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Jeremy Henderson
29 Mar, 2006

Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max Review

PSP Review | Maximum pain or maximum pleasure?
Capcom has brought the Street Fighter love to the PSP with Street Fighter Alpha 3, and have thrown in enough extras to warrant the addition of the word ‘Max’ to the title. If you have even a passing interest in video gaming then Street Fighter needs no introduction. Here’s a gaming franchise with a rich arcade gaming heritage, old school appeal and a hardcore fan base.

The Street Fighter series is one of Capcom's most popular franchises, with 25 million sales worldwide spread across almost every major home gaming platform over the years. And the Street Fighter love doesn’t stop with this latest release, with Capcom announcing earlier this year that Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting would make an appearance on the Xbox 360 as a download on Xbox Live Arcade.

Fire up Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max and your PSP has instant street cred, without dabbling in any of that messy and legally suspect homebrew scene. There it is, in all its original arcade glory. Much has been made of the fact that what once took up the space of a medium sized washing machine and took two people to lift can now be played on a handheld, and not in some cut-down compromised form either, but a perfect port with a heap of extras thrown in for good measure. If the wonders of miniaturisation still float your boat, or if you’ve been left disappointed by less complete attempts to port your favourite Street Fighter game to a handheld in the past, then chances are you'll be initially impressed by Capcom's efforts.

Spoiled for choice.

Spoiled for choice.
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The main menu welcomes you with a staggering 15 modes to choose from. Those new to the Street Fighter series or those just a little rusty might want to step into the Training Mode and work on their moves before jumping into Arcade Mode, where you'll ‘experience all the action and story of the arcade hit’. In truth the story’s a bit on the thin side; this is simply a game where you beat the crap out of the opposition, or at least attempt to do just that. You are given a whopping 37 characters to choose from, including all of the characters from Street Fighter Alpha, and 4 new characters, Eagle, Yun and Maki from Capcom vs. SNK 2 and Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution. There are also 2 unlockable characters as well, M. Bison and Shin Akuma. Each character has ten fights to battle through. Do the maths; you’ll be spending hours completing this mode alone.

At this point you might want to head back to the main menu. Go to Game Options and dial back the difficulty level – from 1 to 8 fiendishly difficult stars (the default is 4). Here you can also customise the number of rounds (1, 3 or 5), the game speed, and background and sound effect volumes. Still in Options Mode you’ll want to go to Button Configuration and change things more to your liking. If you are really struggling to win a single round, let alone a fight, you might want to assign a special move or combo to one of the shoulder buttons or any of the right hand face buttons. The hardcore players will cry foul, and certainly, assigning such moves to a single button, dumbs the game down dramatically, but the option is there if you need it. If you don’t know your 'Hadouken' from your 'Spinning Back Knuckle' then you might like to try assign a special move or combo to one button, at least until you literally find your feet.

Back to the Mode Menu. In World Tour, you can travel the globe and build your fighter’s power and ability. Dramatic Battle let’s you team up in a 2 on 1 battle, probably not a bad idea if you still find yourself battling with the controls and your opponents. Reverse Dramatic Battle turns the tables, putting you on the wrong end of a 2 on 1 showdown. Variable Battle is great for those with short attention spans – you can swap characters during the fight. Free Battle lets you pick your opponent, while Vs 100 Kumite lets you see how many fights out of a 100 you can survive. Final Battle as its name suggests puts you up against the bosses, while Survival Mode lets you see how many victories you can string together. Your high scores for all modes are available in Score Ranking. Edit Mode allows you to tinker with your character’s style, while Entry Mode allows you to enter an edited character into other modes. Rounding out the offerings is Network Mode. Sadly it’s ad-hoc only, and there is no game sharing so you may be hard pressed to find another Street Fighter toting PSP gamer ready to throw down.

If you can't win in 2 on 1 Dramatic Battle mode you're doing something wrong.

If you can't win in 2 on 1 Dramatic Battle mode you're doing something wrong.
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While the various modes on offer are impressive and you’d clock up many an hour before playing through all that’s to be had here, it’s the Street Fighter fighting mechanics that give this game it’s real depth. You can choose the game speed and your fighting style - the unusually named ‘ism’s X, V or A. The real enjoyment of any Street Fighter game is mastering the combos and supers, and in learning the individual strengths and weaknesses of the characters. This is no button masher. In fact even on the lower level of difficulty, button mashing will only get you through a couple of fights in Arcade Mode before you end up on the wrong end of the big K.O.

And here’s where things get difficult, both in game play and in recommending the game. If you’re one of the hard-core Street Fighter faithful, you would have been thrilled to discover one of the best received Street Fighter games ever had been faithfully ported to the PSP. But chances are you’ll be less than thrilled with the hardware the game is on. Give it an hour and your thumb will ache regardless of whether you persevere with the D pad or the analogue nub. I’ve been told that if you play through the pain, you’ll eventually come battle hardened and oblivious, but one week in, my thumb still feels like it’s been recently dislocated.

You might think the control problems may go some way to providing a bit of a leveller between the hardcore gamer and those new to the scene, but while the pain may be felt equally, and the experienced player may find some of the moves a little harder to pull off than in years gone by, the rest of us are going to be dealing with not just the pain and an awkward control system, but also a ruthless AI that takes no prisoners.

Visually, for the most part the game looks great. The front end looks a little rougher than you might expect had you never played the 8-year old original Arcade version, but those who loved the original will be glad to see an exact replica on their PSP screens. Purists may choose to play the game in its original 4 x 3 mode, with customisable borders on the left and right of the screen, or you can play it in full, widescreen mode. In-game screens are detailed and vivid. Some will swear that Street Fighter has never looked so good. The audio is ok. The music isn't something you'd necessarily want to rip to your mp3 player and listen to, but again, everything has made it across from the arcade version.

In theory, loading times, the bane of many a PSP release shouldn’t be problem here. Surely, a 2D beat-em-up should be the perfect pick-up and play portable game. Sadly, the loading times, both between rounds and between fights, are too long. From the selection of your character in Arcade Mode, through to the commencement of the fight, you are facing a 30 second wait.

Too much time spent watching loading screens and not enough time spent playing.

Too much time spent watching loading screens and not enough time spent playing.
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Then there's the question of whether a fighting game even belongs on a handheld like the PSP. Six months on from launch, I no longer handle the PSP with kid gloves or look at it in awe. Even so, in the last seven days playing Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max, the handheld has taken a greater pounding than in the previous 25 weeks put together. Is the PSP even built for this kind of punishment?

One last thing; there’s nothing new here that we haven’t all seen before. If Street Fighter was a singer and not a game franchise it would have retired to Vegas a long time ago, where it could perform the same routine seven nights a week to its loyal fans. Even if you think your hands can take the punishment, I’d still recommend you rent this one before buying. If you’re a hard-core Street Fighter fan, and can put up with the PSP’s shortcomings, then you’ll surely enjoy Street Fighter 3 Alpha Max.
The Score
A perfect port of one of the most popular in the Street Fighter series, sadly let down by the PSP hardware, slow loading times and an unforgiving AI. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max Content

E3 2005: Street Fighter Alpha announced for PSP
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Street Fighter Anniversary Collection Review
18 Nov, 2004 Capcom delivers an excellent Street Fighter compilation for the 15th year anniversary of a classic that started it all.
7 Comments
8 years ago
Ive got this game. Its the best fighting game ever.
There are new dudes in it. There are plenty of new features that make it fantasic. It is the best Streetfighter ever ever released!!!
Trust me i know because i have played almost every streetfighter game!
The loading times are NOT 30 seconds!!!
more like 4-5 secs.

I play this game everyday! And im not even a hardcore fan.
Its a game you can just pick up your PSP, and quickly have some great battles!!!
8 years ago
Glad to hear you are enjoying the game so much. I agree it's one of the best Street Fighter titles but I do think it is let down by the PSP hardware.

I also stand by those loading times. I've just fired up the PSP again and ran some more tests. From within the Mode Menu, after selecting Arcade Mode, choosing a character, and cycling through the screens as quickly as possible by pressing the Start button where neccessary, it's still clocking in at approximately 30 secs to get to the commencement of the fight. On losing a fight and choosing to continue, you still get kicked back to character select menu and again it takes between 25 - 30 seconds until the fight begins.
8 years ago
How can you suggest to map a special move or combo to one button? I mean thats just such an odd thing to say...

Anyway, I would buy this but I already have a copy that I can play with an arcade stick, and there's a compilation on the way with all 3 alpha games, alpha 2 gold, and pocket fighter. Also I don't like that I'd have to use the shoulder buttons as well as the face buttons, as it just doesn't compare to 6 face buttons at all.

Is there any way to use a different controller with the PSP? Possibly throught the USB port?
8 years ago
Hrmmm, I'm in two minds about this game. The loading problem in my mind is fine, I really don't notice it. But I was playing Megaman Marvick at the same time, that is a hell of a lot quicker to load.

For me, this is a perfect port, but the PSP's D-Pad just isn't up to the task. I struggle to do the basics like jump. I mean, you do get used to it, but it never feels tight and smooth. Your always doing something silly and it's hell fustrustraing (for a seasoned SF fan) to lose because you jumped instead of fireball'ing.

I want that Capcom D-Pad add-on!!!
8 years ago
This review is wrong, the is hardly any loading time in this game. In the arcade mode, you were shown the profile of your fighters, that's why you think it is long. Try go into other mode, you'll notice hardly any loading time.

I control is also pretty good. I have no problem pulling off any special or super moves, but some how I have a bit of difficulty jumping diagonal.... ok the control is not perfect, but this is still the best handheld fighter at this stage....

Another problem with the game is, it does not save your high score unless you leave everything at default setting:(

I'll give this game an 9 (minus 1 for diagonal control), so the final score is 8
8 years ago
I was tossing up whether or not to get the game but I think it might be best to wait for Alpha Anthology seeing as the control isn't 100% and I need control on street fighter to be spot on.
8 years ago
iorkara wrote
Ive got this game. Its the best fighting game ever.
There are new dudes in it. There are plenty of new features that make it fantasic. It is the best Streetfighter ever ever released!!!
Trust me i know because i have played almost every streetfighter game!
The loading times are NOT 30 seconds!!!
more like 4-5 secs.

I play this game everyday! And im not even a hardcore fan.
Its a game you can just pick up your PSP, and quickly have some great battles!!!
That sounds like one of those planted posts from video game companies.... I'm extra suspicous because it's a first post. Can someone verify?

I've got a few questions:
1. I heard the aspect is squished quite a lot, (like nearly all the PAL versions of SF). I assume it's either squished, or the play area is far longer (which would also affect play a fair bit). Can you verify?
2. Another thing I heard is that it's basically a port (of the fairly good) PS1 version. Good, yes, but it was missing frames of animation. Is that the case for the PSP version also?
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Capcom Entertainment
Developer:
  Capcom Entertainment
Players:
  1-2

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