STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 3 MAX is everything one could have hoped for in a fighting game and more.

User Rating: 9.3 | Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX PSP

When I first got into Street Fighter, it was something I really didn’t expect to happen. I thought the game was fun, and when I bought Anniversary Collection, I was somewhat afraid I’d be let down by the replay value. But as soon as I played Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike… I was floored by it’s depth, beauty, and polish. It was amazing… it wasn’t just a button mash contest or a bland random sort of competition… it was a like a chess game. You couldn’t just go in and punch the crap out of something, there was something more to it. It was strategy… sometimes a kick would work where a punch didn’t, sometimes you’d have to hold your super art off and just stick with putting a few punches in… sometimes it would be better to launch the hadouken later instead of doing it now. It was something that hooked me and my friends instantly. Street Fighter was our new addiction. So when I found out that the PSP was getting it’s very own Street Fighter in the form of STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 3 MAX(SFA3M), I was very excited. I was somewhat puzzled that 3rd strike wasn’t the game they were porting, and was a bit afraid the loss of parrying would lessen the games already apparent strategy. But alas, the second I threw the game into my PSP, my fears were put to rest. Simply put:

Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max is easily the best portable fighting game ever.

It’s astoundingly well designed, very accessible, and inherently, very strategic. It’s a game which can entice those who haven’t played fighting games as much, and those who are veterans of the genre. It’s packed with value, it’s fast, and it’s fun. This is everything one could have ever hoped for in a fighting game for the PSP.

For those who don’t know, the STREET FIGHTER ALPHA series was created as a spin off, due to the well received responses for the STREET FIGHTER II Animated Movie(as opposed to the Jean-Claude Van Damme piece of **** The creators of the game enhanced the look of the sprites, and added in new aspects of gameplay, which instantly gave the game huge praise and success. SFA3M is an enhanced version of the third game in the ALPHA series, featuring a plethora of modes, new characters, and new more polish than it’s previous incarnations.

Significant to Alpha 3, is the introduction of a few new play mechanics, specifically the Ism system. After you select your character your asked to pick one of three Ism’s… A-ism gives you the standard street fighter Alpha character… normal, with a three level special bar, and normal mechanics. X-ism will give you the Street Fighter II version of your character, a stronger, harder hitting fighter, however you will be limited to one special and a one level special bar… granted your special will do loads of damage. And the last ism being V-ism. This makes your character a bit faster, and instead of having any specials, you’ll instead have a bar that goes up to a hundred percent. When you press LP and LK (or any of the opposite punch and kick buttons for that matter) together, your character will produce the normal super after image, however you will get to input the combos and do twice the damage as normal. That means if you launch a hadouken, you launch two instead. It can be extremely helpful combo wise racking you up points consistently. All 3 have there strengths and weaknesses and add quite a bit of strategy to an already amazingly put together game.

The first thing you’ll notice about the game is its picture perfect graphics. It’s breathtaking how impressive this game looks, even in 2d. The game runs at a perfect pace, and the PSP’s wide screen only helps convey this fact. The sprites are detailed well, and animate smoothly. The previous PSX version was thought to be a perfect representation of the game, but SFA3M for the PSP easily outshines its PSX counterpart, as the graphics are pixel-perfect, and dare I say, even more impressive than the arcade original.

The second thing that’ll come to you’re attention is the numerous amount of characters stepping into the arena this time around. Normal fighting games have about 18-20 characters at most… SFA3M has around 40(well, 39 to be exact… but it’s close.) It’s a huge number, and while some characters are only slightly different in appearance(Evil Ryu and Ryu), they all have different mechanics governing their style. Included in the roster, are 4 new playable characters added in by Capcom. Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution, Yun from Street Fighter III, Eagle from Street Fighter 1, and Maki from Final Fight. The great news about this is that each one of these characters are useful additions to the game, as opposed to small fan service. One thing about the Street Fighter series is that every character is good in some way at least(even Dan), and these four fit the description. If there was only one gripe with the new people in the roster, it would be their sprites. Capcom did in fact jack the sprites from Capcom Fighting Evolution and CAPCOM Vs. SNK 2 EO… but what they DID do to make sure they didn’t screw up like in CAPCOM FIGHTING EVOLUTION, is fit these sprites well enough into the mechanics of the game. While there are some differences graphically, these characters FEEL like Alpha characters, and not just characters ripped from another source put into jack up some money. Capcom put some effort into these guys.

The third thing that’ll come to your attention, is the game modes. Wow. The Main Menu is nearly bursting with modes of play. So many other fighting games copout with an Arcade mode, a Versus mode, and a Training mode, as all they have to offer. SFA3M goes the distance, adding so many modes, to make sure you’ll be satisfied no matter what, even when playing by yourself. We already have the standard Arcade, Training, and Network(vs.) Modes. But in addition we have things like

Dramatic battle and Reverse Dramatic Battle- 2 on 1 matches against either the computer or yourself. Free Battle- a simple exhibition match mode against the computer.

Variable Battle- in which you pick two characters and fight against the computer, where you have the ability to switch out between them Marvel Vs. Capcom style.

VS 100 Kumite mode- in which you verse 100 fighters and see how many you can take out.

SURVIVAL MODE- In which the computer continuously throws fights at you and you see how many you can survive before your taken down.

Final Battle- in which you fight the Final fight of that characters arcade story. While many would think this would nullify arcade mode, I personally feel Arcade has a bit more lure than this one does… however it is fun to just fight the final boss in his own either way to get the endings quicker.

But probably, the most engaging mode of all has to be World Tour mode, in which you build up a custom version of one of the fighters of the 39 character roster from scratch by fighting battles and leveling up their Isms. You create a completely powerful custom character, and through the games “Entry Mode” can enter him into the game in various different battle modes. In fact you can even use him against your opponents custom character as well, which adds a whole new face to the game.

The only down side to this is the Edit mode, which creates a custom version of a character for you… but then again, this is quite a bit more limited in terms as to what you can achieve through World Tour mode…. Which still makes World Tour mode completely worth it’s engaging play time.

It’s just amazing what Capcom has done to make sure the replay value is shot through the roof for this game. Every mode has something engaging about it, and if you ever get bored with one mode, theres another one that can fit your taste… and when you get bored with that one, you’ll probably feel like playing the mode you did before. It’s just well rounded, amazingly designed system of play. The only downside, value wise is the fact that all the characters, save for two, are unlocked the second you boot the game up in fact. It’s not that big of a problem, and in fact it is more of a plus to it… but it would have been fun trying to unlock a few more.

A big complaint about the first Capcom fighting game released for the PSP, Darkstalkers, was the control. Capcom listened to these complains, and made sure the controls were much more responsive… in fact, they even included a D-pad attachment with preorders given to their site which turns your PSP into a D-pad. I personally have yet to try out the accessory myself, but the game on it’s own controls works pretty well as is. While it is a tiny bit harder to pull off special moves, it really isn’t that big of a deal, as you get used to it by the second or third fight you play. The analog control also helps quite a bit with this, as jumping around and inputting commands works just as well as the normal D-pad on the PSP. As well, the loading times for the game have been reduced dramatically, and it takes only a few seconds to get into a fight, keeping the energy and flow the game provides consistent.

Last week I played a game called Capcom Fighting Evolution, knowing Capcom could to better with what they produced. SFA3M is a perfect example of this… but it’s not only better, it essentially is… perfect. Nearly at least. It’s something very few games achieve to really put out something. When Darkstalkers was released for the PSP, while it was well received by many, no one could deny some of the problems present within it’s design. Capcom has essentially went with SFA3M and fixed most of those flaws. While SFA3M does have a few technicalities here and there, they don’t bog down the game’s overall value, which is amazingly high. It’s literally a game which you can pick up and play at any point in time, simple yet complex, fun yet challenging. It’s worth every penny. Even if you’re not a huge fan of fighting games, you still owe it to yourself to try out this game. It’s one of the most well made games available on the PSP to date. It’s perfect for fighting fans, and will probably hook newcomers as well, SFA3M is everything you could hope for in a fighting game.

Go for Broke.