reviews\ Feb 16, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max - PSP - Review

One of my fondest moments as a young gamer was investing dozens of quarters into the Street Fighter II arcade machine almost every day at the local bowling alley.  When Street Fighter II was released on the SNES, my life was complete.  Since then, there have been numerous revisions to the Street Fighter franchise, some of which have been lacking in quality.  I can easily say that Alpha 3 Max delivers the most solid fighter experience I have ever played on a handheld system.

Alpha 3 Max carries a laundry list of 40 playable characters, including all the old favorites like Ryu, Ken, and Chun Li, an assortment of characters from later titles, and 4 new brawlers featuring unique attacks and combos.  The developers have done a great job in selecting a wide assortment of characters from the many SF revisions.  The PSP, however, may not have been built with the fighting genre in mind.  Movement can be directed with the analog stick, but I found the classic SNES approach of using the D-Pad worked better in my hands.  Still, there were a couple times I botched a combo because my fingers couldn't come to grasp with handling the PSP for fighting.

Almost as impressive as the cast of characters, the number of different game modes is quite surprising for a handheld system.  Arcade Mode pits you against 10 computer-controlled opponents to reach the story ending.  Training Mode lets you practice your moves with all the characters against a dummy opponent you can adjust in skill level.  Edit Mode allows you to customize the characters to your liking, assigning points to various attributes.  Variable Battle is a tag-team fighting mode against one computer opponent.  Dramatic Battle Mode teams you up with a computer partner to fight another computer opponent 2-on-1 (there is also a Reverse Dramatic Battle can probably use common sense to figure that out).  Survival mode gives you a limited amount of life as you fight a list of opponents. 

World Tour, a special mode allowing you to train a particular character while traveling around the world fighting in different arenas, is my particular favorite.  The number of arenas offered in World Tour mode is quite impressive and the level up process will dramatically alter your player's stats.  You can also customize attack modes, called ism select.  X-ism is a simple fighting style that works for beginners, A-ism is the standard fighting style seen in arcades, and V-ism is based on customized combos.

The PSP version also has four modes that utilize the networking capabilities of the handheld, although its all Ad-Hoc (no online infrastructure): Versus Mode, where you go head-to-head with another player, Team Mode, similar to Versus Mode with three characters facing another three characters, Variable Battle with two human players against one computer opponent, and Dramatic Battle where three human players throw down.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find another PSP with this game to judge the multiplayer component.

The size of the PlayStation Portable's screen allowed the graphics team to really make this game look good.  The backgrounds are vibrant and the character animation has improved since the original.  The sound is also put together well with authentic sound effects, music, and voice work.

Capcom's attempt to bring a fighting game to handheld systems was a success in nearly every aspect of the title.  Despite a questionable control system, Street Fighter: Alpha 3 Max has proven that the fighting genre still has some kick left in it, even in the portable world.

Review Scoring Details for Alpha 3 Max

Gameplay: 8.4
Alpha 3 Max offers a wealth of character and game type options, compensating for a sometime rigid control structure.

Graphics: 8.6
Alpha 3 Max displays improved graphics from it's predecessors (much because of the PSP's screen).

Sound: 8.0
Everything you'd expect to hear from a Street Fighter game....

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 8.5
Bringing a fighting game to the PSP comes with risk, but this game works.

Overall: 8.5
Despite a questionable control system, Street Fighter: Alpha 3 Max has proven that the fighting genre still has some kick left in it, even in the portable world.



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