Garou: Mark of the Wolves is one of SNK’s finest moments. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is one of the greatest fighting games ever made. Both were under-appreciated classics upon their initial releases, but found dedicated fan bases thanks to excellent ports. But which is the best 2D fighting game? 3rd Strike fan Avion Foster-Jarvis and Garou lover Jeffrey L. Wilson debate the matter in an appropriate three round bout. But we want YOU to pick the winner. Leave a comment below. But for now — lets rumble!
AFJ: 3rd Strike is an amazingly tactical game. All other Street Fighter incarnations focus more on projectile spamming than actually learning to hit your opponent. 3rd Strike came out swinging with a cast that played mostly rushdown, but it’s not the offensive nature that makes the game so great. It’s the game-changing parry system. If you can parry, you can win. ‘Nuff said. There is nothing stopping you from getting out of a tight situation in 3rd Strike; I’ve seen players lose games that they could have perfected because the parry system allowed their opponent to make a huge comeback. That’s not all though; the game seems catered to bring in more casual players with it’s small use charge attacks. Only about four or so characters use charge attacks and even so, they still have the ability to use quarter-circle motions on some of their attacks, making the game accessible to just about anyone willing to try. And three Super Arts to choose from to strategize your playthrough beforehand? Yes, please. By far, the most annoying thing about 3rd Strike is the final boss, Gill. But, like I said: “If you can parry, you can win.” What does Garou have? Just Defend. Get outta here with that. What a cheap clone.
JLW: I’m a total SNK fanboy, but my higher brain does allow me to admit that Garou is a blatant Street Fighter III clone– but that doesn’t mean it’s a lesser game! SNK ditched Fatal Fury‘s familiar line sway to create a more traditional fighting game, tightened the engine, and crafted the best game in the series. Each fighter has a regular and advanced supers, which gives gamers extra options in how they want to use their power meters. And speaking of meters, the T.O.P. (Tactical Offensive Position), which lets you rope off a portion of the life bar, gives you a T.O.P. special attack, health regeneration, and higher damage output. Sure, Garou’s “Just Defend” is a super-obvious parry rip off, but SNK improved on it by making it more accessible. Instead of pushing forward to defend yourself (which is the most unnatural tactic you can do in a fighting game) you pull back to block at the last second. You can still eat a fist if you Just Defend too late, but most of the time you’ll execute a regular block if you blow the timing. Plus, Just Defend lets you regain energy (even on blows that do chip damage), air block, preserve your Guard Crush meter, and Guard Cancel into a special to quickly smash opponents. Who has time to sit in the digital dojo for hours for parry school?
Graphics and Character Design
AFJ: Graphically, there’s nothing that players haven’t seen before, aside from different color options. However, 3rd Strike Online gives the option to turn filters on. Now, it doesn’t do much, but bringing a once old school pixel look into the new age with a high-def look is a nice touch. On the animation side though, everything looks stunning; possibly to the point of tears. Hadoukens flow with ease and characters pose with glory, but it’s the little things that make the animations wonderful. Ryu’s gi flows in the wind when he poses, Q has civilians fleeing in terror when he arrives to a fight and the background interacts with the fight when someone hits the floor (i.e. the bottles and cans fly off the ground in Ken or Alex’s subway stage or how the tree shakes in Ibuki’s stage). 3rd Strike has always had an “urban” attitude about it so why not add-on that with some beautiful graffiti background illustrations? Oh wait, they did. The most Garou has going for it is that Terry stage with the night and day system, which I have to admit is really amazing in a 2D fighter.
JLW: 3rd Strike has monster animation, but let’s face it, outside of the returning Street Fighter II fighters, Elena, and Alex, the character designs are rubbish. Seriously, what did Capcom have in mind when designing Q? Garou, on the other hand, is all aces. It, too, has insane animation, which is a testament to SNK’s programmers as they were pushing what was a decade old hardware at the time. But look at the characters! SNK was ballsy enough to redesign it’s most popular character, Terry, giving him a cool, modern look which was far better than his All-American red, white, and blue Fatal Fury get up. Ryu is still sporting his funky gi from the original Street Fighter. Garou’s backgrounds shine, too. Not to keep harping on Terry, but his stage is the pinnacle of Garou’s excellent backgrounds as it the location and time of day change with each round.
Music and Sound
AFJ: 3rd Strike has a great soundtrack. It’s the first, and possibly last, Street Fighter to embrace hip-hop as main staple in the game rather than that J-pop/techno/classical instrumental fusion stuff every other Street Fighter tries to shove down your throat. The main menu and character select screen music are some of the best in the game and you’ll find yourself singing the tracks long after you have turned it off. 3rd Strike Online Edition has a remixed score songs to give you a new feel, and even those remixes are on point. Urien, Dudley, Ibuki and Makoto have incredible tracks. I can’t remember the last time I played an SNK game and thought the music was actually enjoyable.
JLW: You’ve got to be kidding me. Dudley’s music sounds like the trash you’d hear in an European night club, and Elena’s sounds like an unreleased C + C Music Factory track. You want to hear good fighting game music? Listen to Tizoc’s “Invincible Mask,” with its hard guitar and imposing horns. Hotaru’s “Full Moon” is soft composition with delightful wind instruments that showcase the audio variety. 3rd Strike can’t compete here…I’ll go as far as to say that Capcom hasn’t made a decent beginning-to-end fighting game soundtrack since Street Fighter II.
And thus we conclude the debate. Garou and 3rd Strike are excellent titles, but there can only be one winner. Make your decision in the comment area below!