Back when we were nippers, the arrival of Street Fighter III seemed impossibly exciting. Street Fighter II had been milked utterly dry - well, until Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix elbowed the naming convention into the abyss of sheer parody - and Alpha, while brilliant, didn't feel like a straight sequel. When that sequel arrived, it would be massive.
Except it wasn't. Whether because six years was just too long or people had simply been seduced by Tekken's sexy extra dimension, Street Fighter III arrived with a whimper. As a result, many people who lost the formative years of their lives to round after round of SFII shoeings have never touched this game. Its arrival on XBLA, in Third Strike guise, is the perfect time to remedy that.
This is the darling of tournament fighters and a more technical game than either SFII or SFIV. The most demanding aspect is the parry system, where perfect timing awards you deflection of any move with zero penalty. Even the game's Super Art combos can be slapped aside if you know the correct combination of high and low attacks coming your way. Executed perfectly, it's easily the most majestic skill in the fighting genre.
Which is why it's brilliant that this re-release has a Trials mode designed to educate you in the ways of Third Strike. There are both basic and advanced parrying techniques to learn, starter combos and the opportunity to replicate 'Evo Moment #37' (which is well worth a YouTube search if you haven't already seen it). There are lofty heights of technique to be reached, which is why fight fans are still smashing away at Third Strike's sticks over a decade after release.
If you're used to Street Fighter II's cast of mainly muscular, mainly male fighters, Third Strike's cast can look like a bunch of ideas hastily dug out of the 'Too Mental' wastepaper basket in the studio. In reality, they're simply wildly varied in the same way SFII's seemed before you learnt them all inside out. And even if you stick to staples like Ken or Chun Li, your opposition will be, bar none, beautifully animated and entertaining competition.
It might be daunting to begin with, but if you can chuck out a Hadoken or two you have the entry requirement for a marvellously deep fighting game. Street Fighter nuts will already have bought this without a second thought; if you remember the good old days of 2D fighters, this is the pinnacle.
Arcade-perfect 2D brilliance. Fight!
- Exceptional depth
- Beautiful animation
- Trials mode is excellent
- Fascinating characters
- You'll get spanked online