The bar is raised for 2D fighters - Review By Mad Carl
The Year: 1991. The Place: Pac-Man Palace, an arcade located in my local mall. Something new had shown up. Something that was so cool it required three different machines to satiate the crowd. That something was Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. Quarters were piled up on the monitors as players waited their turn.
It was easy to tell the newcomers from veterans. They took a moment to stare at the long string of character portraits and the list of special moves mounted beneath the monitor. More times than not the new player simply selected a character at random, hopelessly slapped at the buttons for several seconds, and then had their ass served up to them by their opponent. The defeated players then took a self-conscious step back, and watched as others met the same embarrassing fate. The champ worked the joystick in a specific series of directions, combining these movements with slaps of appropriate buttons in order to create an arcane formula that would unlock the secrets to magical fireballs and uppercuts.
I still remember my first fireball -- it was the instant I fell in love with SF2. The realization that someone had put that kind of thought and design into a user interface, that a certain level of skill was required to accomplish these special moves... well, it was probably the first time I admired the work of a game designer and really understood what they did for a living. I spent a lot of money on Street Fighter II. A LOT. When it came out for the Super Nintendo, I bought it on the first day and played it for weeks with my friends, doing our best to beat it and each other in as many different ways as possible. Now, almost ten years later, I finally meet Street Fighter III: Double Impact on the Dreamcast. And let me tell you something -- it's nice to see an old friend still looking so good after all these years.
SF3:DI (I love using acronyms) is really two games on one disc. Street Fighter III: New Generation and Street Fighter III Second Impact: Giant Attack. Yes, in the grand tradition of the Street Fighter series, Capcom has seen fit to re-release the same game with only slight modifications. Fortunately, they didn't try the stunt of releasing both versions separately on the Dreamcast, as they did in the SNES days.
He may look a little different, but that's still the same old Ken.
I would like to take a moment to publicly thank Capcom for simplifying what had become a bloated game through the years of Street Fighter II: Super Championship Ultra Hyper Fighting Champion Edition Grand Master Challenge and the following slew of Street Fighter Alpha games. Gone are confusing concepts such as X/A/V-ism, alpha counters, air blocking and custom combos. In their place is good old fashioned SF2-style play. The beauty of the SF series has always been in its simple design, which reveals untold depth for those who master it. While Soul Calibur is all pretty and flashy and fun, at times it seems that any k3w1 d00d button masher can come up and "0w|\| U". But if they try that crap in a SF game, the more experienced player will wipe the floor with them. As Mr. Miagai used to say in those Othello commercials, Street Fighter takes "A minute to learn. A lifetime to master."
One of the two new mechanics here is the Super Art. The simplicity of this move is a nice change of pace after the custom combos of the Alpha series. In fact, it is very reminiscent of the super moves in Marvel Super Heroes. Nine times out of ten, the Super Art moves are accomplished by two fireball motions and a punch. Time this right and you'll make your opponent your beyotch.
Like in other modern Capcom fighters, Super Arts cause the backgrounds to go nuts.
Of course, if your opponent has learned the other new feature of SF3, you're in for an ass whoop'n of your own. The parry allows you to deflect any incoming attack, and quickly gain the upper hand in a fight. The best part about parrying is that it's an incredibly ballsy move, requiring you to actually move toward your attacker at the very instant of contact. Time it wrong and you're dust. Time it right and the fight could be yours. (Unfortunately, I am a gimp and constantly take it in these situations. My friend, Mr. Cross, can parry like a fencing monkey on crack). To help you learn how to parry, SF3:SI has a special Parry Mode where one of the fighters chucks old red white and blue ABA basketballs at you. This is a good way to practice the parry move without having to hear your friends talk trash.
Should your little duel result in a draw (either by double K.O. or both of you having the same amount of health left at the end of the round), a fun feature called "Judgment" will occur. Several beautiful women will come out and raise a sign that shows who they believe won the round. While a rare occurrence, this is a welcome twist to the proceedings and more entertaining than simply going through another round of combat.
Next: More Good, Some Bad, and The Final Word