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Retro Review: Street Fighter Alpha 3 (30th Anniversary Arcade perfect port)

5 min read

A blast from a difficulty driven past.

What They Say:
Alpha 3 Returns!  New stages, new music and new characters make Alpha 3 the most robust entry in this spin-off series. Players can choose among three “Ism” meters that give characters different abilities once the gauge has been filled.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 is a game most Capcom fans of fighting game players need no introduction to.  Despite being a spin-off. It really made a change in the formula and introduced several things to the game that had not been seen before.  The game retains the anime look the Alpha series had become known for and added a new system for players to explore- the “-ism” system!  Before heading into the fight, players choose from 3 different “-isms”.  There’s A-ism (Z-ism as it was called in Japan), X-ism, and V-ism.  Each of the styles adds something different, making for a different gameplay experience.  A-ism is a style based on previous games in the Alpha series, and gives the player a 3 level Super combo gauge and several different super moves.  X-ism is a simpler style the folks at Capcom based on Super Street Fighter II Turbo.  Players using this get a single Super meter and access to only one powerful move as opposed to the several given in A-ism.  It may be more familiar to older players, but is also more limiting.  Lastly, we have V-ism, or “Variable”, which brings the custom combo system from Alpha 2 back into play, but also then removes the Super meter.   Each of these modes change up character movesets for characters and allow players to explore just how deep the game goes.

In addition to to the new systems, The game added a guard meter, which stuns a character when depleted, added the idea of air blocking, and also Several new characters.  Alpha 3 also adds a ton of new characters while bringing back the characters from the last two games.  In addition to mainstays like Ryu, Chun-Li, Akuma, and Zangief, and previously new characters like Guy, Rose, and Sakura, Alpha 3 brings in its own wide variety to the mix, both returning and new, and among these are:

  • Balrog (secret)
  • Blanka
  • Cammy
  • Cody
  • E. Honda
  • Juli (secret)
  • Juni (secret)
  • Karin
  • R. Mika
  • Vega

This, in turn, brings our total roster to 27 characters, which, even as an arcade port, given all the new variables and systems, means a lot of depth to the game to explore!  This being an arcade port, and being the original arcade version to boot, Characters added in later versions like Ingrid, Shin Akuma, and Maki are not present.  Being arcade perfect results in another feature many wouldn’t think about-difficulty.  Though the game features an adjustable difficulty, This is still a game that wants your money (even if it can’t have it now), and there are times where the computer will become super smart, reading your moves and reacting accordingly.  There are unlimited continues, but AI like this can get frustrating very fast.

Nothing encapsulates the money grabbing ways of the AI in the game more than the game’s final boss, Final Bison.  Said in game to be the ultimate form of staple boss M. Bison (Vega in Japan), This boss will not hesitate to repeatedly block your every move, punish any mistakes or whiffed moves immediately, or respond to any movement with a full screen super move (like his Final Psycho Crusher) the deals almost 80% of an opponent’s life bar if not blocked properly. If that wasn’t enough for those looking for a real challenge, there’s a catch-He’s not re-fightable.  Yep,  Players of this game, unlike later ports and releases, only get one shot at defeating Final Bison for an ending, and if you lose, the game ends with the player getting an unskippable bad ending where Bison wins.  This is a game that wants you to learn, and boy will you!  Speaking of the arcade mode, the game consists of a ten or eleven fight run, with some rival fights having pre-match dialogue.  The arcade mode is sadly the only mode present, and some of the more interesting things in later ports, like Dramatic battle (2 on 2 fights) or Reverse Dramatic Battle (player vs 2 AI characters), are sadly not here.  This means there is less to do in the game single player wise, but the game can be taken online for multiplayer.

One thing that may not be apparent is to make sure you have good controls.  The Switch port of this game adds a new layer of difficulty to the game in the form of unresponsive controls.  The joycon controllers were very much not made for fighting games, especially older ones like this, and trying to get moves out will outright fail a lot.  The d-pad buttons actually solve an amount of this problem, but certain inputs like 360 rotations are pretty much off the table.  This does add an unnecessary layer of hardness to the game, especially when the AI decides you’ve been winning too much and ramps itself up in difficulty.  Once you find a way for the controls to respond most of the time, the game truly opens up and is easily one of the best games in the Street Fighter series.

In Summary:
Despite only having the single player option of arcade runs, The 30th Anniversary port of Street Fighter Alpha 3 still shows why it’s one of the most regarded games in the series.  The “-Ism” system gives players many ways to approach combat and deepens play like the series had never seen before.  Secret characters, character lore, and an arcade like difficulty definitely give you your money’s worth on this game.  While amazing that the port made it to Switch, that version certainly suffers from the joycon control method and players will likely find that frustrating if playing on that console.  In the end, This is an arcade port that more than still holds up today, and despite a lack of features, players will still have a great time either pushing through the arcade mode or playing online with a friend!  What this game lacks in features, it makes up for in fun, and I can do nothing but recommend a buy.

Grade: A-

Developer(s): Digital Eclipse, Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Age Rating: Teen
Release Date: May 28, 2018
MSRP: $25.99
Platform: Switch (reviewed), Xbox One, Playstation 4, Windows

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