I’m running out of intros for these Street Fighter reviews, man. I know I’ve been gone for over 6 months but I don’t know what do you want from me? I didn’t grow up with Street Fighter Alpha 3. The only reason I have any prior experience with this game is because of M.U.G.E.N, a freeware fighting game engine that lets you use whatever you want, and arcade emulators. Sorry.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a fighting game released by Capcom for arcades in 1998 and is the sequel to Street Fighter Alpha 2. I think Alpha 3 is really weird since it came out after Street Fighter III. I’m guessing it’s because the Alpha games were still really popular at the time? I suppose in some way I can understand it since the Alpha series, in my opinion, is home to some of Street Fighter’s most engaging mechanics, art, and dare I say personality.
I said in my previous review of the first two Alpha games that this particular sub-series, 2 especially, has quickly become my favorite to revisit so I was very excited to take a look at Alpha 3 and after playing through three different versions I have come to the conclusion that Street Fighter Alpha 3 is the single most interesting Street Fighter game in the whole franchise? Why? Read the damn review, jackoff. These things are hard to write
Street Fighter Alpha 3 is unlike any Street Fighter game that was released at the time, or even since. The look, feel, and style I think have yet to be replicated and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take a minute to grow on me. If you’re used to games such as Street Fighter II, III, or even the other Alpha games you are going to be gobsmacked by Alpha 3’s immaculate presentation. “Bombastic” is a word I’d like to use to describe it. I WANT to say that it gives off the vibe of a sporting event with its digital-looking character select and vs screen but I truly cannot put into words how fucking cool the UI and presentation is in this game.
Everything in this game just hits, man. The announcer, the sound effects, the music, it just works. The music was a big point of contention for a few years with me since I prefer the melodies and hooks of the older games, but I’ve grown to appreciate the more industrial and high-octane soundtrack that they went with as it gives Alpha 3 more of a unique identity. I truly think that Street Fighter Alpha 3 has the best personality of the entire franchise. Yes, even more so than Third Strike, but we aren’t talking about Third Strike….yet. What we ARE going to talk about, though? The gameplay.
Because this shit’s wild.
Do you guys remember how in Street Fighter III they introduced the concept of selectable supers? A choice that gives the players the ability to alter the way they play their mains despite their base moveset not changing? Well, Street Fighter Alpha 3 does that too except now it changes them on a Fundamental Level. The -ism system is Alpha 3’s most defining gameplay addition as each choice alters the cast in a variety of ways, some major and some minor.
Each -ism basically represents three different eras of Street Fighter up to this point. A-ism makes your character play like how they did in previous SFA games, with three super bars and their normal movesets. It’s not the most thrilling but I think it’s the easiest one to grasp as there’s less that you need to keep up with. X-ism represents Super Street Fighter II X, a version of the game that I am straight up not familiar with so I’m just going to say it’s SSFII. This makes your characters far stronger on a base level and causes your supers to be DEVASTATING but you only get a single bar. You also take more damage and you can’t perform any staple moves from the Alpha series such as air-blocks, Alpha Counters, and recovery rolls. V-ism ditches supers entirely and gives you a single blue bar that you can only activate at 50-100%. What does this bar do? It allows you to perform custom combos and it’s Fucked Up, man.
This -ism is by far the weakest but gives you the most utility as some characters have access to infinites, Ryu especially. The main downside is that you don’t have access to your aforementioned supers and have the weakest damage output, making it the hardest to master mechanic but is the most defining -ism in Alpha 3. Each of these -isms can also change certain characters in fun ways, such as Ryu only having access to his Solar Plexus Strike (6H or Forward+Heavy Punch) in A/X-ism, Chun-Li gaining her SFII outfit and moveset in X-ism, and Sodom gaining different weapons in X-ism. I adore this system a lot as it offers near limitless matchups for players to experiment with, especially with its MASSIVE roster.
This nutso game boasts a staggering 25 character which I imagine was huge for 1998. Mortal Kombat of course had them beat with Mortal Kombat Trilogy but also Mortal Kombat Trilogy sucks so who cares. I could go on and on about how each character feels unique from one another and how fun it is to experience new and exciting match types but I won’t because I literally just did that in the previous paragraph. I want to use this as a jumping-off point to talk about two very specific ports for SFA3 because it is one of the few time where I think the console ports of an old Capcom game actually has the arcade original beat.
The PlayStation port of Street Fighter Alpha 3 was first released on December 3rd, 1998 in Japan, which is a pretty quick turnaround on a console port considering it was the 90s and it had only JUST RELEASED that June. It adds Guile, Fei Long, T. Hawk, Dee Jay, Evil Ryu, and Shin Akuma as playable characters (bringing the total 31) and is more or less the same as the arcade version with a few expected outliers. There are some new modes such as survival, the voices/sound effects are bit-crushed, and the arcade mode is easier since you can retry the final fight, YOU PSYCHO SACKS OF SHIT! WHY WOULD YOU MAKE IT A ONE-AND-DONE THING?! FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!
also, it has world tour mode I guess.
World Tour mode is the greatest piece of single-player content that has ever been produced for the Street Fighter franchise. It’s basically arcade mode but with more gimmicky fights and a progression system. You start off by selecting your character/-ism and you just go from there. Each fight gives you a certain amount of points depending on your performance and that causes your character to level up and gain abilities to use. Some of them are expected like auto-blocking and quicker meter gain, but the rest are abilities from the other-isms, meaning you can give missing abilities to the other -isms and make yourself unstoppable. My go-to was giving the blocking and meter skills to X-ism as it removes a few of the downsides that skill has.
Certain fights in World Tour can only be completed under certain conditions, such as surviving a two-on-one encounter or fighting an enemy that can only be damaged by custom combos. I was having the time of my life in this mode…until it stopped. See, World Tour is how you unlock Guile, Evil Ryu, and Shin Akuma. Hidden characters are nothing new of course but the problem is that you can’t redo fights for a better score. One chance. That’s all you get. So if you complete every fight in World Tour before reaching level 30? Tough luck, dumbass. Do it again.
WHAT IS WITH STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 3 AND GIVING ONE CHANCES????
Other than that though, the PlayStation port of Alpha 3 is fantastic…but otherwise obsolete. Why? Because the PlayStation Portable version exists.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max was released in Japan on January 19th, 2006, and is pound for pound the best version of the game and it confuses the fuck out of me. 10 game modes are unlocked from the start, every character is unlocked, they ADDED characters that were introduced in the GBA port that were from Capcom vs SNK 2 (Yun, Eagle, Maki) and ADDED Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution, a game I will never ever play! World Tour mode has even more stages and new win conditions for fights, you get to play arcade mode with two characters at once, the bitch has online, WHY IS THIS THE BEST VERSION OF THE GAME? ON THE PSP???? WHY DID CAPCOM LIKE THE PSP SO MUCH???? If you’re gonna play Alpha 3 fucking get this version. Find a way to emulate it and get some friends and play it because it’s fantastic, man.
I love Street Fighter Alpha 3 a lot. Like, A LOT a lot. With the highly variable combat system, the unique presentation, and the buckwild ports, I really do think content-wise this is Capcom at their best. It drives me insane that Alpha 3 Max isn’t available on a modern platform or something because it absolutely deserves it. Do I like playing it as much as Alpha 2? Yes and no. I prefer the simplicity of Alpha 2 in a lot of aspects but Alpha 3 just has so much going on that it’s hard not to enjoy it. They feel like two completely different games. I can’t sing the praise of these ports enough please play them.
I’m still not done, though. Not by a long shot. Alpha 3 may have been the last in the Alpha series, but that didn’t mean Street Fighter stopped. We all know good things come in Threes.