Don't let the "3" in this game's title fool you; there were plenty more than just two Street Fighter games before this one. Closer to two dozen, in fact. However, that just makes it more impressive that this is one of the best, a game that squashes almost all of the Street Fighters that came before it into one excellent game that still holds up remarkably well today. In fact, the slightly renamed PSPgame Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max even tosses in a few new neat additions.
Like what? Like new characters: Maki, Yun, and Eagle from Capcom Vs. SNK 2, and Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution. (However, that last one may be considered a new character to many since not too many gamers played Capcom Fighting Evolution...) Okay, so they’re not entirely new characters, butthat's four more characters than the original SFA3 had. Another mostly new feature is Variable Battle Mode, ortag team to the rest of us. During combat, you can switch between characters at any time. This mode should be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s played one of Capcom’s Versus games, like Marvel Vs. Capcom, but it's new to the Street Fighter universe.
We do have one concern: the controls. The PSP’s d-pad is simply not made with 2D fighting games in mind. It's pretty much the same problem that Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower had. It’s not unplayable (far from it) but we didn’t have the precise control we craved. We even tried using the analog stick, but that wasn’t any better. In fact, in Japan, Street Fighter developer/publisher Capcom has created a limited edition cover that slips over the PSP d-pad and tries to salvage the gameplay. Hopefully, it will show up over here as well. Ultimately though, it isn't a deal-breaker. Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max is still shaping up to be the most classic, elegant, versatile way to punch 2D foes in the pie-hole on the PSP, and that counts for a lot.