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Street Fighter Alpha 2

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Reviewed by Tempora To say this game was long overdue is an understatement, as it finally reached the Super NES after much delays. Originally scheduled for a holiday release in 1996 (I believe) when the Nintendo 64 was selling hot, it was finally released in 1998, years after the 32-bit ports on the PSX and Saturn have been played and forgotten at retail. It is published by Nintendo, programmed by Capcom, and probably finished by Nintendo since I believe Capcom didn't want to waste any more resource finishing the game, much less publishing it. This game comes in at 32 MB if I recall correctly, with an additional CPU onboard the PCB to deal with the heavy decompression of the data (very much like the Super FX chip that is used in some of the games to deal with polygons). It's the last Street Fighter game released on the Super NES, so you would have thought this would be the best. In some viewpoints, this is the best Street Fighter on the system. As a total package, however, the execution of the port isn't up to Super Street Fighter 2 standard, and you may actually enjoy this game less than Super Street Fighter 2.

Graphics 10 out of 10

Obviously, the 10 that I gave it doesn't mean you'll find Donkey Kong Country graphics here, but it's a different type of 'wow' that earned it this score. The Super NES does a remarkable job emulating its PSX counterpart (oh yes, I have to mention that this is a port of the PSX version, not the Arcade version), with very vivid, anime style graphics. The look I'm talking about is not the super clean, primary colored sprites of other anime/cartoon games, but a distinct faded, air-brushed look found in Street Fighter Alpha 2 in the Arcades. It makes great use of the Super NES' color pallet the Genesis can't deliver. There are also some truly awesome effects (by Super NES standards) in the game, such as rippling puddles of water on Gen's stage, a slightly abbreviated Super Combo finish flash, a screen full of fully animated bikers on Chun Li's stage, and Rolento's elevator ride up a building complete with that full screen Fujitsu billboard (still missing the rooftop only the Saturn/Arcade has). However, the backgrounds are flat; they lack layering and parralax scrolling, so you're basically fighting on a flat bitmap. Endings are missing a lot of of pictures and animations, but I'm still surprised that Sakura's ending was pretty accurate. Heh, at least the full arcade intro made it in, with a scale down in picture size and animation. This game has above and beyond the most animation of all the fighting games on the Super NES, but nowhere close to replicating the Arcade animation. Characters like Zangief are sorely missing too much frames to make his animations look smooth, but Ryu and the smaller characters move with greater fluidity than their Super Street Fighter 2 counterpart. The background has a fair amount of movement, but tons of the smaller animations were cut out, but gosh they look really lush (like Dalhsim's stage). This game is a visual treat; it looks like a 32-bit game on a 16-bit machine.

Music and Sound 4 out of 10

Wow, the music on previous iterations of SF on the Super NES always sounded great with its wave table MIDI, but it looks like somebody forgot to tell the composer of the Super NES version of the Super NES' capabilities. I loved Street Fighter Alpha 2's music on the Saturn/PSX. Everything sounds like MIDI being played through a bare-bones, non-wavetable MIDI, Sound Blaster 16 in the Super NES Street Fighter Alpha 2. The music is for the most part extremely simplified from the arcade music w/o any real instrument sounds used. The awful music was very unexpected. The sound on the other hand fares much better. The voices are loud, but the quality is low (it's like AM radio; it lacks range and sounds flat), disconnected from the character saying it, and sometime sped up in order to conserve precious Mbits. The hit sounds are standard fare, can't really screw that up. All the characters are missing their KO yell (some you call it the 'death scream,' even though no one dies in the game), and is replaced by putting up the 'KO' graphics and the announcer saying 'KO' on the final blow. Surprisingly, I don't recall any missing voices (well all the announcer voices are there), but there's bound to be something missing.

Game Play-Fun 7 out of 10

There's a whole lot of characters to choose from, and all of the standard characters you found on the PSX is found here. The only hidden character available is Classic Chun Li in her original outfit. There's so much change to the way the game engine is ported that it's only a facsimile of the original Street Fighter Alpha 2. One thing, the game speed is slower. Second, there's this weird floating physics that kicks in when a player is knocked up, and player's regular hit tend to stick to the opponent a lot in the same fashion as hits in a Super Combo. For example, Guy's Hurricane Kick usually doesn't connect three times unless the opponent is in the corner, but in the Super NES version, it's a guaranteed three hit. Is the game still fun? Yes, I think it is, but don't use it as practice for playing the real deal. It's the most versatile Street Fighter on the Super NES thanks to Street Fighter Alpha 2's inherent game play changes and additions, and the Super NES version's own interesting game play port inaccuracies mixed in. However, due to the port inaccuracies, it may not be as fun as the more polished, tighter engine found in Super NES Super Street Fighter 2. If you want to know Street Fighter Alpha 2's game play, go read a Street Fighter Alpha 2 FAQ. Beside, this is pre-Street Fighter Alpha 3, so I shouldn't really need to explain it. Finally, there's this abominable 3 second load time after the announcer says "Fight!" in each round, as well as load time at other points in the game. I think this is even worse than the 32-bit version, since the load time on the PSX/Saturn is less frequent and more worth it than what you're seeing on the Super NES. However, the screen transitions are faithful to the arcade version, unlike the 32-bit version having load screen interruptions when changing screens.

Frustration

Trying to complete the game on the harder settings with Dan. Otherwise, it's only frustrating if you never liked Street Fighter to begin with. That, and when the computer exploits the sticky hits and other game play anomalies on you if you go in expecting Arcade/PSX/Saturn game play. Also, the frequent loading for each round (yeah, you read it right; each ROUND, not each match) grates on you if you need to repeat fights.

Replayability 8 out of 10

Trying to complete all the character's story mode will take you a while, and the VS. mode is there if you can find another soul who's willing to play this game on the Super NES with you. The endings are the most impressive you'll find on a Super NES fighting game.

Game Value 4 out of 10

Last I saw it (Summer of 1998), it was $40. I'm sort of half and half at that price, but I'm leaning toward 'don't buy' unless you want it as a testament to your Street Fighter fandom or as an impressive showcase of a 32-bit game on a 16-bit machine. The game is pretty rare, so you may want to pick it up just for that. I traded mine for credit toward Vampire Savior (Dark stalkers 3) on the Saturn, since I was tight on cash. Worth getting if you can find it cheap at $20.

Overall 7 out of 10

Great graphics, but the game play anomalous, loading, and the overall roughness of the whole package drags it down a lot. Get it for sentimental reasons, show off purposes, or for collectability's sake, but I doubt you would really want to play this seriously. I'm willing to assume that most people would rather play Super Street Fighter 2 instead of this, despite Super NES Street Fighter Alpha 2 having way more content for the single player. This game could have been great, but it's above average in this state.

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