Street Fighter Alpha 3: Max

REVIEWAlso known as "Street Fighter Zero 3: Double Upper" in Japan, Street Fighter Alpha 3: Max is the most recent (and probably final installment) to the Street Fighter Alpha series. Capcom's first Street Fighter project for the Sony PSP, SFA3: Max is hands down the best handheld Street Fighter title in existence... still to this day. Finally, a handheld Street Fighter game that is actually "arcade perfect" (and then some)! SFA3 was no doubt one of the best arcade & home Street Fighter installments ever made due to the engaging gameplay, great selection of modes, and large character roster.

Capcom tried valiantly once before to bring the Street Fighter Alpha series to a handheld system with Street Fighter Alpha 3: Upper for the Game Boy Advance. Although Upper was decent, it lacked arcade quality due to the GBA's control pad and graphical limitations. The best part about Upper was the fact that Yun, Maki, and Eagle (ripped straight from CVS2) were added to the roster... but now, those same characters are selectable in SFA3: Max, in addition to yet another new face to the series, Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution! 


Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max character selection screen.


Although the PSP doesn't have the preferable 6 button layout, the PSP really is the ideal handheld system for a game of this caliber. Compared to the arcade version and the Dreamcast port of SFA3, the PSP version looks and runs like a near-perfect port! There are also a ton of extra modes available that make Alpha 3 Max stand out on its own.
All the classic console-exclusive modes from the previous released of SFA3 have returned in Max including: Arcade, Training, Survival, Dramatic Battle (1 player & 1 AI VS another AI), Reverse Dramatic Battle (2 AI's VS 1 player), World Tour mode, Edit mode, etc.   

And if that's not enough for you, Capcom went ahead threw in a brand new mode exclusively for the PSP called "Variable Battle." AKA... Tag mode. When you're close to your opponent, hitting LP & MK or LK & MP will allow your current character to tag out. After tagging, your partner will jump in with a flying kick similar to that of MVC2. I was hoping this mode would be 2 vs 2 (which would've been stellar), but unfortunately it can only be played 2 VS 1...  Grrrrr.  However, three people (with 3 PSPs) can actually play at the same time in either Dramatic or Variable Battle... which is pretty cool indeed, and especially fun if you have friends with varied skill levels.

The dramatic battles are still as intense as ever. Having 3 street fighters on the screen at the same time is always entertaining, and quite a challenge if you're going up against 2 decent computer AIs, or perhaps two skilled human opponents. At the very least, the various Dramatic Battle modes in SFA3: Max are far better than the "limited" Dramatic Battle featured in the original Playstation version of SFA3.


SFA3 Max introduces brand new special intros!


Street Fighter Alpha 3'
s graphics are as sharp as ever on the PSP. All the background and character details that you might have missed before are actually more vibrant than ever on the PSP's bright screen! Something else worth mentioning... as the fighters move around they create "trails," which is a common trait of the PSP's graphics when certain colors/contrasts blend together. Although some may consider this a graphical flaw, the trails are actually a rather cool effect if you ask me... some bonus eye candy to an already beautiful work of art that is SFA3: Max. The transparent-like trails also allow for a better appreciation of the smooth animation in this game (and yes, it's possible they'll look even cooler when you're buzzed).

So really, how are the controls, you ask? Well... I can pull off perfect 360s, shoryukens, hadokens, and double hadoken movements with absolutely no trouble or hesitation at all. I can even nail my sub-par custom V-ism combos rather consistently. However, finding those diagonals may take some getting used to on certain PSP's, but you can always find a replacement D-pad for your PSP if the default one doesn't suit your fancy. With a little practice, you'll be pulling off all your usual combos and gameplay strategies... "b.b.b.but I'm used to a 6 button controller!" Yes, yes, we all know you have an excuse for losing now.  It's called "adapting," you should try it out sometime. 


Balrog shouldn't have talked about Dan's father like that...


On the flipside, there are some moves that are notably tougher to pull off. Throwing can be difficult, since by default you have to hit two buttons at the same time to throw in Alpha 3... but of course, that all depends on how you set up your buttons. You can either make it easy or hard for yourself. It's not the game's fault if you cant get a throw off, you're just "special"... I kid, I kid.  Ohh, and for all 4 of you that use Akuma's teleport (I kid again), you guys can pretty much forget about hitting 3 buttons at once. Yeah, it's damn near impossible to get a PPP or KKK off consistently, but you can assign those commands to one button... don't forget, you can even use the select button if you need to, so there's usually a way to make it work.

Thankfully, and impressively for a handheld fighting game, the load times in Street Fighter Alpha 3: Max are lightning fast and sometimes nonexistent! This makes jumping in and out of modes a breeze and offers a quick playable experience on the go. All in all, SFA3: Max is probably the best handheld fighting game I've played to date. Being built off a strong foundation in arcade roots, SFA3: Max is also definitely among the best Street Fighter games ever, not only for a portable fighting game. With the most characters and modes ever in a Street Fighter game, this title has both substance and style. This game was a very solid effort from Capcom... the "Capcom" that us long-time Street Fighter fans remember.


Page Updated: March 6th, 2023
Developer(s): Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
Artwork by: Bengus, Shima Maeda, Uji, Shinsuke Komaki
Platform(s): PlayStation Portable
Release Date(s): Jan. 19th, 2006       
Feb. 7th, 2006
Mar. 10th, 2006
Oct. 15th, 2009
Characters Ryu, Adon, Chun-Li, Guy, Ken, Dhalsim, Gen, Sakura, Rolento, Zangief, Charlie, Birdie, Rose, Sodom, Sagat, Akuma, Bison, Dan, E. Honda, Cody, Karin, Vega, Blanka, R.Mika, Cammy, Balrog, Juli, Juni, Guile, Fei Long, T. Hawk, Dee Jay, Yun, Maki, Eagle, Ingrid, Evil Ryu, Shin Akuma

Featured Video:

Related Games: Street Fighter Alpha 3 Upper, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha: Anthology, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Revival, Ultra SF2, Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition, Marvel VS Capcom 2, Capcom VS SNK 2, Capcom Fighting Evolution, Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower, Guilty Gear Judgment, Tekken: Dark Resurrection

Gameplay Engine  9.0 / 10
Story / Theme  9.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.5 / 10
Animation  9.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  9.5 / 10
Innovation  8.5 / 10
Art Direction  8.5 / 10
Customization  9.0 / 10
Options / Extras  9.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  9.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  9.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  9.0 / 10
Characters  9.5 / 10

 9.5 / 10



Final Words:

I don't say this about many fighting games... but I LOVE EVERYTHING about SFA3: Max. Seeing an old favorite of mine updated with new content & characters is just awesome. Maki, Eagle & Yun make awesome additions to the SFA3 roster and mesh perfectly with the existing graphics and character sprites.

Along with mp3s, movies, videos, internet and porn, now "arcade perfect" Street Fighter Alpha 3 is in the palm of your hands. Technology has come a long way, hasn't it? Blazing fast load times, great graphics, tons of characters, and one of the best Street Fighter installments ever... anywhere! Need I say more?

If you don't have a Sony PSP (or Vita) and you're a Street Fighter fan, SFA3: MAX is a good enough reason to own one. Now you can play Street Fighter all day, anywhere, and maybe even come up with a few new combos on the run... or on the pot. Wherever.

One final cool thing about playing SFA3: Max on PSP (or Vita), is that if you don't have time to finish all 8 stages in Arcade mode (for example), you can turn "off" your PSP... and continue right where you left off next time you turn on the system. Sorry, but that's just awesome... and a pretty cool new way to enjoy a fighting game 1-player.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen

maki-sfa3max-select.png (127892 bytes)             guy-sfa3-side.jpg (87861 bytes)             yun-sfa3max-select.png (114556 bytes)             eagle-sfa3max-select.png (144781 bytes)
evilryu-alpha3-hd.png (599401 bytes)                          rmika-sf3-side.jpg (98197 bytes)            

Click Here for all character select artwork!

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