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Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX (PSP) artwork

Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX (PSP) review


"You’ll see the usual flaming uppercuts, 360 degree spinning pile drivers, and upside-down hurricane kicks – yup, the usual fare. But because this is a Street Fighter game of the SUPER COMBO (or ISM) era, you’ll also bear witness to the vacuum hurricane kick, which catches unsuspecting enemies in its unforgiving vortex; and my personal favourite, Ken’s Shippu Jinraikyaku, which may as well have been dubbed, “huge soccer kick turns into spinning kick which carries opponent to the top of the screen to die”. (That was probably too long.) Alpha 3 is full of such awe-inspiring maneuvers."



Street Fighter Alpha 3 was one of my favourite Playstation games, so I was thrilled to get a hold of a PSP version. Don't be fooled by the sub-subtitle, MAX – the PSP version is practically a perfect port of the PSX version, with little in the way of additions (a character or two). But isn't that more than enough?

Street Fighter II was the old school king of one-on-one fighting games, and arguably, Alpha 3 was the epitome of the canon. While Street Fighter III and the Marvel derivatives strayed far into the sensational, the Alpha series kept things decisively slower, more deliberate, and more realistic – if such a thing can be said of a series featuring karatekas hurling fireballs out of their palms.

MAX, like the original Alpha 3, features the entire cast of the series. This, in and of itself, is a huge plus for fighting game fans, a positive that would justify wholeheartedly recommending the game even if it played half-broken – which it does not. Memorable characters sporting slick moves is what makes a fighting game, and Capcom's crew has personality in spades.

From the original Street Fighters, Ryu and Ken, to more obscure old timers like the British aristocrat Eagle, and the wizened warrior, Gen. From Street Fighter II alumni like the Brazilian beast Blanka, to the impossibly heavy-thighed Chun Li. From Capcom superstars like Final Fight’s Cody and Guy, to Evil Ryu and Akuma – the shadowy masters of the Dark Hadou.

You’ll see the usual flaming uppercuts, 360 degree spinning pile drivers, and upside-down hurricane kicks – yup, the usual fare. But because this is a Street Fighter game of the SUPER COMBO (or ISM) era, you’ll also bear witness to the vacuum hurricane kick, which catches unsuspecting enemies in its unforgiving vortex; and my personal favourite, Ken’s Shippu Jinraikyaku, which may as well have been dubbed, “huge soccer kick turns into spinning kick which carries opponent to the top of the screen to die”. (That was probably too long.) Alpha 3 is full of such awe-inspiring maneuvers.

Vibrant, anime-esque sprites, bone crushing sound effects and emphatic (if often unintelligible) battle cries are also par for the course. Capcom has thought of everything, offering the typical arcade mode, along with such gems as one-on-two, two-on-one, one versus 100 (one at a time, of course!) and World Tour, which involves, oddly enough, touring the world to take on all comers with varying challenges thrown into the mix.

World Tour might pit you against multiple attackers, might put you up against a foe who can only be weakened by combinations, might have you take on enemy after enemy without replenishing your energy. Mixing things up like this puts a refreshing spin on the blueprint, and ensures remarkable replay value.

On top of all the goodness you would expect from Alpha 3 (for those who have already played it on the PSX) are two surprises unique to the PSP experience, for obvious reasons. PSP gamers often knock their little unit’s controls, as well as its routinely horrible loading time. Capcom has pulled off something special, giving us quick loading and sharp controls on the D-pad. Don’t expect to do much with the analog nub though; while some of the moves actually feel more natural given the circular path of the tiny stick, its small arc and fragile feel spell disaster if you try to play seriously with it.

Instead, use the D-pad, plug in your headphones and get set for the finest bit of brawling available on a handheld system. While there's no 'create your own fighter' feature, and no pseudo-3D graphics, such as you might find in ‘next-gen’ breed of one-on-one contests, for what it is, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max is the very best.

Rating: 9/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (June 27, 2008)

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honestgamer posted June 27, 2008:

This was a terrific review, Masters! I liked your bit about the possible superior (but too long) name of one of the special attacks. I also liked how you covered a lot of the same points I would've considered critical to the series. I found myself agreeing with your strong but perfectly true statements, such as when you stressed the importance of the character selection and having the entire SF universe all represented. I agreed with your points about this installment being slower than the more exotic SF titles we've also seen and in the end, I kind of wished I had picked this up for the PSP. Maybe I still will if I strike it rich, since plugging in my Dreamcast to play this--that's the version I own, along with arcade stick--isn't always convenient... and the PSP would be. Thanks for surprising me with this excellent review. Keep 'em coming!
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Masters posted June 27, 2008:

"Thanks for surprising me with this excellent review."

Bahaha! Thanks Jason -- I THINK!

Kidding. Thanks for reading it and posting such positive thoughts about it. I actually picked this thing up for like 15 bucks brand new at an EB Games... you won't have to strike it rich!

By the way, as always I'll let you know when my package arrives, so you can start timing me. :P
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psychopenguin posted June 27, 2008:

It's also 9.99 at the Target here, which I discovered after buying it for 17.99 used at Gamestop. Great game though.

I really liked this review, it was very well written and expressed the opinion quite well.
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Masters posted June 29, 2008:

Thanks PP.

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