Street Fighter Alpha 3 Review

By: John Doe


System: PlayStation
Price: $67.99 (Canadian)
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release: 05/99

Simply the best 2D fighter ever released on the PlayStation. All of your old favorites return, plus 4 new females, allowing for 34 selectable characters. SFA3 is as arcade perfect as it's gonna get on Sony's gray magic box. This is the ultimate gift for any SF fan.

Highs:
Lows:

Way back in 1992, I was a SFII fanatic. I played it in the arcades and I bought it for my SNES. I bought every installment as it came out: SFII: Turbo, Super Street Fighter, Street Fighter Alpha... you name it, I had it. The only one I didn't buy was that pitiful Street Fighter: The Movie game, which...well, you know all about that one.

After Street Fighter Alpha I kind of burned out on the Street Fighter series and looked for new fighting challenges like Tekken and Virtua Fighter. As like most of you, I also became side tracked by the X-Men and Marvel Superheroes games that Capcom kept releasing. Although I liked those games for what they were, I never got used to the "spazziness" of them, especially when Street Fighter characters were forced to behave differently than what I had worked so hard to perfect.

Now comes SFA3, which is a must for any old SF veteran. It features every character ever to appear in a SF game (except the Marvel crossovers), and four new female fighters, bringing the total to a whopping 34! All of your old favorites from SFII are included like Vega, E. Honda, Zangief, Sagat (no, not Bob Sagat) Blanka, Dahlsim, Balrog and Guile (though you'll have to earn him) and who could forget Fei Long, Cammy, T. Hawk and DeeJay, the four world warriors introduced in Super Street Fighter! Add in other fighters introduced in other Alpha games like Charlie, Birdie, Sodom, Rose, Guy, Sakura and Cody and you've got the definitive Street Fighter game.

Capcom worked magic with the animations in this game. Sure some frames are missing, but you'd be hard pressed to really notice. It's a testament to Capcom's programming geniuses that they could get this game to look as amazing as it does with only the PlayStation's 2 megs of ram.

SFA3 offers up a few new modes of play which will make this installment worthy of a purchase. The game allows you to choose between 'Ism"'s. There are three to choose from: X, A or V. Each Ism is related to the number of Super Combos, Custom Combos and various defensive guards your character has at his or her disposal. The World Tour Mode actually acts as a training ground for these new attributes. In the World Tour Mode your fighter faces different opponents in various countries. As you defeat opponents, you gain experience points, which affect your Ism level. If you build up your character's Ism level to dizzying heights, you may save that character to the memory card and use him in the other game modes! Definitely a nice bonus!

The control in SFA3 is as tight as possible with no lagging animation or bizarre collision detection. It plays just like a Street Fighter game should. My only complaint is with the controller. I dislike using the directional pads for complex moves. It's a thumb killer. It's throbbing as I type this. If you are a SF fanatic then you probably already have a dedicated arcade stick for these types of games.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the balance of power in SFA3. It is perfection. In past games there have always been characters that were unfairly powerful and almost impossible to beat, but SFA3 finally gets it right. Don't get me wrong, SFA3 is no walk in the park. It's a tough cookie on the higher difficulties. However, I never felt that I was playing against an unfair computer controlled opponent. I knew if I honed my skills and didn't play stupidly that I could win. And I did.

Fans will appreciate that Capcom loaded this game with bonuses for the most diligent players. You'll find more modes to play and more characters to choose from such as Evil Ryu, Guile and more, so how's that for replay value? Not only did Capcom go overboard on extras but just wait until you see the art that appears before each fight in this game. It's classic. I just wish there was some way to view it all at once. Every character has their own distinct look, yet it's all held together by a common visual thread. Very impressive. If you haven't guessed by now, this game is a very classy package.

The Street Fighter folks have released their finest home version yet for the PlayStation. Is SFA3 Capcoms' swan song for Sony's workhorse? It just might be. Which is fine, because it goes out on such a high note. Consider it a thank you from Capcom for supporting all of their various SF incarnations over the years. If you are a SF fan than you owe it to yourself to buy this game. Sure people have ragged on Capcom in the past for rehashing the same thing, but in doing so they've perfected the art of 2D fighting games. They just don't get any better than this.

Final Analysis:

Rating Legend 1-10 (10 being the highest mark)
Overall: 9.5
Graphics: 9.5
Control: 10.0
Fun: 9.0
Music/Fx: 8.0
Frustration: 5.0

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