SONY PSP REVIEW: STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 3 MAX

A great fighting game that gets a direct kick in the nuts due to the analog stick but Capcom has a solution that's so crazy....it just might work! by StewXX

February 16, 2006 - Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX for the PSP gives you a virtually perfect port of the arcade, 2D fighting classic in the palm of your hands. It's everything you could want and more - but because it's on a handheld system the controls are slightly harder to manipulate. To play this game as it was originally intended you would have to walk around with your PSP and carry a big (analog) stick - that little nub just doesn't cut it.

Alpha 3 is predictable in a good way. It delivers the action exactly as you remember it - and then some. Fighters from the original Street Fighter series are included as well as those from Alpha. With the addition of a handful of new characters there are more than 40 in all to contend with. Each of them possesses unique moves and special attacks which add lots of variety to the gameplay. There are a ton of modes and you can even duke it out with friends over the ad-hock wireless system. You really get a lot for your money with this game. If you can handle the slightly awkward controls you can look forward to months of blissful combat.

New fighters include Eagle, Ingrid, Yun and Maki. The fighters range from Kingpin-sized behemoths to lithe and busty females. Each is deadly in their own right, depending on how you choose to exploit their powers. There are three fighting styles that you can choose from for each fighter. X-ism is the most basic and original of the fighting styles. A-ism allows you to build up energy and release it for more powerful attacks. V-ism facilitates custom combo linking which really heats up the onscreen action. Separating these styles into different categories helps to simplify things and doesn't overload the limited amount of buttons on the PSP.

A guard meter has been added to force conservative players into mixing it up. You can't just stand around and block, hoping to get in a few shots here and there. The guard meter only allows so many defensive moves before you become totally vulnerable. This is a good addition in that it will maintain a higher level of action whether you want it or not. The only way you're going to become a better fighter is to fight.

Punches, kicks, throws and grapples are the standard moves. They can be easily assigned to one button but other moves such as special attacks, recovery moves, combos, blocks and counters can't all be facilitated by one face button. Therefore you will have to access two and three button combos to make some of the more complex moves. You can't simply ignore some of these button combos. The recovery moves can really save your life. If you're on the receiving end of a bad beating, you can access a recovery move to free yourself from the string of combos that threaten to end your life. You're forced to learn all of the button combos and it's not as easy task especially if you're used to the arcade control system. You can map the controls out to different buttons including the shoulder buttons. It gives you more control to put things where you would be more comfortable with them. You can even have some of the buttons function as rapid-fire controls to keep your punches flowing in an effort to chain more combos.

The developers (Capcom) have issued a D pad adapter that makes the "nub" taller and therefore easier to manipulate. It works decently and definitely gives you a little more precision which is an advantage that you'll want to have when going up against a more skilled opponent. You'll have to check the Capcom website for this device. As I understand it's available for free but quantities are limited. Make a note that this device will permanently adhere to your system and may void your warranty since it's not an official Sony product. You might also find that it makes the system more bulky and it may not fit into protective cases.

There are no shortages of modes to get your kicks out of. From the beginner to the most hardcore of combatants there is something for everyone in this game. Beginners will get the most out of it because they can work their way up through the ranks by using the training mode and then taking on more difficult fighters, one at a time, in the World Tour Mode. Your fighter will level-up and gain more powers and skills as he or she successfully waylays the various opponents. Other modes include Arcade, Verses, Survival, Team Battle, Final Battle, Dramatic and Reverse Dramatic Battle and of course Multi-player mode. The Dramatic Battle allows you to team up with another character to take on one super-powered fighter. It's like a tag team mode except there is no other team for the opponent. In Dramatic Reversal you will take on two fighters. In this case you're the one without a team. All of these modes are designed to give you as many fighting variations as possible. Needless to say you had better enjoy fighting.

You can play the play the versus mode, variable mode, team battle, and dramatic battle modes using the wireless multi-player system. The wide screen was made for this game as it's very easy to keep both players within the perimeter of the screen whether they're grappling or keeping their distance. Add some more wireless players to the mix and you can create a tournament.

I can't think of anything that wasn't included in the original game. The locations, the characters, the music and even the sound effects are all dead on - even that loud and overly enthusiastic announcer is back. The game looks great, even for a 2D fighting game. The backgrounds are static but like the characters they are colorful, well detailed and have a lot of depth to them. It's almost hard to believe they are 2D. The motion of the fighters is fast and furious, not to mention smooth and responsive - once you get used to the controls. In the highest Turbo setting, the animations are so fast it's almost impossible to keep up with them. At this level it seem nothing more than a button mashing festival where luck plays a huge role in deciding matches between evenly-matched opponents.

It's hard to believe that so much has been packing into such a small package. What once required a separate computer, monitor and cabinet the size of a refrigerator can now be played on a system the size of the pocketbook.



Features:

  • More than 25 million units of Street Fighter sold across the globe
  • 33 cool Street Fighter characters, plus 4 new to the series
  • Head-to-head battles wirelessly - true widescreen display
  • Large variety of modes
  • Perfect game for players of all skill levels

By StewXX
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX (PSP)
4.8
Graphics
Great looking game. It's an exact port of the original Alpha 3 arcade game but with even more features.
3.0
Control
It's hard to get big fingers around these tiny controls. Having to make three-button combos can be a real pain. The control system is the game's Achilles' heel.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
All the sights and sounds from the original arcade game are packed in here. It's loud, brash and exciting.
4.6
Play Value
If you like fighting, this game is going to take over your life for weeks or months to come. Buy it and get a life.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Capcom
Pub: Capcom
Release: Feb 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by StewXX

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best