Saturday, July 2, 2011

Street Fighter Alpha/Zero Series

After the unprecedented game-changer that was Street Fighter 2, demands for a proper, non-revision sequel were coming from all quarters. Capcom decided to go slightly left-field and drawing inspiration from the animated Street Fighter 2 movie, went with a prequel. Tweaking the mechanics to the SFII2's genre-definer, favoring a more defense-based, slower style of play to reflect the hesitancy and inexperience of the returning, yet canonically younger cast. It retains and later builds on the specials system introduced in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, where one has a buildable bar, maxed through successful offense that opens up a super move capable of draining a far greater chunk than would be typical from the lifebar of the opponent.

The graphics were also a departure from previous Street Fighters, favoring a more anime approach compared to SFII. This was thanks in part to the evolution of Arcade engines running the game from CPS1 to CPS2 and to reflect the aesthetics of the movie, but also a conscious effort on Capcom's part to have this series live its own life beyond its big brother's shadow. The Alpha series would become known for being the more plot-centric of the Street Fighter universe, detailing the origins of the motives of various characters from Bison's incapacity to die to Sagat's quest for vengeance to Ryu's struggle to contain the evil spirit within him as well as the re/introduction of Guile's dead friend Charlie and Street Fighter 1 fave Birdie, who not only returns but also changes skin colour and nationality, from London Punk to New York Thug. Of course also, the introduction of the now legendary Dan, a parody of Capcom's arcade rivals SNK and their homage to Ryu and Ken, Ryo, a deliberately weak and notoriously comical character.

The series' legacy is an odd one, in that it's fondly remembered by the fanbase and still entertains newbies but enjoys very little in the way of competitive support on the scene, beyond the occasional game or two as a sideshow at tournaments from the bigger gamepools such as SSFIIT or SSFIV. There is some speculation on this, varying from the fact it's a more story-driven series than other main series entries in the Street Fighter franchise, thus the focus is taken away from the gameplay, which I don't feel true, to other notions, such as it simply being surpassed by more modern offerings.

Alpha '95, Alpha 2 '96, Alpha 3 '98.

Available on:
Alpha- Arcade, Windows, Java ME, Playstation, Sega Saturn, CPS Changers, Game Boy Color, downloadable on Playstation Network, also PS2 via the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology.

Alpha 2- Arcade, Windows, Playstation, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo (yes, really), downloadable on Playstation Network and Wii Virtual console, also PS2 via the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology(Along with revision Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold).

Alpha 3- Arcade, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation, Game Boy Advance, Sega Saturn (NTSC-J Only), PSP, and also PS2 via the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology (along with revision Street Fighter Alpha 3 Upper).

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