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Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Arcade) artwork

Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Arcade) review

"The greatest, the best, the ultimate."

Third time's the charm? You better believe it in the Alpha series at the very least. Street Fighter Alpha 3 is by far the greatest SF title that has graced us after the spin-off installments began its humble beginnings in the mid-90s. The game not only is a sequel, but it is also a game where various mechanics and refined gameplay had been souped up to give players the greatest experience in 2D fighting. If Street Fighter Alpha 2 was considered an update on the first entry, then 3 is pretty much the ultimate update given which surpassed it just as well in spades. This entry in the series has been one of the most favorite, having been ported to various systems and consoles.

By now, the games have been a gate for fans to explore the background history of their favorite characters, as well as being able to play as characters from previous installments and from other franchises like Final Fight. SFA3 brings back the cast from its first two games plus adds more characters from said series plus new characters who show up to flesh out other characters' backgrounds as they meet within the game. The game gets a tremendous overhaul on top of that, reconstructing gameplay mechanics by adding mid-air recovery and powerful counters, a supplemental defense bar which depletes every time you block attacks, and will break away making you vulnerable for a few moments, something which is both a blessing and a curse depending on who is in the end of the deal, a completely new soundtrack with background themes for each character, and the introduction of the "-ISM" system, which is offered at the beginning of the game after choosing your character. The A-ISM is the most familiar of the three, being the standard on Alpha games with its 3 levels you may get access to perform your character's super special moves. The X-ISM is the simple mode similar to the one used in Super Street Fighter II' Turbo, having only one (powerful) level and a larger blocking bar, but nullifying jumping air blocks in turn. Finally the V-ISM setting, which sets apart a customizable combo system appearing in previous series all its own. Combo enthusiasts might love this setting, but you cannot perform super special moves as a consequence and it can break easy if you manage to get hit during activation. Some characters like Chun Li and Sodom may change outfits and equipment altogether when choosing the X-ISM mode.

As with any other fighting game, you battle your way through a set number of combatants in random, save for characters that appear halfway and at the end, portraying a mock "story mode" that every character has. Beating said characters in between changes little to the overall gameplay, but adds a bit more of lore to the series as a whole. No matter who you choose at the beginning, the end character fight will always be M. Bison, who is by now the real end boss of the Alpha series in retrospect. Defeating him earns you a much celebrated victory, but if you lose the battle against him you will not be able to continue. That's right; losing to M. Bison at the end earns you the "bad ending." SFA3 does not mess around.

Other additions to the game are a few selectable characters only accessible by a cheat code, including Balrog who only appears as a sub-boss character in some instances, and newcomers agents of destruction Juli & Juni, whom you face the same way. Selecting either of these characters omits any sort of story or ending unlike established characters, always showing M. Bison on the winning screen.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a blast to play and quite probably the one game in the Alpha series you might come back to the most. Many of its mechanics have not been shown much in other entries of the series, such as the "ISM" modes, and it is a great game in its own right. The game is quite one of the best on the entire Street Fighter mythos overall.

CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (August 26, 2020)

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