Before I start, I would like to state that I have been playing Street Fighter since SF1, and although I hated the hell out of it, I continued on towards 2, and played ever since then... However, it was until the New Generation series that I actually put my gameplay level of it to the max and went to various tournaments, written reviews about it, purchased memorabilia of it and basically name it as my all time hobby of all time (playing it.) Also, this view of it starts from New Generation itself, continuing all the way to 3rd strike.
New Generation: I was a street kid I can say. Doing stupid things, graffiti, starting trouble, stealing things ETC. I was troubled somewhat, but still just a basic inner city youth looking for something to do. I was already a gamer, I'm 28 now, only child, been gaming all my life basically. Had just about every console you can name after Coleco Vision.
In 1997, when NG was coming out, I was already bored of SF2 because they kept coming out with revisions, and things were changing constantly in the game engine, and I was tired of it, although it did start me in the fighting game genre. I just needed something new. When I saw the announcement for SFIII in GamePro, the first thing I noticed was that they had the illustrations for the game... And to someone like me, it was the most amazing site I had ever seen. The characters illustrations were new, urban, something almost of really a new generation in my eyes. They were raw.
I used to play a lot of games on a street called St. Marks Place since the 80's. It used to be a pretty bad place to be if you were an outsider, but was the greatest place if you were from the neighborhood. Anyway, so I was cool with the guy who used to bring games to the deli which had games constantly and he would bring games upon my request since I frequented the place since my early youth, and so I told him to bring SFIII. He was able to obtain a beta of the game weeks before the official release, and I was able to play it earlier... Let me tell you, it was one of the greatest times of my life that I will never forget. Of course I started with Ryu, since he's always the main character, and to get a feel of the engine. Next I played with Oro, who felt like a character unlike any other in other games. It was when I chose Ibuki was when I knew I was getting myself into something that I could never turn my back on...
When I first used the parry system, all jokes aside, but it was somewhat orgasmic that something so exquisite; yet simple could reside inside of a video game. I couldn't remember or think of any other game with such a simple, yet effective and fun way to change a games play with simply tapping forward on the joystick. I told him to put the CPU on level 8 so that the CPU would do ridiculous things and I could try to parry them. I remember one of my friends who wasn't too experienced in games could parry Dudley's Machine Gun Blow+HP, and I couldn't. That made me angry, since I was the more hardcore gamer. Until the time I parried it, I officially stated that I would play the game hard till the end... And I have, ever since.
2nd Impact: Let me tell you, 2nd Impact LITERALLY made an impact on me what with the engine overhaul. Leap attacks able to link into normals, specials and supers, hit confirming was a new thing (though so broken in this game,) more characters... But the main thing that caught my attention was the music. It was definitely a total refresh of video game music in general, something unheard of in common video games at the time. Experimental music, acid jazz, jungle music, it was totally amazing. By this time, I was interested in travelling around the city to other arcades/pizzerias (yes, pizza shops, deli's and chinese restaurants around this time had video games in them!) I finally remembered to go to Chinatown Fair. I had not been there for years since I was playing right near my house in a small "arcade" where my requested games would be. I had been playing other games around this time too. Alpha 2, Xmen vs Street Fighter, was the type who knew at least basic infinites, but wasn't going to tournaments or anything like that. I remember why I didn't go to Chinatown Fair for a while it was because I fought Justin Wong in Alpha 2 when it was about 5 months old, and I was using Ryu, he was using Akuma, and he destroyed me, crushing my confidence level of ever going back there, especially because he was younger than me. Anyway. So I decided to go back there, and there was a lot of good players. OG mention-able and notable players and really great people are Flash Gordon, Eddie Lee, Justin Wong, Jeron, Sayid, and literally the person who encouraged me to continue playing and taught me combos out the ass: OJ. These are CF regulars from years ago, and also legends. If you don't know them, I'm sad you don't, these are awesome people in general aside from gaming too.
I found myself trying to really beat Eddie Lee, Justin Wong, Flash Gordon, and Justin Wong though, as they were the absolute best players there. I could never beat them, and it was mostly for personal gain just to brag to myself. Until the day I finally beat them individually, I was ecstatic that I could get to such a level in it, the game was broken as hell, but broken wasn't a thing people were talking about back then, it was just an awesome game until...
Before this next point, I would like to apologize about how I made it so personal to myself, but I just want you all to understand the way I see this game as something more than a "game" and something along the lines of a masterpiece in art, music, leisure ETC.
3rd Strike: You may find this strange, but when 3S first came out, I was really unexcited about it. I was angry at the fact that they changed the leap attacks to mp+mk, that they were slower too, there was not many hit confirms (at the time known,) most of the good characters (Sean, Yang, Ibuki) were toned down so badly that they were "unplayable," that I still stuck to 2I while everyone was busy doing tourneys and abandoning 2I. I was doing combo videos with a 2mp HP camera and posting them on geocities on a "website" with 3 colors and no pictures (which is gone now,) and everyone was enjoying 3S.
After about 2 years of not playing it anymore, I jumped back into it when Youtube was out (about 2005,) and seen the possibilities of the new engine, and went back into it... And thus, here's the meat of this view, coming up.
First off, 3rd Strike, phewwww brother. When I got into it, the first thing I noticed was the music.
Has anyone ever heard Jungle/Drum & Bass music in a video game before of it's calibur? I've always been into music since I was a child, many types of music, but I've always loved Drum & Bass/Jungle, Hip Hop and Jazz. Grew up with them. Hideko Okugawa (the producer of the music for 3S as well as Jet Grind Radio, one of my other most favorite games of all time which I have a video of on my youtube,) made the music for this, and created music for a video game that was not only ahead of it's time in video games, but also ahead of it's own in general.
The audio of the game simply blew me away. The sound effects, the before the fight jingle, the new parry sound effect. It was all simply amazing to me, and still till this day, no matter how often I hear the same song over and over, I can honestly admit, I can NEVER get tired of any of the songs.
Aside from the audio, the graphics. What can I say about the graphics that hasn't already been said about, let's say; Fantasia? The amount of artwork, of frames added per character... It's quite astonishing. A lot of people don't look at it in an artistic way, but the way I see it, the creators of the game are from a place that urban people understand, a place where grime, crime, fighting, culture, music ETC is at. A lot may not know, but a lot of the associates are from former bad areas of Tokyo and Osaka, that's where the grit of the game comes from. Some may see it like they stereotype NY as some place full of garbage and graffiti... But come on, I'm from NYC, it WAS like that at those times, and it WAS full of grime, and it WAS a place of various music types, though the game is not based in NY, but the overall feel was reminiscent of my place. They also generalize the other cities in the game exactly the way they really are, and other games did not do shit like that, they just were like "this is Korea, there's a bunch of Tae Kwon Do students just chilling around... Because this is Korea."
It's so hard for me to go in depth as much as I really want because I'm not sure anyone who reads this will even go this far into my rant about the series, but if you did, I have lots more to tell you... But, I have the itch to play some 3SO online right now, but I will conclude this for the time being. If you have the ability to comment on this post however, please do so so I can have the confidence that I can spread the reason why the game is such a cult classic and something that can really satisfy any type of game players need for gaming, whether they be a shmup player (I am, hehe,) to an FPS player. Heck, I used to play Unreal Tournament hardcore on Dreamcast and PC till 3S came out.
Anyway, till next time, hope you enjoyed this, there's definitely so much more to come about it, peace.