Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike represents some of the most precision fighting mechanics and at the same time inaccessible gameplay ever to hit the Capcom franchise. Unlike the all of the titles that preceded Street Fighter III (those that followed), III required a bit more practice and thus casual fans would often get destroyed by arcade veterans and even the computer alike. When the original Street Fighter III launched, most of the recognizable cast had been dumped except for series stars Ken and Ryu. Of course familiar faces gradually rejoined the stable of fighters in subsequent releases culminating in the most complete version of SF III being Third Strike. Now fighting fans have the ability to play this classic online with the digital release of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online.
If you have never played Third Strike, then you’re in for a bit of a shocker. When compared to the multitude of Street Fighter II releases, there is a lot more meat on the bones here. The biggest addition is the parrying system which adds a bit more strategy to the gameplay. Just like every other aspect of Street Fighter, this revolves around timing. Think of it as a Dead or Alive block system. Time it right and you’ll quickly turn the tables on your opponent. Time it wrong and it’s quite possibly lights out for you. It’s not the most remarkable or groundbreaking element to be put into a fighting game when you look at most of today’s fighters, but back in 1997 it was still relatively novel. Like the classic combos that the franchise is so well-known for, it’s all about timing and veterans will eat newbies up if they don’t practice these reversals.
The lineup of fighters in Third Strike Online is one of the most diverse collections of characters seen just about anywhere. Most of the fighters are very distinct in design and each has abilities that set them apart from the rest. Unlike many Street Fighter releases, this isn’t just a group of reskinned combatants that all fight the same. Everything from amusing taunts to boost defense to special abilities like Twelve going invisible make each fighter seem very different from the rest. The actual fighting is far less forgiving than any other Street Fighter game too. I can’t say it enough; you have to practice of you want to win online because there are no simple or “cheap” ways to win like Eddy Gordo in Tekken 3.
The difficulty is one of the reasons the game was so loved back in the day by those that mastered it. Those new to the series are treated to training modes and plenty of trial time to practice, but unless you’re the type of person who lives and breathes Capcom fighting, you’ll still face an uphill battle online.
The visuals in Third Strike Online are a head scratcher when combined with today’s technology. Originally designed for 4:3 arcade cabinets and television sets back in the late 1990s, the once detailed and fancy graphics now seem rough. The filters put in place to increase the visual appeal actually hinder the appearance even more. While the graphics had a hard time translating into today’s world, the soundtrack has been completely overhauled and not for the better. Some will like the new techno and dance feel of the soundtrack, but the diehard fans will not like it. The original selection of music from the arcade was a classic mix of funky upbeat hip hop tunes that suited the fighting perfectly. Perhaps there was a licensing issue, but the decision to change up the music was a poor one.
The online elements of Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition have been fleshed out nicely. This is no surprise considering Capcom’s expertise in providing quality online experiences with their games. There is rarely if ever a hint of lag in the fights which is very important considering the emphasis Street Fighter puts on timing. In addition to the typical leaderboards, Capcom also provides you with the ability to upload your best matches to Youtube for the entire world to see, or just for you to rub your friend’s noses in their defeats. The diehard Street Fighter fans will likely use this function to analyze and study combat techniques too.
Third Strike is a great game for fans of the series who’ve spent plenty of time pulling off one combo after another. Now this isn’t to say that those unfamiliar with the series should pass, but whatever you do, don’t make this your first Capcom fighting experience. You’ll likely walk away before finding out why it’s so popular. The tutorials won’t really help out those that have never played before either. Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition is more for those that love the series and have spent countless hours practicing and refining their timed combos. With a ton of other Street Fighter options available to download at cheaper prices, I’d suggest checking those out first. If you already have, then Third Strike might be for you.