Name: Street Fighter Alpha 2
Format: Arcade, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Super NES
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Year: 1996

Street Fighter Alpha is part of the long line of Capcom beat em ups starring Ryu, Ken Masters, Chun-Li and the rest of the gang. Like all those which have gone before it, the game simply features two characters on a 2D stage that scrolls a short distance left and right, beating the crap out of each other. The simple aim is to perform attacks on your opponent (which may be the computer, or it could be another player - all versions of the game supported two player fights) to wear down their energy bar, which is shown at the top of the screen. If you manage to get rid of all your opponents energy before they get rid of yours, then you win the round. The first character to win two rounds wins the match. If it's you, you then go on to challenge your next opponent.

Obviously, this is nothing particularly new. The original Street Fighter, aka Fighting Streets, came out in 1987. The formula was completely cemented very well with the release of Street Fighter 2 in 1991, which kick started the fighting game craze. Numerous companies jumped on the bandwagon and made similar fighting games, but today the only company which makes games in a comparable style is SNK, with their The King of Fighters series, which has been around for almost as long as SF2. Many people, however, still prefer Capcom's games, and with quality like this, it's easy to see why.

When the series was upgraded to Street Fighter Alpha (after years of bringing out SF2 spinoffs ("Super Turbo Mega Death Fireball Power Omega Street Fighter On Ice Episode Four Part Two and a Half..... The Revenge!")), many new elements were added to or improved on in the game. Although quite few characters disappeared (eg DeJay, Fei-Long etc.) some other ones appeared, including Rose and Guy (Guy wasn't exactly new, he was just moved across from the Final Fight series, also by Capcom. This started off the migration of characters between the series - Alpha 2 had more FF characters, and Alpha 3 has more again). In this installment, the total number of fighters was brought up to 18. While some characters have a disproportionately high number of moves, all of the characters could be formidable force, and none of them could exactly be classed as "easy". Assuming you're playing in bog standard arcade mode, you'll pick one of these to fight as, and fight a selection of 8 of them. The selection is random at first, but the last few are specific to each character (the final opponent is your character's main rival).

There are many interesting moves, aside from the regular "press this button to do a kick" type standard moves. There are special moves (which have been in the series since the first one, a good example being the Fireball / Hadoken of Ryu and Ken), Super moves (which require power from the special bar, which is charged up by either taking damage, pulling off moves, or doing taunts - the better the move, the more levels of the super bar it will take). Then there are Custom Combos, Alpha Counters, Crouch Counters, ways of getting less damage from Throws and Knockdowns... the list goes on. Make no mistake, this is a game that will take a very long time to master.

There are many interesting secret parts to the game, not least the chance to fight up to two extra characters in the game. Each character has a mid way secret rival, that can be accessed by winning rounds in certain ways. Once you get to the point, the screen will say "Here comes a new Challenger" and the player will get to try and defeat a challenger. Who the challenger is depends on who the player is fighting with. Probably the most interesting and challenging part of the game, however, is Shin Akuma. He is a "true" form of Akuma, who is extremely difficult to defeat. He is much faster, and much more damaging than regular Akuma. He will challenge the player just before the final boss, assuming the player has fulfilled the requirements (of getting a number of Perfect rounds).

Characters:

Move notation:

  • JP = Jab Punch
  • SP = Strong Punch
  • FP = Fierce Punch
  • 2P = Two punch buttons
  • 3P = All punch buttons
  • P = Any punch button
  • ?P = Any number of punch buttons
  • SK = Short kick
  • FK = Forward kick
  • RK = Roundhouse kick
  • 2K = Two kick buttons
  • 3K = All kick buttons
  • K = Any kick button
  • ?K = Any number of kick buttons
  • F = Joystick forwards (towards enemy)
  • B = Joystick backwards (away from enemy)
  • U = Joystick up
  • D = Joystick down
  • DF = Joystick diagonally down and towards enemy
  • DB = Joystick diagonally down and away from enemy
  • UF = Joystick diagonally up and towards enemy (jumping forward)
  • UB = Joystick diagonally up and away from enemy (jumping backward)
  • , = buttons pressed in succession
  • ( ) = hold these buttons for two seconds
  • ! = (can be an) Air move
  • + = press buttons together

Dan

Essentially, Dan is Capcom sticking two fingers up at SNK. Since it was always thought that Ryo Sakazaki from the Art of Fighting / King of Fighters series was just a blatant copy of the Street Fighter Ryu, it was decided that Capcom should make a statement. Essentially, Dan is two SNK characters crossed together: Ryo Sakazaki (because of the black shirt he wears under his suit) and Robert Garcia, because of the Pony Tail. His animation was customised to look like it was making fun of the two SNK people. Even more interesting is, if you play as Ken, the mid-way rival is Dan. He appears, and Ken says "Who are you? Do you know the Art of Fighting?" Obviously subtley hiding clues was not Capcom's main aim...

A word about the versions...

As with most games of this type, the arcade version will always be superior, because it is played on hardware specifically designed for these types of game. Whether it's good idea to purchase a SFA2 arcade machine I don't know, you should ask TheBooBooKitty if there is a suicide chip or something of the kind on the board (there was on the Street Fighter 2 board). If this is the case, then I definitely recommend to stick to emulating the game in MAME, Kawaks or any one of a number of emulators which support it. The ROM is quite easily available on a number of large MAME sites.


I've just read TBBK's writeup here, and it seems like the game does have a suicide chip. Since there are fixes available, though, it may not be too bad an idea to consider...

The Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions, unfortunately, I know nothing about. I'm guessing that they are probably pretty much arcade perfect, but if anyone has any information on major differences, please contact me or add a writeup of your own.

I have played the SNES version, and it is definitely a great technical achievement. The game required more data than would fit on a SNES cartridge, and so Nintendo's SDD-1 chip was brought out to play. This was one of only two times when it was ever used, the other one being Star Ocean. The SDD-1 chip decompressed graphics in a very complex way, which meant that while Nintendo managed to squeeze the game onto one cartridge, and make it playable (although there is a lack of quite a bit of animation, it plays noticably slowly, and there are ugly "loading times" which means the game freezes for a few seconds before each round), programmers found it completely impossible to make an emulator, such as Zsnes or Snes9X, to play the game. Until someone figures out the decompression algorithm used in the chip, then this situation is likely to remain - apparently we are getting closer, but there is still much to be done. Most of what people are doing involves looking at any patents Nintendo have for microchips and seeing if the chip sounds like the SDD-1.

However, the ever inventive emulation community found a way to play the game (and all the other games using special graphics decompression chips) using graphics packs. The full story is in this node, but suffice to say that someone managed to capture the decompressed data as it was being streamed out of a real SNES. This data was put up for download, the feature was added to the two most popular emulators to read the data, and now we can play the game perfectly. It's a bit of an annoying workaround, but until someone gets the algorithm nailed, it's the best we can hope for.

However, it has to be said, that after playing the arcade version, the SNES version seems slow and not a lot of fun. I never thought that before I tried the arcade version, but now I do... Overall, I would recommend the original over the others. However, all will offer some extremely exhilirating street fighting action. Hadoken!


amib says "re: Street Fighter Alpha 2 - The Saturn version is near-perfect, although the Saturn controller is iffy for fighting games. The PSX version is really ugly and missing lots of moves; it's not a very good version. The SNES version is quite an accomplishment, true, but it's also missing a lot of frames of animation and quite a few moves and modes."

lj says "re Street Fighter Alpha 2 , SFA2 arcade version is a cartridge for the arcade CPS/2 system, and has a much more sophisticated suicide chip than the CPS/1 boards (such as street fighter 2) and ghouls'n'ghosts. The CPS/2 hardware stores the program data encrypted in the roms, and the algorithm is not known. If the battery runs out, the encryption (code or key, no-one knows) is lost. There is no known way to reset the suicide hardware, though capcom will do so for a fee (don't know if they still do). There is a way to make dead boards playable, but it involves messing with the memory map to place unencrypted program code in an area the machine doesn't try to decrypt. See http://cps2shock.retrogames.com , who offer this service. Probably the best console version is CPS2mame running on a Xbox."


Thanks for Servo5678 for some typos.

Sources:

Playing the SNES ROM in Zsnes with the aid of the graphics pack.
Playing the arcade ROM in MAME. Info from Cooperteam's excellent FAQ at www.gamefaqs.com
Move information from Gamesmaster magazine issue 50, and the FAQ mentioned above for the moves unmentioned in GM. Move typing and formatting by me.
The MAME32 history.dat file.

This took bitching ages, but should you spot a move that I've listed incorrectly, or if you have anything to add in general, please /msg me.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.