Street Fighter Alpha 3 (PS1) Review

Street Fighter Alpha 3

We’ve reached something of a milestone here, as this is the last fighting game I’ll be reviewing as part of this marathon, and the final of three Street Fighter games to boot. After reviewing the original with the first film, and Super SFII with the second film, I thought I’d review my favourite Street Fighter game alongside “Assassin’s Fist”, so I went with Alpha 3, the final of the prequels to SFII and a PS1 game I became very addicted too for a while. Let’s take a look!

Background:

Street Fighter Alpha 3 5

R. Mika is one of, if not the only representative of the “Joshi Wrestling” scene in fighting games, rather than regular male wrestler. They have the power to summon a wrestling ring where ever they fight, you know!

Street Fighter Alpha 3 was released in Arcades in June 1998 in Japan and the US, with other regions getting it a few months later. It was ported to the PlayStation in the middle of 1999 worldwide, then the Sega Saturn in Japan only in August of that year, then a Dreamcast version in July 99 in Japan with the rest of the world getting it in 2000. These home versions added several characters and a new mode called “World Tour”. A GBA port arrived in 2002 with three more characters added, then a PSP version called Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX was released in 2006 with one more character added.

Characters-wise it has, at least by the time the home ports were released, the original cast of Super Street Fighter II, a bunch of new characters (like the aforementioned R. Mika, Sagat trainee Adon and Juli and Juni, two of M. Bison’s “dolls”) and some characters from Final Fight, like Guy and Cody, the latter who is now a convict. It’s a really good roster, overall.

Gameplay:

Street Fighter Alpha 3 6

A blurry-due-to-lots-of-motion shot of the Dramatic Battle mode.

Lovely smooth 2D fighter is how I’d describe Street Fighter Alpha 3. Small, medium, heavy punch; small, medium, heavy kick, crouching attacks, jumping attacks, throws, pulling back away from your opponent to block, and of course, combinations of d-pad rotations and buttons to do special moves. The now-standard 2D fighter set-up. The key difference here is the three selectable “isms”, (though I have covered a similar system when I reviewed CAPCOM vs. SNK 2) with each one altering how you play. A-ism gives you three levels of Super Meter and several Super Moves (with some that are only available with Level 3, or get stronger the more Meter you have), X-ism brings it back to Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, so one Super Meter and a single, but powerful, Super Move, and V-ism gives you the ability to do custom combos but no Super Moves. There are other differences, like better at blocking or higher attack, but those are the main ones. You also have some variety in moves available between each ism, giving picking the right ism on the same levels as choosing your favourite character.

Also new to Alpha 3 is the block gauge, which decreases the more you block, and once it hits zero you become dazed. This is a pretty standard feature of most fighting games now, to be fair. As for modes, well there is the standard Arcade Mode, VS., Survival, Time Attack, Training and the like, there is also a “Dramatic Battle” and “Final Battle” modes where you can fight powerful opponents 2 on 1, or fight two enemies at once, like a match against Juli and Juni, or just fight a really powerful opponent like Shin Akuma. Then there’s World Tour, which is where the addiction arrived. You tour across the world (shocker!) and fight people while upgrading your character and levelling them up, reaching certain levels gives you access to bonus fights that unlock characters. It’s so much fun!

That’s it, but that’s a lot! Most modern fighters don’t have this many modes on offer, and no Street Fighter game has ever returned to anything like World Tour again, sadly…

Graphics and Sound:

Street Fighter Alpha 3 1

Karin palm-strikes Dan’s … foot?

The graphics are lovely. Detailed sprites, great animation, fun backgrounds. I know SFIII is technically better, but having never really played that part of SF, this is still firmly in my mind as great CAPCOM 2D sprite work and the best 2D entry in the franchise.

Sound is great, impactful and memorable soundeffects, good background music, and the few voice samples and clear and fun. Can’t complain!

Story:

Street Fighter Alpha 3 2

Takes you a long bloody time to do it though, doesn’t it Guile?

The story of Alpha 3 really rests on who you pick to play as. Storylines like Ryu struggling with the Dark Hado inside him, resisting turning into a demon like Akuma, is here, but most character’s story revolves around M. Bison and a Shadaloo base. It involves Guile’s friend Charlie Nash sacrificing himself and Cammy breaking free of M. Bison’s control, things that had been references in Street Fighter II-related media.

Thoughts Then:

Street Fighter Alpha 3 3

I thought a screenshot of a “Super Combo Finish” would look good… turns out it’s visually rather dull when it’s not in motion…

Definitely my favourite non-crossover 2D fighting game, Street Fighter Alpha 3 was a spur of the moment purchase in the early 2000s and boy, I got my money’s worth from World Tour alone. Again, the Street Fighter III series is the one part of SF I haven’t actually properly played, so to me this was the height of 2D Street Fighter.

5 Star Game Old

Thoughts Now:

Street Fighter Alpha 3 4

Balrog gives Birdie a extra hard punch for switching ethnicity in between games.

Playing Street Fighter Alpha 3 now is much like playing Street Fighter Alpha 3 in the past: it’s a great 2D fighter. Such great sprite work and tight and deep gameplay is timeless, and sure enough my opinion hasn’t changed at all. I could get lost in World Tour now as much as a did 20 years ago.

5 Star Game New

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