The third and final iteration of Street Fighter III, 3rd Strike further updates the game's roster (adding five new characters, including Chun-Li from earlier Street Fighter games) and gameplay mechanics (updating the commands for many special abilities while adding a special "Guard Parry" maneuver) while featuring a new graphical style, a new grading system (the "Judgement System"), new stages, and a brand new soundtrack (which is heavily influenced by drum-and-bass and house music).
The game takes place after the events of Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact - Giant Attack (itself a story update of Street Fighter III: New Generation), telling the story of what happens after the World Warrior Tournament.
Along with numerous console ports throughout the years (some of which add online multiplayer capability), the original version was later digitally re-released for arcades in November 6, 2014 via the NESiCAxLive platform for the PC-based Taito Type X² system. Released exclusively in Japan, this system allowed players to keep track of their Versus Mode stats via a special card and included online leaderboards.
Since its original arcade release, the game received numerous ports:
- It was first ported to the Dreamcast in Japan (on June 29, 2000), in North America (on October 4, 2000), and in Europe (sometime in 2000). Along with several modes and customizable game settings, it features an updated soundtrack (with a new remixed theme for the third round of each match).
- It was later ported to the PlayStation 2 exclusively in Japan on July 19, 2004, which was bundled in North America with Hyper Street Fighter II: The Anniversary Edition (and the 1994 animated film Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie) in both Korea (on July 22, 2004) and North America (on August 31, 2004) as part of Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. The bundle was later ported to the Xbox in Japan (on October 28, 2004), Europe (on October 29, 2004), and North America (on February 22, 2005), adding online multiplayer support via Xbox Live.
- It received a digitally-released port by Iron Galaxy for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on August 23, 2011. Titled Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike - Online Edition, this version features online multiplayer (using the GGPO netcode system) with an online lobby system (with lobbies for up to eight players). It also includes the option to save/watch replays, optional visual filters, bonus gameplay options, in-depth training modes, bonus unlockable content, and an optional remixed soundtrack by Simon Viklund.
- It will also be included in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection compilation (with online multiplayer support) on May 29, 2018.
The goal of the game is to deplete a opponent's vitality meter before the times runs out. If players deplete their meters at the same time, it will result in double KO giving both a round win. If the round ends in a draw, the match will be determined by performance of both players.
After every three matches in arcade mode, players can partake in bonus stages. Introduced in 2nd Impact, players can parry multiple basketballs thrown by Sean and the car crushing mode from Final Fight is here.
Parrying is a significant technical addition to the Street Fighter III series (referred in the Japanese version as "blocking"; in Japan blocking an attack is referred as "guarding") where players must react by pressing forward (for a high attack) or down (for a low attack) an opponent's attack to deflect as well as receive no damage if an attack depletes vitality when blocked. When performed, this renders the opponent defenseless for a counterattack. New to 3rd Strike is the "Guard Parry" where players can parry during their "Guard Stun" stance creating a red visual effect instead of the usual blue.
3rd Strike also broadened the timing window to perform a parry, reducing the risk of a parry and increasing its accessibility to new players.
Parrying allows both players to instantly wrest control of the fight's momentum, moving it away from excessive "sitting in the corner and blocking" and "attacking relentlessly" that hinders most fighting games' restrictive combat flow. The lure of a parry's potential success or failure, offers the attacking and defending players myriad options for mind games, since at any time the player's attack can be used against the player.
Similar to the "Super Combo" systems in Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha series , Street Fighter III uses a powerful special move system referred to as "Super Arts." While other Street Fighter games allows players to access multiple supers with one meter, every character throughout the III series has three unique Super Arts which players can pick only one when fighting their opponent (while Akuma can use two hidden additional Super Arts giving players a total of three combined with a chosen main).
Aside from their effects, each Super Art has different properties including the number of bar stocks it can hold and its meter length. These properties can also determine if players can use more powerful special moves known as "EX Moves." Introduced in 2nd Impact, EX Moves requires players to perform the same motion as they would with a normal special move but with an additional attack button simultaneously. A player's character will flash yellow to indicate that an EX move has executed. EX Moves can only be performed when the Super Art meter fills a certain portion indicated with flashing.
The command for throwing has changed requiring the player to press both light punch and kick buttons at the same time while previously throughout the Street Fighter franchise required only one button press. "Grapple defense" (or technical throws) return from 2nd Impact allowing players to escape an enemy throw by also performing a throw command.
Street Fighter III: New Generation introduced "leap attacks" which allows players to perform small jumping attacks against crouched opponents has also received a command change; now performed with pressing both strong punch and kick buttons simultaneously.
Taunting, or "Personal Action," available in 2nd Impact returned in 3rd Strike. Players can access taunts by simultaneously pressing both fierce punch and kick buttons at the same time. Each character's taunt is also accompanied by an additional benefit if completed successfully; for example, Ryu's taunt will lower his stun gauge, whereas Q's taunt raises his maximum stamina.
Grading and Judgement
After every match, both winner and loser receive a grade on how they performed. Many aspects of the system include offense, defense, technical, and extra points. This can be used to help pick a winner in the "Judgement System" where if the match ends in a draw, the Judgement System can calculate who has done better in the match.
- Makoto - A young Rindo-kan Karate practitioner from Japan seeking to bring glory to her late father's dojo.
- Remy - A Savate practitioner from France who holds a grudge against all martial artists (after his father abandoned his family, leaving Remy's sister to die, to pursue the path of a warrior).
- Twelve - A shapeshifting android and the ultimate result of Gill's secret "G-Project". A mass-produced weapon, the original Twelve is sent to locate and retrieve Necro.
- Chun-Li - Returning from previous Street Fighter games. A police officer from China who also teaches martial arts to orphans. She enters the tournament to rescue a young orphan girl kidnapped by Urien.
- Q - A very mysterious individual sighted in crime scene photographs of unsolved murders all over the world. Although he is in the main roster, he is only fought against as a hidden sub-boss.
- Akuma (Gouki in the Japanese version) - No longer requires a special command to select. His "Shin" version from the previous iteration was removed.
- Gill (final boss, only playable in the console versions with a cheat code)
Two soundtracks of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike have been released. The first version was based on the original music from the arcade builds of 3rd Strike while the successor was an arranged version from the console releases. The soundtracks were composed by Hideki Okugawa with contributions by Canadian hip-hop rapper Infinite.
- Alex & Ken's stage, "Jazzy NYC'99"
- Necro & Twelve's stage, "Snowland"
- Hugo's stage, "The Circuit"
- Chun-Li's stage, "China Vox"
- Ryu's stage, "Kobu"
- Ibuki's stage, "Twilight"
- Makoto's stage, "Spunky"
- Akuma's stage, "Killing Moon"
- Elena's stage, "Beat in my Head"
- Sean & Oro's stage, "The Longshorehan"
- Dudley's stage, "You Blow my Mind"
- Yun & Yang's stage, "Crowded Street"
- Remy's stage, "The Beep"
- Q's theme, "Q"
- Urien's stage, "Crazy Chili Dog"
- Gill's stage, "Psych Out"