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9:00 or so PM. I was just exiting the movie theater (We'd caught Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within for the nth time) with Adam when I spotted it. A Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 machine, inexplicably loaded with four credits and abandoned in the middle of a Versus match. Being the 2d Fighter-junkie I am, I glanced around to ensure no one had dibs on the game before heading over. Sure enough, the machine was good to go, with a nice 70 seconds left on the clock. I grabbed a joystick and called Adam over, giving the active character a couple of experimental punches to see what kind of speed she had.

By the time the match was up, I had been floored. I landed not a single hit on Adam, who beat me with a hideous grin affixed to his face. Shocked, I glanced down to see what kind of horrendous things he was doing to the machine's controls to beat me so handily. And then I saw it.

Adam was merely pressing all of the buttons at once, extremely quickly.

I was stunned. All of my m4d l337 5k1ll5 were rendered absolutely worthless by this one random tactic. Incensed, I punched the start button again, determined to try with a set of familiar characters.

It happened again.

Now I was disbelieving. Adam stepped back from the machine, ready to go, but I stopped him. This madness had worked at defeating a human, true. But would it succeed at beating the game itself?

It did. Match after match went by, and now I was trading places with Adam when his arm got sore. We were beaten a couple of times, using the opportunity to switch to characters more receptive to this kind of treatment (ie, those with big guns). The new characters prevailed. Fifteen minutes after we began, we had beaten the game in it's entirety doing nothing more than randomly hitting the buttons.

The ending to the game was rather disappointing, but I've tried the technique many times since at that particular arcade game, and it has never failed me. Of course, it's also a good way to get your ass kicked at the arcade, so now I have to avoid the game entirely, because I just can't concentrate on beating my opponent with skill bearing the knowledge that victory is just a few cheap button-mashes away.

A lot of my opponents think they're playing it safe when they come at me with beam-intensive characters, like Iceman or Iron Man. And they might be right. Living Howitzers like that can seriously jack me up with a single attack.

They hang out downtown at the far side of the screen, gleefully beaming flak across the entire width of the arena instantly. They typically snag me 6 times per beam, ripping through my hapless body with psychopathic indifference. Even if I defend, the attack still chips at my life bar with each hit. If I was reckless enough to fight as one of the pixies, like Psylocke, a series of well-placed lasers will do a fair amount of damage in no time whether I block or not.

It's so easy to win with Iron Man. Anybody can win that way.

But as a foolhardy braggart who is definitely reckless enough to fight with pixies, like Psylocke, I've had a lot of practice not getting hit at all. Evasive maneuvers demand more than mere reflexes. I already know you're going to lay a 3-foot high layer of flak over the ground at all times. I have to predict and intuit my way around it, and by now I've gotten pretty graceful at that.

You'll see me weave artfully up and down around your flak, Yossarian-style. I'll end up right in front of you; your jaw agape with frustration and incredulity; me so quick to bust with my modest 10-hit air combo and a taunt for good measure (I win half my battles on intimidation alone). You'll have to take my word for it, but really, it's fucking spectacular.

The flip side of my strategy is that since an isolated hit from Psylocke won't do shit, I have to chain every single hit into a vigorous combo on my opponent. It's so easy to lose if you blow even a single chance to smack that Iron bitch around a few times. He must not be allowed to fire off another fatal Proton Cannon.

Anybody can lose that way.

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