Street Fighter is perhaps one of the most vaunted game series of our time. It's also probably the most remade (perhaps revised is more appropriate) games of all time. There are at least nine different versions of Street Fighter II (that I can think of). But what of Street Fighter III? I know that when most people go to play Street Fighter, they either go to one of the numerous versions of II or IV. Did something go wrong with Street Fighter III?
Street Fighter III may be oft forgotten except in tournament play because it's an incredibly deep game. There were several changes to the gameplay that only expert players can perform. Most notable is the parry system, which is perhaps the reason the game is so beloved by myself and tournament players. The parry system blocks an attack with no resulting chip damage. However, performing parries requires incredible precision; the default parry time is 4/30ths of a second. Super and Super Art inputs are also far more accurate; you're not going to get away with sloppy inputs here as you can in II or IV.
Third Strike is the third version of Street Fighter III; the other two revisions, New Generation and 2nd Impact are collected in the earlier Street Fighter III: Double Impact (Street Fighter III: W Impact in Japan) in an earlier Dreamcast release. Third Strike brings five new characters to the mix, in addition to those added in Double Impact. The character roster may be one reason why Street Fighter III is often overlooked. The only remaining characters from Street Fighter II are Ken, Ryu and Chun-Li. While original characters aren't present, many of the fighters here do mimic earlier Street Fighter challengers. The bizarreness of the characters here is probably one of the reasons this game is typically overlooked.
Street Fighter III: Third Strike is really the complete package, as far as fighting games go. The game features an extensive customization menu which allows you to completely change the way the game plays. It's really too much to go into casually in a review. You can modify commands to be similar to the earlier revisions (2nd Strike, particularly), and if you're more of a casual fighting gamer, you can ease the parry timing to explore the more complex systems of the game without hours of practice. The main difference here from Double Impact is that Gill, the game's boss, is not initially selectable as a player character. He has to be unlocked after certain circumstances.
How does it stack up to the arcade version? It's a perfect port.
Completely irrelevant and indecipherable. Tournament, bad guys, fight. That's all you need in a game such as this one.
In a word, smooth. Easy to learn, yet difficult to master. My primary complaint stems from the Dreamcast's analog stick. Due to the stick being convex, your finger will often slip, and commands are very hard to input. I would highly recommend using the d-pad, or investing in an arcade stick. If you've played Street Fighter, you're going to be right at home.
Street Fighter III is likely one of the most beautiful sprite based games you're going to play. The animations here are incredibly fluent and I do not hesitate to say, smoother than Street Fighter IV. The smoothness of the animation really becomes an aspect of the gameplay, when you get skilled enough to take advantage of the parry system. Street Fighter III supports the VGA box, which makes the graphics stand out even more.
This game has some truly excellent music, depending on your tastes of course. You'll no longer hear the same song in every round of a match as you did in prior games. Each round has its own unique remix of the stage song. Punches sound appropriately fierce as they should.
So why was Street Fighter III largely forgotten? It's perhaps a combination of being on the Dreamcast during its initial release, its varied roster and its tendency to sway towards the more hardcore of the fighting crowd. Does this make it a bad game? Absolutely not, it's likely the best in the series. Hardcore and casual fighting fans alike should pick this up. I'm deducting a half a point merely for its hardcore nature, and its roster of characters, of which not all are necessarily competitive (or useful) characters.