The Street Fighter Alpha series goes back a long way for me. I picked up the first Street Fighter Alpha for the PS1 back in the day when all your fighting game needs were better handled on the doomed Sega Saturn or in arcades. I was able to get a real taste of arcades for the first time when I played Street Fighter Alpha 2 in Las Vegas amongst many a sweating and profanity spewing teen, and would later enjoy yet another title on my PS1. Then I was informed that there would be a sequel yet again, and sure enough Street Fighter Alpha 3 found its way in to my PS1 and home along with a significantly better Dreamcast version that I would constantly visit just to get a play on his arcade sticks. Then a strange thing happened, an amalgam of Street Fighter characters, along with other Capcom fighting game characters found their way to my local K-Mart arcade, all in super deformed form. This, Gem Fighter, of Mini Mix properties, would become a sought after gem I would never find for my beloved PS1.
Fast forward to today, we have this Anthology; a collection of great fighting games, all in one local disc, with a few bonuses, at a low price. The only question you need to ask right now is: “Why haven’t I picked this up yet?” This is a no-brainer in terms of belonging in your collection. You don’t even have to like fighting games and you should get this, simply because it’s a lot of game for the money you pay. In Street Fighter Alpha Anthology you receive: Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold (which was never an arcade game, but a trussed up version of Alpha 2 that featured Cammy as a hidden character), Street Fighter Alpha 3 (with a sweet bonus that you need to find on your own), and Gem Fighter Mini Mix. So in total you get four arcade ports and a Sega Saturn port, plus extras for about thirty dollars. Not bad considering what you get.
Each game comes with the standard arcade mode, versus mode, training mode, options, and a few bonus items. Though the “bonuses” are really in the eye of the beholder, for they are nothing more than a few extra game modes with different options and the ability to manipulate dip switches for each game. There is no special art gallery or music collection, it’s all straight arcade ports, which for some can come as acceptable but after the work put forth on the Capcom Classics Collection I’ve come to expect a little something more. This doesn’t take away from the title at all, but it’s just a prayer that goes unanswered.
I don’t think an explanation of Street Fighter is really necessary so I will skip that part. If you’ve played Street Fighter in the past then you know what’s up, if you haven’t then now is a good time to get started. You can see what an atrocity Street Fighter Alpha is, learn to Alpha Counter and feel the sweet spot with new characters and balance in Street Fighter Alpha 2, and then see the craft further refined in Street Fighter Alpha 3 with its ISM system, which provides a great variety for those who like their characters as customizable as possible allowing for custom combo attacks or the standard super move system. Though the computer can be tough even at default difficulties, I’ve never seen Charlie take a hit from a jump in fierce punch/kick and then recover with a grab when I land. Little things like that wear my patience thin quickly as I’ve always struggled with throw recovery. Difficulty is adjustable so it’s easy to find a difficulty that fits well.
If you’re going to play this game then I seriously recommend dumping some money in to a good fighting stick, something from Hori, or if you’ve already wasted the money, the Tekken 5 stick will suffice. Playing this game on a PS2 dual shock controller is nothing short of maddening, as it’ll wear your thumbs down quickly and feels generally unresponsive. If you’re also an accessory junkie and you have the PS2 hard drive, then you can use that as well to cut down on the already ridiculously short load times, and I mean they are blazing fast right out the box.
Street Fighter is a name that will live in the heart of every gamer, and it’ll either be something you love or something you hate. Street Fighter Alpha Anthology isn’t going to make a believer out of you if you already hate the series, but it is a welcome addition to the library of any fighting game fan. The game play remains arcade faithful which will lead to some arcade-only glitches and wacky combo attacks that will soon find their way to DVD collections or GameVideos.com. Thirty dollars is a small price to pay for a collection of games such as this, and considering all the unlockable game play that lies beneath you’ll be engrossed in a long time, just make sure your friends are up to practice so that they aren’t chased away by your mad skills.
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