Shouldn't it be called Street Fighter Beta?
Pressure Pad Street Fighter, 6-Button Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter II Turbo Championship Edition, Hyper Street Fighter II Championship Edition, Super Street Fighter II, Hyper Super Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha II, and perhaps the most ridiculous, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Capcom has come out with so many different versions of the characters in the Street Fighter universe that Ken and Ryu are almost household names. For a long time, Street Fighter II was the king of the arcade fighting games.
In the last few years, however, it has been dethroned by games like Virtua Fighter 2 or Tekken 2 that have pushed the limits of the genre. Even other two dimensional fighting games have tried something different, like Killer Instinct. For many people, Street Fighter's days have come and gone, but don't say that to a die hard fan. Many gamers still believe the Street Fighter series is the bee's knees. No matter what the game is, if it has Ken and Ryu, Street Fighter fans will play it.
In its latest incarnation, Capcom has chosen to do away with the original art and instead use art based on the Street Fighter anime. With these visual improvements, Street Fighter Alpha was a big success. Street Fighter Alpha 2 seems to be exactly the same game with more characters. While this game may be the "end all be all" for Street Fighter fans, it leaves the rest of us with a puzzled look on our faces. While it is a good game, it's nothing to write home about.
At this point in the review, I am normally supposed to talk about the plot of the game, but this one's got me confused. Street Fighter Alpha 2 is the sequel to the prequel of the original Street Fighter game. That makes it the prequel of Street Fighter and the sequel to Street Fighter Alpha (Makes perfect sense! - Ed.) Suffice to say that the plot of Street Fighter Alpha 2 is to kick the stuffing out of your opponents and not lose. That's about all you need to know.
One of the strengths of the Street Fighter universe has always been the character design. Unfortunately, the designers did not do as good a job with Street Fighter Alpha 2 as the previous installments. The character names are the biggest disappointment. In Street Fighter II, they all had good names like Ryu or Zangief, but Street Fighter Alpha 2 doesn't want to carry that tradition on. Guile (one of my favorite names) was replaced by Charlie. Who's afraid of a guy named Charlie. "Oh, help! Charlie is coming to kill me," just doesn't sound right. I won't even get started on the social implications of another character named Sodom. The big new fighter that was hyped on all the posters is, get this, a prepubescent school girl. Yup, apparently she got tired of your normal prepubescent school girl life and decided to give street fighting a whirl. When translated, her sayings during battle roughly become "Lookie, lookie." Hardened warriors would surely have a problem with her.
The game itself is your normal 2D fighting game. Like X-Men, Street Fighter Alpha 2 has a power meter that builds as you fight. The higher it gets, the bigger special moves you can do. The super special moves are, in fact, easier to accomplish on the Saturn. You can assign either the L or R buttons to be all three punches at the same time. This can at times make the effort to perform super moves a bit mundane. There is a good survival mode in the game, however, that is almost impossible to beat. You have to face all of the characters in the game in one round, winner take all matches. Even when you win, you only get a portion of your health back. You know you're way too good at this game if you're able to win.
All in all, Street Fighter Alpha 2 is just a solid fighting game and nothing more. Fans of the earlier games would really like this latest (or earliest as the case may be) installment. For the rest of us it's just 2D fighting business as usual.