Let’s… Sorta… Talk About Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha

SFEX COVER

OK, people, bear with me here because I’m in a quandary about this game. To be honest, I’m in two minds as to whether I like this game or whether this game should never have existed and the whole series ought to die in a fire. My issue is that actually, I have a foot in both camps and I really don’t like the idea of having my foot in a fire so I’m going to have to be quick about this in case I end up dying at the hands of potentially a rubbish game, and even if it was a good game, I won’t survive long enough to play it again before I have to have my foot cut off and the memories of having a foot cut off means that I could never play this game again in the first place because WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAME THAT CAUSED YOU TO GET YOUR FOOT CUT OFF YOU FREAKISH MORON? Jeez. What’s wrong with you?

To cut a long story short, this was Street Fighter’s first foray into 3D fighting but strangely enough, it wasn’t Capcom who took on the daunting task of NOT doing things in 2D anymore because let’s be frank here, Capcom are the GODS of 2D fighters and forever will be. They are the matriarch, patriarch, grandfather/mother whatever you wanna call them, they are the BIG GIANT PWNERS of all fighting games ever. Anyone who has ever played Street Fighter 2, not 1 because everyone knows that 1 sucks balls like nothing else, will know they really did lay the essential groundwork for this whole genre.

Instead, the task of making the 3D version of Street Fighter was laid with Arika, who were former Capcom employees led by Akira Nishitani who in fact had one of the principal roles on Street Fighter 2 *insert harmonious note here* but something obviously happened between he and Capcom that he couldn’t work there anymore but could still make games for them… I dunno. What kind of weird relationship is that? It’s like “fuck you, I’m not working for you anymore but I will make games for your company sorta, kinda, cos I need the money and can I still have Street Fighter?”

“MAKE OUR 3D VERSION. WE DON’T KNOW HOW. DO IT FOR US. PEOPLE WILL BLAME YOU IF IT SUCKS AND LOVE US IF IT DOESN’T.”

*actual conversation

**not actual conversation

***stop going off at a tangent

So yeah. 3D Street Fighter. Did it work?

Well…

Er…

Ahhhhh…

Um…

Kinda?

SFEX RYU

Look, Ryu is in it! That means it must be good! Ish! Look, I’ve got a foot on fire, forgive me for not thinking of really good reasons right at this fucking moment, OK?

Let’s go with the story shall we? As per every fighting game, there’s a sort of tournament here and behind it all, there’s a substory about everybody wanting to do in M Bison and Shadaloo/Shadowlaw/Shandylove/Whateverloo so they’re all out to get him again and you’re going to fight your way through about ten other people to get to him and then have the entire game ruined by Akuma/Garuda who you can NEVER BEAT UNLESS YOU’RE CHEATING/REALLY GOOD/REALLY GOOD AT CHEATING because suddenly, if you can’t beat them, you can’t beat the whole game you’ve just been playing for twenty minutes. Fuck’s sake. Fuck off Akuma. NO ONE EVER LIKES YOU, YOU CHEAP BASTARD.

SFEX select

OK, so there’s a couple of character selection screens that you can choose from to a point. This is the boring one with all the character lined up on squared paper like a teacher asked their class to design it.

SFEX select 2

And there’s this version which looks like a GCSE graphic design project or something, complete with ridiculous background non-event lighting. 10 characters? Fucking hell, what’s the point? If your fighting game has fewer than 20 characters in this day and age, you might as well not exist. AHHHHH, but there’s more only they’re hidden because clearly the designers had no reason to create the facial expressions for the other characters and hid them on a separate list like the original Tekken. You keep pressing the left or right buttons and you eventually get to shuffle through the rest of the cast which includes moody Ryu clone, moody Ken clone, leggy blue-haired lady, moody Zangief clone and Dhalsim. Of course. Dhalsim appeared in everything once they threw Zangief into the mix in a game. The pair reappeared in the Alpha series at the same time and ZANGIEF DOESN’T LIKE WOMEN OH MY GOD DID I JUST OUT THESE TWO? No. No, Dhalsim has a wife BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING- no, no, no, no, stop it. *sigh* OK, so the cast of characters is decidedly minimal in Street Fighter terms. Ryu, Red Ryu, Spinning Bird Kick and Flathead are, of course, in the game because it wouldn’t be much of a Street Fighter game without the staple four characters of the whole story. Then they shoved in Zangief and Dhalsim because why not and then we got Girl Ryu because we needed another Ryu clone when we only had the nineteen to start off with.

Seriously, there are too many Ryu clones. Ryu, Ken, Kairi, Allen AND Sakura are all very much of a muchness. And eventually you get a dark version of Kairi who’s pretty much the same but… darker. Yeah, OK, fair play to the designers in that they all do have their own intricacies and differences. Ken’s all firey, Sakura’s got a multi-hit Shoryuken, Allen can bust through fireballs with his ANNOYINGLY TITLED JUSTICE FIST and Kairi’s got a downward kick knee thingy that’s quite nice.

SFEX ALLEN

By the by, Allen is the laziest Ryu clone of the lot and he’s the most annoying. All of his moves are English-titled and give a clearer indication as to why we keep move names in Japanese. Hadouken, I can deal with. Soul Force isn’t anywhere near as cool. Fire Force? Triple Break? Rising Dragon? Look, if you’re going to have a character beat the living crap out of you, the least you could have them yell in English is something like ‘FUCK YOU’ or ‘EAT SHIT’ or something slightly cooler than the squeaky-voiced ‘FI-YEAH FORCE!’ Go away Allen, no one likes you.

However, we did get this guy:

SFEX DDARK

HOLY FREAKIN’ CRAP WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU JUST TAKEN?!?! Jeez, mate, go lie down in a darkened room for a bit, you’re clearly wired as fuck!

This is D.Dark. Doctrine Dark. He’s… creepy. His stage is underground in the sewer and he plays around with bombs, wires and extendible sleeve-knifes. He’s like a cod-Scorpion only with better 3D controls than MK4 but no personality other than his maniacal eyes. He throws out a wire which can either be used to drag opponents towards him, a-la Scorpion, or can have a mini spark set along it to explode in the opponent’s face. It’s like the fatality that won’t ever happen in these games because no one wants to dismember these characters and Capcom won’t let anyone do it, thank fuck for that. He’s sorta good as a character and he’s also pretty dreadful. It’s an odd one. Like this game.

Basically, what you have here is a giant mixed bag of nothingy, filler characters which hold no weight of their own and are as unmemorable as what was I even talking about again, and you don’t genuinely couldn’t care less about any of them. They’re either random, lifeless, annoying, poorly conceived or rando-clones and they just… don’t… fit. That’s the major issue. You have your half dozen proper Street Fighter characters and then you have… the rest. Who gives a flying fuck about Hokuto? What even is she there for? And C.Jack? Man in a hat who controls like Balrog/Bison/whatever version name he has? Fights with a baseball bat because why bring knives to a gunfight and all that? Skullomania? A man who started dressing in a Skull-spandex onesie because he got fired from his job and divebombs across the screen like a fucking lunatic? OK, he’s vaguely interesting but to be honest, the whole game does such a poor job of presenting the story of each character that you never get attached. The manual gives you very little in way of help and basically there’s no rivalriy, no rhyme, no reason, no respect from these youngsters coming in here, stealing the space of a decent Street Fighter character and taking over like they owned the place, treating it like a hotel, now clear off and leave your fucking keys and towels at reception, you pricks.

SFEX Perfect

No, Sakura, it’s NOT perfect. Far from it. It’s anything but. Don’t start dancing in your blocky skirt and hair. It doesn’t do you any favours.

The major, major malfunction with this game that causes me burn my right foot off, and let’s be quick about this because I swear I smell meat cooking right now and that can’t be good, is the presentation is wonky, amateurish and almost lazy. It’s as if the developers actually didn’t know HOW to present a 3D game. The rest of the game is flat and 2D in the way it’s presented. Those character select screens were poorly created. There’s no flair, no pizazz, no BANG, no BOOM, no firecrackers going off in your faces… it’s just… dull. Not even a flashy meteor effect when you end a round with a super-super combo or a super-super-super-combo, where you chain three super-combos into each other, which is surprisingly easy at times, depending on the character, can actually add to the whoop factor. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t seem good and it doesn’t feel good to play at times. And the music? Fuck me, that music is awful. I have no idea what instruments they’re using but most of them are jazz-rock style things with some ethno-pop thrown in for good measure but every tune is disastrously awful. The sound effects? No pop. No zing. No ANYTHING. They sounds as though someone is tapping a bit of wood on the ground or flicking a bit of paper. There’s no crunch behind them, it’s just… irritating! It’s irritating to see a game that you KNOW can be done well and you KNOW can be done BETTER than this and by people who have even WORKED on the game series before be done so lazily. It’s just plain irritating.

But here’s the problem. You get past the presentation – the WOEFUL presentation – and the game is Street Fighter 2. In 3D. It is basically Street Fighter 2 dragged kicking and screaming in 3D with super combos, realistically adapted moves (hurricane kicks are more realistic in that the character doesn’t just spin around in mid-air like a tool, they are actual spin their legs around, one movement at a time, up to three times – four for Ken) and that Street Fighter feel. The physics feel right, the characters don’t be ridiculously overpowered or underpowered, the actual FEEL of the game is ACTUALLY spot on. It feels like a Street Fighter game. The character handle and move like you expect them to, they perform the moves you expect them to, with some minor alterations/alternatives, and you can pretty much fight in the same way as you could in the 2D games, only in 3D.

SFEX FIGHT2

And therein lies the problem. It feels like such a good game to play but it’s like a cake made by a master baker but decorated by a two-year-old. You get past the lump of shit on top and actually, the insides are exactly as you expect them to be. The enjoyment is just so tainted by the rest of it, the almost deplorable lack of attention to detail or interest in presentation, that you begin to doubt whether you actually DO find total enjoyment in this game or feel your foot burning in thinking that all of that ruins it a little bit.

However, truth be told, it is NOT a bad game. The game itself, the mechanics, the feel of the game, the fact it is essentially Street Fighter in 3D, is technically solid and actually plays very nicely. The problem is that you get a franchise like Street Fighter and you expect it to be bold, brilliant, in your face and you’d think that bringing this game into the mid-90s in 3D would be a technical marvel. It really… really… really was not. It looked so bland and sounded so bland that you just got really worried. I actually worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it. I didn’t care much for the graphics. I didn’t care much for the announcer at the title screen getting fed up of having to add more random words to the end of the title. He sounded so unexcited by the whole affair.

“STREET FIGHTER EE EX… plus alpha, yeah whatever.”

You almost expected him to keep adding random words to the end. “STREET FIGHTER EE EX PLUS ALPHA BATTLE RANGER KRYPTON FLUORESCENT MOON ATTACK B SERIES GAMMA SHIFT M!”

“2!”

It’s like a game in itself. How many random words can you fit on the end of a Street Fighter game and it’ll still make sense?

Basically then, it’s good and it’s awful. It’s that awful middle ground. And it’s the worst kind of middle ground. It’s that middle ground that you KNOW it’s good but everything else makes it feel worse than it ought to. It’s a good game dragged down by other shit. Ugh. It’s like a shit song by the best singer in the world of the moment. That’s usually called the rest of the album.

Ugh. That’s it. That’s exactly it. This game is a filler track. Oh dear. Yeah. Yeah, that’s not good at all, is it?

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