(Super Nintendo)

Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Street Fighter Alpha 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

Akuma Matata

Street Fighter II casts an indelibly long shadow over the rest of Capcom's fighting games from the 1990s. First launched in 1991, SFII in all its Super and Turbo varieties has become synonymous with the Street Fighter franchise, a cultural touchstone the series wasn't truly able to move past until the launch of the successful Street Fighter IV in 2008. In that seventeen-year interval, Capcom put out a smörgåsbord of updates and spin-offs: six different versions of Street Fighter II, three different editions of Street Fighter III, three entries in the polygonal Street Fighter EX series, and a trilogy of iterations of today's topic: Street Fighter Alpha. The middle entry in the Alpha trilogy, 1996's Street Fighter Alpha 2, came a year after the first and is the only one of the three to see a Nintendo home console release.

If for some reason you've never heard of Street Fighter, here's the lowdown: you choose from a motley crew of combatants to duke it out in a one-on-one, best-of-three battle. You've got three different punches and three different kicks assigned to the face buttons and shoulder buttons, along with the ability to string together all sorts of nifty combo attacks – you can pore over the character-by-character combo overviews in the instruction manual to learn the more advanced moves, although waiting for the Wii U's digital manual to load breaks the flow of play slightly more than in the good ol' days when you could just take a gander at your fun physical booklet for reference. As you wade deeper into the experience, there are fancy techniques like "super combos" and "alpha counters," but you don't need to worry about that right away; the longer you play Street Fighter, the more tricks and tactics you'll uncover.

The Alpha series serves as a prequel to the wildly popular SFII, set after the events of the oft-forgotten original Street Fighter from 1987. As a result, Alpha's biggest hook is that we get to see younger versions of everyone's favourite martial artists like Chun-Li and Zangief – this prequel mindset carries over to every aspect of the game, from the stages to the colour palette to the musical selection. Alpha 2's tunes aren't quite as memorable as the legendary SFII soundtrack, but it's still a pleasure to listen to as you punch people in the face with a few remixes of familiar themes. Launching so late in the Super Nintendo's lifespan, Capcom put the pedal to the SNES hardware's metal, as Alpha 2 features gloriously high production values with drop-dead gorgeous cinematics and intricately detailed character sprites. Each character (and the announcer) has their own voiceover work, sometimes in Japanese and other times in awkward English – the sound quality is tinny, but this cheesy voice work adds to the cartoonish charm of Street Fighter. There seems to be a slight hiccup at the beginning of each battle as the game freezes for a second after displaying the "FIGHT!" text, but aside from that the frame rate runs as smooth as marmalade.

Street Fighter is famous for its over-the-top colourful characters (taken to an extreme with SFIV), but Alpha 2 gives us a glimpse of the other side of the franchise's artistic coin; the anime-style artwork takes an ever-so-slightly more realistic, mature tone than SFII, without veering too far into grimdark Mortal Kombat territory. Character models are as bright and colourful as ever, but the stages often take on a more subdued, desaturated look than we're used to seeing in Street Fighter, with lots of pastels and pale tints. There aren't quite as many gawking onlookers in the backgrounds of the stages, as the whole game has an almost dystopian outlook with levels set in grimy public restrooms and graffiti-covered back alleys. Dhalsim still has his elephants, but instead of standing regally like in his SFII stage, they're lounging on their smoke break; Ken still has his yacht stage, but rather than a sunny dockside view, it's a sleazy nighttime cruise party.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 features 18 playable characters – 13 returning from the first Street Fighter Alpha plus five additional fighters, a collection of mostly familiar Street Fighter faces with a few Final Fight combatants thrown in for good measure. Rolento from Final Fight makes his Street Fighter début, and the only entirely new character is Sakura, a Japanese schoolgirl obsessed with Ryu. Some Street Fighter veterans like Guile and Blanka are notably absent, but it's a nicely varied roster with a few curveballs thrown in. Characters all fight differently from one another, so no matter your play style, you'll find someone in Alpha 2 who clicks with you.

This is the beauty of Street Fighter: it appeals to everyone. Unlike many hardcore fighting games, Street Fighter is approachable for newbies as you can be mildly successful by simply button mashing, but its fighting mechanics are deep and rewarding enough to cater to the grizzled veterans. Alpha 2 features only the classic single-player Arcade Mode (in which you enter a series of one-on-one matches en route to a final showdown with M. Bison) and two-player Versus Mode, but its shining accomplishment, strangely enough, is the Option Mode. It's hugely customisable, with eight different difficulty settings to choose from, a variety of time limits, round limits, four degrees of damage level, three different game speeds, and the ability to turn automatic blocking on or off. Even in Versus Mode, each player can choose their own speed and auto-blocking switch independently of one another. Regardless of your experience level with fighting games, Alpha 2 has a way to suit you.

Conclusion

Street Fighter Alpha 2 is an expertly-crafted game with high production values that manages to be both approachable and satisfyingly deep at the same time; the real question is whether it's worth purchasing instead of (or in addition to) the iconic Street Fighter II. The Wii U Virtual Console is already home to three different SNES versions of SFII, and as the benchmark of the franchise, Alpha 2 can't avoid living in its shadow. Ultimately, if you're looking for your first 16-bit Street Fighter, SFII towers over Alpha 2 as a masterpiece full of characters that have become household names and songs that go with everything. If you're a casual Street Fighter fan who already owns SFII, Alpha 2 isn't different enough to warrant a purchase, as it's largely the same game with some tweaks and a slightly different aesthetic. If you're a SFII veteran looking for something new, though, Alpha 2 provides a fresh perspective on the series with a more realistic, mature look at a younger version of the Street Fighter world.

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User Comments (55)

dizzy_boy

#3

dizzy_boy said:

This is one of those games that I think could have benefited the use of the FX chip. Oh well.

Marloso

#4

Marloso said:

Which version of Street Fighter ll on the Wii U VC would you recommend the most?

sinalefa

#5

sinalefa said:

I love this game but I never liked this version. Too slow and the AI was dumb. Still a technical accomplishment

Yomerodes

#6

Yomerodes said:

Surprised by the good score. Most people that have played the game (including myself) just can't get over the multiple downgrades in visuals and flow that the game got from the arcade to the SNES. But again, Capcom and the system did the best they could, the console was just not powerful enough. There is a good reason why we never saw fighting games like Darkstalkers on the SNES, it wouldn't be fair for neither the game or the system.

The_Fox

#7

The_Fox said:

An 8? For the SNES version? Waaaay too generous. Fitting the game onto outdated hardware was admittedly quite impressive but the shortcuts they had to take show.

absuplendous

#9

absuplendous said:

SFA2 is a fantastic game, and one of my favorite fighters. Although I'm kind of glad to see its SNES re-release in a "here's a quirky footnote in SF history" sort of way, I wouldn't laud it as a must-have, not when arcade-perfect editions exist. Capcom should really look into releasing the CPS2 originals on the Virtual Console... I can't imagine the Wii U being unable to handle them.

"The anime-style artwork takes an ever-so-slightly more realistic, mature tone than SFII, without veering too far into grimdark Mortal Kombat territory."

I don't understand this. Compared with Street Fighter II, the character designs in Alpha 2 are less realistic and more exaggerated, from M. Bison and Zangief's physiques to gravity-defying hairstyles that make Guile's look attainable. The cherry-picked stages--which just so happen to fit their unsavory characters--are at least equaled by stages that couldn't be called "distopian," from Dan's street market to Sakura's backyard to Rose's beautiful Venice backdrop. (Ken's "sleazy party" is actually a birthday party for his girlfriend, filled with Capcom cameos.)

@dizzy_boy This game had help; it was one of two that used a S-DD1 graphics decompressor chip.

@Yomerodes @The_Fox I think this review does not take into account that other versions exist (because none of those versions are available on Nintendo hardware), and thus judges it as its own entity and not a derivative work with "siblings" to compare it against. If SFA2 only existed on the SNES, I'd probably give it an 8, too.

ULTRA-64

#10

ULTRA-64 said:

@Marloso I picked up sf:2 turbo, the one without the new challengers. Mainly because that's the one I played as a kid, it gives me my Wii u street fighter fix enough to not need this one =)

Graeme

#14

Graeme said:

Streetfighter2, easily the reason I got into gaming and the reason I still love games!!!

Alucard83

#15

Alucard83 said:

STREET FIGHTER ALPHA 2!!!! Good memories altough i got the playstation version. Snes version was wayyy too expensive back in the days

luke88

#18

luke88 said:

I'll take my Nintendo life articles without links to Microsoft's e3 presentations, thanks.

Tasuki

#24

Tasuki said:

@JakeShapiro: You said that Alpha 2 was the only game in the Alpha series to get a release on a Nintendo home console system but Alpha 3 was released on the GBA.

ledreppe

#25

ledreppe said:

I bought the Japanese version on the Super Famicom, it's called Street Fighter Zero 2. Turns out I can't really master the 'Alpha' meter well enough. If you're looking for just one Street Fighter 2, I'd recommend, like the review, SF2 Turbo which was the one I had back in the day.

khululy

#26

khululy said:

@JakeShapiro Street Fighter Alpha. The middle entry in the Alpha trilogy, 1996's Street Fighter Alpha 2, came a year after the first and is the only one of the three to see a Nintendo home console release.

but the first entry saw a pretty impressive GBC version and the third a rather well done GBA version thus making the entire series available on nintendo hardware.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1nAsPjMKzI here's a link for the GBC version be sure to turn down the audio :P

absuplendous

#27

absuplendous said:

@ledreppe @Tasuki "Home console" is generally understood to refer to television-based systems (thus stationary, generally left at home) and not portables (able to taken anywhere, and thus not home-bound).

khululy

#28

khululy said:

@absuplendous I know this it was more like fun addition because both handheld ports are not that well known and in the gba version's defense: it can be played on the gameboy advance player add-on for the NGC :P

retro_player_22

#32

retro_player_22 said:

@SMEXIZELDAMAN

Capcom love milking Street Fighter for all it is which is why you see lots of them re-releasing time and time again. Of course there's only Street Fighter Alpha 2 for Super NES but for other consoles there's more like Street Fighter Alpha 2: Gold, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter Alpha 3: Upper.

MrGranger

#37

MrGranger said:

Why can't they release these SNES games for 3DS? I'd pick them up for sure. The system is perfect for it.

Technosphile

#39

Technosphile said:

The stuttery load times before each round are game-breaking. An 8/10 is just...wow. But Jake Shapiro.

WWammy

#40

WWammy said:

Street Fighter Alpha 2 my favourite game in the entire franchise.
I was amazed with SFA1 came out but a bit disappointed that it had a lack of characters.
SFA2 came out with improved graphics and larger character roster and my favourite character in the entire franchise Akuma as a playable fighter.
SFA2 had custom combos, 3 levels of super combos and alpha counters.
These have been introduced in newer versions like SFA3 but the techniques were broken up into isms.
Then the games in the main series removed the 3 levels of Super combos and added parries in SF3 and SF4 focus attacks so the level of options were never given back to the player in the same way they were in SFA2.
So for me it is the pinnacle of entire franchise.

With regards to the SNES port it lost a lot to the 32bit versions of the time on PSOne and Sega Saturn however it's a mega achievement to have it on SNES at all and a huge improvement over Super Street Fighter 2.
If you had not played the Arcade or 32bit versions this would have been fantastic.

That reminds me where's the Wii-U virtual console Arcade ?

DualWielding

#42

DualWielding said:

I had this for the SNES remember it was a minor miracle back then that this game could run in the SNES... but it had terrible loading times and slow down issues due to the compression it took to get the game in the card, so if those are present on the VC version it is better to go with PSOne version on PSN

xj0462

#43

xj0462 said:

im hoping they put the game boy or game gear version on 3DS virtual console

bezerker99

#44

bezerker99 said:

Great game! A 'must have' for anyone who calls themselves a SF fan, imo. Play the PS2's SF Alpha Anthology for the ultimate version.

Vermithrax

#46

Vermithrax said:

This game does not deserve an 8/10. The arcade version was fantastic and only the Sega Saturn could really replicate that at the time. Even the Playstation version had issues. The SNES version was a case of over reaching with the condole. It couldn't match the visuals and animation, and in trying to go completely messed up the rhythm, timing, and flow. Admirable rest porting this to snes but it was a failure. I wouldn't recommend this version to anyone.

MayhemStaff

#49

Mayhem said:

"There seems to be a slight hiccup at the beginning of each battle as the game freezes for a second..." - due to the decompression needed to fit everything onto the cartridge, it's still pulling all the graphics out when the fight starts! A bit annoying, but I got used to it eventually.

DarkEdi

#50

DarkEdi said:

For this time this game (in Wii or Wii U) don´t need that reload times between matches. The consoles are very powerful to admit this "loading" times in a 90´s game.

Game-Over

#51

Game-Over said:

The Alpha series is quite a different visually to the original street fighter series and is definitely worth a look if ur a street fighter fan. I have the SNES version on the Wii VC and like so many others would love to see the superior versions released for the Wii U VC, i'd love to see Street Fighter 3, Marvel vs Capcom and SNK vs Capcom also, great games. I much prefer the visuals for the old street fighter games, i just can't take to the new Tekken style animations for Street Fighter 4, it would be great to see Capcom return to that old style.

mikeyman64

#52

mikeyman64 said:

I loved this version. Not the flashiest or the "fastest" I guess, but it was the Street Fighter I learned on. Chun Li FTW!

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