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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Kevin Melloy and Ken Schmidt

Ups: Organized; almost required because of crummy Capcom manual; includes everything you'd ever want to know.

Downs:  If anything, it might have too much -- we already know these characters.

System Reqs:
For use with Sega Dreamcast version.

Check out the review of SFA3 for Dreamcast.


Ah, strategy guides. To gaming purists they destroy the point of ever having bought the game in the first place: to figure it out for yourself, prove what you’re made of, indeed to ascend to the level of Superspy, Ultimate Fighter, or Defender of the Crown. To less dramatic gamers they are simply a frustration saving device, keeping them out of therapy and Rogaine. Either way if one is to shell out another $13 in addition to already having purchased the game, it better be worth it. Unfortunately, due to a poorly constructed instruction manual, the Street Fighter Alpha 3 Official Fighting Guide is practically a necessity.

Let me start by saying that Street Fighter Alpha 3 is not just your average beat ‘em up. It is the culmination of every Street Fighter incarnation before it—about a decade’s worth of evolution—and the single most customizable fighting game I have ever seen. Before you ever step foot in the ring you must choose a game mode: Arcade, Vs., Training, World Tour, Team Battle, Survival Battle, Dramatic Battle, or Final Battle. Then you pick from a list of 33 characters, three fighting modes (Classic, Saikyo, or Mazi), and three fighting styles, or –ISMs (A-ISM, X-ISM, or V-ISM. If you are anything like me, you probably have no idea what the hell an –ISM is, let alone which one to pick. You might think that the instruction manual included with the game would cover all of this. Let me put it this way: it spends more time telling you how to turn your Dreamcast on than it does explaining its fighting styles. There is no explanation of the Classic, Saikyo, or Mazi fighting modes whatsoever. Perhaps to die hard Street Fighter fans, SF Alpha 3’s name recognition is all the information that they need. I, however, have been out of the Street Fighter loop for some time, and found much of the jargon to be indecipherable. And probably due to the familiarity of this title’s target audience, an Internet search will turn up cheats and hidden options, but little in the way of gameplay information.

Brady Games has alleviated this problem by constructing an informative and well-organized fighting guide. The first section is devoted to getting you into the ring. They describe in clear and concise language each game mode, fighting mode, and fighting style, as well as other recent additions to the Street Fighter library, such as Alpha Counters and Air Defenses. For me, this proved to be the most essential part of the guide, and quickly gave me all of the information I needed. All but four pages of the rest of the 143-page guide were devoted to the characters. Each character’s story, techniques, specials, combos, and super combos are packaged with beautiful illustrations as well as screen shots of every costume, and more importantly, every move. Also, scattered throughout are useful tidbits on such topics as "The Universal Charge," "Turtling," and "Boss-ISMs." The remaining pages explain the World Tour, including diagrams of how to attain the abilities you desire.

Brady Games’ has included everything one could need or want in a fighting guide. Yet, in the end, I am not as much impressed with their efforts as Capcom’s disappoints me. Sure, the guide addressed all of my gameplay issues in the first five pages, but those are five pages that should have been in the instruction manual. The dissection of the World Tour is helpful, but far from necessary. And as far as story goes, let’s be honest—M. Bison is a dirty, rotten, cheating scoundrel who is in need of a good ass-whoopin’ and the rest of the characters are just the ones to do it. ‘Nuff said.

--Jeremy Kauffman