While I love the Street Fighter IV series, I have long been of the belief that its single-player modes leave a bit to be desired. Even the Arcade Mode seems to lack the same "cool factor" that some past iterations had. The opening and ending cut-scenes often feel overly random, and the only special feature as you make your way to Seth, SF4's final boss, is the "Fight Your Rival!" match that offers little more than some fun in-match banter from the characters. Beyond Arcade Mode, the single-player experience essentially only extends to the obligatory Training Mode and Trials. You can participate in classic Street Fighter mini-games such as car crushing and barrel smashing as well, but their nostalgic allure only goes so far.
However, I know that most players are much more interested in fighting games given their competitive nature, and as such, developers are putting more and more focus on making sure that the overall character balance and online playability are carefully fine-tuned in effort to make head-to-head play as satisfying as possible. That is absolutely for the best, but there are still those of us who adore fighting games despite not having anyone to regularly go into Versus Mode with, an arcade to play them at, or even the time it takes to train enough to have any conceivable chance against others in online play. This is where some older home ports like that of Street Fighter Alpha 3 got it oh so right.
With a Survival Mode testing your resolve against an endless onslaught of opponents, "World Tour" Mode where you can level up your characters almost RPG-style as you take on the rest of the cast in a series of unique challenges, and the Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie-inspired "Dramatic Battle" Mode, where you battle all of the boss characters Street Fighter II style (only this time in an awesome tag-team with Ryu and Ken), there was plenty to keep you playing Alpha 3 even on your own.
Just check out this video of popular Youtube fighting game hype-master Maximilian having all the fun in the world with the Dramatic Battle Mode to see what I mean:
That kind of sheer joy is a huge part of what playing video games should be all about, right? I understand the importance of focusing mostly on the two-player, competitive side of fighting games, but I'd still really love to see a continued push towards making sure the single-player experience also retains replayability beyond brutal trophy and achievement grinding.
Despite all of this talk, I admit it may be overly Street Fighter-based. There are many other current fighters I have yet to get around to. There are so many games and yet so little time! If there are some newer games with excellent single-player options as strong as those in Street Fighter Alpha 3, be sure to hit me up about them in the comment section!