SF purists should own the definitive Alpha collection, but only if they have an arcade stick. by Vaughn Smith
June 29, 2006 – Capcom has done the SF Alpha series justice with this compilation that features arcade perfect renditions of the popular fighting franchise. Featuring 4 iterations of Alpha – SF Alpha, SF Alpha 2, SF Alpha 2 Gold, SF Alpha 3 and the puzzle/fighter hybrid Super Gem Fighter MiniMix – gamers who believe that video game fighting was meant to be in 2D will be in their ultimate glory. The only fly in the ointment is the Dual Shock controller which just doesn’t come close to feeling as good as it should. The analog stick just doesn’t cut it and the d-pad feels a tad askew in terms of pulling off those deliciously devastating special attacks.
The directional controls for Ken or Ryu’s fireball attacks haven’t always been common knowledge. Back in 1987 when the original Street Fighter was released (only Ken and Ryu were playable characters) gamers would find themselves accidentally unleashing hell on an unsuspecting opponent with a fireball, dragon punch or whirlwind kick. For the longest time arcade-goers, including myself, assumed these attacks were randomly generated. If memory serves me correctly, the original “secret moves” of the big 3 special attacks were more complicated to execute than in the genre-busting sequel, Street Fighter 2, which put fighting games on the map for the last decade and a half.
SFA was originally released in the arcades in 1995 and was to be a prequel to SFII while existing as a sequel to the original game. Capcom designed the characters to look more youthful – due to the timeline as they were supposed to be younger – and created more of a stylized anime along the lines of their recently released Darkstalkers game which was proving to be quite popular among arcade-goers. Unfortunately while the SFA game found in this collection is pixel perfect, it wasn’t originally that well received by fans who found the animation lacking and the fighting stages limited in comparison to Darkstalkers. I would almost highly recommend skipping SFA entirely on the Anthology and load up SFA2 or SFA2: Gold as it features more balanced fighting, increased roster, more fluid animation and overall doesn’t feel as though it was rushed out the door back in 1995 to keep up with market interest.
You’re not alone if you consider SFA3 to be the pinnacle of the entire series. The homage to the “ism” mechanic, borrowed and improved upon from the King of Fighters series makes SFA3 a far more advanced game than any 2D fighter released. The 3 “ism’s” are selected at the start so that players can approach the third Alpha game exactly as they see fit and conveniently Player 2 can select his/her own Ism as well. A-Ism allows players to play the game according to the rules set forth in the original Alpha game, Warriors Dreams. X-Ism allows the player a single combo and a single bar to worry about. V-sim allows the player variable combos which is further complimented by the games more lenient juggling combos. I understand that most of you reading this review don’t require handholding when it comes to the various ins and outs of the series; you either know it or you shouldn’t be in here. So hit the road posers!
While each game features a dizzying array of rosters, some which feature your favorites and some which don’t, a nice hidden unlockable is Hyper Street Fighter Alpha which allows all of the SF characters to have it and there are many cool moves to be unlocked and discovered.
Each game comes fully loaded with the usual assortment of modes – Arcade, Versus, Survival, Dramatic Battle, and Training – so you’ll find almost everything you could possibly want, with the exception of the World Tour mode in SFA3. Not sure why it didn’t make the cut, but I’m still expecting to be able to unlock it sometime down the line.
As mentioned, the visuals are really pixel perfect and if you really are a SFA fan, you’ll delight in having this home collection, which looks a damn site better than anything previously released for the classic home consoles (PlayStation, Saturn, Dreamcast).
The one drawback is the control which screams for an arcade stick as the PS2 controller just honestly doesn’t cut in terms of directional control. The buttons are fine and while the button layout config leaves a little to be desired, it’s nothing you can’t get used to. I have an X Arcade stick which is currently on a moving truck, so it’s not accessible, but I can imagine it will literally turn this game from being a damn good port into 100% arcade perfect. The load times have been greatly diminished (from previous ports) and the amount of unlockables are pretty staggering. Overall this Alpha Anthology is worth its weight in arcade gold bullion for those who will appreciate the attention to detail Capcom delivered in this $29.99 collection.
- Street Fighter Alpha brings together a cast of 13 characters from the collective Street Fighter Universe: Ryu, Chun-Li, Ken, Charlie plus 9 more. This title introduces the use of super combos and alpha counters to add new dimensions to fighting.
- Street Fighter Alpha 2 launches with 18 electrifying characters: Akuma, M. Bison, Gen and much more. Players can use the new Custom Combo system to perform devastating multi-hit combos using the super meter. New high and low Alpha counters were also introduced to increase battles.
- Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold is an enhanced version of its predecessor.
- Street Fighter Alpha 3 includes an un precedented 25 characters and offers players the choice of three “isms” fighting styles.
1. X-ism: Simple fighting style with one powerful Super Combo
2. A-ism: Standard fighting style with several Super Combos
3. V-ism: Variable fighting style including Custom Combos
- Super Gem Fighter MiniMix is a miniature version of the popular Capcom fighters in fierce battles. Collect power-up gems to perform an array of special attacks and powerful combos.
By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director