Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max

Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max

Written by Cyril Lachel on 2/23/2006 for PSP  

For people of a certain age playing Street Fighter II takes them back to a time when they would stand in arcade lines for hours on end.  It reminds them of the good old days when 2D brawlers ruled the world and it was all about fireballs, uppercuts, and spinning piledrivers.  These days the arcade scene is a ghost town and 3D fighters dominate console sales, sometimes it feels like there's no place for these old school gamers to go.  Don't worry aging gamer; Capcom isn't going to let you down.  They're here to bring you Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max, a portable version of one of the best 2D fighting games of all time.

Released only a few years after the original Street Fighter II, the Alpha series attempted to wrap other games into the Street Fighter world.  It was a mix of characters from Street Fighter II, Final Fight, and even the original Street Fighter.  It also introduced a few new characters and gave everybody a fresh new look, one that was more animated than what had come before it.  As Capcom added sequels gamers were treated to even more characters from these games, as well as a few other surprise characters.  By the time Street Fighter Alpha 3 rolled around just about every character from the first two Street Fighter games was represented, along with a lot of other familiar Capcom faces.

This PSP version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a port of the game found on the original PlayStation, which featured new characters and a lot of single-player activities.  Capcom has also decided to go ahead and add a few modes exclusive to the PSP, along with four additional characters, each with their own stories and endings.  This portable Street Fighter is perhaps the most comprehensive version you can buy, and a great addition to any game library.

But I'm getting ahead of myself; Street Fighter Alpha 3 delivers exactly the type of experience you think it's going to provide.  You know exactly what you're going to get and you get your money's worth.  It features a sizable cast, one that tops 35 people (and includes a few hidden fighters).  Along with Ryu, Ken, Cody, Charlie and Blanka, Capcom has decided to add four more characters to the mix.  We get Maki from the much-hated Final Fight 2 (released on the Super NES), Eagle from the original Street Fighter, Yun from Street Fighter III, and Ingrid, a new character from Capcom Fighting Evolution.

Along with all these characters you get dozens of amazing backgrounds to fight it out in.  Most of the locations in the games draw inspiration from the other games, so if you're a fan of the classic Capcom titles expect to see more than a few references to their games.  Best of all, these backgrounds are simply spellbinding on the PSP's large widescreen display.  Everything from the vibrant colors to the sensational artwork comes alive like never before, making this arguably the best looking version of the game I've ever seen.  This may be an eight-year old title, but Street Fighter Alpha 3 can go toe-to-toe with the current generation of PSP games.

What sets Street Fighter Alpha 3 apart from all the other fighting games is its unique "ism" system.   There are three you can choose from before a match, each altering the way you play and perform your special attacks.  The X-ism is a simple, yet powerful style for people that are used to the earlier Street Fighter II games.  A-ism is the style taken from the original Alpha series, allowing you to use multiple special moves when you have the energy.  And then there's the V-ism, which allows you to string together powerful combos.  Mastering which "ism" goes best with which fighter is one of the subtle joys of Street Fighter Alpha 3, a fighter with a surprising amount of depth.

When it comes to different modes Street Fighter Alpha 3 is second to none.  On the first screen alone there are some fifteen different things to do, which can be a little overwhelming the first few times you play the game.  But as you explore the game's menus you find a lot of exciting modes that cater to people that want to play for a long time and those who only have a few minutes.  No matter what type of mood you're in, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max has something for you.

The game has your standard arcade mode, which unlocks each characters animated ending.  Then there's Survival and Training, which work pretty much as they do in every other fighting game.  But if you really want to mix things up you can fight two different computer-controlled opponents at once.  Or maybe you would rather have a partner on your side going against another person?  Well, you can do that too.  In fact, you can play this game in just about every way imaginable.

But when it comes to single-player treats, there is none sweeter than the World Tour mode.  This is a lengthy game that has you traveling all over the world fighting under specific conditions.  The computer will do everything it can to prevent you from winning, including giving you handicaps (less life, weaker attacks, shorter timers, etc.), but if you can overcome the obstacles your character will level up and go on to fight another day.  This mode is great fun on the go, and fits perfect in this PSP title.

This wouldn't be a Street Fighter game if it didn't have exciting two-player matches, and Capcom wasn't about to disappoint their fans.  The wireless support (this game is Ad Hoc only, much to my disappointment) is flawless, the game is just as fast and exciting with multiple people as it is against the computer.  Not only is the game extremely responsive, but it also comes with a number of ways to play the game with friends, making it a great party game for those who remember playing these types of games in the arcade.

The game does have a few quirks that you need to get past in order to have a good time, one of which is the way the game feels.  There's no doubt that the graphics look exactly like those in the arcade, but the PSP's D-Pad does not do a good job of recreating that arcade joystick feel.  No matter how long you try, this portable game is never going to feel like the arcade version … but after you get used to its control it ceases to be a problem.  Give it a few games and you'll be able to pull off just about any move you want without any pain or problems, a mighty feat for a portable fighting game.

Although it might not look like it at first, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max offers a whole lot of content ready to be discovered.  Earning the endings to the nearly 40 different characters alone will take you more hours than you would care to admit, and that's not even looking at all the other ways you can play the game.  If you can get past having to re-learn the controls on the PSP you will find Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max to be one of the most rewording games you can play for Sony's portable system.  If you're a fan of 2D fighters then there's no reason you should avoid this game, it's just the type of game your system has been yearning for!

Forget Darkstalkers, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max is the must-own fighting game on the PSP. In many ways this is the best version of the game yet, despite having a few quirks associated with the system's D-pad. If you can get past that you will find a highly rewarding game that is hard to put down!

Rating: 8.6 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

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About Author

It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.
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