Welcome to the first retro game review of 2013! Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to get back to work. I’m excited about this year-opening review because I get to welcome a new game console to the retro gaming community. If you didn’t see the news, Sony ended production of the PS2 last month. The 13 year old lifespan of this console has finally come to an end but its retro life is just beginning.
The first generation PS2 in all of its brick like glory.
The Playstation 2 is currently the top selling game console of all time with just under 154 million units sold. The next closest in sales, excluding handheld systems, is the PS2’s predecessor, the Playstation. The PS1 has sold just over 102 million units. To give a little perspective on just how popular these two systems are, you could fit the entire number of NES consoles sold into the sales gap between the PS1 and PS2.
Now that this 13 year old console is in its golden years, it brings along a huge game catalog ripe for the reviewing. Since the PS2 had games released for it just last year, I’m going to focus on the early games released for the system, the launch titles, and what better launch title to start with than Street Fighter EX 3.
Street Fighter EX 3 was released back in March of 2000, the same time the PS2 launched in Japan. It came to the States with the PS2 in October of the same year. It was developed by Arika and published by Capcom. The developer Arika was formed by former Capcom employees in 1995 and is actually headed by Akira Nishitani, one of the creators of the legendary Street Fighter II. Together, Arika and Capcom released installments of the EX series from 1996 to 2000.
Arika may be behind an entire Street Fighter series but they’re also big in puzzle games like Tetris and Bust-a-Move.
The EX series of Street Fighter is an off-shoot from the main Street Fighter series. Traditional Street Fighter games from the mid to late 90’s, and even into the early 2000’s, were mostly 2-D animated fighting games. However, the EX series modeled itself after the 3-D stylings of Tekken and Virtua Fighter and even incorporated their arena combat style of game play. Sure, the traditional Street Fighter moves were left intact in EX3 but new game modes and combos were introduced that made it unique from the standard Street Fighter games that came before it.
Well, if you’ve ever played a Street Fighter game before then it wouldn’t take you long to find your bearings in this game. However, all of the new combos and game modes would take some getting used to. This game is setup like Marvel vs. Capcom or SNK vs. Capcom where you can assemble a team of fighters and tag in and tag out each one as you see fit during a fight. When you start the original arcade mode, you’re fighting alone but as you defeat people you’re given the chance to add those defeated fighters to your team.
How I feel every time the game asks me if I want the person I just beat to join my team.
As for the combo aspects of the game, there’s a lot to get used to. This game offers players lots of flexibility since you can use your teammates to help out during matches. Performing a “Critical Parade” allows you to fight side by side with your tag partner against your opponent for a short amount of time. There’s also “Momentary Combos” which allow you to string special attacks together to achieve multi-hit combos. These in addition to the “Super Combos” and “Meteor Combos” make for a long list of attacks at your disposal. Pulling off these combos take some practice but the game rewards you for your hard work and dedication if you do.
Street Fighter EX3 Game Play
You can earn medals for each character if you complete certain challenges during matches. These challenges can be things like succeeding in a 20 hit combo using one of your teammates or by finishing a match on a super combo. Completing these challenges earn you medals which in turn are used to unlock even more special moves and combos for the player you completed the challenges with. This adds a level of game play not found in older Street Fighter games as you can basically beef up a player and then use that player to dominate in all game modes.
Here you can see the challenge screen where you can choose which challenge you want to take a shot at during the match.
Now, with everything going on in this game, you’d expect it to break down into a big cluster fuck mess but the game holds it together. Combos are crisp and precise and can’t simply be performed willy nilly all over the place. There’s a certain amount of precision that’s required to make all of the combos flow and, when you achieve that level of precision needed, you can almost feel the smooth flow of the game play through the controller. The 3-D look and tag team aspects of the game may put traditional Street Fighter fans on guard a bit at first but once you hit your stride you’ll feel right at home.
This game was going for the Tekken or Virtua Fighter look and it definitely achieves it. For a game released back in 2000, the 3-D graphics look clean and detailed and even look a little like an early version of Street Fighter IV. For those that are more used to the 2-D anime styled graphics that Street Fighter is known for, the 3-D look of EX3 could be a bit of a turn off. Seeing your character run from the background at your opponent or seeing an early 3-D version of a fireball can take a little getting used to but, like I said earlier, once the game gets going, all is forgiven.
Ok, I know this Tekken 3 in the picture but you can still see how EX 3 and Tekken look similar graphically.
No complaints here. Classic Street Fighter music and sounds can be heard in this game along with some newer stuff. Since this was a launch title for the PS2, Arika wanted to show off everything the “new” Playstation 2 was capable of which includes its sound processing abilities. The overall sound of the music and in-game effects paired with the graphics give this game a very arcade-like feel on a home console. It’s no wonder the PS2 went on to sell over 150 million units.
Collectibility – Highly Collectible
Since this was released the same month and year that the PS2 itself was released in, this game belongs to that exclusive “launch title” club. Every game console has one and each club has it’s stand out. The Playstation 2 had a very diverse launch line-up with racing games, sports games, and fighting games. Going over the list though, the one that stands out is Street Fighter EX 3. It was one of a just a few launch titles that belonged to an established franchise when the PS2 launched.
The game is moderately valuable depending on whether you have a new or complete-in-box copy. Me being a die hard Street Fighter fan, could really care less about the monetary value of the game because I simply love seeing the evolution of the game. It’s always been fun to play and no matter how many times the game gets re-released or how many numbers follow the words “Street Fighter” it’s always a must buy if I find a version that’s not yet in my collection. If you’re a fan of the series, buy this game. If you’re a fan of fighting games, buy this game. And, if you’re fan of the PS2, buy this game!
Average Value – $10 loose, $20 Complete in Box, $75 New in box
Rarity – Highly collectible with a 70% rating on RarityGuide.com
Happy Gaming and Happy Collecting!
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