XSPR Interviews TZW-ART?

TZW-ART? is probably the most influential combo video maker of all time. XSPR just sent me this interview with the SF2 combo legend, which he conducted with translation help from Ksedaka.

He’s asked me to publish it on ComboVid, and of course i’m happy to oblige. (Although it does feel kind of awkward posting this here, since they talk about me on several occasions – but there’s not a whole lot i can do about that. Haha i suggest you ignore that stuff.)

XSPR’s personal introduction precedes the interview, followed by the original Japanese transcript.


Interview with TZW-ART?

The name “TZW” holds a very special place in the Street Fighter community, particularly in the memories of many of the oldest members. We all have stories about certain individuals that impressed us with their amazing skill and what it was like the first time we witnessed it, or their great performances in tournaments. We can remember other people that made a name for themselves by the persistent use of some low-tier character better than anyone else could manage to work out. These are the kinds of people that got us to see the game in a new light. And then there was TZW.

He got us to see things so differently that word about him traveled around the planet, either by the evidence, if you were lucky (usually in the format of some barely viewable 16th generation copy video cassette tape), or simply by way of the mysterious rumors about such evidence. He didn’t just simply show us the game in a new light, it was like discovering hidden secrets. He caused us to re-question our previous assumptions and think again about what we thought was even possible in the game itself. There are few things in life that can turn a cocky brash teenager into a true, genuine student of how something works, and have him risk giving the mere appearance of a much younger child, full of wonder and curiosity to discover what else there may be, but that’s the kind of effect he had. Before the Three Men and a Baby, the men were left to feel like babies next to the persona of some guy in Japan named “TZW.”

Minus World

Part of what goes into the making of an OG are these types of memories from a younger age, that stick with the OG and bond directly with his DNA that keep him playing well into adulthood. One of the earliest of these types of fond memories I can remember is playing Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo (NES / Famicom) and discovering “Minus World.” Minus World was the world, within the world, and like, nobody knew about it.

I had played older video games before Super Mario Brothers, but didn’t have as positive an experience. I remember the first time I played Pacman, or maybe it was Ms. Pacman. It was probably Pacman, because there was no way any self-respecting 5 or 6 year old boy would be caught dead playing a girl in a video game. Anyway, I remember wondering why I died when trying to eat the ghosts. My brother said “Nooooo, first you have to eat the power pellets, THEN you can eat the ghosts.” So I ate the power pellet first, but that didn’t work either, because by the time I caught up to any ghost, he’d already reverted back to his normal color. (One of which was BLUE, I might add!) Super Mario Brothers was a lot more sophisticated, with huge levels to explore. It let you enjoy a powerful sense of adventure, from finding beanstalks to clouds that paralleled the normal path of a stage, or stumbling under hidden mushrooms that were special because they were green, and that meant they gave you a free guy. It was basically the Huckleberry Finn of the 80’s, and if you weren’t playing it, you missed out on a lot of fun.

After you had completed the game a number of times, there wasn’t much to see in terms of finding uncharted territory. But if you went to the end of a particular underground level, jumped so that the back of Mario’s head would slide through from the side of a certain brick next to this one tunnel, you could somehow manage to scroll the screen to that warp pipe area in such a way that allowed you to find new territory: Minus World. It was a way to get through the looking glass of the game itself. That was so rad!

Super Mario Brothers really stimulated you to think about these kinds of possibilities and encouraged that sense of exploration. I remember when I found out about all the ridiculous amount of free guys you could get by jumping up and down just right on the turtle at the end of World 3-1. I wondered why the numbers of lives left starting including letters. I was like, “Did I break the game cartridge with my awesomeness just now? Will other text display properly after this?” I don’t know if it was hexadecimal or what, but it felt cool to push the boundaries of the game just to see what would happen.

Best Tape, Worst Quality

Many years later, after some games with Zass, we went back to his dorm and he had this video tape of B3, I think it was. It was during the Alpha 2 days. He also told me about this other video tape he had, of all these crazy combos. His description was completely accurate, the combos were indeed unbelievable and had to be seen to be believed. He also warned me about the poor quality of the tape itself, which was also an accurate description. Tapes start to degrade after a few copy-of-copy generations. If you keep making copies of copies, they become barely viewable, and that’s exactly the state this thing was in. After a few minutes, it was almost like trying to view an adult cable channel without paying; you could get the audio fine, but the best image you’d ever see was very scrambled and distorted. It wasn’t quite that bad, but often parts of it would start to look like that. I think most of the footage featured Hyper Fighting, with possibly earlier editions, if I remember correctly. I just know there was some combo that had Guile doing two roundhouses from the ground in the same combo.

By this time, the Internet had started to become popular and it was a big help in arranging tournaments in the US. This allowed us to organize and answer the question, so who is the best player? and even better, otherwise known as “XSPR’s Question”: As a competitor, how do I stack up? But it was still way before YouTube. Internet speeds didn’t really allow for the practical transmission of video footage until a little later. ISDN was feasible, but cable modem wasn’t available in most districts and even in universities, the bandwidth wasn’t really there to host and download video files. So there were no video files to download.

There was a belief among some people that this TZW guy must be the best. After all, he did combos nobody could even conceive. We could readily understand that the combos featured in TZW tapes were very impractical for winning real games with, but that didn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t deliver in more practical terms. The practical benefits may not exactly result directly in tournament wins, but some things do occasionally get discovered from such tinkering, and definitely inspired us, despite the required suspense of disbelief. Japan did have the better players, which some of us knew, others contested, and some simply denied outright. But nobody really knew for sure, as few top players would travel across the planet to another country and find out or show off in some video game. This was before anyone heard about Daigo. A few individuals such as myself only made it across the country from one coast to another from time to time, and that was basically it.

Inspiration by Dissection of a Game Engine

So we’d have our tournaments, but we’d still wonder, how much better are the Japanese? Before TZW’s tapes became more and more known, did any of us make a tape like that? I remember a little later, after B2 maybe, Omar made a tape of A2 Rose with like 20 or 30+ hits, with a few other high hit combos. But TZW’s tape was the first time we’d seen something like that. Not a tournament recording, not a practical, here’s how to win at the game video, but something that stretched the limits of the game and tried to answer the question, what’s possible? One thing was clear. If there was anyone that could answer that question of what’s possible, it was this mysterious TZW guy. He did this kind of thing before James Chen told us about the detailed innards of how fighting games functioned, and way before Maj had a website. When Maj dies, he’ll probably be worshiped like Tupac in his own right. And then someone will ask, “So who inspired Maj? Who did Maj respect?” and the answer will be TZW. Guile got his handcuffs when TZW broke the game engine’s laws of physics.

Zass would eventually go on to meet him some years later, and introduce him to some other US players when they visited Japan. Some years after that, I met him too. It was awesome to finally meet the person who made the combos in those grainy old tapes.

Some OGs get to a point and consider just how much they value all the tournament memories and the community members that started running them. The competitive spirit is only the beginning, and an OG realizes that at some point, it’s the very service to the community that can offer some of the most satisfaction. Giving back in this way becomes its own reward. So with all of these interviews going around lately, I thought it would be a good idea to interview TZW, and give the community a chance to acknowledge his valuable contribution and fond memories that inspired so many of us.

TZW, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Name: TZW-ART?

Playing SF2 since: SF2WW (Of course, I started from SF1.)

Other games: I like arcade shooting, puzzle, and action games.

SF series main character: GUILE (color BLUE)

Controllers: BOARD MASTER (ASTRO panel and Semitsu parts)
Semitsu joystick. The buttons are Sanwa which I like.

SSF2T vs: I like not just combos but also to compete. I’m not such a strong player.
I like these match-ups:
Guile vs. Dhalsim
Guile vs. boxer
Guile vs. Guile
Guile vs. Sagat

I don’t particularly like these match-ups:
Guile vs. T.Hawk
Guile vs. Cammy
Guile vs. claw

If I ever get the chance, I’d like to attend an Evo someday.

1. With so many people still playing ST after all these years, do you think it’s becoming more and more common that players will begin to land some of the higher-hit combos from your videos, which most players feel are too impractical to even attempt in a real match?

We are already seeing tactics used when a super is done after a barrage of weak attacks. Ken, Guile, and Cammy pose significant threats to their opponent if they can do the bigger combos. You don’t really see those huge combos all the time, but there are always a few players that have that constant obsession to meet the challenge. I’m one of them, but I fail and lose.

2. Which Street Fighter game have you spent the most time and effort dissecting? Any other kinds of games?

I’d say that I’ve devoted the most time of all to Super Turbo, in the end. There are still new things to discover. The longest session of research took around one day and eighteen hours of play. Other games that I have also investigated intently include Gradius 2, Pipe Dream, and Mobile Light Force (1, 2 and 3; The Japanese title of Mobile Light Force is “Shikigami no Shiro”).

[TZW-ART? holds the national record for the high score in Pipe Dream (all stages), Radigy, Karous, and Illvelo.]

3. T.Akiba helped us gain a lot of insight into the way ST functions and works. Have you talked with him much or ever worked together on something?

Sure, T.Akiba’s a good buddy of mine. We have run tournaments and collaborated on other stuff too. We even worked together on INH’s DVD productions (the X-MANIA DVDs). His name also appears in the explanation book.

4. If you could request some features or something from Capcom or a game company, what would it be?

I want to see something like the NESiCAxLive system (a network to download content to arcade machines) support Capcom’s 2D fighting games. Super Turbo for example could have a card that lets you customize the color of your character.

5. Are you familiar with “machinima”? What do you think about using games in this way?

Is that some way of combining animation or another kind of visual with game visuals? I think that it’s better to make the original game production itself look better. If it makes the game look worse, I don’t like it.

6. These days, YouTube and NicoNico Douga allow users to put up many kinds of personal video footage very easily. It makes it easy for a person to become a national hero/national security breacher. Personally, it bothers me that high school fights (or attacks) are not taken down, while other content is removed. They allow copyright infringement with music and movies. Do you want to comment on anything regarding copyright?

With regard to both combo and real game match videos, you really shouldn’t forget about the copyright/trademark of the maker/ originator. It’s not like the company, as owner of the intellectual property, really wants to take their fans to court for violating the law in this regard (as it usually promotes their product), so they usually tolerate it.

This applies both to my own work as well as to the game companies/publishers that own the intellectual properties. I think it’s not good when a person besides the producer just uploads footage without permission. (I made a mistake about that in the past and I regretted it.)

7. With emulation, it is now easy to stress-test a game and try new things, down to the accuracy of a frame or two, with free tools from community members like an Input Scripter. Do you make your own? Have you used others?

I’ve made no use of things like an Input Scripter or so-called “macros.” I am determined/obsessed with the challenge of one’s “Abilities Restricted to the Human Hand.”

However, I am interested about the use of other ways. I respect Maj’s thorough investigation of the utmost limits. I was deeply moved by his videos, too.

Guile’s “Thrust” -> super (close range standing mid kick into super) is possible to do by hand, but it is not possible to suddenly FAB from the standing state without a macro.

8. Recently, we may see hitboxes displayed for many games, including Super Turbo. I was really happy to see this. You can even play a “blank screen” mode, where you see ONLY hitboxes! I love it. What do you think? Would you join a tournament for “blank screen” mode hitbox in ST?

It’s fun to research isn’t it? New discoveries are possible, too. Yeah, it seems like it would be interesting to have a tournament in this mode. I want to participate.

9. Please tell us about the equipment and tools you use, and have not used, in your productions.

I have used absolutely no input scripter or so-called “macro” at all. Nothing was used except a Control Box controller for the arcade version, and turbo device (synchronized to fire 30 times per second).

The actual conditions of my performance, using only these two items, are shown briefly during the end credits roll of the combo DVD “MAXION.” You are able to see my hands.

10. Evo is the largest fighting game tournament each year in the US. It has become common for combo videos to be presented- often for the first public viewing- during these events. Are you familiar with Maj, or other people overseas that like to take apart the game or make combo videos?

Of course I know about Evo. I’ve corresponded with them sometimes. I got permission to use a technique from his video to make my video. (vs. Claw, a technique called “Tabidougu Tobikosu” which means, to “Jump over the firearm,” a.k.a., “Maj Jump.”)

In addition, Maj made the Tribute video. I am in his gratitude.

11. Execution will always play a role in public performance. What do you think about it? How important would you say is execution?

I don’t compete much these days, so I don’t see combos. Since I’ve done combos so many times, it’s good just to hit-confirm it once. Nobody wants to see you fail so many times.

On the other hand, I think that competitive play is suitable for crowd performances. Daigo gets out magnificent results in front of lots of people.

12. When you compete as a player in X, what are some combos that you typically go for?

With Guile, start with his ambiguous cross-up jumping light kick, crouching light kick x2 (or crouching light punch x3), super. If in the corner, hit opponent with Sonic Boom, crouching light punch x2, super.

13. Do you have any problem with muscle memory? You know, like you trained your hands so much for one combo, but get confused when either playing as a different character? One problem I still have is doing Ryu’s super when I wanted a DP, or vice versa.

I don’t confuse the commands. However, I have a trick. During an ambiguous cross-up attempt, I force myself to input a straight down directional charge on the stick (i.e. straight down, not diagonal back), so I avoid the tendency to involuntarily charge for a Sonic Boom.

I’ll move the stick to the straight down direction (for a charge), which is sufficient for Guile’s super in Super Turbo. When I am going for a combo, this is effective to avoid an accidental discharge of a Sonic Boom.

14. If you are not the Bruce Lee of Street Fighter, you are the Akira Kurosawa. What is your favorite movie? TV show? Top 5 or 10 favorite games? Worst games, hardest games?

My favorite games are Gradius 2, Pipe Dream, Illvelo (Milestone Shmup/a shooting game by Milestone), OutRun 2SP, Exed Eyes (NES shooting game), Ghosts N’ Goblins, Gaia Crusaders (I made a video of this one), Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire (the fighting game with him in it; I made a vid of this one too), the Mobile Light Force series (a.k.a. Shikigami no Shiro), Street Fighter series, etc.

15. Would you have anything to say about the best way to grip a joystick? Newer players often wonder about this.

“Side grip,” “wine glass grip,” and “knob pinch” are some of the ways to grip a joystick. It depends on the game. But I use a side grip most of the time when I play.

16. Some times I feel like there is an “opportunity cost” of holding the stick one way compared with another way. For example, when I block an unexpected cross-up attempt, I find that I’ll grip the stick slightly differently, and kind of lose my internal calibration for where the “dead zone” is. That can be important if I want to start a combo or just a DP on the next frame or two.

With charge characters, you can fall behind from the start if you miscalculate. It’s hopeless, you can’t really do anything about it. But with command characters, you can pull off moves from any kind of state, so practice helps.

17. Many top players that have heard of you might like to meet you one day. If you could meet any American or international person (famous actor, president, etc.) who would it be?

I’d try to meet Van Damme (for his role of Guile) or Steven Seagal, or Jackie Chan. The Evo Staff and Maj, definitely.

18. I play Dhalsim, and sometimes need a teleport but it’s very hard to do as a reversal. Any advice for me? Many people have trouble doing Guile’s super. Any advice?

That involves simultaneously pressing three buttons at once, so it’s difficult as a reversal. I think I can get it out a little more nimbly when I press the buttons twice, like “ba-BAM.” Releasing the buttons will count as input too.

Guile’s super is ok with the charge down. The last part of it is diagonal towards or diagonal back. One should find the way that’s easiest for him to get it out.

19. I was happy to see that you enjoy the Guile vs. Dhalsim matchup. If my opponent is Guile, I often select Ryu because I feel like that match-up is 9-1, or even 10-0! What do you think?

Guile has various options, too. If you can see through the opponent’s play style, it’s a reasonable fight. I don’t think there are any 10-0 match-ups. Isn’t it 8-2? In the end, it all depends on the skill of the player.

[In a recent session with TZW-ART?, he got at least 3 out of about 10 or so on me for this match-up, clearly demonstrating what he says above. He knows this match-up very well!]

20. My friend Mr. Wah asks about the difference between Guile and old Guile. Is old Guile just as viable as new Guile? Do you think old Guile has the same chances to win a tournament as Guile?

For anti-air, old Guile can use standing heavy kick (roundhouse). You can stand and get out light kick(s) (short kick/”Muay Thai Kick”) without losing your charge. However, you give up his ambiguous cross-up (jumping light kick), tech’ing out of throws and his super combo so in a tournament, I think it’s difficult to win and advance to the next round.

21. Can you tell us why you chose “TZW-ART?” for your ringname? How did you get this name?

That’s private. Please try a few guesses.

22. Have you played much Marvel Vs. games? MvC2 was extremely popular in the US. What do you think? Is that game similar to a shooting game, do you think?

I’m aware of its popularity. I know the American players research is beyond the level where Japanese players hardly ever win against them. A fighting game that has a lot of aerial combos gets called a “combo game” (i.e. “combofest”). I enjoy playing it by myself, but competitive play is not my strong point.

23. In a real game, what is the biggest or fanciest combo or feat you accomplished?

Using Guile, jumping heavy kick (roundhouse), standing light punch, Sonic Boom, standing mid punch, Sonic Boom, jumping heavy kick (roundhouse) (6 hits). I chose this for a Zangief player who was dizzy; after I did this 6 hit combo, he was re-dizzied.

Another time with Guile, I did jumping heavy kick (roundhouse), standing light punch, Sonic Boom, crouching light kick, super (5 hits connected, for total of 9 hits).

24. Thank you very much for the interview. Any message or word that you’d like to express to international players?

Studying combos thoroughly is an ART. In relation to video, the production/direction and presentation (as I’ve shown) is important, as well as the contents/fancy combos. In my combo videos, I adjusted the opponents’ life gauges to cause KO at the end of each combo.

Please try studying combos sometimes when you get tired from competing.

Thank you very much for your interview, TZW-ART?!
A big special thank you to Ksedaka who offered help with the translation!


▼name: TZW-ART?

▼Since : SF2WW~ ※もちろん「SF1」からプレイしています

▼other games:アーケードのシューティングやパズルゲーム、アクションゲームも好きです。

 ・パイプドリーム(全コース) 全国一位  PIPE DREAM(puzzle) HI-SCORE record holder
 ・ラジルギ、カラス、イルベロ 全国一位  (arcade shooting game) HI-SCORE record holder
 ・「ラジルギ」「式神の城」 DVD PLAYER 

▼SF series main character: GUILE (color BLUE)

▼controllers:ボードマスター BOARD MASTER (参考 http://www.tops-game.jp/part/usually/05controlbox_01.htm アストロパネル+セイミツレバー)

▼SSF2T vs: コンボだけでなく対戦も好きです。強くないですが・・・。
         好き Guile vs  ダルシム バイソン(boxer) ガイル サガット
 あまり好きじゃない Guile vs ホーク キャミィ バルログ
▼その他: 機会があればevoに参加したいです。


< ▼・・・TZW様回答 >




 他にやりこんだゲームは「GRADIUS2」「PIPE DREAM」「式神の城(1~3)」です。




▼・「NESiCAxLive(ネシカ クロス ライブ)」(http://biz.taito.co.jp/release/nesicaxlive.pdf)のようなシステムにカプコンの2D格闘ゲームも対応して欲しい。






7.現在はエミュレータを使うことで、ゲームに限界まで負担をかけたり、有志によって製作されたInput Scripter(入力スクリプト)のようなフリーツールを用いることで、1、2フレームの正確さで、簡単に新しいことに挑戦することが可能となりました。ご自身で何か製作されたことはありますか。何かを使用されたことはありますか。

▼Input Scripter(入力スクリプト)いわゆる「マクロ」は使ったことはありません。






▼Input Scripter(入力スクリプト)いわゆる「マクロ」は一切使っていません。



 (vsバルログの飛び道具飛び越し・・・通称「Maj JUMP」)






13.筋肉の記憶(muscle memory)について困っていることはありませんか。例えば、1つのコンボの練習をしたとき、他のキャラクターのプレイ中に混乱することがありませんか。私がいまだに抱えている問題としては、昇龍拳を出したい時にリュウのスーパーを入力したり、またはその逆を入力してしまうことがあります。



グラディウス2、PIPE DREAM、イルベロ(マイルストーンのシューティング)、OutRun2SP、エグゼドエグゼス、魔界村、ガイアクルセイダーズ(動画公開されています)、ジャッキーチェンin FISTS OF FIRE(ジャッキーの格闘ゲーム。動画アリ)、式神の城シリーズ、ストリートファイターシリーズ など










▼ガイル側も選択肢はいろいろあります。相手のプレイスタイルを見抜けばそこそこ戦えます。10-0は無いと思います。8-2くらいでしょうか? 後はプレイヤーの腕次第です。

[僕はダルを使ったけど、質問から誘われてボコられてみた。僕のダルは「つえーなぁ」って 。10ぐらいの3回で!

20.私の友人 Mr.Wah がガイルとSガイルの違いを尋ねてきました。Sガイルは新ガイルと同じくらい使えるキャラクターでしょうか。ガイル同様、大会を勝ち進めるでしょうか。




22.Marvel Vs.シリーズはプレイしましたか。アメリカではMvC2は大変人気があります。どう思っていますか。このゲームはシューティングゲームのようだと考えていますか。




▼・ジャンプ強K→立ち弱P→ソニック→立ち中P→ソニック→ジャンプ強K 6HIT

・ジャンプ強K→立ち弱P→ソニック→しゃがみ弱K→ダブルサマー(5hit) 合計9HIT




TZW-ART? 20101202


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8 Responses to XSPR Interviews TZW-ART?

  1. Maj says:

    Thanks to XSPR for taking the time to do this. It was a very pleasant surprise to see this email in my inbox. TZW isn’t exactly the easiest person to track down.

    Regarding the translations, some of the answers are kind of hard to understand. Japanese fighting game slang/terminology is very very hard to decipher – but i think they did a great job, and i tried to clarify a few points as well. Hopefully almost everything makes sense now.

  2. Keiko says:

    So enjoyable.
    TZW was my main inspiration for all the things i did related to fighting games, and i never had a chance to read and interview or something with him like this before, it’s my first time and i really enjoyed this a lot.
    I personally loved this quote:
    “I am determined/obsessed with the challenge of one’s “Abilities Restricted to the Human Hand.”
    I was very surprised that he made a combo tape for Jackie Chan in Fist of Fire…i want to see that, that game is so underrated but so great (IMO).
    Thanks a lot XSPR for this, seriusly.

  3. CPS2 says:

    This is great! I kinda thought TZW (and Skillsmith) would be too OG and probably uncontactable. Thanks for posting this.

  4. jchensor says:

    Dude, he has a technique named after you. The “Maj Jump.” That’s awesome. ^_^

    • Maj says:

      Yeah i don’t know why he still does that. He’s referring to the ST Vega wall dive push trick which i used a couple of times in my Evo Guile combovid.

      But i wasn’t the first person to come up with that concept. The first time i saw it was in T-7’s CvS1 combovid with Mai’s wall dive.

      I might’ve been the first person to utilize that setup in the SF2 series, but that’s not the same as inventing it. In fact i think more than a year passed between the first time i saw T-7’s video and the day my Guile video finally premiered at Evo2k7.

      I actually asked NKI to explain all this and show that CvS1 video to TZW a long time ago, but i guess he just likes calling it “Maj jump” for some reason? I don’t know, but i don’t really deserve credit for that one.

  5. onreload says:

    i mean, you showed him, so, “maj jump” is certainly much easier to say/type than “Tabidougu Tobikosu”

  6. Dammit says:

    This is very inspiring.

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