Month: June 2015

Game Changers: Street Fighter Alpha 3

Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Dreamcast) (Capcom, 1999)

Game Changers is a semi-regular column featuring games which have had a significant impact on me over the years. Games that were so incredibly stunning and awe-inspiring, they changed my conception of what a game could be at the time. Previously, I have written about Out Run and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. This time, I decided to highlight my all-time favorite fighting game.

My first experience with the Street Fighter series was Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, on the Super Nintendo. The game had come out only a few months earlier and a buddy of mine had just gotten his hands on a copy. He invited me and another friend to a sleepover at his house, and the three of us stayed up all night playing it obsessively. We were all new to fighting games, so we spent hours passing the controllers around, taking turns battling it out in order to learn the basics and familiarize ourselves with the characters. It was a lot of fun.

Over the next several years, I played a few different versions of Street Fighter II (Hyper, Arcade). Eventually, I even picked up a copy of Super Street Fighter II (The New Challengers) for my Sega Genesis. I loved being able to play with the newer characters, especially Dee Jay and Cammy. Even though I enjoyed spending a lot of time with all of the various iterations of Street Fighter II, I eventually grew weary of game's limitations and moved on to other, better fighting games (Virtua Fighter 1 & 2, SoulCalibur, etc).

Fast forward to December of 2000. I was home from college for the holidays and browsing around the local Media Play store for Christmas gift ideas. My brother and I had spent most of that summer playing the hell out of his new Sega Dreamcast (I picked one up for myself by the end of summer break); I decided to hit the games section to see if I could find any potential presents there. I happened across a marked-down copy of Street Fighter Alpha 3. My brother and I had both gotten a good amount of entertainment out of my aforementioned Super Street Fighter II cartridge a few years earlier, so I decided that he might like to give Alpha a try (neither of us had owned a PlayStation or Saturn so we weren't very familiar with that series).

When he unwrapped the gift on Christmas morning, I explained to him that I had picked it out because of our prior shared enthusiasm for Street Fighter II. He looked at it approvingly and agreed to give it a shot. Later that day, we fired it up and inadvertently ignited what would become a life-long passion for all things Street Fighter.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - Dramatic Battle
Poor Adon is no match for the combined might of Ryu and Ken.

The Difference Was Dramatic

As fun as Street Fighter II had been, it was nothing compared to Alpha 3. The beautiful graphics, depth of gameplay, insane number of characters, wealth of content and features, excellent soundtrack...all of it was incredible. My brother and I were instantly hooked. We played the game more or less constantly over the next several months (separately and together). A few months later, I picked up my own copy to play on my Dreamcast up at school.

Each of us beat the game dozens of times, on various difficulty levels, and with a number of different characters. Every time I came home for a break or a long weekend, we would test our newly developed skills against each other to see who had improved more. Sometimes it was him, sometimes me. Either way, whoever held the slight advantage, never held it for long. Every session we had, after playing enough matches to determine superiority, we would always close it out with an obligatory round of the brilliant co-op mode, Dramatic Battle.

Dramatic Battle is one of my favorite features of Alpha 3 (really, one of my favorite features from any fighting game). I honestly think that every fighting game would be vastly improved by including it. There are two different options for Dramatic Battle, plain and Versus. In the Versus version, you can have three players face off in a lopsided 2 v 1 match-up. Unfortunately, we usually only had two working controllers at any given time, so we always just stuck with the regular version.

Standard Dramatic Battle is like a shorter version of arcade mode, but with co-op. Two players fight together, 2 v 1, against a series of six AI-controlled opponents. You can pick any two characters from the roster to play as and you have to fight, in order, Adon, Akuma, Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and finally, M Bison. The opponents in this mode are much tougher than in the regular Arcade mode, but what's cool about it is that you and your teammate each have separate health bars. That means that even if one of you gets knocked out mid-round, the other can continue fighting until either both of you, or the enemy, has been defeated. Just like Arcade mode, if you both lose a match, you can continue right where you left off and try again. After defeating M Bison, you are treated to a staff roll (credits) and some victory music.

Dramatic Battle goes a long way towards breathing some additional life into the standard player vs player/player vs AI fighting game. It's a lot of fun to be able to switch things up and form a team with somebody after having pounded on them (or having been pounded on by them) for a while. There's also something satisfying about having a teammate for support/sympathy whilst taking on occasionally frustrating AI opponents (much more so than having to go it alone). Again, it's just a shame that more game developers don't think to add such a fantastic mode to their fighting games.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - Character Select
Decisions, decisions...

Showing a Lot of Character

The number of characters in Alpha 3 is staggering. All sixteen playable fighters return from Super Street Fighter II (and Akuma). Then you've got Gen, Birdie, and Adon, from the original Street Fighter, and Cody, Guy, Sodom, and Rolento from Final Fight. If that weren't already more than enough to satisfy any fighting game fan's needs, Capcom decided to go ahead and add some brand new characters to the mix. Over the course of the Alpha series, these included Charlie, Rose, Dan, Sakura, Karen, R Mika, Juni, and Juli. Finally, they also decided to throw in two alternate versions of characters, Evil Ryu and Shin Akuma.

In case you weren't keeping track, that's a total of 34 different characters. For a (mostly) one-on-one fighting game, that is an incredibly substantial number of fighters! For comparison, the original Marvel Vs Capcom (which came out around the same time) only had sixteen playable characters, and that was a two-on-two fighting game!

What is even crazier is that, not only are there 34 different characters in the game, but each one has their own unique story, mid-story match-up, semifinal match-up, and ending. Some of them even have unique pre-fight interactions as well (a la King of Fighters). Nearly every single character also has their own unique stage and music. The only exceptions, stage-wise, are Evil Ryu, Shin Akuma, and Juni and Juli (and only Juni and Juli share music). Even the successors to the Alpha series, Street Fighter III and IV, had way fewer stages and characters (IV did eventually surpass Alpha 3's character count, but only by the third version).

With 35 different stage themes in the game (including the training theme and an additional unique battle stage theme), you might expect some of the music to be repetitious or forgettable. But every song in the game stands apart. Each one is upbeat, catchy, and/or appropriately dramatic. Many of them, you just can't help bobbing your head along to (my personal favorites are the ones from Sakura's and Dan's stages). I actually enjoyed the music so much that I recorded it all to create my own soundtrack to listen to whenever I wasn't constantly playing the game. Even now, years later, I still enjoy listening to that music from time to time (I have since purchased an official copy when it became available though).

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - Semifinal Match-Up
Newcomer Karin gets ready for her semifinal match-up against fellow newcomers Juni and Juli. (Together!) How awesome is this game?!?

A World Worth Fighting For

As I mentioned earlier, I had been somewhat of a fan of Street Fighter with II, but Alpha 3 managed to hook me for life. My obsession with the game transformed into an obsession with all things Street Fighter (and Capcom as well, to a slightly lesser extent). I began to collect and play, not only the latest Street Fighter titles, but any games I could find with even a slight connection to Street Fighter. This led me to discover the brilliant Final Fight series (which I had somehow missed), as well as other phenomenal Street Fighter related games, such as Super Puzzle Fighter II and the Capcom Vs SNK series.

I even went so far as to seek out Street Fighter in other mediums, such as the brilliant Street Fighter II animated movie (by which the Alpha series was inspired), as well as the incredibly well-done Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist web series. If you aren't familiar with either of those, do yourself a favor and check them out. Unfortunately, I also discovered the abysmal Legend Of Chun-Li movie, but we can just pretend that cinematic abomination never happened.

For as many great fighting games as I have played since first discovering Street Fighter II all those years ago, none of them have been able to hold my attention like Street Fighter Alpha 3. SoulCalibur 1 & 2, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, and Capcom Vs SNK 2 all came close. I still play those from time to time, along with the most current version of Street Fighter IV, but Alpha 3 will always by my weapon of choice.

Taking everything that Street Fighter Alpha 3 offers into consideration, the beautiful graphics, great music, exceptional content and features (I didn't even mention the incredible World Tour mode), there's really no other fighting game quite like it. It's the first thing I want to bust out whenever I'm visiting with my brother, it's the first game that springs to mind whenever I hear about the latest Street Fighter news (I really wish they would make a Steam version, by the way), and I am always, always down for a couple rounds of Dramatic Battle (just in case anyone's interested).

[Images: Capcom]

Andrew J Amideo

2009-06 O Small

Billy C Plays: Fallout!

That's right, in honor of the Fallout 4 announcement and hype I've decided to go back and play through the original Fallout. It's been a long time since I played the game, but if you'd like to watch me make a fool of myself and die repeatedly, then continue past the break and watch the first episode.
Author: Billy C
Game: Fallout

New Steam Store Releases: Metal Slug (Not So Fast, Batman)

By now, many of you have probably heard about the numerous issues that this week's Steam release of Batman: Arkham Knight was suffering from. I was originally planning to make that game the highlight of this article. (I had a cool image picked out and everything!) But, owing to the fact that the game was receiving quite a lot of not-so-favorable customer reviews, as well as the fact that Steam has opted to suspend sales of the game altogether, I decided to go with my second choice.

For those of you who are unaware (or too young to remember), Metal Slug was a 1996 Neo Geo Arcade release. It's a side-scrolling run and gun action game similar to Contra (especially in terms of difficulty), except bigger, faster, and with a more comical style. It has spawned multiple sequels, and some of the characters have even appeared in other Neo Geo and SNK games. Both Metal Slug X (a rerelease of Metal Slug 2) and Metal Slug 3 have already been available on the Steam store since last year. And now everyone can try the game that started it all! (Personally, I love all of 'em.)Also released this week (and not suspended due to poor reviews) was the newly updated Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition, the previously Nintendo-only puzzle platformer, Mighty Switch Force, and a pair of classic Total War titles (the first two games of the series, in fact). Insert two quarters, hit the start button, then jump past the break to see more of this week's new releases.

  • Metal Slug (SNK Playmore, Single & Multi-player, $7.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition (Capcom, Single-player, $24.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Mighty Switch Force! (WayForward, Single-player, $9.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Shogun: Total War (Creative Assembly, Single & Multi-player, $9.99)
  • Medieval: Total War (Creative Assembly, Single & Multi-player, $9.99)
  • MotoGP 2015 (Milestone, Single & Multi-player, $39.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Super Star Path (DYA Games, Single-player, $2.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Dwarven Brawl Bros (Dwarves Might Fly, Co-op, $6.99) (Controller Support, Steam Achievements)
  • Streets of Fury (Guard Crush Games, Single & Multi-player, $9.99) (Controller Support)
[Image: SNK Playmore]

Andrew J Amideo

Should we WRUP this up?

Let’s abuse the WRUP again for some inStiq information. Well, you probably already noticed that there hasn’t been much going on here. That sucks. Not only from a content perspective, but it also sucks out my personal motivation.
We had a pretty good start, but as things go, people tend to lose interest. Some even on the day they join. Getting someone new into the team, spending quite a bit of time on showing them around and then see them not even posting a single thing is fucking annoying.
As it stands, we could try to get new people onboard again, but I fear that’s like trying to keep the Titanic afloat with a single water bucket and a broken hand. We will do it, and some of you already sent us an application, but I fear we still have to change the ship.

Granted, it’s not all bad. Our core team is able to deliver quality content and we still like each other. No infighting after 4 months of working together is certainly worthy of praise.
I just started an internal discussion about the direction we should take and hopefully we’ll find a find a solution that works for everyone.
So when you write what you are planning to play over the weekend, make sure to mention any ideas you might have.

Here’s what the team and some of our old Joystiq friends will play

  • Andrew J Amideo (@Andoro36): Batman!
  • Billy Colley (@Amuntoth): I'll be playing some Flame Over, as well as working on a few reviews that should be up soon.
  • Cody Hall (@Yoda0VGs): Will be playing Batmobile: Arkham Knight this weekend, slugging through 10~60fps to get a review out sooner than a month after the games release :p
  • Greywolfe (@lostwolfe, YouTube): leisure suit larry 5, in which we will have /way/ more exposition, kyrandia 1, in which i finally track down the saw.  i knew it was somewhere, but it was in the dumbest place imaginable and more hearthstone tavern brawls.  i'm not as crazy about the banana brawl as i was the nef/rag brawl, but eh.  it is what it is [ie:  lots of mages :(] - thinking about playing a jrpg, too, but am terrified of all those "gone forevers" they have.
  • John Rausch (@visitzebes): I'm going to 100% Yoshi's New Island and dip my toes in the PS2 classic SpyFiction
  • Thomas Ortsik (@Dr_Strangethumb): Enjoying Batman: Arkham Knight on my PS4 :p
  • Trisha Baumgartner (twitch): playing some prison architect, along finishing my leveling on my monk in wow! HEY ANYONE NEED A HEALER?
  • Trey Valeska (@Trey_Valeska): Morrowind
  • Richard Mitchell (@TheRichardM): Card Crawl, and lots of it.
  • Sam Prell (@SamPrell): Heavensward!
  • Mike Suszek (@mikesuszek): Been into Zelda: The Minish Cap lately. Also going to some music fests!
  • Susan Arendt (@SusanArendt): Ooo, good choice, Mike. Tales from the Borderlands for me.

This is the end…of the Steam Summer Sale.

“We wanted a summer sale, and for our sins, they gave us one…”

Like many of you, we here at Twinstiq were in the drunken haze that is the lead up to the yearly “Steam Summer Sale”. Our mission came from the brass: find the best deals on games we want and buy crap we didn’t know we wanted. Buy with extreme prejudice, until the rogue Gaben was silenced. We spent over a week on that green river, pursuing the hearts of darkness that were those sales. Here is what we learned in the jungle and what we can never leave behind (more horror after the break):

Trey: I swore up and down I wouldn’t get involved this time. I had paid my dues in the brush. I had seen one too many wallets emptied of their vitae, blasted out of them like some perverse crimson snow angel, but I just couldn’t stop. I set foot on that boat, with its belching black smoke stack, and followed that river of sales to its dark heart. Here is what flash sales did to me: Euro Truck Simulator 2, Hatoful Boyfriend, The Stanley Parable, BattleBlock Theater, To the Moon, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance, Evil Pumpkin: The Lost Halloween, Postal 2, and Hearts of Iron III.

Wasteland 2 was the original goal, but I became lost along the way. The weirdness that is Euro Truck Simulator 2, Hatoful Boyfriend, BattleBlock Theater and The Stanley Parable were too much to resist. The other choices were games I wanted to play and Evil Pumpkin I wanted for my yearly Halloween gaming marathon.Trish: I was a tad distraught when I noticed that most of the first three days of sales were games that I had never heard of, that or if I had heard of them had absolutely no intention of buying. The game itself that was created to have people get involved to unlock milestone sales was almost pointless because on the first night one of the milestones wasn't even hit. To make that even more annoying you could literally hit play, attack once and never go back into it again because of the auto targeting system and the fact that you had 1000 people playing in the same game you really never had to do any work.

A couple of the games like ARK and Stranded Deep hit the main page but weren't actually on sale to their full extent. Apparently each game was only supposed to be 10%-15% off but were put in at the full mark down price instead. So, when those games were featured on the front page, people were discouraged and passed over these games thinking they weren't getting any better of a deal. It took searching the forums to figure out why these games didn't take another couple percents off until some mods posted about the accidental full discount.

I ended up purchasing Age of Empires II and Dino-D-Day 4-pack. In total I spent only 5 bucks because every time the sales rolled over I literally just sighed and went on my merry way.

My fiancé ended up grabbing me Vampires: The Masquerade and Prison Architect on the very last day because they were 5 bucks piece and I was disappointed in Stranded Deep's price so he thought he'd be a nice guy.

John: I bought La Mulana, Dustforce, Fallout 3, Gauntlet, and Nidhogg. I enjoyed La Mulana enough that I bought the WiiWare version. That sale price was not enough for how much time I'll spend in that game. Nidhogg is uninstalled now because I'd like to keep my friendships. It won't be played again. I just bought the Dustforce soundtrack and now I don't need the game installed anymore to listen. Gauntlet needs friends badly. I shouldn't have bought Fallout 3. That was just dumb. I believe they are all still eligible for return. I should probably do that (he did).

Dr. S: I Started off cheap with How to Survive and Dino D-Day. Both games I don’t really care about, but my collection is still missing them.
Continued with a Verdun 4-pack, my most expensive purchase during this sale. Let’s see if we can get a Twinstiq MP session going sometime, if not, I will give them away. It’s a fun WW1 shooter, nothing special however.
Wings! Remastered Edition was on my wishlist since release. It’s really just a prettier version of the classic. Fun, but very basic.
Hexcells Infinite, the 3rd in the Hexcells series. Great mix of Sudoku and Minesweeper.
Enforcer: Police Crime Action. Don’t ask me. Looked fun for a video.
Age of Wonders III, since my mortal enemy (not really) Earnest Cavalli talked it up.
Blade Symphony 2 Pack, for a video, maybe.
The Long Dark. Looks interesting enough. So does Cortex Command and The Detail.
And last: This War of Mine. Not much to say about it. Seems to be a must have. No idea when I get to it however.

The big question remains though: What did you do in the Summer Sales of '15? Let us know in the comments!



New Nintendo eShop Releases: Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time

It's a double shot of dual-screen downloads this week as Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time and Star Fox Command both come to the Wii U Nintendo DS Virtual Console. Also out this week is the Inuit indie game Never Alone. And that's about it. Not a bad week, though. Partners In Time, in particular, is definitely worth checking out. So, go grab your bro and your former self, then jump past the break to see this list of new releases.
Wii U

[Image: Nintendo]

Andrew J Amideo
[Source: Business Wire]

[UPDATE] Kingdom Hearts 3 gets more info unlocked!


Awesome Banner Made by Alexanderreyes26
UPDATE: We previously stated that the game itself will be released on November 3rd. Turns out that more information will be released on this date, not the game itself.  Amazon has December 31 listed, which is most likely just a placeholder date. The responsible writer will get no supper today and is banned from the cookie jar for one week.Kingdom Hearts 3 has been on the tips of everyone's tongue since it's trailer was dropped during E3. Though no other information about zones, key-blades or storyline has been touched on. Sony announced yesterday that it has finally decided on a released date for the game. Like most of the games announced at E3, Kingdom Hearts 3 is set to have more information come out November 3, 2015 for 'Holiday Season'.

Director Tetsuya Nomura in an interview mentioned that Kingdom Hearts 3 will have a free movement and run system. This let's the main character Sora to be able to perform different types of acrobatic movements such as running up walls. This allows the player to have more range and freedom then the previous games.On top of the free range Normura mentions that the game will feature new worlds along with some of the classics we know and love.

That's all for now, maybe I'll snag this title during some black Friday deals.

Batman: Arkham Knight, PS4 vs XBO vs PC

Want to see how bad the PC version of Batman: AK really is? Well, you could look at Cody’s video to see your average experience, but even if everything works as it “should”, it’s not much better. My German “neighbors” from Gamestar released a comparison video now, that shows PS4 and XBO somewhat close together (XBO runs at 900p and is missing some lighting effects), with the PC version missing ambient occlusion and other fancy visual tricks.

This is a disgrace, Warner Bros!

New THPS5 Trailer

The return of Tony Hawks Pro Skater was another thing that we’ve seen more of during E3. Activision now released a new behind the scenes trailer, showcasing the new editor and online multiplayer.
I know that Twinstiq’s own Trey is really looking forward to it, but I’m still not stoked. I would rather have a new Skate, or something more like American Wasteland/Underground.
Anyone who actually looks forward to this, besides Trey?

You can now register for the Division beta

Still interested in that Tom Clancy shooter by the guys who brought us Uplay? Which one am I talking about? Good point! With Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and The Division, there are at least 3 in development. I just realized that. Tom Clancy’s actual ghost is busy as hell. Anyway, we’re talking about The Division.
The Uplay guys are now accepting Beta applications for the game. Don’t get al giddy just yet, because only preorders are guaranteed a spot. Everyone else gets on a waiting list.

The Beta will start in December 2015 for Xbox One players (exclusivity, yay!) and early 2016 for PS4 and PC.