Masterpieces are very often overlooked in their time. Some of the most famous works by artists like Van Gogh and Edgar Allan Poe, for example, only got the recognition they deserved long after their creation. As the medium matures it’s happening in gaming too, and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is the perfect example.
Released at the lowest ebb of the 2D fighting genre in 1999, it was only really played by a hardcore few as the world at large ignored what was arguably the finest competitive Street Fighter game ever.
Ken and Ryu may return, but the new characters offer overwhelming depth.
Thankfully the recent fighting game resurgence has allowed Capcom to re-release an arcade-perfect version of 3rd Strike over XBLA while adding a ton of extra content – including reworked menus, smoothing graphics filters and tutorials to ease the uninitiated into its fighting graces.
The 3rd Strike setup is familiar, with 20 fighters of wildly different stripes – including old favourites Ryu, Ken and Chun-Li – battling it out, and its eclectic roster is a great strength.
From powerful basic characters like Ken through to middle ground fighters like Dudley and Alex or technical monsters like Ibuki, Oro or Urien, there’s a fighter for everyone’s taste on offer.
While anyone who can throw a fireball can enjoy 3rd Strike, it’s like an onion with ever-deeper layers, and peeling them back is half the fun. Not only do they have complex combos to master and familiar specials, but each character can choose between with three ‘Super Arts’ – devastating multi-hit attacks that you can unleash once you fill your Super gauge.
Elena is an erratic and unpredictable character, Yun is just blood fast.
Learning to combine demanding combos with Super Arts is key, but the heart of 3rd Strike is your ability to ‘parry’, nullifying an opponent’s attack by pushing into it and leaving them open to counterattacks. Parries can even be done in mid-air, but getting good enough to parry multi-hit or Super Arts attacks is where the mastery of the game lies.
All this makes 3rd Strike one of the most technical and tactical fighting games ever, and you’ll need to learn every trick if you want success in online ranked matches.
Knowing this, Capcom has included a smorgasbord of superb trials and challenges, right down to the individual character level, to teach things like combos, Super Arts and parries. As well as the satisfaction of learning how to pull off all these moves in a structured way before using them online, you also get points for just about everything you do.
These can be used to unlock extras like concept art, images and even music. Simply put, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is easily the deepest Street Fighter experience, and now one that just about anyone can play – if they’re willing to invest the time. If you’ve any interest at all in fighting games you owe it to yourself to play this classic.
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The fighting game connoisseur’s game of choice comes to XBLA, with a good amount of polish and everything needed to master it. If you love fighting games, get it.