As we go into the last week of march we are going to be covering the final three games included in the Street Fighter 30th anniversary collection as part of our month long retrospective of the games that changed the arcade fighting genre, sometimes for the best sometimes for the worst. We move onto the final sub-series consisting of three titles released for the CPS3 arcade hardware all under the main header of Street Fighter III, released in arcades in 1997 this game was also exclusively ported to the Sega Dreamcast, I am unable to play the home version so I will be focusing on just the arcade release of the first title Street Fighter III: The New Generation.
Street Fighter III: The New Generation – Arcade (1997)
Released worldwide in 1997 for the new CD based arcade system the CPS3 Street Fighter III: The New Generation was developed and published by Capcom, the game is brand new built with new a new graphical style adding even more animations, new audio, including new music/character audio and gameplay, the game is designed as a direct sequel of Street Fighter II introducing a new roster of characters with only Ken and Ryu returning from previous games, there is also a new boss along with the new roster and this may seem like a breath of fresh air but unfortunately this leads to many issues with the balance of the game, there are ten playable characters with one being a palette swap of another and an unplayable boss character.
Here is a list of the new roster;
- Ken – As the current U.S. martial arts champion, Ken seeks to test his strength against his old friend and rival Ryu, once again.
- Ryu – As usual, Ryu seeks to better his skills and find worthy opponents.
- Alex – The lead character of the Street Fighter III series. He fights with close-range grappling techniques and powerful punches. His initial goal is to avenge the defeat of his friend Tom at the hands of Gill
- Dudley – A gentleman British boxer who seeks to recover his late father’s antique Jaguar convertible from Gill.
- Elena – An African princess from Kenya who uses the fighting style of capoeira. She seeks to make new friends. All of her attacks use her legs or feet, even the punch button attacks and throws.
- Ibuki – An aspiring female ninja who is sent to retrieve the G File from Gill’s organization.
- Necro – A Russian man who was kidnapped and experimented on by Gill’s organization. He seeks revenge only to get trapped and barely escape later on.
- Oro – A reclusive hermit who seeks a fighter worthy to inherit his fighting style. He binds one arm while fighting, to keep from accidentally killing his opponent (except when performing specific special techniques).
- Yun and Yang – Twin Kung Fu experts from Hong Kong who are guardians of their hometown. While the two brothers are head-swaps, their move sets are identical and they share the same slot in the player select screen.
- Gill – The leader of a secret organization which seeks to turn the Earth into a utopia. He can manipulate fire and ice. He is the final opponent for all the characters in New Generation, he is also unplayable in the arcade and only selectable in the home console version.
As well as a new roster the new features that were introduced into this game change a lot of the gameplay than many players may be used to using, the new features felt alien to me as I played the game and as I slowly got used to the game the new game style became frustrating with the play style I had developed over the time I had been playing the previous Street Fighter games, there are also modifications and removals of previous mechanics that add a level of frustration if you go into the game blind and it feels like the game is taking a step back.
Here are the changes to the game mechanics both new and removed;
- Air blocking and custom combos have been removed.
- Players can now parry attacks which allow the player to receive no damage while blocking, this is performed by pressing forward or down forward when the attack is going to hit, allowing players to defend against special moves and super moves, this requires precise timing and can open up to counterattacks.
- Movement has been altered adding dashes both forward and back, high jumps and an altered ground recovery.
- The super combos introduced in Street Fighter Alpha are now restricted to a single selectable attack called the Super Art combo, these also change the way the super bar works where each super art has its own charging time, number of charges and power level.
- New stun mechanics are also added where the opponent can be turned around by some specific attacks and there is now a stun bar that when filled makes the opponent dizzy and free to be hit for a moment.
The core of the game is unchanged with players taking on opponents in one on one fights consisting of a number of rounds that can be set to a single round, best of three, best of five and best of seven, this makes the game more manageable with the ability to alter the settings making the game either faster to complete/ earn more money, or longer to complete and hold competitive events, the new mechanics are very difficult to learn and get proficient at when playing against the CPU as they are able to chain attacks quickly and the results can be devastating.
The single player mode is considerably shorter than any other street fighter game consisting of only seven fights, six against the other characters on the roster with the final battle against an unplayable boss that is the absolute worst boss to fight, there are no bonus stages in this version and the game has a very steep learning curve because of the new roster and the changes to the game mechanics. The balance overall is absolutely terrible making it unfair when you play against some of the characters, like Alex who deals massive amounts of damage when he hits you and one of his super arts is unblockable as it is a command grab attack that can wipe out 70% of a health bar and the CPU can activate this attack instantly making me want to stop playing.
Playing the games single player I had very little enjoyment and it slowly turned to frustration when fighting the final boss, Gill is unfair and poorly balanced with all his attacks dealing massive damage and an unreal attack range, the worst part of fighting Gill was the fact that he can revive himself and unless the player interrupts his revival then he returns to full power, what makes it even more frustrating is that the game punishes you if you decide to change the character you are playing as your progress is reset to a degree selecting at least one undefeated character that you must fight in order to challenge the boss again.
The impossible difficulty of the boss fight and the way that the game resets the progress of the game make this very frustrating and removes the chance of any enjoyment that I was having during my time playing, the unfair and poorly balanced characters, the extreme difficulty curve, the problems with parry timing and the way that the new graphical style makes the only two returning Street Fighter characters feel alien killed any positive feelings that I had when I went into this game.
The multiplayer wasn’t even capable of saving this trainwreck of a game, with the terrible balance sucking all the fun from what could have been a fun game to play with others, if one player chooses Alex then nine times out of ten they are going to win the match which does not make a fun experience, this is a disappointing turn for the game and hopefully the sequels to this make up for the failures of the first.
Overall I have to give this game 2/5 using the star rating, the game is pretty with nice graphics and sound, including well detailed backgrounds and clear audio, but the gameplay is a real let down, poorly balanced and executed giving the impression that the game was rushed out to capitalise on the new hardware.