Review: The portable equivalent of a medium hurricane kick to the chest.
Capcom knows how to milk a licence. The company has gotten by literally on a handful of series, and if you don't believe me, just stop and think for a minute. This is the same group that made more than ten Resident Evils, five Onimushas, five Breath of Fires, at least 17 console versions of Mega Man [Ed. note: Depending upon how you do the count, there are between 40-60 Mega Man titles
] and that's still not even touching on all the Viewtiful Joes and Devil May Crys. It's not to say Capcom makes bad games- on the contrary- Capcom knows how to make a good game, and continually improve on it. It's no surprise that they after so many iterations of the same franchise, they can always pull some new amazing thing out of their sleeve that will leave gamers coming back for more. Case in point- Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max. The game is essentially based off the old arcade/PlayStation/Sega Saturn fighter, but while the games are almost completely identical, Max offers up some nice extras to keep the fans coming back for more.
The biggest issue with Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max is it's controller. The controls to the game are fairly responsive. Unfortunately, like in the PSP Darkstalkers, the D-Pad makes things a little tricky. While it appears that Capcom has given us a little more grace on the timing of the moves allowing players to set how short or long the input is from the options menu, you'll still find yourself missing more specials than you'd like to, and in a fighting game of this caliber, that's never good. I personally found Ryu and Ken's dragon punch near impossible to pull off on the game with the long input turned on. Still, the controls are a step up from previous PSP fighters.
The game itself features four new characters- Eagle, Ingrid, Maki, and Yun, and a handful of new modes. If you've never played Street Fighter Alpha 3 before, you'll be astounded when you power up the game and see a main menu featuring roughly 11 game modes, most with their own sub modes. Besides your usual Arcade mode, other modes of interest are the 100 Kumite battle, in which a player has to fight 100 rounds, win or lose, to get a final tally of how well they did; Dramatic Battle, where players can choose two characters for their team, and one opponent and have a two-on-one battle; Reverse Dramatic Battle where the computer has a two on one fight against the player; and World Mode in which players select one character to level up throughout a series of special fights in order to gain special abilities that can be used in the other modes of the game. New to the game is the Variable Battle Mode where players can select two characters to switch between during battle, much like in Marvel vs Capcom and Capcom vs SNK. Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max also features a handful of ad hoc multiplayer modes, which give players some good lag free battles against each other.
As far as visuals go, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max delivers up a perfect rendition of the original on the PSP's sleek wide screen. Players can choose between cropped and stretched screen modes, much as they could in Darkstalkers. The framerate is constant throughout the game with no slowdown to be found anywhere, which is surprising when three characters are on screen all at the same time during the Dramatic Battles. Even though the graphics are a little old, everything looks positively crisp and clean on the PSP.
On the audio side of things, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max features the usual caliber of music and sound effects. The music is forgettable, but that could be said for 99% of all fighting games out on the market today. Overall the PSP's speakers will be emitting clear crisp sound that won't drive people to turning the audio down.