I’ve discussed many fighting games before, but this one just might be my all time favorite fighting game. With that in mind, I’m kind of shocked I haven’t talked about this before. Street Fighter III: Third Strike is a phenomenal fighting game that absolutely holds up to this day.
My first experience with Street Fighter III came from our local bowling alley. The cabinet showed up randomly one weekend, and it was hard to miss with it’s marquee simply stating “III”. No words, no characters, just the number. If you’re that confident, the game must have been great! I wouldn’t know, because I didn’t even pick up the game until Third Strike released on the Dreamcast.
Hot damn, Third Strike had a grip on me. I’d play hours upon hours of this game at home, in hopes of gaining some skill to bring over to local tournaments. I remember getting pummeled by a high school classmate at a tournament when I barely even knew the game, and decided I had to get better. And while I did eventually get better at the game, I never got anywhere I would call truly skillful. However, Third Strike is easily the Street Fighter I like most, and that I am best at. Also, this is the game I really started to enjoy Ken more than Ryu.
In the SFIII arcade scene, my primary playground was my college campus. There was a very small arcade in our union and one of the cabinets happened to be a Third Strike machine. It was almost a ritual of mine to drop a few quarters in every week between classes on Tuesday and Thursday. I had time to kill, and skills to build.
Third Strike has a great balance than previous iterations of Street Fighter III. Also, the biggest and most impactful addition to the series was the parry system. Instead of holding back to block incoming damage, you could tap forward right when the attack would land to not only block the shot, but also gain some meter, and an opening to fire back at your opponent. It was game changing. I loved it! Nowhere near an expert at the system, I still think this is the absolute coolest feature in a fighting game, Street Fighter or otherwise.
As with many fighting games, playing on arcade sticks is the preferred way to play. However, likely due to my inclination to plat at home most of the time, I tend to enjoy a pad/controller to play. It just feels easier in my opinion. That being said, I think I can handle my sticks fairly well, and even pulled some of this skill over to the PS3 release of Street Fighter IV some years later.
*Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL 2019