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Monday, September 3, 2012

Street Fighter 3: Triple Threat Review (Revised and Revisited)

Game Details:
1-2 Players
VMU enabled
Standard Controller, Arcade Stick
Jump Pak enabled
VGA box

The talented group known as "RDC" has gone for broke with their latest (and 50th) DC release. Out of their efforts comes a trifecta of pure fighting game bliss in one convenient package. Aptly titled Street Fighter 3 Triple threat, the entire legacy of SF3 (New Generation, 2nd Impact Giant Attack and 3rd Strike) is expertly crafted and collected on one content packed disc. CD AGES here, and I first would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the group for not only making this dream project a reality, but for also letting me review their marvelous effort :)  

Right out the gate, the innovative gameplay features that SF3 has been renowned for are quite lengthy. Let’s go over them and analyze a few:

Parry- Also known as "Blocking" in Asia, a parry is an offensive maneuver that nullifies an attack and allows you to counter with an attack of your own. This is the meat and potatoes of SF3.

Leap Attacks- Also known in some circles as a "RIP" attack or a Universal Overhead (UOH). This is an offensive tool available to all characters. This new attack provides you with a means to open up your opponents defenses. Simply put, it's a valuable overhead attack. 

Super Arts- A fancy term for super moves, what sets "Super Arts" apart is that a player now must select only 1 of 3 super moves to use in battle. Each Super Art is tailored to a particular style of play, complete with an independent meter size and stock limit.

Dash- A mechanic seen in other fighters from SNK and Capcom, it makes its welcomed debut to the SF series. Can be used to advance or retreat.

Super Jump- Higher jump altitude than a normal jump, many fans of fighting games have seen this mechanic in other fighting titles.

Target Combos- Essentially a type of chain combo, TC’s are character specific and unique to each. Some characters have one, some have many and a few do not.

Stun Gauge- A gauge seen underneath the life bar, this gauge dictates how much damage a fighter can sustain before succumbing to dizzy state.

EX- Introduced from 2nd Impact onwards, EX attacks are upgraded versions of special attacks. They consume a portion of the Super Art gauge and performed by pressing 2 punch or kick buttons depending on which special move is chosen to EX.

With these great gameplay features... the truth is, perhaps the biggest contributor in terms gameplay to this trilogy comes in the form of its roster of fighters. In a bold (and quite frankly controversial) move, Capcom chose to drop all previous World Warriors (with exception of Ken and Ryu) in favor of a fresh cast complete with a new protagonist to represent this new generation of Street Fighter. While this decision really hurt the popularity of this series among the fans during its release, the truth of the matter is that it’s the reason why this installment has the longevity it has earned for itself. It’s this brand new legion of fighters that many have chosen to attempt to learn (and ultimately master) that has been a true hallmark to the trilogy of SF3. Gameplay differences between all 3 versions are small yet make major alterations to the flow of battle. "New Gen" definitely feels solid but lacks considerably overall while "2nd Impact" feels like a step in the right direction with the inclusion of 4 additional fighters, EX attacks, throw teching, and a bonus round aimed to teach. The final release known as "3rd Strike" feels completely fleshed out and masterfully updated, with 4 additional new fighters and 1 returning legend in the fan favorite lady thunder thighs herself Chun Li, bringing the roster up to a respectable 19 characters to choose from. The game also updates the formula of its previous release with a tremendous re-balance, an overhaul of the throw mechanic, a command update to the "leap attack" as well as modest changes to block and parry mechanics of the game.      

So long M.Bison and Shadaloo syndicate! The Illuminati and its chosen leader Gill, are planning to rule the world... not much else here. 

Unleashed into the arcades in early 1997 with brand new arcade hardware under it's hood (in the form of Capcom's proprietary CPS3 board), New Gen makes use of the new tech in every form imaginable, even in an inspirational sense. Considering that new hardware can lead to broader possibilities for designers to exploit and a fresh start, New Gen does exactly that and more. But let’s keep on topic and talk about the graphics of the SF3 trilogy. To say the SF3 series is a powerhouse of 2D animation is an understatement. The graphics alone separates the SF3 series from its monumental pedigree, making it feel like a whole new world. Animation to just about every action on all characters in the cast is incredibly fluid and painstakingly smooth. Elena's idle stance is almost hypnotic with her insanely fluid capoeira movements. Dudley's idle stance is impressive to watch as he freely switches from southpaw to orthodox stance in seamless fashion, and Remy's crazy amount of animated movements in random fashion like stroking his hair from his face and hand gestures (I could swear I once saw Remy tighten the ring on one of his fingers) leave me in awe. The graphic animations are easily what set this chapter of the street fighter series apart from the pack and made many take notice especially during their respective runs in the arcade market! If only Capcom continued to the explore and build upon the realms of 2D animation in their current releases.

By all accounts it appears that the vibe Capcom chose for the SF3 Trilogy in respects to its music revolves around a distinct urban underground hip hop type of theme. While New Gen and 2nd Impact have some distinct and catchy tunes, the overall soundtrack feels a bit bland and lacks the proper execution that was heard in 3rd Strike. With that said, 3rd Strike has perhaps one of the awesome, most impactful soundtrack you will ever hear in the SF series overall. The audio dept as a whole took a major step forward with the final iteration of SF3. The entire roster was re-voiced to much praise and the entire soundtrack was redone with a better sense of conveying that hip hop sound Capcom was trying to accomplish from the beginning, thanks to their collaboration with a few talented artist and studios. In all honesty the hip hop, jungle, bass like tunes really compliments and add to the atmosphere of SF3.

Its no secret that the "3" series has been known as the least successful point in the history of Street Fighter, Be it due to its new cast of characters, mechanics that were perhaps less user friendly or simply due to its time of release when the arcade industry was on life support. Regardless the reason, one thing is for certain, its biggest accomplishment for the series lies in the proper evolution to the fighting game formula that it's younger sibling set to establish. Thanks to this compilation, the stepping stones to achieving a near perfect fighting game will not be lost to the ravages of time and instead be available on our wonderful Dreamcast consoles :)


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