Street Fighter Alpha 3: Upper

REVIEWSFA3: Upper is the Gameboy Advance port of Street Fighter Alpha 3. This version includes all the characters from the console versions of SFA3, but also adds 3 more fighters to the roster. Yun, Maki and Eagle from Capcom VS SNK 2 make the jump to the Alpha series!


"If you squint, you'll see a lot of characters!"


The first handheld version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 looks pretty good on the GBA, but the sprites definitely aren't arcade perfect. If you're well-acquainted with the visuals on the arcade or previous console versions, you'll immediately notice a few "cut corners" here and there. Character sprites have drastically been shrunk down in size, offering less pixels and less detail, but at least they still "look the part" and resemble the originals fairly well. The graphics might be slightly disappointing to those who are quite familiar with SFA's vibrant animated sprites, but a 9 year old kid who never played Street Fighter in his life wouldn't know the difference. 


A bad day for Adon at T. Hawk's stage.


I will say that the stages translated rather nicely to the Gameboy Advance. There's a certain charm to seeing the character sprites and especially the backgrounds "condensed" into smaller versions - which actually still look really good on the GBA screen. The stage BGMs translated fairly well, now with more of a "midi" sound to them... but are a bit too tinny and over-synthesized for my tastes. Even so, the updated tracks are still kinda cool to listen to if you're a fan of the original SFA3 soundtrack, even though they're quite downgraded from the originals.


A faiely good visual translation, overall.


The main flaw of SFA: Upper is expectedly, the controls. Depending on the character you choose, the controls will either feel "subpar at best" or just plain bad. The GBA directional pad can pull of hadokens and shoryukens okay, but 360s were damn near impossible (at least on the GBA I was using). This flaw renders characters like Zangief and R. Mika pretty useless, and that's a major flaw if you like using grapplers like I do. I haven't tried playing this game on a Nintendo DS, but I'd estimate there's a slight improvement in the controls when playing this game on a DS.


Dramatic Battle on Gameboy Advance? COOL.

As far as modes go, SFA3: Upper features the standard Arcade, VS (requiring 2 GBA systems & 2 games), Survival, and Time Attack. The Dramatic Battle mode also makes the jump from the Dreamcast version to the GBA version... and is arguably the most enjoyable aspect of the game. Three-man free for all battles are still pretty fun, even with non-arcade-perfect graphics and controls.


Page Updated: January 13th, 2022
Developer(s): Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
Artwork by: Bengus
Shinsuke Komaki
Rough drafts for endings
Platform(s): Gameboy Advance
Release Date(s): December 2002
Characters Ryu, Adon, Chun-Li, Guy, Ken, Dhalsim, Gen, Sakura, Rolento, Zangief, Charlie, Birdie, Rose, Sodom, Sagat, Akuma, Bison, Dan, E. Honda, Cody, Karin, Vega, Blanka, R.Mika, Cammy, Balrog, Juli, Juni, Guile, Fei Long, T. Hawk, Dee Jay, Yun, Maki, Eagle, Evil Ryu, Shin Akuma

Featured Video:

Related Games: Street Fighter Alpha 3: Max, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha: Anthology, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Revival, Ultra SF2, Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition, Guilty Gear X: Advance Edition, King of Fighters EX: Neo Blood, King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood, Tekken Advance, SNK Gals Fighters, SNK Vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium 

Gameplay Engine  7.5 / 10
Story / Theme  9.0 / 10
Overall Graphics  7.0 / 10
Animation  8.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.5 / 10
Innovation  7.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.5 / 10
Customization  9.0 / 10
Options / Extras  7.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  9.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  5.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  6.0 / 10
Characters  9.0 / 10

 7.8 / 10



Final Words:

Owning SFA3: Upper was no-brainer if you owned a Gameboy Advance. It was a decent attempt at handheld version of Street Fighter Alpha 3, but had noticeable flaws for arcade perfectionists. The downgraded graphics and iffy controls made me a bit sad.   I personally didn't find a reason to play this version very much, since all the game did was make me want to play the original Arcade or Dreamcast version. 

On the bright side, SFA3: Upper was succeeded by Street Fighter Alpha 3: Max for the PSP... which ended up being a portable version of SFA3 that Capcom could really be proud of - and much closer to arcade perfect. SFA3: Max (or Upper Upper) offers the same character roster, with the addition of Ingrid. If you're looking for the best handheld version of SFA3 to play (and one of the best Street Fighter titles on the market) you should definitely pick up SFA3: Max.
~TFG Webmaster | @FIGHTERS_GEN

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