(Disclaimer: if you haven’t read the previous pieces on the Street Fighter III series then please read them first as you may not understand the content within this article unless you have prior knowledge of the series.)
This is the final title in the Street Fighter III sub-series of games and the final title on the Street Fighter 30th anniversary collection, this is the final Street Fighter game released during the 2D era of the franchise as the sequel went to 3D with the release of Street Fighter IV. Released in 1999 in arcades worldwide this is the final release if the franchise to use the CPS3 arcade hardware, the game was also ported to the Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation family of systems and the Xbox Family of consoles between 2000-2010, I only have access to the original arcade release so I will be covering that for this review.
Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future – Arcade (1999)
The final game released in the Street Fighter franchise on the CPS3 arcade hardware this would be a last hurrah as Street Fighter III 3rd strike would be the final 2D title in this franchise as from this point forward the game would be purely 3D with the only exception being the cross over fighting games that the characters would appear in. taking place after the events of the third world warrior tournament told by 2nd Impact, this game introduces more new characters and familiar faces returning from games past.
This game has some balance changes and mechanical changes to the core gameplay, the introduction of more characters brings some issues with it by giving some characters tools that can give them an advantage against specific opponents, there is an overhaul to the scoring system introducing a grade based ranking at the end of each fight giving the player a grade based on the players performance of technique, offense, defence and extra point, with special points granted for hidden requirements. The game maintains the core mechanics introduced in precious iterations, with the multiple options for super arts, EX attacks and combo options using the super meter.
There are additional changes to the way that the game works with new functions for the parry skills, throws/holds and lead attacks, along with tweaks to the character move lists that may feel alien to some players but allows some combos to be performed with more ease, previous combos are now impossible to perform unfortunately with alterations to the physics and animations of the game being different from previous games, for example the juggle combo that Akuma is capable of performing in previous games is now impossible to perfom.
All characters from the previous game return with Akuma becoming a playable character and five additions to the roster, with the fan favourite Chun-Li returning from Street Fighter II and four additional characters being original creations, here is the profiles for all the new roster members.
- Chun-Li – A Chinese martial artist with ties to Interpol, she is looking for a young orphan under her care who was kidnapped under mysterious circumstances.
- Makoto – A young Japanese girl, trained in karate. Since her father’s death, Makoto’s dojo, Rindoukan, has been floundering, so she seeks to challenge other fighters around the world to restore her school to a flourishing state.
- Q – A mysterious figure wearing a mask and an overcoat who is being pursued by the CIA because of sightings around the world near accidents and he is even thought to have been the cause. While he can be chosen as a playable character, he is a hidden computer-controlled opponent in the single-player mode.
- Remy – A long-haired fighter from France wearing a leather jacket emblazoned with an omega. He bears a grudge against all fighters after he and his late sister were abandoned by their father who decided to go fight. His move set is similar to that of Guile and Charlie from previous Street Fighter entries.
- Twelve – A shapeshifting soldier developed by Gill’s organization. One of the first successful soldiers of the Illuminati’s “G-Project” experiment, Twelve can shape his body into weapons. As his first mission he is ordered to hunt down and kill his prototype, Necro, who escaped from the organization.
The core gameplay for this release is more akin to the earlier games of the Street Fighter franchise with a total of ten stages to be cleared, a uniform final boss for all characters, a destined sub-boss which doesn’t change much and the return of a bonus stage where the player must destroy a car within a time limit, the parry bonus stage also appears which is similar to the barrel breaker game that was a staple of the Street Fighter II sub-series until its removal in the Super Street Fighter II Turbo game, there is a secret fight against the fighter Q that occurs if specific requirements are met although I was unable to achieve this.
One of the new features that is a welcome addition to this game is the ability to select your opponent before each fight from two options, this occurs until the ninth fight which is the rival battle, if you are defeated during fights one through eight you may select a new opponent, if you choose to continue your game, this allows a player to choose to fight against a character they may not like or even put the player against two tough opponents and give them a lesser of two evils decision, this happened to me several times during my time playing and I always picked the opponent I hated less.
Difficulty level for this game is more challenging with the new opponents if it is your first time playing, but if you are lucky you can skip them during the opponent selection screen. After a few run throughs of the game with each of my characters I learned which ones I had difficulty against and used that knowledge to determine who my opponent would be with each different character choice, for example when using a ranged character I avoided opponents who used up close attacks for heavy damage and as a slow character I avoided the faster opponents who dealt quick consecutive blows.
I played the multiplayer with a friend for several hours and I enjoyed every moment, the new characters were fun to experiment with and learn how to use, the most fun we had was trying to figure out basic combos and how to connect them to the super arts. The multiplayer has always been the best part of any Street Fighter game and this is no exception, the competitive element of the game is something that I look forward to experiencing with the online game mode being added to the upcoming 30th anniversary collection.
Overall this is the best version of Street Fighter III and the perfect choice if you are to pick any of the three releases as the only version to play this is the one to choose, the game is a vast improvement on the previous games in the sub-series and the only downside I would see is the difficulty but that is something that can be overcome with practice and learning how to use each character effectively.
I give this game 5/5 using the star rating that I used for all other pieces this month, as the last game to be covered it is the perfect way to end Street Fighter month, the difficulty is a slight speed bump but a welcome challenge with many options to players both old and new.