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Developer Arika Co Options
Distributer Capcom/Virgin ?
Game Type Beat-em-up ?
Review Date December 1997 ?
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Setting the Scene
Well, it had to happen eventually. We have had what, 300 versions of Street Fighter in 2D (this is of course a slight exaggeration that I have used for effect!). Well, make Street Fighter EX plus Alpha number 301 in the 2D department but a major change has taken place that is sure to be the model that Capcom will begin to build future versions of this series on. The change for those of you that are not aware is that the Street Fighter series has finally made the move to polygon characters! Yes I know, each of the previous games was beautifully done with hand drawn artwork. They also had just enough tweaks and twists to make it different enough from each of its predecessors, but for all intents and purposes the most popular brand of fighter has clearly become the polygon quasi-3D beasts like the Tekken and Virtual Fighter series.

Considering the fact that we will not be seeing many other showcase fighting games like Tekken 3 or Virtual Fighter 3 being released this year, Capcom seems to have entered the polygon arena at just the right time. But hey, timings not necessarily everything…the games gotta be good too. Well guess what, it is! As always….Read On!!
Street Fighter EX is the next evolution for Capcom's popular series of fighting games. It takes their tried and true characters from previous sprite based Street Fighter games and transforms them into wonderfully animated polygon models.
Hot damn! Chun-Li in all her polygonal glory! It's about time. I was quite impressed with the overall graphical quality of this title. It seems to be playing out in one of the Playstations higher resolution modes running at 60fps. The character "crispness" and detail fall somewhere in between Tekken and Tekken 2, leaning right up there with Tekken 2 in graphical distinction.

Speaking about the characters…they are fluidly animated with nice little details such as articles of clothing and hair that flow independently from the main figure. Each character is also instantly recognizable from their hand drawn counterparts. Facial texture maps and body style/movement are right on the money. This is pretty cool and the poly's kind of gives the characters a more grown-up and much more solid appearance.

The special effects are wonderfully done as well. All of the signature fire bolts, explosions, light trails and rainbow effects have been faithfully reproduced for your viewing pleasure. Add to this generous amounts of the famous Playstation light-sourcing and you have your icing on the cake too!

Backgrounds are unfortunately somewhat of a letdown. Everything is pretty much pre-rendered and a good portion of the screens has a rather washed out, less than vibrant earth tone look to them. Since they are pre-rendered there is no actual interaction with your surroundings, but there is usually just enough animations going on to occasionally distract you from pummeling your opponent. The goods news is that each character has their own location to fight on, so there are plenty of new and original backgrounds to hold your interest. Even though I felt that most of the backgrounds were rather "blah", there are some that truly stand out and are quite spectacular. One that comes immediately to mind is the sewer level when you fight as Doctrine Dark. The knee high water that you fight in is alive with movement and the transparency effects used when your character walks through or is knocked into the water are really sweet!

Bottom line: The Street Fighter characters have been transferred to the world of polygons in grand fashion. I have been waiting a long time to see this happen and I was in no way disappointed.
Sounds and Effects
I hate to keep saying this but once again, if you liked the sound effects and music from all of the past Street Fighter games you will feel right at home here.

All of the digitized character voices from their screams to their taunts are all included and clear as a bell. Every connecting or missed punch sound has been accurately reproduced and represented in this game. You even get some nice background sounds depending on the locale you are fighting in.

The soundtrack is your typical techno-babble battle music that works just fine in this type of game.

Sound effects and music volumes can be adjusted independently from the menu screen and you have a choice of stereo or mono (what…no Dolby!?!?).
For those of you familiar with the Street Fighter series and all of their variations, chances are you are going to feel right at home. Yes, the graphics have received a complete overhaul that brings the famous SF characters into the world of polygons but the gameplay has miraculously remained intact. The combo's and chains that you worked so hard to perfect in previous SF's have translated surprisingly well to this new game. Even the special effects of the attacks are still there.

You are given the selection of several modes of play. These consist of; Arcade mode, Team Battle, Survival, Watch, VS., Time Attack and finally Practice/Training mode.

The popular Arcade mode is primarily a one-player game that pits you against the computer-controlled opponents. Another player can jump in at any time by pressing the START button on a second controller. Customized controller configurations and various character-clothing colors are also available from this mode as well.

Team Battle lets you select a group of up to 5 characters and go head to head against the computer or another friend. The first player to knock out the opponent's 5 characters wins the battle! This is my favorite game play mode when I have a friend over as it presents a certain amount of depth and requires a good balance of characters to win the overall battle. You also have the option of secretly selecting your characters so your opposition is clueless to your strategy.

Survival mode pits a single player against the computer in one round matches. Damage that your character receives during a match is carried over to the next round. The only way to recover some of your health meter is to score big in the hit department and try to take the enemy out as quickly as possible.

Watch mode lets you select two characters and watch them fight it out under the Playstations control. This is helpful if you want to see the various strategies that each character employs. You can also change the camera angles on the fly in this mode.

V.S. is a two-player contest. Here you can handicap you character depending on your skills as compared to your friends. This mode works pretty much the same as the Arcade mode with two-players participating, it just adds the handicap option. I usually try to set an unsuspecting friend's handicap real low…just for kicks…hehehe…

Time Attack is a brutal one-player event in which you select a course from the menu and must do battle with all of the opponents within that course. Each battle is timed so you really need to have your act together on this one to succeed.

In the practice mode you have a selection of entering the Training or Expert modes. Training mode allows you to select a character and study/practice their entire arsenal of special and Super Combo moves. A submenu is available that outlines all of the selected character's button combinations for each specific move. There is also a damage indicator represented numerically that shows how much damage your moves have inflicted.

The Expert mode is a challenge all on it's own. Here you are presented with the names of the primary fighters available in the game, with a 16 slots placed in a grid to the right of their names. Once you choose a character you need to select on of the slots…each one corresponds to a special move that you must perform. Slot 1 is the easiest with slot 16 being the most difficult. Successfully pulling off the moves for each character not only makes you a more skilled fighter, but it also opens a bunch of the games hidden secrets.

While all of these nice options certainly make the game very attractive and pumps up it's replay value, it really doesn't mean squat if the actual game play isn't there. The good news is that if you are a fan of the Street Fighter series you will probably love this game. Somehow Capcom has managed to transform all of the moves, along with each characters signature styles into the polygon world. For all intents and purposes the game plays exactly the same as all of the others - it just looks different! Well, maybe that's not exactly true, I think the new game actually plays faster then it's predecessors. I guess the bad news is that if you didn't like the Street Fighter games, you may not be willing to give this one a chance either. That would be a shame too, as it is a frenetically paced battle that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

All of the seemingly "impossible to execute" combos, juggles and Special Moves are in there for your discovery. Response is pretty much right on the money so there is no getting used to the "button to character response" syndrome. Press a button and the character executes the command…clear and simple.

The number of initially selectable characters (19) also floored me! In addition, you also have a number of unlockable characters and bosses to bring the count to a staggering twenty-three. This is easily a record for the Street Fighter series. Hell, there may even be more characters that I haven't unlocked or discovered yet! In traditional Street Fighter style a few new character have also been introduced. I don't want to ruin any surprises, but the guy in the skull costume is pretty cool.

The only real downside for me in this game was that Capcom really didn't attempt to bring this new version into the world of 3D. Yes, the polygon fighters are certainly 3D modeled, but you cannot move you character in or out of the screen, circle your opponent or side step. I suppose Capcom is going to nurture their new baby and bring out progressively better versions of this new polygon fighter with future revisions. Ah yes, Capcom may have found a new cash cow to milk.

At any rate, the lack of 3D aside this is an extremely competent fighter worthy of a look and in my opinion a purchase. Check it out!
Value for Money
With 23 characters to play plus bosses (the most ever offered in a Street Fighter game), multiple game play options and a great two-player battle mode, the replay value ranks right up there with the best fighters available today. The game is also offered at a very competitive price at most wholesale stores.

If you are a fan of the Street Fighter series or just a fighting fan, this title offers the goods!
GRAPHICS: 17/20 The wait is over...Capcom has finally given the long awaited facelift to Street Fighter. While the game certainly looks different with its newly modeled polygon characters, the moves have translated miraculously well. I had really started getting tired of the old Street Fighter "look" and although this game plays pretty much the same, it just breathed a whole new breath of life into the series for me. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for a pretty face...jeez I must be shallow.

Anyway, this is surely a step in a positive and exciting new direction for the Street Fighter series. You have loads of characters and play modes to select from and that good old Street Fighter "feel" is still there. Looks like a winner to me!
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 17/20

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