Capcom's long-running tradition with the Street Fighter series, Street Fighter III:
New Generation receives
its first update with SFIII: 2nd Impact! 2nd Impact adds 3
new characters: Hugo, Urien, and Akuma. Returning Kung-Fu skater and brother to
also received a brand new moveset and playstyle (instead of being a carbon copy of
Yun). This technically makes Yang the 4th new character in the game, and thus,
offering a much more vibrant roster than SF3: New Generation.
Even though Akuma & Urien can be called "sprite clones" (because
they use the base animations of other fighters), the newcomers still have a handful of unique moves and animate
with incredible fluidity... not to mention they definitely have unique
play-styles. But easily the most head-turning new addition to SF3's line-up is the massive pro-wrestler, Hugo... or "Andore"
as old school Capcom fans knew him from the classic arcade hit, Final Fight.
It should be noted that SF3:
New Generation didn't really have a "big" guy besides Alex, so Hugo
definitely filled the role as the new BIG guy in Street Fighter...
and damn is most definitely BIG. In terms of 2D animation, Hugo also shows off some
amazingly smooth animation
for such a huge character sprite. Hugo's lumbering, sloppy pro-wrestling
fighting style definitely makes a statement, and looks like nothing we've ever
seen before in the fighting game realm.
If you're looking for
Akuma... he's above Sean (hidden). ;)
Along with a more diverse roster, SF3's has become
more technical thanks to some new gameplay enhancements. "EX Specials" have been added
in, which allow players
to use their Super Gauge energy to make character's special moves faster
and/or more powerful. Players still select from three different Super Arts per
character, but now have
the choice of spending meter on their Super Art, or using several EX Specials to mix things up.
One of the main (and only) flaws about SF3: New Generation was that it
was a bit "slow" in terms of gameplay... but as a reboot title, Capcom
was understandably going back to basics and "playing it safe". 2nd
Impact's EX Specials really help speed up the gameplay and add plenty of new
strategies to each match. (On a side note, 2nd Impact's EX Specials
would later be "borrowed" by many other fighting games for decades to come.) The parrying
system was also tightened up in 2nd Impact, and turned out to be more solid
and more challenging than in the original.
Hugo is tired of
being just a random Final Fight baddie.
Graphically, 2nd Impact is one of Capcom's finest, and easily one of the
best looking 2D fighters of the time. The returning character artwork
was borrowed from the first game (and is definitely badass enough to be reused),
course, the new characters were drawn in the same awesome "sketchy" style,
which really sets the series apart from others artistically. This not only
includes character select portraits but also win & loss artworks after
battles (still and amazing presentation). 2nd Impact also shows off a variety of
new hand-drawn stages, with several classic returning backgrounds featuring new visual elements (and new BGMs).
Finally, Street Fighter III's animation is still at the top of its class.
Not only in terms of "fluidity" and including many authentic martial
arts techniques, but especially... ouch factor. To me, there's nothing more
satisfying than hitting moves like Ken's Shinryuken, Alex's Hyper Bomb, Hugo's
throw into clothesline, and the list goes on and on. Not only does SFIII's
animation aesthetically please the eyes, but makes the game "feel"
smooth and especially fun to play. SFIII enabled players to anticipate
the opponent's attacks, parry, and counter with hard-hitting stylish badassery.
Like SFIII: New Generation, 2nd Impact
didn't receive a "widespread" release outside of the arcade scene.
However, the Dreamcast exclusive "SFIII: Double Impact" port
featured both New Generation and 2nd Impact on one disk, and was
easily one the best 2D fighting games on the system.
Furthermore, 2nd Impact was one of the defining 2D fighters games of the
era... even though it didn't get much mainstream recognition. Still, 2nd
Impact made the bold statement that "traditional 2D fighters aren't
dead"... at a time that 3D fighters and 2D tag-team fighters were innovating
and dominating. For 2D fighting game fans that were paying attention in 1997-1998, 2nd
Impact's fresh roster, tight gameplay, and awesome presentation was not under-appreciated.
I personally enjoyed New Generation quite a bit, and quickly fell in love with 2nd
Impact. Of course, both games were important stepping stones to the great
sequel known as 3rd Strike.
In closing, 2nd Impact is still one of my favorite 2D fighters of all
time! On that note, I still strongly prefer 2nd Impact's beautiful
hand-drawn backgrounds, memorable music, and epic voice acting over 3rd Strike's... but of course,
3rd Strike is where it's at when it comes
to the best character roster & gameplay. Regardless, 2nd Impact will always have a
special place in my heart.