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Schoolgirl impresses at Japanese gamer event with win in retro game
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Schoolgirl impresses at Japanese gamer event with win in retro game

A girl scored a win at one of Japan’s top fighting video game contests, in a competitive puzzle game released before she was born.

The girl, known as “Money Idol-chan” after the game she competed in, has grown up playing competitive video games. Since 2022, her parents have run Anegasaki Shooting Star, a tiny arcade on the east side of Tokyo Bay. Her name has not been released and her age has been given only as between 12 and 16.

Her appearance at Evo Japan, the local offshoot of the American esports tournament at the pinnacle of the competitive fighting game scene, was the first time she had been able to play in real competitions. Until this year, the events, which can run late into the evening, had finished past her bedtime.

“The person who shocked me most on the first day of EVOJ was the girl playing Money Idol Exchanger,” one competitor, Aaru Hokutomaru, said. “She appeared like a comet and won the championship with amazing lever operation. This was a development for a game released in 1997, and it was exciting even outside of fighting games.”

Money Idol Exchanger is a head-to-head puzzle game that looks like an upside down game of Tetris. Players battle to rearrange descending columns of coins into groups of five or 10, at which point they disappear and are replaced by one of the next denomination up; they lose if a column hits the bottom of their screen.

The girl, whose identity has been protected by the friendly and close-knit community, added flair to her victories by repeatedly choosing the same character as her opponents, a so-called “mirror match-up”.

It is not uncommon for retro games to be dominated by children and young people born long after their heyday. In a competitive scene where fast reflexes and hours of practice matter greatly, the younger generation often have a leg-up on the original players whose greater experience may be offset by slower responses or hand cramps.

In January, a 13-year-old American, Willis Gibson, became the first person ever to beat Tetris, playing the original Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game perfectly for 38 minutes until his score was high enough to freeze the game.

Elsewhere on the first day of the Evo Japan competition, the Taiwanese champion Lin “ET” Chia-hung won the King of Fighters XV contest, while Japan’s SHO came first in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Kyo won the Under Night In-Birth II competition. All three picked up $6,000 prize money for winning a featured game event.

Source: theguardian.com