A little known fact is that Street Fighter III: Third Strike was ported to the original Xbox as part of an anniversary collection, but it perhaps reached a much wider audience when the Xbox Live Arcade port on Xbox 360 came with more bells and whistles such as the quintessential online multiplayer. At the time of writing this piece, PlayStation 4 owners have just got their hands on Street Fighter V: Champion Edition. The chances of Street Fighter V ever showing up on Xbox One never seem to get more likely, perhaps maybe on Series X, but in the meantime producer Yoshinori Ono suggests that you could easily save 300 quid for a shiny new PS4… and maybe a bit more for the Champion Edition and all the season passes.
The good news though is that, much like Ultra Street Fighter IV, you can jump into Street Fighter III: Online Edition right now thanks to backwards compatibility on Xbox One, online servers and all. There’s also the 30th Anniversary Collection if you want all three editions of III.
Of all the Street Fighter games, the third entry perhaps has the most polarising fanbase, even more so than the highly technical Street Fighter Alpha games. Despite this, it has the most dedicated niche following to give it a legendary status in the fighting game community. Third Strike probably alienated long-time fans with a drastically diverse and new cast of characters. That’s the thing with fighting games and their fans: they want more of the same and yet complain about seeing more of the same. You can’t have a Street Fighter without Ryu or Ken, but Tekken did boldly kill off Heihachi Mishima in their last game – so who knows, maybe Akuma is next… maybe.
Street Fighter III also stands out as the most technically proficient entry in the three decade old franchise, primarily because of its simple yet intricate parry system which has created many legendary moments in the tournament circuits. There’s a lot to love about the game’s presentation, as even now the fluid 2D animation impresses along with a jazzy soundtrack which encompassed everything that made video game music so cool and infectious during the ‘90s.
The Online Edition on Xbox 360 was perhaps one of the better ports of classic fighting games gamers had seen at that point, with plenty of visual filters and a highly comprehensive training mode. It was welcome to see a digital-only release feel like a full retail edition at the time, and even now it sets a good standard of how to revive a classic fighting game for the modern era. In fact, Street Fighter III: Online Edition certainly felt more complete than the original 2016 barebones console release of Street Fighter V.
In terms of timeline, people don’t realise that canonically the series has not moved past the finale of Street Fighter III: Third Strike, as Street Fighter IV and even Street Fighter V take place between the events of Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III. The classic cast and heavier gameplay style still enjoy the same popularity as always. But at some stage the world will be ready for Street Fighter to move into the future with a brand new cast of world warriors, and maybe, just maybe, Ryu and Ken can finally retire their Hadoukens.