-specific – on the other hands, the lines they give to some of the characters show there’s some true knowledge and love for those characters, so I can’t help but respect that.
ComicFighter: Do you play competitively? Do you think the game can be enjoyed without playing at a top level?
IkariLoona: In-person competition hasn’t really had a major presence around me, so it’s not something I got to involved with, although in the occasions when a tournament has covered KoF I’ve joined; online I’m a bit weary, since my connection isn’t wired, but I’ve dabbled if the prospects seemed good at the time.
I do think that a game that fails to provide something to those who haven’t fully mastered it have failed their audience, really – often the skills required to excel at a specific game aren’t transferable to others or other aspects of life, and especially if it’s a game in a series you know is bound to get sequels and updates, the incentive to master its execution intricacies so that the satisfying mental aspects of competitive play can take over just isn’t there for most people.
Heck, I recall some friends and I enjoying Fatal Fury on the Megadrive through “slide war” matches, which were basically button mashing competitions where you’d pick Joe, Duck King of Geese (the optimal choice), and spend the match crouching and mashing the kick button – it was dumb fun, the game enabled better things if you wanted more complexity, and a better game would enable even more. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for game to have animations specific to certain matchups, which can encourage some variety in what characters people try and might get good at. Several games would unlock content either through players beating certain challenges or for playing often enough, which would reward both mastery and persistence – it seem like a healthy path to take with a genre that mechanically has very little opportunity for cooperation in multiplayer.
ComicFighter: Do you do stream stuff? Does that interest you? Do you have any favorite streamers?
IkariLoona: Maybe it’s an age thing, but I don’t quite get the appeal yet – I have a Twitch account I’ve used to follow and comment stuff like EVO KoF matches, and on one occasion tried streaming a cooperative playthrough of Streets of Rage Remake, but I’m not sure if it’s something I could do systematically if I don’t yet get the appeal of it as a consumer.
I guess that part of what puts me off about it is the “you had to be there” factor, which may just be the appeal for others – I like getting to enjoy stuff on my own schedule, I’ve bended to stuff like TV schedules for a big portion of my life already. Stuff can be archived, but I guess in some cases it’s not quite the same thing.
There was a time I did on occasion check the SaltyBet stream – automating a system to be broadcasting all the time does have some merit, the the time I spent in the Mugen community and the drama that was involved back then, and how it would have regarded this use of Mugen works just makes it feel weird in a way…
ComicFighter: Anything to advertise or Plug?
Most of what I try to contribute to to the fighting game fandom in general and SNK’s in particular tends to go in the /r/SNK subreddit – there wasn’t really a specific space for it in the site yet, although there’s /r/kof, which has more of a competitive focus than I do, so I figured I’d try and take care of it. Most places online that cover (SNK) fighting games invariably end up using a lot of news entries covering stuff like tournaments that take place in some other country and continent, and there’s only so much appeal that can hold for me – since they’re not separating new related to the company or releases from the tournament stuff, I figure I’d try and cover Reddit’s SNK gap and taking the approach of focusing on news and occasional interesting findings that have nothing to do with tournaments. So far I post most of what’s there, often stuff i see covered on Twitter and nowhere else, like collaborations with Asia-only mobile games, but occasionally a few other people pitch in with stuff, and the steadily-growing number of subscribers has been an encouraging sign that there’s some interest in this approach.
Not “my thing” to advertise or plug, but I might as well mention that in 4chan’s /vg/ board there’s a recurring SNK topic which some might find worthwhile – the site in general has a bad reputation, but I figure that’s because it’s more famous sections attract people looking for attention that’s often negative, while more niche sections tend to have a comparatively more pleasant tone to them.
Beyond that, on Twitter and Youtube I use the ID “ikariloona” – Twitter tends to be frequently active, and I’m trying to discipline myself into completing stuff to put in the Youtube channel, time will tell how that goes.
ComicFighter: So I was surprised when I read your twitter profile and saw that you do run the SNK reddit, how is that on the day to day maintenance and do you have any good stories from it? When I first started playing KOF98UMOL i noticed there was not a reddit for it but there is a person running it now.
IkariLoona: It’s a relatively quiet subreddit, seeing as I still end up posting most things there, but that’s fine, since if a topic is based on a link, you can use it to find if other subreddits have a topic based on the same one, and check those discussions too.
As stories go, I guess the highlight is that originally /r/SNK already existed but was simply used as a redirect to /r/ShingekiNoKyojin (to think not that long ago there was concern that the acronym might get almost exclusively associated with that series online, outside the pre-establishing gaming fandom…) – so I created /r/SNKplaymore to cover stuff that wasn’t necessarily specific to KoF or the NeoGeo, which already had active subreddits at the time. I tried to get in touch with the /r/ShingekiNoKyojin mods about the possibility of having the /r/SNK subreddit linking to both their subreddit and /r/SNKplaymore, but the guy to ultimately had a claim on it would not reply to anything, apparently inactive or uncaring.
So when the announcement came of an official renaming of SNK Playmore to SNK, I pleaded my cases to Reddit in the appropriate board to be able to take over /r/SNK, which remained unused beyond its redirect function, and after a while I got the admin rights to it.
I basically had to restart the effort from scratch since /r/SNK had practically no subscribers, recycling maybe a few old interesting links from /r/SNKplaymore, but nowadays /r/SNK has over twice the subscribers /r/SNKplaymore did then, so I guess there’s some interest in it, and that’s good enough for me, although more contributions are always welcome – I’m always afraid I may forget to add something I may have found while checking Twitter on the bus or something.
I actually only found out about the /r/kof98umol subreddit somewhat recently thanks to a mention in the recurring SNK topic on /vg/ – it hadn’t occurred me to search for it, but I shouldn’t be surprised, considering /r/MetalSlugAttack nowadays has at least twice the activity /r/MetalSlug does, and the nature of mobile games and their temporary campaigns and new units means there’s almost always some fresh topic to discuss and old strategies to revise. It can still feel weird for someone who grew up with games of a very different nature. The archivist in me just hopes that at some point in the future there is still a way to enjoy everything that games like these tend to add over time and make temporary for the sake of artificial scarcity.
ComicFighter: What kind of music do you like? Have you ever heard stuff like SNK sound team or Alpha Lyra?
IkariLoona: I have a bit of a taste for bombastic orchestral music, but I’ll listen to a bit of everything, even if a lot of times I find myself gravitating toward some game soundtracks. SNK soundtracks and their arranged versions are of course included, although it’s tricky to pinpoint exactly who worked on each. I’m not that familiar with Alpha Lyra, but I liked what i heard after searching for a quick sample.