Back when I was still in high school, and my allowance was that of a peasant, I used to rely heavily on my friends when it came to playing new games.
They would bring over whatever games they got their hands on, and eventually this lead to my discovery of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Back in 2005, I was aware of Street Fighter from games such as Marvel vs Capcom 2 and SNK vs Capcom. The franchise was iconic to me, but never had I realized there was a sequel to one of my favorite childhood games, Street Fighter II.
How did I miss this game?
A look at its history will reveal its rough life.
Originally released for the arcade in May 1999, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is actually the third iteration of Street Fighter III, following Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact. Unfortunately, it came out during a dark time for arcades. They were shutting down, while more powerful consoles were arriving on store shelves waiting to be purchased.
Also, it was an era when 2D was considered such an outdated way of gaming that Sonic, Mega Man, Castlevania and even Street Fighter were dabbling in 3D.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that successful 3D fighters such as Soul Calibur, Virtua Fighter 3, Dead or Alive 2 and Tekken 3 were hogging the spotlight for best fighter in the arcade and on the console. Third Strike got released on one console, the Dreamcast, about a year before it was discontinued.
How did my friends get their hands on it? The game was included in Street Fighter Anniversary Collection to commemorate the franchise’s fifteenth anniversary. So with that, a character named Gill is trying to turn the world into a utopia, he offended some people and we’re going to try to beat him up.
The plot is set. Welcome to the world of Street Fighter III.
The first two iterations of Street Fighter III introduced many abilities and features new to the series that are still being used to this day. Players could now dash, retreat and block against grabs, as well as perform high jumps, EX Specials and Super Arts–the evolution of the Super Combo found in previous games.
The most controversial gameplay feature, found only in the Street Fighter III games, is the parry system. By pressing forward or down just as your opponent’s attack lands, you deflect the attack without taking any damage, leaving your opponent open for a counterattack. You could now parry hadoukens without sustaining the minor damage you would if you had blocked.
Think of a martial arts movie where the fighters are hitting their opponents punches away instead of blocking, and you have the right idea of what a parry is.
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike didn’t add too many other changes to the gameplay, but the small tweaks, new bonus rounds and additional characters made this version of the game the finished product.
Speaking of characters, let’s talk about how Capcom updated fan favorites like Blanka, E. Honda and M. Bison.
Instead of being restricted to character concepts and moves from previous games, Capcom decided to create new characters from scratch–sixteen brand new characters in fact. Add these to Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li and Akuma from previous games and we’ve got a roster of twenty characters to choose from.
In the arcade mode, you fight ten regular opponents and Gill as the final boss. Once you beat the arcade mode, you won’t have much else to do besides fighting a friend locally.
I’ll take this chance to point out that the easiest way to get this game is by downloading the new Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition for PSN or XBLA for $15. Capcom has released a near perfect arcade port of the game with new features including an online mode, meta achievements and an art gallery, as well as a Tournament, Spectator and training modes. This lengthens the replay value of the game considerably, and as the most accessible and complete version of the game, it should be the version you play.
Why You Should Play It
If you’re a fighting game enthusiast, fan of multiplayer games, or just interested in collecting an important piece of Street Fighter history, then I don’t understand why you wouldn’t play this game.
It took bold steps when the arcade scene was floundering. It took the best gameplay features from previous titles and then dumped the entire roster of familiar characters, building new characters from the ground up. You couldn’t play these classic characters anywhere else until recently in Super Street Fighter IV (Ibuki, Makota, Dudley, Yun and Yang).
This game also has some of the most spectacular sprites found in any 2D fighter of its generation (the only competitor in my opinion would be Guilty Gear). Add that to a solid fighting system, and you have yourself a game that simply works.
Many people complain that the game is too technical for beginners, and while that is true if you’re fighting a pro, it certainly doesn’t matter if you play the single player, or play against some friends. All the basics from Street Fighter II, IV and Alpha are here. If you remember playing Street Fighter II with a good friend, you can call and invite them over to play Third Strike without having to learn any of the new features such as parrying or EX Specials.
Essentially, think of it like this: you enjoy playing sports with your friends, but you wouldn’t play against Lebron James or David Beckham because they’d destroy you. The idea is the same here, just jump around, kick each other and spam that hadouken.
We can worry about parrying later.