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Pocket Fighters with Dave Murphy of Crawfish

Interview - Tom chats to the assistant producer on the GBA version of Street Fighter Alpha 3 - the best pocket fighter yet

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

In June 2002, Capcom revealed that combined worldwide sales of Street Fighter games had topped 25 million units, a landmark figure and the strongest representation to date of the series' phenomenal popularity. Fast forward to the present day and UK-based Crawfish have just polished off the GBA version of Street Fighter Alpha 3, one of the finest games to bear the famous name since the original 16-bit releases. This week, we spoke to assistant producer Dave Murphy about the game, which is due out in November from publisher Ubi Soft.

Alpha Advance

We wanted to know how Crawfish first came to work on SFA3. Dave was only too happy to tell us. "Crawfish first worked with Capcom on the Game Boy Color port of the original Street Fighter Alpha, the most impressive beat 'em up on the system," he modestly states. "With the Game Boy Advance on the way, we approached Capcom with a proposal for the highly popular sequel, promising the full roster of characters and spot-on gameplay. A deal was made and soon after Street Fighter Alpha 3 went into development."

Given the differences in hardware, one might expect a reduced version of the Dreamcast version of the game, but the truth is quite different. "Street Fighter Alpha 3 GBA is based on the near arcade perfect Dreamcast version," he confirmed. "The plan was to recreate this as closely as possible on the GBA and the result is a very accurate port of possibly the best 2D fighter ever."

In porting such a complex game to the GBA, Crawfish obviously ran into difficulties. Retaining the game's complex play mechanics proved quite a mission. "The controls were a big issue in the development of Street Fighter. As with most games in the genre, Street Fighter uses a standard six-button configuration (three punches and three kicks) but of course the GBA has only 4 buttons. The default setup for SFA3 places the heaviest attacks on the A and B buttons, with the light attacks on L and R and Finally, medium strength attacks can be performed with a simultaneous press of A and R or B and L. There is also a configuration option where any attack can be assigned to each of the six commands."

"Another issue with the Game Boy Advance's controls was the difficulty of performing some of the more complex attacks. The size of the D-pad combined with the position of the shoulder buttons can make Super Combos quite a challenge in desperate situations. For this we added a new 'simple' command option. When activated this allows the player to perform these special manoeuvres with a simplified input (e.g. Ken's Shoryu-reppa is normally two quarter-circle forwards plus punch, but with the simple method it is only quarter-circle forward plus A and B). Hopefully this should also make the game more accessible to new players."

In translating the game for its new home, Crawfish has also touched it up to include three GBA-exclusive characters in a roster of 37. "The new challengers are; Eagle from Street Fighter, Maki of Final Fight 2 and Yun from the Street Fighter 3 series." In typical Street Fighter fashion though, it's only the true masters who will get to see them. "All three of the new characters along with four of the originals are hidden at first, and must be unlocked by playing the various modes."

Old enough

The final thing on our minds concerned the game's predecessors, and how the GBA version compares to them. With a contorted control system and new characters to its name, even veterans of SFA3 will need to take some time to master the game once again. But will they really want to?

"I am very pleased with how SFA3 has turned out," Dave tells us. "Being a diehard Street Fighter myself, I wanted to make sure this was the best port we could possibly make. Even with the cut down resolution and memory we were able to recreate the same smooth game play and distinctive graphics of the console versions. Overall I would say this is a great port and a worthy addition to the Street Fighter legacy."

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