Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life
Tara chats with One Handed Terror
Alright, I decided that it’s time for Thoughts to do more than just talk about video games. I figured it was time for us to talk about video games and with people who do game. So, I spammed a bunch of emails out asking who was interested and Sebastian Jennings was the first to respond. So, congrats Sebastian! You are officially the first interview for Thoughts from a (Girl) Gamer!
So, I’ve interviewed Sebastian before. Actually, I’ve interviewed him twice before with AbleGamers. I did a general interview and another interview on the N0M4D controversy with Modern Warfare 2. They’re both good reads if you feel like checking them out.
Sebastian is a most certainly a gamer, with Street Fighter being one of his specialties. He’s Chun-Li master with his Youtube channel having over 1000 subscribers. That’s actually how I first heard about him. He also has five world recorders for top scores, as can be seen on the Twin Galaxy website. He’s an awesome guy, and only has one hand, which you probably wouldn’t notice if his nick name wasn’t “One Handed Terror.”
Tara: Thanks for interviewing with me again! Well, I guess since this interview is for a new audience we should have you tell a little bit about yourself.
Sebastian: Hello, my name is Sebastian Jennings. I am 31 years old and I currently reside in Los Angeles, CA. I was born in Tucson, AZ and grew up there until my college years. Growing up, video games were a big part of my life and I knew that I wanted to work in the video game industry. The best way I knew how to do that without a college degree was to move to LA, become a Game Tester and work my way through the ranks. I dropped out of college and started that journey: I grinded through game testing with TDK, 2K Games and THQ, wrote several strategy guides for Tips & Tricks magazine (before they went under) and eventually ended up as a Product Manager at PDP (A.K.A. Pelican) where I create, design and manage production of video game peripherals (controllers, cables, guitars, dance mats, etc.) from the concept design stage to the retail floor of your Best Buy, Wal-Mart or GameStop.
Tara: Haha, I love that we both tested for THQ. Actually, so did Kristianna. That’s where I met her. Now, before we go on, tell me about your hand. Considering your name is “One Handed Terror,” I feel like it’s just appropriate to tell everyone it.
Sebastian: Basically, my left hand is underdeveloped. I have a normal arm to my wrist and a partial palm with no fingers. My best visualization description is to think of it like a human cat’s paw. I was born this way so I’ve never had the feeling of having two hands. Now there are two theories as to why I have an underdeveloped hand: 1) (My Mother’s belief) Doctors say that the umbilical cord got tangled around my arm and prevented blood flow through my arm to develop my hand while in the womb. 2) (My Father’s belief) my father has radioactive sperm through government performed scientific medical experimentation when he was a child, and that directly caused a mutation in my DNA and my resulting condition when I was conceived. This is my Father’s belief, I kid you not. You be the judge.
Tara: I still love the story about your dad’s belief. I laughed the first time I heard it, and I’m still amused now. Although I am afraid to ask what experiments were ran on him. Now, you have one hand, and your name is One Handed Terror. Although the name sounds straight forward, I know you didn’t choose it for yourself. Why don’t you tell me how you got your nickname?
Sebastian: I really hate this story but I will tell it. My friend Geoff gave me this nickname. He was working at Tips & Tricks magazine at the time and they were doing a segment called “Arcade Player of the Month” and they wanted me to be the player of that month because of my one hand. I think I was followed by a pro girl gamer and a very young tournament gamer, and this was in the late ’90s when tournament gaming was still kind of underground. So he wrote the article and asked me questions (much like this), and said that he needed a nickname to call me because I didn’t have one at the time, as I was still an unknown just breaking into the tournament scene. I said, “Call me Goofyhand.” because I used to skate and “Goofyfoot” is a skating term. I thought it was cool and clever. He said, “No, how about One Handed Terror of Tucson?” because he just saw some western and the antagonist was named the “Terror of Tucson”. I said, “God no! That name is horrible.” We debated and I thought we squared it away and settled on Goofyhand. Low and behold, the issue comes out and he pulled the switcheroo on me. One Handed Terror of Tucson was plastered all over the article. We laughed and I didn’t think much of it. Much later, I entered the Street Fighter Midwest Nationals and I had all these people coming up to me and calling me One Handed Terror, and I was like, crap, that name is set in stone now. Nothing I can do about it. I still really dislike the name to this day but hey, what can you do?
Tara: You have to keep the name. And it is sort of catchy, and memorable. Now, I know you’re a huge Chun fan, and we talked about it in our first interview. So let’s talk about what is on your mind- Super Street Fighter IV.
Sebastian: Haha. Yes, Super SF4 has been taking a lot of my YouTube video time. Watched all the new Ultra vids and alternate costumes but there isn’t a whole lot of raw gameplay footage. From what I’ve seen though, it looks exactly the same except new Ultras, new backgrounds and new characters. That’s good…I really like SF4 but I was kind of hoping for a little more I guess. I was looking forward to a new gameplay mechanic maybe (like a tweak to the Focus Attack system), or new basic or special moves (instead of just Ultras). Usually when a new iteration comes out, these elements are involved for changes, so it’s kind of disappointing to not see anything like that. Just as an example: between Super SF 2 and Super Turbo SF 2. Chun Li had a problem with Anti-air, so they implemented a new special for her (D, U + K – three up kicks instead of Spinning Bird) to help balance her out. I was looking forward to that same treatment, since she is dominated by divekick characters but I have seen no such effort for correction. But I digress. Super SF4 will be fantastic, and I’m really looking forward to it!
Tara: What do you think of Chun-Li’s alternate costume? I heard it is referencing some earlier CAPCOM game…. But I didn’t know it. It wasn’t my favorite.
Sebastian: I also thought it was a strange choice for a costume. When I first saw it, I immediately thought of Xianghua from Soul Calibur. With the bright colors and puffy parts, it definitely doesn’t fit my depiction of Chun Li. I didn’t know that it was in reference to an earlier Capcom game. If I think of it that way, I think of the Chun Li looking girls from Warriors of Fate, or the Kung-Fu girls on Strider at the end of the Battlecruiser stage. I (and I’m sure everyone else) thought that they would just do the Alpha tights with the vest costume but I guess that would’ve been too easy. Regardless, I’m giving that costume a thumbs down. Hopefully the costume will look good in motion.
Tara: I still really like her current alternate costume, the long dress. It’s very classy and I think Chun is a classy lady. While talking about new things in SSFIV… people now have alternate Ultras. What do you think of them? I’ve heard several complaints that they are too long/cinematic/break the flow of the game. Zangief’s is like 10 seconds long. Thoughts?
Sebastian: Several of the Ultras are pretty cool and seem fitting to the character, like Guy’s Ultras, Juri’s Ultra and Fei’s one inch punch ultra (soooo dope!). And some of the Ultras are down right ridiculous, like Akuma’s Ultra, Rufus’s tornado Ultra, Seth’s new Ultra. They just seem too silly and comedic…I don’t know…those just rub me the wrong way. Ultras should be badass and have a sense of power behind them but not leave you scratching your head, like WTF just happened. The super weird ones just remind me of the Supers in Super Gem Fighter, you know. Too cartoony for SF4.
I’m still on the fence about Chun’s new Ultra. I figured that it would be the Super Fireball but I’m still debating on its usefulness because it doesn’t seem quick enough to be Anti-air but more as tack on damage after an EX Legs, and the damage on that thing is really piss poor. Maybe it could help with the divekick matches, or against the opponents that fall though the OG Ultra (hopefully they fixed that).
Tara: First off, I just played Super Gem Fighter for the first time like last week and I fell in love. I think that game was made for me personally. But yeah, Street Fighter shouldn’t remind you of Gem fighter. It’s too cutesy. I don’t know much about Chun’s new Ultra to be honest. I know that it’s quarter circle now instead of charge. What do you think about Chun-Li’s new Ultra being quarter circle? Do you prefer Chun as a charge or circle character?
Sebastian: I love it. Actually, one of my suggestions for Super SF4 was to give her an alternate control scheme by pressing Start, and this alternate control scheme would be all quarter circle and DP motions as opposed to charge (ala Alpha 2 Chun Li). She could even have the alternate Alpha 2 tights costume to signify this. They did something similar to this in Alpha 2, wherein she is a quarter circle character in Alpha 2, and pressing Start on the character select screen would give you the OG charge Chun Li with the OG costume.
I personally hate charging and charge characters (why I stuck with Chun is a mystery to me as well). If they would switch her to a fireball motion character, I think it would dramatically change her game for the better. You would be able to rushdown much easier, which would be more fitting for a small Chinese Kung-fu fighter. Wouldn’t you agree?
Tara: To be honest, I’m always going to be partial to Chun from Third Strike. I like that her fireball was a quarter circle, but then she did have charge moves as well… but I’m probably just partial because she was the first Chun I ever played… and my nostalgia has nothing to do with her being top tear and being able to poke everyone to death, haha. Now, my next question is very serious. Did you hate the volcano stage in SF IV as much as everyone else I know?
Sebastian: Yes! What the hell were they thinking? It’s a cross between the final fight of Anakin and Obi-wan in Episode III, and playing on a Virtual Boy. No bueno, ese. That level better not show its ugly face in Super!
Tara: They do have some nifty looking stages for four. Of course, there is one thing I’m still waiting for to hear about it SSFIV. How long do you think it will be until Ibuki announced? We all know it’s coming.
Sebastian: I don’t know. I’m starting to get worried because it’s only a couple of months before the scheduled release, and there is absolutely no footage of the three characters in question (Dudley, Makoto, Ibuki). On the marketing side of things though; they do need one final big news push to keep the hype going until release, so the timeline is right that this news is still under wraps. If I had to put money on it, I would say late February/early March is when they will announce it.
Tara: I wish they would do it already. It does make me a little nervous, but I don’t think CAPCOM would break fans hearts like that… They really do need to correct the four showed no Third Strike love. On the other side, what do you think of the character’s that have been announced so far?
Sebastain: Everyone is in love with Juri. Juri is a great character design and has an interesting moveslist. Very KoF like in my opinion. Dee Jay and T. Hawk were a must to complete the Super SF2 cast. From what I’ve seen, it looks like Dee Jay will be a force to be reckoned with. Guy is always an OG favorite and he could swing either way as far as being a tournament caliber character. I think Guy can be powerful in the right hands and with a lot of time and practice spent on developing his set up games, much like Gen is in SF4. Cody is silly to me. That costume he is in is ridiculous. Everyone wants him in the Final Fight costume (blue jeans and a tighty whitey), why not give the people what they want. Cody doesn’t seem too great from what I’ve seen but then again, I’ve seen very little of Cody. Am I forgetting anyone? You know what I want to know…where the hell is Geki?!
Tara: I don’t know Sebastian. And to be honest I don’t even know who Geki is. Some Alpha character? I never played Alpha. Now, I’d like to leave the Street Fighter conversation and go into what really matters, the hard hitting questions…. After watching the documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters are you on Team Billy or Team Steve?
Sebastian: Oh man. What a question. You know, I love this movie to death and I’ve watched it at least 100 times. Of course, by watching the movie you have to side with Steve but I’ve read a lot of stuff on this movie, and it seems that the word is that Billy is not as big of a dick as he is portrayed in the movie. He does do a lot of nice things for the community and it is even shown in the movie with him helping out Doris Self (Q-Bert lady) getting her own Q-Bert cabinet. But some of the things Billy does in the movie, you just think to yourself, “wow, only a major dickhead would do or say something like that”. After everything is said and done, I think I’m going to have to go against the crowd and side with Team Billy. He is the OG gamer. First perfect Pac-man score?!?! You have to respect that. Plus, Billy does currently have the world record on Donkey Kong, and he did it live. Respect it! 😉
Did you know that I also have some world records?
Fancy a game of Robocop or Magician Lord, anyone?
Tara: Yeah, probably not. I feel since I have never played that I shouldn’t start my first time playing against the world record holder. Now, on Billy… I’ve talked to him on the phone a couple times… he’s definetly an… interesting guy. Haha. He did donate some stuff to AbleGamers once… but you’re right. He does have those “dickhead” moments. I’m actually going to be doing an interview with him on his hair soon. I feel like I had to pick a team I would pick Team Billy’s Hair. Man, King of Kong was a great movie. While on the subject, what is your favorite movie?
Sebastian: My all-time favorite movie is Big Trouble in Little China. I thought that movie was so great when I was young. I quote it daily when I’m at work but sadly nobody shares the same love of the movie as I do and wonders what the hell I’m talking about. What sucks though is that I watched it again not too long ago and it really hasn’t aged well. I kept thinking to myself that I might need to consider thinking about a new favorite move. Sigh.
Tara: Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to catch onto Big Trouble in Little China quotes. I only saw that movie once years ago. Alright, next questions. What is your all time favorite game? Any system, can only name 1.
Sebastian: Well, if it is only one game, I’m going to have to approach this as the deserted island scenario, where this is the only game I would play for the rest of my life. For that, the one game I think that I would be satisfied with playing for the rest of my life would be World of Warcraft. I think that WoW is so beautifully well done. From the sounds, music, worlds, character design, gameplay mechanics and just simply the amount of stuff you can do in that game; WoW is the game I could spend the most time on without getting bored, and I can’t think of another game that could take its place in that respect. I was so hooked on that game that I lost a girlfriend of 3 years because of it. That’s ok though because she was cheating on me the whole time anyway. 😉 And no, I don’t play it anymore. I went to rehab and I’m clean from the Warcrack.
Tara: Wow. That’s probably the most intense answer I’ve ever gotten to that question. I’ve actually never played WOw. Now, over the past couple days me and Kat, the websites new writer, were working on tattoo ideas for me. Thinking about getting a Carl Sagan quote. Now, I know you already have some ink, do you plan on getting any more tattoos?
Sebastian: I currently have a full sleeve on my left arm of traditional Japanese art of water and wind. The overall plan was to get my right sleeve done with fire and Earth and have it tie into Japanese chest panels (Yakuza style), so I would have this whole: elements, Confucius, Japanese, Buddha Zen thing going on but two things put a halt on that; 1) my girlfriend was not down with me having two full sleeves and I can respect that. 2) my tattoo artist changed shops to Kat Von D’s shop and now charges insane amounts to get work done. My sleeve right now cost me about $5000, so I can’t even imagine how much it would cost if I were to move ahead with my plan. Yikes!
Tara: Have you ever thought about getting a gaming related tat? ‘Cause I have one. They’re awesome.
Sebastian: What do you have?
Tara: I’ve got a triforce on my left wrist. It’s nerdy but I love it to death.
Sebastian: I guess I kind of have one. I have the Japanese character for “heaven” on the back of my neck which is the character that appears on the back of Akuma’s gi. It was supposed to be more in line with what I wanted to do with my Japanese elements body art, with the Japanese characters for wind, water, fire, Earth on my chest (ala Ryu’s belt). So, the Japanese characters were small homages to Street Fighter but I kind of wanted to keep them hidden within the traditional Japanese art so that it would all make sense on my body without the references to SF.
Tara: So you wanted to sort of be a nerd, but not fully be a straight forward nerd. Alright, another random question… if you could meet one person who would you meet?
Sebastian: I’m going to have to say Bruce Lee. Probably a typical answer for males of my age group but I would love to talk to him and find out more about what makes him tick. He is such an interesting person. You have to wonder what he could have achieved had he lived out his life naturally.
Tara: I don’t necessarily think it’s just boys your age. My little brother who’s 20 loved him, too. I think he even had a “Bruce Lee is my homeboy” tee shirt. Now, What tournaments to you plan at attend this year?
Sebastian: I will be attending Devastation and EVO but not really for actual competition reasons (although I will be competing). I’m going to Devastation because after the tournament, I continue the drive down from Phoenix to Tucson to visit my friends and family for a few days. And I’m going to EVO because I cannot pass up crazy good time in Vegas with all of my Street Fighter friends. EVO is always a good time for me. The tournament is almost secondary.
Tara:What games do you think you will compete in?
Sebastian: It’s probably only going to be in Super Street Fighter 4 and Street Fighter HDR. I am so far behind the curve in all of the other fighting games that I think it would just be a waste of time for me to try. I’d much rather be great at one game than good at many games. It’s just how a roll, son.
Tara: I can understand that. Now, this is an important question. Does your girlfriend game?
Sebastian: Yes, she does but only casually, and only with the old school SNES games. We usually battle it out on a weekly session of Tetris Attack and Mario Kart on the SNES. I got her on Tetris Attack but she can smoke me on Mario Kart. Koopa Troopa is so cheap!!!
Tara: Haha, awesome. Thanks again for chatting with us Sebastian. Always a blast.