Street Fighter EX isn’t spoken of in polite Street Fighter conversation, and that’s a shame.
If you haven’t been able to guess, I’m a Street Fighter fan. Somehow, ROB has only chosen one “real” Street Fighter game (Alpha 2, incidentally) over the course of the last nearly 200 FGC entries, but… maybe I shouldn’t be surprised? To an uninformed population, it appears there are only five Street Fighter games in all of existence, and it didn’t really get popular until the first sequel, anyway. Five games isn’t a whole lot (there were more Mega Man games before we even got past the NES), and, frankly, that isn’t that unusual for a popular franchise. There are only three Super Mario Bros. games, right? The rest are just spin-offs?
Of course I’m being facetious. Not only are there more than five Street Fighter games, there are roughly four Street Fighter games per Street Fighter game. Street Fighter 2 had five distinct revisions in the arcades, and that’s before you count weird hybrid home versions and dip-switch powered arcade hacks. Street Fighter 3 and Street Fighter Alpha both had three different versions (and Alpha isn’t even a number). Street Fighter 4 had a gauntlet of DLC-esque editions, and I literally lost track of ‘em sometime around the introduction of Evil Ryu and Evil Topless Ryu. And, as of this writing, Street Fighter 5 claims it won’t go the “Super Champion Turbo” route, but will continue to update with multiple “seasons” of new characters. Whatever. I don’t care what you call your spades as long as Necro eventually gets to fight Sakura.
But if you talk to your average Street Fighter buff, you’re going to be told that that collection of numbered games and their various editions are the only Street Fighter games that have ever been. Final Fight is in the same universe, but it’s an entirely different genre. The Vs. series, whether it be versus mutants, SNK, or Tekken for some reason, is a spin-off that has its own rules and beam-y fireballs. And beyond that, all you’ve got are random cameos, like Akuma guesting in Aliens vs. Predator or Chun-Li slumming it for Breath of Fire zenny.
And what of the time Street Fighter tried to go 3-D? Well… we don’t speak of such things.
First, let’s dispel some misconceptions: the Street Fighter EX series is not 3-D Street Fighter. Yes, it does feature street fighters in 3-D environments. Yes, it does forsake the gorgeous sprite-work of Street Fighter 3 for fat, blocky polygons. And, yes, every damn bit of advertising for this thing touted Street Fighter’s “inevitable” transition to the world of Virtua Fighter and Battle Arena Toshinden. That doesn’t mean this is a 3-D fighter, though! This is “3-D” in the same way that Street Fighter 4 or 5 are “3-D”: it’s just about the look, and it’s not a game where you have to worry about side-stepping fireballs and avoiding ring outs. This is almost exactly the old Street Fighter 2 gameplay of its predecessors, just clunkier for attempting to ape Tekken’s visual style. Ryu is still Ryu, even with sharper shoulders.
Second, there’s the “non-canon” thing. The Street Fighter EX series was developed by Arika, not Capcom, and is only using the Street Fighter characters and names under license by Capcom. Except, if you look into the history of Arika, you’ll find it was, at the time, a company staffed by former Capcom employees. And the founder of Arika? Akira Nishitani, who is best known for being partially responsible for creating a little game called Street Fighter 2. So, yes, technically this isn’t one by the home team, but it’s about as close to Capcom as was allowed in the Playstation 2 era. And, as far as the canon thing, Street Fighter 5 seems to be finally acknowledging the EX years, with Guile stealing Dr. Dark’s duds, and Zangief sending magical chess pieces to certain Indian wrestlers.
So, yes Virginia, this is a Street Fighter game.
And now let’s talk about what’s good about it. First of all, I am well aware that I could spend the rest of this article posting pictures of Skullomania, the sentai hero that dresses like a skeleton and may or may not have appeared in a Batman comic, and be perfectly content with the understanding that I proved my point. But, unfortunately, I went the blogger path, and didn’t start a Skullomania-based webcomic, so I think that might be the wrong route. For… uh… this article. I don’t mean to imply that this entire blog is a mistake in the face of possibly creating a Skullomania fan site. I’m… really not thinking that.
Errmm where was I?
Oh, right, yes, let’s start with the characters of Street Fighter EX. Yes, there are some duds. There are characters that can best be described as human Halloween costumes, with “karate man”, “shrine priestess”, and “guy wearing a hat”. Doctrine Dark is basically a Mortal Kombat reject, and Pullum is just a Power Stone star that may have the ability to perform magical transformation dances. These characters might seem generic and unremarkable in the face of “real” Street Fighter mainstays like Blanka or Vega (either one), but recall that Street Fighter 2 also had luminaries like “sumo wrestler”, “GI Joe”, and “Chinese girl”. It’s only through repeated sequels and auxiliary materials that most of the cast of Street Fighter 2 graduated from “almost naked Russian” to “fun-loving, muscle maniac bear wrestler”. And, heck, EX’s Sharon seems like some kind of proto-C. Viper. EX has some duds, but they probably would have risen to the occasion, given the chance.
And the good is really quite good. Garuda is an ancient suit of armor possessed by all of the swords. His fighting style is best described as… sharp. Shadowgeist is the Goldar to Skullomania’s Red Ranger, and Darun Mister is a grappler with the most amazing moustache possible. And, of course, there is Area, a blonde, pig-tailed woman with enormous cybernetic roller skates and a missile-launching hand. Say what you will about EX featuring a few “mundane” characters, but it’s also got all the weirdness that eventually granted the world robot-eyed spider-girl.
And street fighters old and new can enjoy the gameplay of EX3. As mentioned earlier, this is just a blockier version of Street Fighter 2, so feel free to jump kick, hurricane kick, dragon punch, sweep all you want. And there’s some bizarre concession to the Vs. games, too! You may now assemble a team of fighters, and, depending on the match conditions, “tag” back and forth with your reserve pugilists, or fight simultaneously in a manner that doesn’t remind me of Blazblue’s Carl Clover at all! And there’s two player simultaneous mode for the “one player” arcade mode! The line between beat ‘em up and fighting game has never been so blurred!
In short (this has in no way been short), Street Fighter EX 3 might not be the best Street Fighter game out there, but it is certainly worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with its hadouken hurling peers. Come on, the Street Fighter canon only has five or six games, let’s see if we can’t get that number up to a lucky seven.
FGC #190 Street Fighter EX3
- System: Playstation 2, and… that’s it? It didn’t even get into the arcades? Alright.
- Number of players: Four! But practically two in all modes. Team battles are always fun.
- Favorite Character: Skeleton. Sentai. How has this character not returned for every other Street Fighter game?
- An end: The credits play over an interactive “beat ‘em up” mode that sees your winning character trounce growing (literally) hordes of generic dudes. This is probably to compensate for the fact that the couple of paragraphs “endings” of SFEX3 suck goats.
- Did you know? The “EX” stands for “exquisite”. I’m not making that up.
- Would I play again: … Probably not. I like this game! It’s worthy of the Street Fighter title! It’s… also got to compete with Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for my fighting game time… and it’s not likely to win there.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… New Super Mario Bros. Wii! For the Wii! Mario, Luigi, and some practically anonymous toads set out to save a princess. Please look forward to it!