Last Updated on September 22, 2023
Praises for Street Fighter games are sung from the rooftops, but none are piped as loud as they are for 3rd Strike. In the game’s heyday, I’d never even heard of Street Fighter III outside the famous Evo Moment 37 video, but after revisiting it 20 years later, it holds up far better than I ever thought possible.
I’m reviewing the Switch version as it’s part of the 30th Anniversary Collection. This emulates the arcade version, even down to a button that ‘inserts a coin.’ Because of this, there are no additional modes to try out.
The first thing that stands out is the graphics and music. The visuals are gorgeous. Coming from SFII, this is an enormous upgrade, and characters have depth while still being 2D sprites. Special moves are stylish, and each locale is full of little details.
Capcom traded in the iconic tunes of SFII for a mix of hip-hop and techno. It’s a mixed bag, and although I didn’t ‘hate’ any of it, I don’t think I’ll be humming it to myself any time soon outside of a couple of bangers.
Welcome to the freak show
My biggest issue with 3rd Strike is the roster, as many iconic characters are missing. Oro, who looks like a goblin in a bag, and Twelve, a blob of white snot, don’t compare to the star power of Dhalsim or Blanka. I really like Makoto, a short-haired warrior in a karate gi, but besides her, I couldn’t gel with the rest of the new cast.
Combat is the standard Street Fighter affair, but everything feels hyper-responsive. 3rd Strike is exemplary in this department, and the best part is the Parry System. Every attack can be ‘parried’ by pressing Forward the moment it hits. Timing is strict, but it rewards player knowledge and is so satisfying I tried to do it all the time, even if there was no benefit.
The difficulty feels firm but fair, and I happily took my losses on the chin. The big boss is a scary guy in underwear called Gill. Hardly an intimidating name, but he’s brutally difficult, and one of his supers gives him an extra life!
This may be unique to the Anniversary Collection, but I noticed Gill suddenly became much easier after he floored me a few times. After fighting all the way here, I’d like the option to turn this off. Still, this is a minor gripe and doesn’t take away from this masterclass in fighting game mechanics. 3rd Strike is the real deal and holds up amazingly two decades later.
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is a masterpiece, and I can see why it’s so beloved. There’s a deep complexity to combat, and the Parry System is rewarding and satisfying. The roster could be better, and it’s a shame Capcom didn’t lean more into their famous cast. That said, upon revisiting this classic, I’m now scouring old forums for tips to hold my own in arcades and online.
I don’t do that for many games, let alone retro ones.
Anthony is a freelance writer and has worked in the industry for three years. He’s furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony is a passionate PS1 collector and firmly believes in playing games in his collection rather than letting them collect dust on a shelf. He is also passionate about speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events.