Format reviewed: Game Boy Advance
Developer: Crawfish Interactive
Submitted by: Richard Moore
Prior to the excellent Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX for Sony's PSP, the very prospect of a handheld, portable Alpha 3 was mouth-watering so this GBA conversion of Capcom's popular coin-op fighter had a lot to live up to. Sadly, the finished product didn't quite manage to live up to the expectations of beat em' up fans.
This wasn't a lazy effort by any means, just something that was asking a bit too much of the hardware and didn't translate to the GBA as well as everybody would have hoped. All the characters are there including three new faces exclusive (at the time) to the GBA edition (Maki, Eagle and Yun), the menus/presentation mimic that of it's bigger brothers and the graphical style remains faithful to the original despite being shrunken down dramatically.
Gameplay-wise, Alpha 3 Upper is a fairly solid conversion, only let down by some annoying control niggles. The GBA d-pad simply doesn't work well for this sort of game and the six-button set-up being spread across four buttons is a recipe for frustration when attempting combos. You can rotate the button assignment via the options menu but you'll always be two buttons short. Not necessarily a fault of the game itself but something worth noting.
To give the game credit however, there isn't really anything bad to say about the actual gameplay outside of the controls. The action remains fluid throughout, it looks nice (given the visual compromises) and most of the features (no World Tour mode) are present to make sure that Alpha 3 is still a top-class fighter whatever system it finds itself on. In summary, this conversion is as good as the GBA gets when it comes to 2D beat em' ups but the superior Alpha 3 MAX for PSP renders it redundant.