Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams / Street Fighter Zero
The iconic Street Fighter 2 series
undoubtedly had a long, highly successful run at arcades and on home consoles in
the early 90's. After the barrage of SF2 "upgrades," Capcom
finally gave the loyal fans what they've been waiting
for, a real through-and-through sequel... putting a bittersweet "end" to the somewhat monotonous, yet beloved,
Street Fighter 2 saga.
While not actually a "sequel" in terms of storyline (since Street
actually takes place beforeSF2), Street Fighter Alpha brings back a few of
the original Street Fighter 1 characters previously not seen in
Street Fighter 2, such as Adon
and Birdie. Guy and Sodom from Capcom's classic arcade beat-em-up Final Fight also make their
epic Street Fighter debut, whom any old school beat-em-up fans will
immediately recognize. Sadly, several familiar Street
Fighter 2 favorites, such as: Dhalsim, Zangief, E. Honda, and
Blanka are M.I.A. this time around (but thankfully, they end up returning later
in the series).
Ryu & Ken are looking
a little... younger.
SFA's gameplay mechanics are traditional
enough to please fans of Street Fighter 2, but also introduce several
enhancements to keep things fresh and attract new players. "Chain
Combos" (introduced in Darkstalkers) make their debut in Street
Fighter, and are performed by interrupting the animation of
one priority move by performing another of equal or greater strength. "Air
Blocking" also makes an appearance in Street Fighter for the first
time. Lastly, fighters can also perform a quick
counter attack technique known as an "Alpha Counter," which
can be initiated immediately after blocking an opponent's attack if the player
has enough energy in their Super Meter.
The "Super Meter / Gauge" returns from Super
Street Fighter 2 Turbo but now contains three levels instead of one. When
full, fighters can unleash a devastating
super combo for serious damage! Comparatively to other 2D fighters, the damage level in
this game is definitely
"harsh" to say the least. Ken's fierce shoryuken = OUCH!!! The
damage is probably my main gripe about the gameplay. Otherwise, SFA was a solid and
fighter for the time.
All new sprites &
animation = best graphics of the series so far!
Visually, Street Fighter Alpha
/ Zero was very impressive when it debuted. All of the returning Street Fighters
were completely re-drawn, re-colored, re-animated... and now look like they
could be ripped straight from a Japanese anime. If you ask me, the new character
sprites look at least 10 times
better than their classic Street Fighter 2 counterparts.
stages are nicely detailed, but a few are a bit sleepy, dreary, and/or a bit too
"barren" for their own good (this flaw was remedied in SFA2).
In typical Street Fighter tradition, each stage features brand new theme songs for every character for the
game, which is always an appreciated feature in a fighting game sequel. On that
note, Street Fighter Alpha's soundtrack was excellent for the
time... hearing those remixed classic SF2 tunes for the first
time was simply epic (Chun-Li's, Ryu's, & Sagat's are among my favs)... not
to mention Guy's & Sodom's badass remixed songs from Final Fight! Such a
huge fan service!!!
Finally... just to state the obvious, the artwork for Street Fighter
was (and still is) totally and utterly badass. Bengus reinvented the art style
of the Street Fighter series, and simply "raised the bar" for
fighting game artwork. Thanks to all of these elements coming together, Capcom delivered
a solid successor to the Street Fighter 2, demonstrating to the world that
Street Fighter is far from dead.
Overall, Street Fighter Alpha was an arcade
classic that brought the Street Fighter series into a new light. It would
easy to say that SFA "isn't as good" as the many iterations of Street
Fighter 2, but many fans that played the hell out of the SF2 games
were growing a bit tired of the look and feel of those games.
Thus, SFA was the start of a fresh chapter in the Street Fighter
universe, introducing some truly memorable characters and gameplay systems. No doubt fans of the original Street Fighter Alpha were ecstatic when Street
Fighter Alpha 2 hit the arcades (and later to consoles). SFA2 turned out being a much better (and more
balanced) game overall.