Before I get into the review proper, I'd like to point out that in this review I'll be referring to the game as 'Double Impact'. W Impact is some form of abbreviation of the title, that doesn't make any sense to me, and sounds goofy, so I'd rather just use it's full, better sounding, title.
As I may have mentioned in some of my other Dreamcast game reviews, I actually went into the console essentially blind on what games were available on it, and on Christmas day I only had a demo disc and a couple of other games to play. On Boxing Day, myself and a few friends took a trip into the city, and this caught my eye, Streetfighter Three? what?, I had to purchase it, after years of being an N64 and PC gamer, I had to become reacquainted with the fighting game genre, and I figured what better way to do it than with the series that defined the genre?
Now, first thing is first, the packaging is a little misleading.It claims that it contains 2 games on the disc, but this is only partially true. It contains 2 versions of Streetfighter 3. The original incarnation of the game, New Generation and the first improved version,Second Impact. If you haven't quite got what Im talking about, imagine with Streetfighter 2 for the Super Nintendo, they had brought out one cartridge which contained both Streetfighter 2:The World Warrior and Streetfighter 2: Turbo.
The differences between the two games are that the intro is different, SI contains more characters, and both games have different backgrounds for the characters. There are probably some minor gameplay tweaks as well, but unless you are a serious tournament level Streetfighter player, chances are you won't notice.
Streetfighter 3, in any version, is a 2D 1-on-1 fighting game where your goal is to win 2 out of 3 rounds of combat by using a variety of attack types to deplete the energy bar of your foe to empty before they do the same to you. The second Streetfighter game was, and still is, seen by many as the absolute pinnacle of this genre, and Capcom, the game's creators, managed to dodge making a direct sequel for years, keeping fans at bay with the prequel Alpha games,improved versions of SF2 and the Marvel Comics crossover games. However, in the late 90s, they finally decided to give fans what they wanted, which was SF3, and it recieved it's first improvement not too long afterwards. Shortly after this, Sega's Dreamcast recieved a port, and to this day it is the only console you can play these two versions of Streetfighter 3 on.
The gameplay of Streetfighter 3 reverts to a system that has far more in common with SF2 than any of Capcom's other 2D fighters from around the time, in that it doesn't feature aerial combos,beam supers or 200 hit combos, it instead takes the basics of the Streetfigher game, distills them and adds a few nice touches to make for one of the best fighters of it's time. In SF3, you only have one Super Move at your disposal, and you have to choose it from the character select screen. For example, if you play as Ken, you can only have the Shinryuken or the Shoryureppa super move, not both.
The most significant addition to gameplay is definitely the Parry. Performed by tapping forward the second before an opponent's attack makes contact with you, the Parry creates an opening for an attack of your own. The fact you have to tap towards the enemy requires the player attempting to have a skill with the move, or at least be brave, instead of just sitting blocking.
The basic gameplay of Streetfighter has always been it's strength, and it's good to know that with SF3 Capcom didn't drop the ball. The game captures the same raw enjoyment of SF2, and while it wasn't the huge smash in terms of sales that the second game was, I remember upon buying it, the 2-Player mode ate up days of my group of friend's lives as we street-fought our thumbs to oblivion, and the game enjoys a decent following on the internet, and in fighting game circles.
In Streetfighter 3, unlike the VS. Series spin-offs, going up and mashing buttons will get you absolutely nowhere, which adds to the game's appeal, that true skill in it will always triumph over blind mashing.
The one thing that disappoints a lot of people is the lack of single player options in the game. Aside from the arcade mode, the game only features the bare bones essentials like Training and Survival. However, this never really bothered me, due to the fact I spend most of my single player time in arcade mode anyway. Im glad it does include a nice Parry training mode, to help grow accustomed to this new feature.
Another thing that disappointed a lot of fans was the cast. New Generation only has 2 characters regarded as 'classic' by SF fans, the Shotokan's Ryu and Ken naturally. While Second Impact adds characters, the only one fans will be familiar with is the hidden character of Akuma, another Shotokan style fighter. However, saying they are the only classic fighters is slightly misleading, given that Second Impact's Hugo appeared in Capcom's legendary Beat 'em Up Final Fight under the name Andore.
With that said, a lot of the character's play-styles resemble that of classic fighters. Alex and Hugo have 360 motion special moves ala Zangief and Necro has stretchy limbs and a tapped electric attack like a combination of Dhalsim and Blanka. In total, there 10,pseudo 11, which I'll get back to in a minute, and 13 fighters available from the start of Second Impact, with Akuma and the game's boss,Gill, being hidden fighters.
The reason I said pseudo 11 playable fighters for New Generation is that Yun and Yang share one slot on the select screen, and can only be chosen between depending on if you use a punch or kick button to select the fighter.
Personally, it had been that long since I had played a Streetfighter game, that I really wasn't bothered too much by the change in cast, and personally I took to my old favourite Ken like I had never been away, and even got quite good with Ninja girl Ibuki. The new characters are fairly mixed, Ibuki,Alex and Dudley are awesome, but personally I could have lived without Necro,Urien or Oro.
Graphically, the game is leagues ahead of Capcom's other 2D fighters, even on the Dreamcast. The character sprites are larger,more realistic,more detailed and better animated than their counterparts in any other title. The backgrounds, in New Generation are actually pretty cool and well detailed, with a nice selection of streets(it is STREETfighter),train's, dojo's and odd shrine's in the middle of the mediteranean sea making up the venues for the fights. As I mentioned, the stages for most fighter's changed for Second Impact, and new stages, including an awesome Munich Beer festival for Hugo were added. Graphically, SF3 cannot be faulted, unless you are some sort of anti-2D gamer, in which case you wouldn't give a game like this a chance anyway.
The music in the game is...pretty poor actually. I've been unhappy at Capcom for taking away 'Theme' music for it's fighters, and replacing it with generic techno/urban garbage. I really would be surprised if anyone could remember any of the tunes from this game after playing it, that's if, unlike myself, you resisted the mute button and the CD player option. This is a shame because the sound effects, the hits connecting and the battle cries and so on, sound really good.
Controls. Ah, where the Capcom fighters on the Dreamcast come in for problems with some people. As you would expect, both games control the same, the same as every streetfighter post 2. 3 punches,light,medium and heavy and three kicks of the same divisions. The DC pad has 4 face buttons, so the shoulder triggers require use here, which can be frustrating, especially if you leave the default controls and the the heavy buttons are on them, and you plan on performing special moves with heavy attacks, but the real pitfall comes in the form of the fact you have to use the Dreamcast D-Pad, which I can assure you no-one should ever be forced to do. Your left-thumb will hate you if you try to play this game on a Sega Dreamcast pad. Personally I have the lovely arcade stick, which means I can play it as it should be played, but if you don't have a good arcade stick, or third party controller, expect sore hands.
On the whole, Im really glad I chose to buy this game all those years ago, it re-ignited my interest in fighting games, and made for many an enjoyable multi-player night's gaming. To be honest, after the initial try to see the differences, I have to say that I never really spent much time with New Generation, because to be honest, I never really saw the point when I could play Second Impact, which had more fighters. While those who maybe grew accustommed to the game on a New Generation Arcade machine may argue, I didn't really see the point in putting it on the disc. While it's not a bad thing, and I suppose it is a nice thing for Capcom to do, I just don't imagine many people will spend much time in New Generation.
I personally really did enjoy Streetfighter 3:Double Impact, and I feel that it deserves the 4 Stars Im giving it. The only cons of are really the fact that it only has 3 Streetfighter legends in it, and because there is also a release of the final version of Streetfigher 3, Third Strike, available on the Dreamcast, which fans would probably be better off with, given that it features the return of fans favourite Chun Li, as well as a few new characters.
Streetfighter 3 is a hard one to call in terms of who to recommend it to. Most devout SF fans probably already own it, and I don't think it will appeal to those who only enjoy, or have become more accustomed to the madness of the Vs. Series games from Capcom, due to it's slower and more tactical based nature. I'll play it safe and just recommend it to those who love fighting games, and aren't put off by 2D graphics. While I would recommend trying to find Third Strike first, if you can't, Double Impact is by no means a sloppy second choice.
Review also posted at Epinions.com