To many fans of Street Fighter, Third Strike is--and always will be--the deepest and most technical fighting game in the series. The parrying system, while complex, allowed for some spectacular-looking combos and counterattacks, including the famous "moment #37" from the 2004 EVO tournament. With Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, Capcom has faithfully ported the game over to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. And when it says faithfully, it really means it. All the bugs, glitches, and quirks of the original remain, so old hands will feel right at home when picking up the port.
The most obvious addition is, of course, online play. Third Strike uses the same GGPO technology as last year's Final Fight: Double Impact, which in theory should result in smooth online play. Sadly, we didn't get to test Third Strike's online capabilities on the show floor, but we did check out the new Trials mode. It's broken up into a number of different sections, each focusing on a different aspect of gameplay. Most useful are the parry trials, which let you get to grips with the parry system. To parry, you move your character toward an attack, rather than block away from it. If you time it just right, your character doesn't take any damage and can launch a counterattack.
The first trial required us to parry a fireball, which was actually a lot trickier than it sounds. Getting the timing right required a lot of practice, but it was satisfying when we got it right. Subsequent trials upped the difficulty, with multiple hit combos requiring expert control of our character. Those up for a huge challenge will get a kick out of the last trial, which replicates Daigo's famous 2004 EVO fight. For the unfamiliar, it requires you to parry Chun Li's 15-hit super art combo. Suffice to say, we didn't stand a chance when attempting the moment #37 trial, but we had a lot of fun trying.
Other trials are similar to those from Street Fighter IV, requiring you to perform different types of kicks, punches, and combos against a dummy AI opponent. All the EX moves and super art combos from the original Third Strike return, complete with their over-the-top animations and visual effects. There's also a separate group of challenges to master, which are similar to achievements, but they award you with points that you can spend on unlocking new content.
While Third Strike's core gameplay remains largely untouched, the visuals have seen an overhaul--at least an optional one. You can stretch the original 4:3 image to 16:9 widescreen, add different smoothing filters, or turn off the modern enhancements all together and add CRT scan lines for the full pixel-filled arcade experience. This just adds to the nostalgia when playing Third Strike, and coupled with the faithfulness of the port, it makes a great trip down memory lane. While we might not be challenging Daigo anytime soon, we're eager to spend more time with the game and brush up on our skills. Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition is due for release as a download this summer on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Head over to our E3 hub for more from this year's show.