There are a few Virtual Console options for New Nintendo 3DS-owning Street Fighter fans such as a speedy Street Fighter II, a sixteen-character Street Fighter II and this eShop release that stands out on account of not being Street Fighter II. Released in 1996 this SNES port of Street Fighter Alpha 2 may have been overlooked at the time of its original release with gamers moving to the fifth generation systems, but with a new look and some gameplay changes it offered something different to earlier Street Fighting action on the system.
Character-wise Alpha 2 mixes some of the very familiar SF2 faces with those from the first Street Fighter and Final Fight, whilst chucking in a few newbies too. In total there are eighteen fighters to choose from, with a mix of styles that are fun to fight with and against.
Visually the game looks very impressive with a colourful anime-style and a range of locations with small background movements and flickering lights adding to the atmosphere. Compared to the original arcade (or Playstation and Saturn ports) there has been a downgrade in detail and trims to the animation, but here the smaller screen of the New 3DS makes these deficiencies less noticeable. One thing that won't go unnoticed, however, are the loading times. In a sign of how much Capcom was pushing the system, after the announcer has called the round number and shouted "Fight!" the game freezes for a few seconds before the brawling actually commences.
There's some good music in the game that adds to the excitement of battle, but the sound effects and speech are of a low quality, being a little distorted and with voices often sounding distant. The game is also silent before a round starts and silent again once the knockout blow is delivered; it's not a big problem, but a little eerie.
Whilst bringing the game to the SNES meant a few sacrifices had to be made, bringing it to the New 3DS has also caused an expected omission. Unlike NES Virtual Console releases these SNES titles do not offer download play and so the game can only be played in single player. As a release on a portable system multiplayer may not be used as much as on a console, but to not have the ability to play against a friend at all is disappointing.
For the single player game you fight against eight other fighters, with success rewarding you with your character's ending. Not everyone has the same final opponent, which adds some variety to the proceedings. Do well in your battles and you may be challenged by a rival and later a more powerful version of Akuma. With a maximum of ten fights and no bonus rounds the game can be cleared quickly, which can allow for a complete playthrough if you have a break in your travels or are just lounging about at home. Of course if you do need to step away from the game, the usual suspension and restore point functions are present.
There are a few things that make Alpha 2 a different experience to SF2, and it's not just the new look and character lineup. Air-blocking, alpha counters and a three-level super combo meter all help give a different feel to the fights, as do the custom combos that can be performed. You don't have to master these straight away and with eight difficulty settings you can lower the challenge to master the basics before working out how to string together moves in a devastating custom combo.
The option menu also allows you to adjust the time limit and the number of rounds in a fight, as well as giving choices for damage and speed levels. The standard electronic manual is available to provide help with performing moves and the buttons can be remapped by pausing the game and tapping select.
If you find you are struggling to perform the super combo moves, then turning on auto-blocking will help you out. Whilst the main point of the auto-block option is of course to aid in defence it also simplifies the method for pulling off a super combo, requiring you to simply press two buttons together. Using this option you are limited to a single-level super combo meter, but it's useful if you are finding them too fiddly.
There are low-quality speech/sound effects and as expected no multiplayer, but there's a good range of characters and options to play with for the single player mode. There was a visual downgrade in bringing the game to the SNES, but outside of the pre-fight pauses nothing is particularly noticeable. New additions to the combat system and mastering the characters will keep you occupied for a while, meaning that Street Fighter Alpha 2 remains fun to play - even you are limited to playing alone.