Street Fighter III was the long-awaited proper sequel to Street Fighter II, Capcom's premiere fighting game. Unfortunately, by the time SFIII came out, nobody cared anymore. 5 versions of SFII, 4 Street Fighter Alpha games, and the three Marvel Vs. Series titles had been released before this game. That's 12 Street Fighter games that didn't weren't III.
However, for those of us patient enough to wait, the game was well worth it. Some of the crazier antics of Street Fighter Alpha were removed; No air-blocking, no auto-blocking options, and characters were back down to just 1 Super move each, now called "Super Arts." Sort of. Players have the option of 3 separate Super Arts, but select 1 to use during the fight. This allowed players to best match their Super Art to their play style.
Additionally, SFIII introduced the Parry ("Block" In Japan): By pressing the joystick towards your opponent (or by pressing down for low attacks) the instant before an attack connected, players could knock their opponent's attack away and leave them vulnerable for a split-second. This tactic essentially nullified Fireball spamming, as players could knock projectiles away with a simple flick of the joystick.
Street Fighter III: New Generation
The original arcade cabinets for SFIII didn't include the words "Street Fighter" anywhere, and the game was simply referred to as "III: A New Generation Of Fighters." In addition to the above features, there were eleven playable characters: Alex, Dudley, Elena, Ibuki, Necro, Oro, Sean Matsuda, Yun and Yang, plus the returning Ryu and Ken Masters. Yang was selectable by choosing Yun with a Kick button, and the two had an identical moveset. After defeating all opponents, players would face Gill, a half-red, half-blue man that resembled a Greek God. Fittingly, Gill was fought in front of the Mediterranean Sea.
The lack of familiar faces and total change in gameplay style caused the game to be met with a lukewarm reception; By this point, most casual gamers were done with fighting games and moving on to the 3D platformer games offered on the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation.
Interestingly, the beta versions of New Generation didn't even include Ryu and Ken. The game was all-new characters (hence, "A New Generation of Fighters"), which was met with piss-poor reviews. Capcom scrambled, and decided to add the original Shotos back into the game by recycling Sean's sprite and adding new heads (which explains the spectacular "explosion" effect of their dougis when executing a Hadouken - The animation was originally used for Sean's Hadou-Burst Super Art).
Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact: Giant Attack
Released in 1998, 2nd Impact re-balanced a bit of gameplay from New Generation, made Yang a separate character from Yun and changed some of his moves, and added Final Fight's Hugo and Gill's brother, Urien to the lineup. Akuma also made his SFIII-franchise debut, as a hidden character.
The biggest change in SFIII, however, was the addition of EX moves. When executing a special move, if the player presses two appropriate buttons instead of just one, their character will flash yellow, and the move will often do an extra hit, or inflict extra damage. For example, if Ken executes a fireball by pressing down, down-toward, toward, and 2 punch buttons, he will flash yellow, and his fireball will now do 2 hits instead of just one. Using EX moves will use up half of one bar of Super Art meter.
Street Fighter III: New Generation and Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact: Giant Attack were sold in a on a single disc for the Sega Dreamcast, under the name Street Fighter III: Double Impact.
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike: Fight For the Future
The last Street Fighter game released for a decade, 3rd Strike came out in 1999, and fixed nearly every problem players had with the SFIII franchise. Hitboxes were tightened up, so if there wasn't sprite overlap, characters wouldn't hit each other. Yun and Yang were individualized even further. Gill was given a cool glowing effect, to further show the power of Capcom's CPS3 arcade hardware. Akuma was added to the regular character select screen, and fan-favorite character Chun-Li was added to the roster, albeit with a nearly completely new moveset. Four new characters were added: Makoto, a sassy Karate student;Q, a mystery man in a coat; Remy, a raver kid with moves similar to Guile; and Twelve, one of Gill's genetic experiments, sent out to capture Necro.