One, Two... derh, what comes next? Alpha?
Remember that little old game Street Fighter 2? Looking back, the early 90's were the final glory days of the arcade. Look at arcades nowadays, and you'll find nothing but ticket redemption machines. Might be fun if you're 10 years old or just like tossing your money away to get cheaply made stuffed animals.
Back then, fans of Street Fighter looked forward to a true sequel. But Capcom didn't know how to count to three, so they followed up with the Alpha series, then the EX games, and so on. People still played and the loyal continued to fight, but it never quite felt the same. By the time Capcom finally did learn to count to three, nobody cared.
It's all a little sad, because SF3 is a decent game. Not truly original, but it has a revamped feel that takes the best of the Alpha series and Capcom's other fighters, slows the whole thing down and mixes in some new techniques. Street Fighter 3: Double Impact is a faithful translation of the arcade game.
Street Fighter 3: Double Impact comes with two iterations: Street Fighter 3 and Street Fighter 3: Second Impact.
Tossing in two iterations is either a nice gesture to purists who want it all or a gimmicky selling point before they release the upcoming third iteration, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike. Honestly, it seems a little of both. I found myself playing the second iteration much more than the first. While they are pretty similar, Second Impact has two more characters and feels slightly more refined. When they release Third Strike, I'd play that one over these two.
The actual story isn't written or described anywhere - so as far as I figure, there's this guy named Gill who has proclaimed himself to be a god. Frankly, this guy is nuts. One half of his body is red, the other blue. Was he born that way? Did he paint himself? What does he smoke? Regardless, he's not a friendly character, so fighters from all around the world have decided to kick his ass.
What techniques separate this game from its predecessors? Many things are carried over, like the fight and stun meter. Now, before each match, you select from one of three 'super arts' moves. A typical move is usually executed with a roll of the joystick followed by a button. Super arts moves are usually made up of two joystick rolls, and first require the meter to be built past a specific level.
Parrying is another new addition. Accurately timed taps towards your opponent will allow you to brush off attacks and grant you an opening for offense.
The pace of the whole game is markedly slower. Coupled with the new techniques, it all translates into a genuine Street Fighter based on actual fighting game skills as opposed to that blind button mashing from all those 'Ex Super Turbo' games on speed.
The Alpha series featured flat colors and a cel-based look. The character designs were stylistically similar to anime. Here, the designs have been revamped to a rich, painted style. It's an East meets West amalgamation of American and Japanese comics. The characters have weight and personality just based on their designs.
I don't remember the characters ever taking up half the screen height or the animation being so silky smooth. You watch these fighters go at it, and it just flows. The backgrounds, though, arem't half as impressive as the characters. Nothing terrible, but nothing that hasn't been seen before.
I've always felt that after the very first Street Fighter 2, music in the SF fighting games have become nothing more than background filler. It's just something to fight against. The music in this one fares no differently. The tunes are put together well, but it doesn't represent anything new or special.
The game just doesn't work on the normal Dreamcast controller. On a hefty arcade stick, things are right on the money. But when you have a 6-button fighter on the Dreamcast 4 trigger/2 analog controller, you end up with unsavory learning curve that never feels right. Analog buttons just don't work.
If you're in the market for a fighting game, my advice is to pick Marvel vs. Capcom 2 over Double Impact. First of all, M vs.C is a solid game that does a great job with the older Alpha stylings. With the upcoming release of SF3-Third Strike, Double Impact is just a bit out of place.
Still, Street Fighter 3: Double Impact is more than decent. It doesn't have that rehashed quality that really started to make the whole Street Fighter line a boring, redundant mess. The game feels like a return to what made Street Fighter 2 such a blast back in the day. Of course, this is still the same basic game you've been playing for nearly a decade now.