Street Fighter EX
(1996) Street Fighter EX (1997) Street Fighter EX Plus (1998) Street Fighter EX2 (1999) Street Fighter EX2 Plus (2000) Street Fighter EX3
- Super Cancelling - the ability to cancel a Super into another Super up to three times
- Guard Break - breaks through an opponent's block, costs one Super level
- Excel Combo (EX2) - similar to Custom Combos, just go crazy
- Meteor Combo (EX2 Plus) - a level-three Super
- Surprise Blow (EX3) - replaces Guard Break
- Momentary Combo (EX3) - quickly links specials together
- Critical Parade (EX3) - virtually identical to a Variable Cross, costs two Super levels
- Meteor Tag Combo (EX3) - essentially a dual Meteor Combo, costs three Super levels
With all the anticipation surrounding the console release of Street Fighter IV, it's easy to forget there's already been a 3D Street Fighter series. Street Fighter EX was co-produced by Capcom and Arika, a company started by former Capcom employees including Akira Nishitani. Arika also developed the Everblue series on the PS2. The first Street Fighter EX made a big deal out of Super Cancelling, where virtually any move, including a Super, could be cancelled into another Super.
Street Fighter EX may have looked pretty rough with very blocky 3D characters, but when you consider its release was pre-Tekken 3, you can give it a bit of leeway. At least it kept the 2D fighter gameplay alive. Most of the included Street Fighter characters played in their classic styles - although Ryu and Ken's Hurricane Kicks now required multiple inputs in order to link the various hits.
As well as a few classic Street Fighters, EX also contained original characters designed by Arika. Many of these were given stories to try and link them better to the Street Fighter universe. D. Dark, for instance, used to serve under Guile in the military and had his unit attacked by Rolento. Supposedly he blamed Guile for the massacre and sought revenge. Oh yeah, he also used to be called Holger, went psycho under the name Doctrine Dark and fights with chains and booby-traps.
Shortly after EX, Akira released EX Plus, which unlocked all the secret characters, including Akuma, Blair and Allen, and also ported EX to the PS1 as Street Fighter EX Plus a. EX proved popular enough that fans were treated to a sequel in Street Fighter EX2. EX2 played pretty much the same as the last game, although the Custom Combo system that proved popular in Alpha 2 was added as the Excel Combo. New characters included the sword-wielding Hayate, and if that wasn't overdoing it enough, new girl Sharon showed up packing an assault rifle.
EX2, and its update EX2 Plus, didn't improve the graphics dramatically over the previous game. Ryu and friends just didn't have the same charm in 3D as they did in 2D - more down to the arcade technology than anything else. They just looked plain and uninspired - perhaps why Arika went so out of its way to "spice up" the new fighters. Still, compared to all the fighters on the Hyper Neo Geo 64, Street Fighter EX really wasn't half bad.
As the first game here not to get an arcade release, Street Fighter EX3 was a PS2 exclusive, and, more tellingly, very close to the console's launch. Its biggest feature was the tag gameplay everybody seemed desperate to put in their game at the time. No amount of Meteor Tag Combos, with Ryu and Ken Dragon Punching someone at the same time, could stop EX3 feeling like a rush job. EX3 had virtually no new characters, Akuma was glaringly absent and ignoring the tag system it played virtually identical to EX2 Plus.
The Street Fighter EX series is fun enough to play today and chaining three Supers together is still a definite high. But they were never a patch on most of the other Street Fighter games. Still, they're better than Final Fight Revenge. Arika can at least be thankful for that.