North America: April 27th, 2000
Japan: December 16th, 1999 (as Street Fighter III: W Impact)
Street Fighter III Double Impact collects the two earliest versions of Street Fighter III, New Generation and 2nd Impact: Giant Attack. Typically, new versions of Street Fighter games make the old ones irrelevant, and there's not much reason to go back. This is actually a bit different with the games compiled in Double Impact. Read on to find out why...
The games featured in Double Impact are very obviously earlier versions of the more commonly known Third Strike. New Generation especially feels very bare compared to 2nd Impact and Third Strike; ex attacks are missing, which is bizarre if you learned on Third Strike. 2nd Impact is certainly the more enjoyable of the two games here, with its marginally larger roster and mechanics closer to Third Strike. A few characters have different moves and super arts, and in some cases the balancing is dramatically different (Sean is surprisingly powerful in 2nd Impact compared to his showing in Third Strike). A feature of note that was lost in Third Strike is the ability to use turbo settings. New Generation and 2nd Impact can both have the turbo speed adjusted similar to Super Street Fighter II X.
While it isn't necessarily an aspect of gameplay, there's not quite a section it fits into and I'd like to note it early in the review. The tone of these games is radically different than what you find in Third Strike. The music comes off as more lighthearted and the stages have more of an inhabited feel to them, for lack of a better term. The games are more colorful and because of that they feel more fun. If you're a casual player, you'll probably enjoy these games far more than Third Strike.
The graphics here are similar to Third Strike, however they don't seem as smooth in New Generation. Capcom's arcade flyers for 2nd Impact claimed that some aspects of the graphics were re-done; they don't look like it, but it's probably true. None of the stages in Third Strike are present in Double Impact or New Generation, so if you haven't played these before, you'll be in for a new set of stages. Some of them are very cool, and while they have no bearing on the gameplay, it's sad to see that they didn't make it into Third Strike. Another thing that I thought was cool, that won't make much of a difference to most, is the game selection menu. While it's simple, I thought it was a nice touch to have the CD-ROM discs from the arcade board as the selection icons.
Music-wise, I think that New Generation and 2nd Impact trump the arranged music of Third Strike on Dreamcast. The music is far more listenable and enjoyable, especially Alex's stage in 2nd Impact. Generally, the songs fit better with the stages; the music isn't as lively, but it is more appropriate. As far as voices go, these are also different from Third Strike. This is not a good thing. Alex especially sounds incredibly feminine. A friend who I play Street Fighter with usually uses Alex; we played Double Impact together for the first time and burst out laughing when Alex says "you can't escape" at the start of his super art.
Third Strike, strangely, does not make the games of Double Impact irrelevant. These games are way more fun. That said, Third Strike is still the definitive version of Street Fighter III, but if you just want to play some Street Fighter light-heartedly and III is your favorite series, then you'll probably want to keep Double Impact around. It's not as serious, and I think for single player it makes the game more enjoyable. There's some give and take where one game is better than the other, and it would be interesting to see a fourth iteration of Street Fighter III to see what more of a meeting between 2nd Impact and Third Strike would produce.