In the 1950's Orson Welles released a movie that would change his life. Citizen Kane, which many critics believe is the best American film ever made, may have been too good for it's own good. Orson Welles could never top it, out run it, or outdo it, and Citizen Kane would haunt him to his dying day.
Capcom's Street Fighter II may have raised the bar too high and unknowingly doomed the future of any Street Fighter sequel. Capcom didn't help themselves any when they waiting five years (and four upgrades) before giving us a sequel, either.
So when Capcom finally released that true sequel it goes without saying that it was poorly received. But, was it for good reason? Was the game as poor as it's reception? Was it a huge step back?
Actually, Street Fighter III is a fantastic sequel ... however the game simply doesn't capture that pure innocent enjoyment that Street Fighter II did. It's filled with a ton of new characters, but none of them are nearly as interesting as they should be. In fact, a lot of them seem like they are based on Street Fighter II character, but programmed to play differently. There's a boxer, a muscle bound man, and even a guy that stretches his arms and legs across the screen ... if these characters sound familiar, though should, you've seen them before.
Each of the new characters is unique, regardless of their ties to the old. The new theme seems to be a bit more super natural this time out, though. There are several characters that are hard to distinguish between whether they are human or animal. It's as if Blanka and Dhalsim were the spiritual successors for Street Fighter III ... and I really have mixed emotions about that.
Graphic wise Street Fighter III is one hell of a good looking game. The characters are big and sharp looking, animated better than I've ever seen before. Simple punches and kicks used sometimes three times more animation then found in previous Capcom fighting games. Sometimes, though, the animation gets in the way of judging your attacks, and how to counter attack. But everything down to the character select is top notch.
The controls also don't seem as exact as they once were. While I'm not asking for Alpha game play or anything, Street Fighter III just feels slow and not as the sequel to one of the best controlling games of all time should. And even though it's a mostly new cast, they just aren't as interesting as Guile, Blanka, and Vega. These new characters are filled with great animation and tons of personality, but are not interesting enough to hold my interest.
Unlike the other Street Fighter games, this third installment makes you pick which power move you are going to use ... it's nice because it tells you how to do the move, but honestly I prefer being able to use several throughout the game. The amount of GOOD playing characters is also in short supply, reducing the replay considerably.
With all these good Dreamcast fighters, both 2D and 3D, Street Fighter III is a hard game to recommend. It's not the worst fighter, but if you've been waiting for years for a sequel, well, you better buy Capcom vs. SNK 2 instead.