Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is one of the most highly regarded fighting games of all time. Sadly, it’s also one that many people, including myself, missed out on. The technical gameplay mechanics and the lack of returning characters was more than enough to alienate the majority of fans. Simply put, Street Fighter III just wasn’t as successful or as popular as its predecessor. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a great fighting game. Throw in all the new features included in Online Edition and you have a fighter that not only rivals the most recent releases in the genre, but surpasses them.
Unlike Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, the visuals in Third Strike have not been completely redone. These are the same character sprites from 1999 but displayed at a higher resolution. You’d be surprised at how great this game still looks. Characters are highly detailed and animations are incredibly fluid, even to this day. It’s the pinnacle of sprite based fighters, that’s for sure.
Capcom included a few graphical filters if pixels aren’t your thing. The crisp setting makes the pixel less apparent but the sprites are blurrier as a result. Smooth works similarly, although edges are more noticeable. The developers made sure that each filter was applied on a character by character basis, so these aren’t just generic emulator settings. The one you choose ultimately comes down to user preference since gameplay is unaffected.
As if that wasn’t enough, you can also change the view point from its original 4:3 aspect ratio to widescreen, stretched, or arcade cabinet. You can also add scan lines to the picture for an even more old school look. Purists will definitely want to stick with the normal settings since that’s how the game should be played. It’s not like Capcom properly rebuilt the entire game with widescreen in mind. You’re just getting a stretched imaged. That’s not to say that it doesn’t look good, because it certainly does.
Select the one to fight with. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6. Pick and choose the right one. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
It’s not just the graphics that have been overhauled though, Swedish rapper Adam Tensta provides his musical talents for two tracks in the game – the main menu and character select screen. All of the stages in the game now have remixed versions arranged by Simon Viklund (Bionic Commando: Rearmed). Once unlocked, you can customize the soundtrack to your liking by using a mixture of classic and remixed themes. It’s even possible to change the main menu music to whatever you want. It’s worth noting that the original character select music doesn’t start in the same spot as it originally did, which is a bit of an oversight.
Whilst Capcom have clearly put a lot into the game graphically and musically, they didn’t go crazy by rebalancing or tweaking the gameplay. This is an arcade perfect port of the most recent version of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Considering the fighting game community’s response to Sirlin’s approach with Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, which changed fundamental properties of moves and made it an entirely new game, this is probably a good thing. Some improvements have been made, however. There’s now an option for random select and you can change your control layout at the character select screen (it uses the same button press setup as HDR).
Third Strike Online features the standard modes you’d find in any fighting game and more. Arcade mode still has you fighting a series of battles until you reach the final boss, and each character still has their original endings. Other modes include offline and online Challenges, Trials, Training, and online multiplayer.
Challenge mode’s challenges occur dynamically as you play matches. Some are easy, such as winning a match, while others are a bit more demanding. Each challenge has multiple tiers with increasing difficulty, so it’s going to take awhile to complete them all. Successfully completing challenges gives you points to redeem in the Vault. This is where you can unlock concept art and new music. Each character has their own section dedicated just to them featuring artwork from various artists around the world. Unlocking items in the vault provides a nice break from punching faces.
The Trials mode is one of the more robust additions. Each character has five combo challenges to complete. It’s pretty similar to the trial mode from Street Fighter IV. The big difference here is that there’s also parry challenges and handicap trials that put you through ridiculous odds. Imagine having to defeat Ryu as Akuma with absolutely no health on the expert difficulty. Yeah, it’s pretty crazy.
What’s great about the trials mode in Third Strike is that you’ll get useful tips that actually improve your gameplay. It serves as a tutorial in some regards, but it’s nowhere near as comprehensive. You will learn the mechanics just a little bit more by completing the trials, assuming you don’t bash your face into the wall due to the difficulty. The last parry trial, simply titled EVO moment #37, has you recreating the final moments of Daigo versus Justin Wong from EVO 2004 by parrying Chun-Li’s Super and completing the combo afterwards as Ken. As you can imagine, it’s quite a challenge.
Training mode comes in two different forms – normal and parry. In normal training mode you can manipulate basic dummy settings or fight an AI. There’s a record function but it just does straight playback with no interaction. However, in parry training mode you can set Player 2’s actions and react to it as Player 1. This not only helps you learn the timing for parries more effectively, but it also lets you come up with new strategies to use in various situations.