Like clockwork, Capcom has yet again re-released another one of their classic fighters with updated visuals and additional modes. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike: Online Edition, besides being a ridiculously long-winded title, is also one of the better re-released games Capcom has put out in recent memory. On top of that, I actually think it’s the closest to arcade perfect you’re going to get, and in several ways, even better than arcade perfect.
The original 3rd Strike came out for my all-time favorite console, the Sega DreamCast way back in 2000. Not the series follow-up fans were hoping for, 3rd Strike featured a much more in-depth and refined fighting system over its predecessor. While the classic Street Fighter II’ and it’s bajillion revisions focused on throwing fireballs and landing fast and heavy hits, 3rd Strike was way more technical. Super moves made a return, as well as EX-moves, super-charged special moves that deal extra damage at the expense of a slight amount of the super meter. Super combos are back as well, with each character having 3 unique supers. Parrying makes its debut in Street Fighter III, a technique where you can parry ANY attack your opponent throws at you, making chip damage a complete non-option. What this all makes for is the most definitive and technical fighting system in any of the Street Fighter games. Hell, any Capcom fighting game.
Okay, so now that you all know about SF:III, let’s see what’s new and exciting in this version of the game. As the title would suggest, the game is online. You can compete in ranked and player matches, tournaments, save, share, and watch replays, and all quite easily thanks to Capcom’s near perfected match-making system. I hopped online for a few matches last night, but since the game wasn’t released yet to the public, I could only get a few matches in. Regardless, the matches were great, and I experienced very little lag. Definitely not anything game changing, which is good because 3rd Strike relies heavily on precise timing. Other new improvements include a much needed training and practice system, much akin to Street Fighter IV. While the original title had a practice mode and parry training, this version has complete tutorials for each character, advanced parry training, as well as some downright insane combo training modes. It’s a welcome addition to the game, because if you don’t know what you’re doing in 3rd Strike, you’re just going to get your ass handed to you, even by the computer.
The last few additions are more aesthetic than anything else. A nice HD update to the graphics has been given to the game, making everything look very crisp. Also, the character portraits and artwork have all been redone (check out Alex above), which look pretty nice. In a nice touch, though, Capcom has made it so you can keep the original non-HD graphics if you prefer. I’m a fan of remakes/ports that allow for this, just in case nostalgia takes over completely. The last new piece to the game come in the form of challenges. Challenges, as the name suggests, are small goals for you to achieve throughout the game, ranging from easy goals like throwing a fireball or winning a round, to more difficult tasks like completing the game without continuing or beating Gill without him using his (cheap) resurrection super. These are very addictive and a great touch to the game. It’s somewhat exhilarating to see on the side of the screen and at the end of each match how you’ve progressed through each challenge. With around 100 of them, the challenges do a great job of extending the replay value of an already long game even further.
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike: Online Edition is a fantastic game. While I feel Street Fighter enthusiasts will get the most value out of this fantastic game, everyone that enjoys fighting games owes it to themselves to play the game at least once. In my opinion, 3rd Strike is the best fighting game to have ever been released. Now that the game is redone with improved graphics and online capabilities, this is shaping up to be the best version of the best fighting game ever.