First thing I want to make clear is that I am not mad at the Japanese shmup community or have any negative feelings towards them at all. It is not my intention for this article to attack them or cause any sort of bad blood. Instead, what the focus of this article is about is how the Western shmup community (I know people don’t like the term “western”, but I’m going to use it until we come up with a better one) thinks about itself, in relation to the Japanese community, as well as how we should look towards the future, rather than the past.
As many of you are aware, I am a newcomer to the shmup community and haven’t been around very long. So by no means am I a complete expert on this topic; but, for the past year, I have been pretty involved and have been paying attention to things, so these are my observations.
Overall, I think we are too influenced by the practices and the rules of the Japanese shmup community, to the point where I think it is holding us back. There are a number of different examples I have noticed, but the one I think that is causing quite a bit of tension is the Dodonpachi score glitch. In case you haven’t picked up on it in my recent podcast episodes, or haven’t seen me talking about it on discord, I have developed a bit of an obsession about this glitch. To the point where there were nights where I was literally dreaming about it (probably as my unconscious mind was trying to come up with answers). I’ll explain more about why I have become so focused on this glitch in a bit, but I don’t think I am totally alone in that regard.
Basically I see this glitch and its place in the community as a lose-lose situation. On one side we have some of the western players who know about the glitch, but can’t talk about it because of promises they have made. These people are important and I think having positive relationships and interactions with the Japanese players is extremely valuable, much more so than figuring out the glitch. However, for people who don’t know the glitch, it is difficult not to become salty because of its secretive nature.
I don’t like this sort of division. I also don’t like sensitive topics if they can be resolved because I have a tendency to talk about what I want to talk about and stepping on people’s toes. It’s not my intention to cause friction, but it’s just my nature to speak my mind. So hopefully this article is tactful.
From what I understand, both the Japanese and western players who know about the glitch are not fond of having to continue to keep it a secret, but really have no other choice because of promises made in the past and all that kind of stuff. So basically until someone really lucky, or really clever, or a combination of the two, finds the glitch independently, the situation is just stuck in this awkward position.
Recently, I have been feeling like the person who will need to dedicate himself to finding the glitch is myself. Primarily due to my unrelenting fixation on the topic.
As for why the glitch has become such a sticking point for me, it is essentially because I think it is unfair, creates negativity, and discourages people from playing DDP. Dodonpachi, I should clarify, is one of my favorite shmups and I have put quite a lot of time into it at this point.
Another reason why this glitch bothers me is because of the attitudes that end up forming around its existence. These attitudes being either anger towards the Japanese players for being secretive, or pessimism towards the Western community’s abilities to achieve world records. Comments saying things like it’s not worth worrying about anyway, because we cannot beat Japanese records bother me. Even if comments like that are true-ish, I am not a pessimistic person and I am not persuaded by a lack of confidence. Plus, western players can change and improve and there are some talented names that can challenge the Japanese scores. A dominant Japan has been defeated in other games and genres, so I don’t see why we are so quick to shrug off our potential.
In the case of DDP though, until the glitch is either shared or rediscovered, no matter what the west does, the world records will continue to be haunted by this big mysterious secret.
Here’s some information about myself, I bring it up because it relates to this article. I value fair play, I value cooperation, I’m prideful, and I’m stubborn. What does this mean? This means that the secret DDP glitch is uniquely designed to short circuit my Gaijin brain. Nothing in my life of playing video games has caused me this much cognitive dissonance. I don’t want to look for the glitch anymore … but I can’t give up. I want to be mad at the Japanese players … but I also want to understand and cooperate with them. I want to say doesn’t matter because I’m a scrub … but my pride refuses.
So where does this leave me? Well yesterday I had an enough is enough type moment and busted out the debugger in MAME. I was determined to look through all of stage 6’s code, even though I had no idea what I was looking for. After about a half hour of doing this I heard a small but sane voice in my head. The voice said: What are you doing? Your time is more valuable than this. You should be spending this time playing shmups … not banging your head against a keyboard.
Prior to yesterday’s frustration, I had a previous conversation with my discord about why the Japanese players don’t just ban the glitch, if they dislike its existence as well. Based on the feedback I received, the reason why the Japanese don’t ban the glitch is because of the way they verify scores. As I understand, verified scores have to be played on a verified cabinet and then approved by the arcade owner or what have you. However, the arcade owner doesn’t actually watch the player do the run, he just checks on the results screen when the player achieves the score. So by this system, the arcade owner has no way of knowing whether or not the player used the glitch; thus the glitch cannot be banned.
Yes, I do see how this makes sense … in Japan, but this goes back to what I was getting at earlier. I don’t live in Japan. None of my scores or any of the other western players’ scores that I compete with are ever going to be considered legitimate by the Japanese. If I ever get the chance to visit Japan, I plan on using that time having fun and meeting people, not grinding out PB attempts. As things stand right now, the Japanese shmup scene might as well be the moon. It also doesn’t help that I’m a max level Gaijin, completely ignorant of their language and social graces, so I don’t know if they would be that comfortable around me in the first place. For me, the Japanese scene is not like the French scene, where I can make an account and post my scores alongside theirs. Instead, JPN STG just feels completely inaccessible.
Ironically enough, I do have to mention that I am fairly close to Japan geographically and have quite a bit of experience playing Japanese 3rd Strike players on Fightcade, but that’s a whole different situation.
Like I said, I hope this doesn’t come across as bitter or anything like that. I have no resentment towards the Japanese shmup scene and its rules. That’s not what I am writing about. I’m just saying that, when you look at the situation realistically and practically, basing our rules on what the Japanese do is holding our scene back from progressing and gaining more players. If you think about it, the Japanese model of tracking scores and keeping records is not only unsuitable for the rest of the world, but will soon collapse in on itself in Japan. A day will come where these arcades with DDP verified cabinets will either go out of business, or have to remove the cabinets to make room for more profitable games. Just look at Green Arcade in South Korea. Tekken is more popular than it has ever been and Green Arcade was the home of many legendary Korean Tekken players. And yet, last year, Green Arcade closed down during the height of Tekken 7’s popularity.
With all this in mind I have come to a decision that has honestly been a big source of relief. I recognize that I have no authority over what other Western players think and do, so don’t take this as me trying to impose my own rules. But, in my mind, I have decided that I am no longer going to worry about the DDP score glitch because, as of today, it is now a separate scoring category. Moving forward, I will consider all DDP scores achieved using the glitch in one category, and all scores achieved not using the glitch in another. Honestly, based on what I have heard about the glitch, I think this makes the most sense, even if the glitch was known. Plus this has zero impact on the western scene, because none of us playing DDP know what the glitch is or have scores using it anyway.
Again, I understand this sounds out of left field, due to the Japanese typically being the standard we looked towards, but I think we need to make a change. As I said earlier, I think it’s more important to look towards the future and make decisions based on what is beneficial for our community of players, rather than what lines up with the Japanese community’s rules.
Who knows, there may come a day in the future when the last arcade closes and Japan STG needs to look towards us as an example of what to do.
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully I haven’t offended any of my fellow discord members, who I think are awesome and an important part of this community.