Street Fighter Alpha 3
Few things are as certain nowadays as the ‘grandfather’ of beat-’em-ups making an appearance on a new console, and we sure didn’t have to wait long for the cobwebs to be dusted off this game! Street Fighter hits the Dreamcast, but this isn’t the eagerlyawaited Street Fighter III unfortunately, but the latest in the souped-up 2-D legacy that has been hassling the PlayStation for the past few years. The result is a game that is still rich in comicbook pummellings, but looks hideously out of its depth perched on the Dreamcast platform. It could be argued that this game acts as a savoury stop-gap and serves to remind players that Street Fighter can still hold its own against the 3-D upstarts, in theory at least. The reality of it all though, is that the Dreamcast owners that have splashed out the cash for next generation technology and gaming will no doubt regard this as little more than something unpleasant that has been trodden in, and left to dry in the grooves on the soles of trainers the world over. To be fair though, despite looking like a sprightly grandad, this game still packs a decent enough punch.
Split into a wide assortment of gaming modes, Street Fighter Alpha 3, apart from the undeniable fun to be had in the afterpub two-player Versus mode, is best played in the new (to this number in the series anyway) World Tour mode. In this, players must choose a character from a tally of 33 and send them off travelling the globe in search of opponents to smack-up. Each port of call brings fresh new adversaries who must be disposed of in order to move on to the next and beefup your fighter’s powers. The more fights you win, the more powers become available to your character. This comes in especially handy for later on when you have to take-on two, three and even four opponents at once… well, they take it in turns to attack you, but you only get one energy bar to wipe-out the lot. Okay, so we’ve established the fact that this game is distinctly last-gen in terms of visuals, but the one true element that has remained true to all Street Fighter games over the console generations is that it is hugely addictive, and this garish eye-sore is no different. With the format and commands being as old as the proverbial hills means that anyone can pick it up and play and instantly know most of the moves for every character, because they haven’t changed. What has changed though is the shape of the joypad you’re playing it with though, and it has to be said that the Dreamcast kite-handle isn’t the best utensil to use. The size of it means that getting to the hard-hitting shoulderbuttons isn’t easy – especially if you opt for the noble ancient Street Fighter control method of favouring the D-pad over these new-fangled analogue sticks! Of course, you can re-configure the buttons, but that will instantly lose you respect in the inner Street Fighter circles.
Street Fighter Alpha 3, like the previous Alpha games, has slowly built on the extravagant combo system that was installed in Street Fighter II all those years ago. In this latest incarnation, you can opt to fight using three different power gauges. These are fuelled when you string moves together and once ‘maxed’ a tricky bit of joypad manoeuvring will unleash a super combo move. If these crowd-pleasers don’t finish your opponent off amidst a hail of tear-jerking connections and a flash of light, then they’ll serious wind them, provided they connect in the first place of course. The gauges in question are called ‘ISMs’ and the three on offer date back from Super Street Fighter II Turbo to Street Fighter Alpha 2. They’re complicated to explain, but Street Fighter aficionados will take to them like a bouncer to a p*ssed student. To its credit, Street Fighter Alpha 3 is coin-op perfect and practically devoid of the painful loading times that plagued the PlayStation version. It’s not new by any means and it won’t impress the masses much, but if it’s a good, solid fighting game you crave with weeks of lastability, then you could do a lot worse than picking a fight with the oldest brawler in town!