STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 3 / Capcom / Arcade

Capcom trots the Alpha series out for one final performance; and if you didn't like the games up to this point, nothing here is going to change your mind, as it's just more of the same hyper fighting featuring humongous flashy combos and counter combos that are easy to pull off and do huge quantities of damage. Not to mention broken, unbalanced gameplay that favors a small handful of characters. Boy, it sure looks pretty though.

The Alpha 2 roster returns, accompanied by a few new characters. There's Karin, a little snobby rich girl, and R. Mika, an ample-busted pro wrestler. Cody from Final Fight also joins the cast this time out, apparently having busted himself out of prison (and lugging around a huge iron ball). Blanka, Vega and E.Honda also make returns to the roster for the first time in a while. Gameplay is essentially the same, except you now get a choice of -isms, which are fighting "grooves" that dictate how you use your super moves and combos. "A-ism" makes the combos work as they did in the first two games, while "X-ism" increases your regular attack power but takes away your air block ability and limits you to one Super Combo, and "V-ism" just seems to be some ridiculously cheap mode where you do insane multi-hit supers that take off 1/2 to 3/4 of the enemy life bar in one go.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 shares a problem with many of SNK's fighting games - the computer AI is so insanely difficult that it's impossible to learn the game unless you have another newb present to go multiplayer with. It's really very cheap, seemingly programmed to read your button inputs and instantaneously respond, something a human player could never do. It also, of course, performs special and super moves flawlessly at will. By far the biggest problem along these lines is the "Alpha Counters"; the computer pulls them off in a way that no human could ever replicate. You'll get very tired of seeing the screen freeze with your fist or foot connected to the enemy's head, only to (completely out of nowhere) have them magically reverse what should have already registered as a hit into some 8-hit reversal that knocks out most of your life bar

If you like a flashy spectacle, this is a fine one, but if you want a fun and balanced fighter with depth (and a realistic learning curve) I strongly suggest you look elsewhere.

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* Gameplay Video