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Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike – A Retrospective And Review

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike – A Retrospective And Review

  1. Street_Fighter_III_3rd_Strike_(flyer)2

Platform: Arcade

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Release Date: May 12, 1999

Genre: Fighting

Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10

As most folks get older, they tell you that time seems to move by at an ever increasing rate.

Previous stretches that would last an eternity during one’s youth, suddenly feel more like a drop in the bucket, as the ceaseless march towards the inevitable soldiers on. I can certainly attest to that. A summer, which at one point felt as expansive as the sky itself, now wisps away before one gets a chance to really enjoy it.

I mention this because the six year gap that took place between the releases of the genre-defining, Street Fighter II and its actual successor, Street Fighter III, doesn’t seem like that long of a time-frame now that I’m a weathered old man. However, the period of time and changes that take place between one being eleven and one being seventeen, are absolutely radical. In other words, six years was a lot longer back then.

Capcom was bold in their attempt to go in a new direction with Street Fighter III

Capcom was bold in their attempt to go in a new direction with Street Fighter III

That six year gap between Street Fighter sequels was not devoid of any incarnations of the series. On the contrary; we saw a number of refinements to Street Fighter II in those years.

Street Fighter II gave way to Street Fighter II Championship Edition, which then begat Street Fighter II Turbo. Street Fighter II was then refined further with Super Street Fighter II in 1993, and finally Super Street Fighter II Turbo in 1994.

A four year span saw four revisions of a single game.

Capcom’s fondness for revisions became a joke in the industry – “Capcom can’t count to III“. Yet after the intensity of that three-year span, once we got to SSFII: Turbo, Capcom decided that rather than create an actual third entry in the series, it would be better to go back in time with the Street Fighter Alpha series.

Capcom’s fondness for revisions became a joke in the industry – “Capcom can’t count to III

Those titles further refined the Street Fighter formula, introducing new systems and new characters, while visiting the events that took place in the story between the forgettable original Street Fighter, and its revolutionary sequel.

Three more long years of silence during the crucial, industry-defining years between 1994 and 1997 until finally, Capcom decided to acknowledge a number past two.

Street Fighter III’s arrival in 1997 came during a radical shift in the gaming landscape, namely, the transition to 3D polygon games thanks to more powerful processors.

Fighting games were able to benefit with classic, genre-defining titles such as Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Soul Edge, etc. Other Popular titles were also experimenting with 3D technology, such as 1997’s Mortal Kombat 4.

Although the hand-drawn sprites were superb, many felt that Street Fighter III's artwork was antiquated compared to flashier 3D games emerging at the time.

Although the hand-drawn sprites were superb, many felt that Street Fighter III‘s artwork was antiquated compared to flashier 3D games emerging at the time.

This all lead to a climate in which a traditional sprite-based title like Street Fighter III was not immediately appreciated. Although its artwork and animation featured some of the most superb and detailed work yet featured in a video game, with each character featuring upwards of 1200 frames of individually hand-drawn frames of animation. With the video-gaming world now exploding into 3D, Street Fighter III’s 2D perspective felt antiquated.

With Capcom being Capcom, revisions to the original release were bound to take place.

Double Impact revised the original Street Fighter III release in 1998, which was soon followed by the final version, 3rd Strike, which landed in 1999.

With the video-gaming world now exploding into 3D, Street Fighter III’s 2D perspective felt antiquated

By the time 1999 rolled around, the fighting game mania that had run wild in the early part of the decade had died down.

The arcade machines, which acted as the catalyst for the rise of the fighting game genre, had begun to be eclipsed by home consoles in technical prowess. Sega launched their final system, the Dreamcast that year, backed by a better-than-arcade port of Soul Calibur. Sony would follow a year later with the PlayStation 2, and a gorgeous version of Tekken Tag Tournament.

These things all had an effect on arcade business, which by the end of the 90’s, was in serious decline.

It also didn’t help that the initial home versions of Street Fighter III were only available on the Dreamcast, which, although being a good system, did not perform well in the marketplace.

All of these conditions congealed together to manufacture a sort of, “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario for Street Fighter III.

Rather than slap on some new paint, new characters, and a new number, to the tried and true Street Fighter formula, Capcom chose to rethink how we played the game with Street Fighter III.

Even today, Oro is a bit of an odd-duck

Even today, Oro is a bit of an odd-duck

Gone were all of the previous cast members, with the exception of Ryu, Ken, and Akuma. (Street Fighter’s first lady of fighting, Chun Li was later added in the definitive “3rd Strike” revision.) In their places stood an array of oddities, who bared little resemblance to the familiar faces we had grown to love in Street Fighter II and its various iterations. I mean, come on – Oro? A hundred and something year old dude that looks like a bird, who is so good at fighting that he ties one arm behind his back? Not only that, but Capcom also tried to introduce players to a new series mascot: the American grappler, Alex.

Fans did not immediately warm up to the radical change of cast.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike’s gameplay was also the recipient of a major overhaul from the Street Fighter II series. Building upon the foundations laid down by Capcom’s immense stable of fighting games, Street Fighter III: 3rd Stike introduced fighting game staples to the Street Fighter universe: forward and back dashing, EX moves, and a universal short jumping overhead attack accomplished by pressing both medium punch and kick buttons. There were also complaints that the characters weren’t properly balanced against each other.

Capcom chose to rethink how we played the game with Street Fighter III.

However, no gameplay element radically altered the face of Street Fighter in the same way that the parry did.

An inspired defensive move, the parry allowed a player to offensively block an incoming attack and immediately counter attack. It required the player to make a precise forward movement of the joystick within a few scant frames of an enemy attack connecting. This created a delicate risk/reward scenario. Time it right, and you could deliver brutal punishment to your foe – Time it wrong, and you’d get a face full of fist or feet.

The parry’s addition to the Street Fighter lexicon of moves altered the flow of the combat, putting an emphasis on player positioning and defense at the higher levels of play.

The parry in action.

The parry in action.

This paradigm shift helped create a deep, highly technical game, however, when those advanced gameplay ingredients were added to the 2D perspective and unfamiliar cast, the result was a widening gap between a small dedicated base of players, and casual players turned off by Street Fighter III’s difficulty curve and perceived lack of technological advancement.

In addition to the return of Chun Li, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike also expanded upon the game’s oddball roster with:

  •  Q, a mysterious man in a metal mask.
  •  Remy, a skinny French fighter who shared a similar move-set with series icon, Guile.
  •  Twelve, a genetically engineered, humanoid weapon.
  • Makoto, a young Karate expert who packed a serious punch.

These additions helped flesh out the initially meager roster introduced in the first two iterations of Street Fighter III.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike’s technical nature allowed players to grow into the game. The decline of the fighting game scene in the early to mid-2000’s meant that the dedicated base of players was able to hone and perfect their skill-sets for years, uncovering new strategies and ways to approach the game.

This culminated in the infamous, EVO moment #37, in which Japan’s Daigo Umehara was able to parry an entire Super Art attack delivered by the U.S.’s Justin Wong, and then immediately counter attack to win a match at the world championships of fighting games, EVO 2004.

 

Such a display was thought to be impossible given the meticulous timing required to parry even a single attack, however, there it was in all its glory – a testament to the brilliance of the mechanics behind Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.

And at its core, that’s what Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike really is: Brilliant.

The parry’s addition to the Street Fighter lexicon of moves altered the flow of the combat, putting an emphasis on player positioning and defense at the higher levels of play.

The risk that Capcom took in tearing down player expectations with the radically different cast, along with the addition of new moves and techniques, helped to serve as a melting-pot – fusing all of these ideas into a new and greater whole.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike’s’s focus on pacing and zoning is still evident today in Capcom’s latest offering, Street Fighter V.

While Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike may not have garnered the sales and attention that it deserved at the time; perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. The complexity of the game required time for players to cultivate their skills and learn the intricacies hidden in the game.

Currently, the definitive version of this classic is the Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition – a beautifully enhanced version of the game, available on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, which features a number of optional graphics enhancements, trials, and online play.

street-fighter-iii-3rd-strike-online-edition-1920x1080-wallpaper-441521

It took eleven years from Street Fighter III’s original introduction to see the arrival of the next edition to the series, Street Fighter IV, which launched in 2008. A massive gap in time by any standard.

But by then, no one could take away the reputation that Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike had taken so long to earn as the pinnacle of the classic 2D fighting genre.

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike had to persevere through extraneous circumstances and general consumer misunderstanding. Today, its reputation has risen above the bias it garnered upon its initial release, and it can be recognized as one thing: a bona fide classic.

Written by The Watchman

The Watchman


The Watchman is a journeyman gamer who has seen and played a good chunk of gaming history.
He’s also an actor, a reporter, a pro wrestling connoisseur, and some say he’s a cat whisperer.
If you have any questions or just want to drop me a line, hit me up at thewatchman@nerdbacon.com
Or follow me on Twitter @DavetheWatchman
You can also game with me!
Look me up on Xbox Live @ DJKhadoken
Or on PlayStation Network @ Eaglevision_dl

 
 

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  1. This is a really damn good review!

     

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