Friday, July 25, 2014

Review #132: Street Fighter Alpha Anthology

 Even more Street Fighter goodness.
 Street Fighter Alpha Anthology is a collection of every single iteration, arcadewise, of the Street Fighter Alpha series. It'd take a while to get in-depth about each of the seven games, so I'll just talk a bit about every game.

 First up is the very first release, Street Fighter Alpha. This is, probably, the slowest SF Alpha game, it's pretty easy to notice, not that that makes it bad. This game introduced the basic mechanics on which the rest of the series would build upon, there's Air Guarding, Alpha Counters and the then-new three-tiered energy meter which you could burn on Alpha Counters or special attacks of varying strengths, depending on how much meter you'd spend. The game offers a then-respectable 13 character roster, and the very first time Final Fight would cross over to the Street Fighter world via Guy(even though it was already confirmed that both series took place in the same world). It's a decent time-waster, but having the much superior Alpha 2 and Alpha 3, there's no real reason to return to this one. Besides the Arcade mode, you get VS, Training, Survival and a very short "2 vs 1" mode. Oh, and the font is kinda hard to read.
 Alpha 2 introduces 5 new characters, various tweaks, new endings for every character and the addition of "Variable Combos", by spending meter and pressing either two kick or two punch buttons. There's no much more to say about this one, it's basically Alpha 1 with more characters. Then there's Alpha 2 Gold, which introduces Cammy, new moves for some characters and "Super Turbo" versions of characters returning from Street Fighter. To be honest, there's little point in to playing Alpha 2 when Alpha 2 is clearly the game with more stuff, even if most is just fluff. Both Alpha 2 and Alpha 2 Gold contain the same game modes as Alpha 1.

 Alpha 3 not only contains even more characters, but the overall gameplay received major tweaks. For starters, after picking a character you get to pick an "ISM", basically, an style. You get Variable Ism, which turns your Energy Meter into a two tiered gauge that allows for Custom Combos, Standard Ism, basically Alpha 1 style and X Ism which gives you a single energy bar and reduces you to only one Super, albeit much stronger than its Standard Ism counterpart. Clearing the game with at least one character unlocks Street Fighter Alpha 3 Upper, which is Alpha 3 with a ton of new characters and new playstyles, just as Alpha 2 Gold makes Alpha 2 obsolete, the same goes for Alpha 3 Upper and Alpha 3. Contains the same modes as the previous games, but the 2 vs 1 mode is fleshed out.
 Then there's Super Gem Fighter Mini-Mix, a fighting game featuring super-deformed incarnations of various characters from Capcom fighting games(Mostly from Street Fighter). It's a very different kind of game, much more beginner friendly, there's only a Punch, a Kick and a Special button. When you hit your enemy, or various objects that randomly spawn, they drop gems which you can pick up to strengthen your special moves. While it's very cutesy and easy to play, it does have a little bit of depth and it's fun for a while.

 After beating the previous six games with at least 1 character you unlock Hyper Street Fighter Alpha. Just as with Hyper Street Fighter 2, you can pick any iteration of a character and pit it against any iteration of another character. There's also bonus "Styles" based on Darkstalkers, Marvel VS Capcom and Street Fighter 3 to further mix it up. It's a great bonus but... only Training and VS player mode, disappointingly.
 Luckily, when it comes to presentation, this holds true for every game: Graphics are very good, very colorful, while the animation isn't as smooth as Street Fighter 3's, it has a very anime feel. Characters have big frames and even bigger muscles(Not as big as Street Fighter IV though!), alongside a very flashy presentation thanks to the FX and the style used for cutaways between matches and menus. Music excellent, offering a wide arrange of tracks throughout all 7 games, ranging from really good to catchy. Bonus points for having 0 load times after you pick a game! There's also a nice variety of extras in the form of secret menus and color edit on every character in every game.

 While I don't find Alpha as appealing as Street Fighter III, as a whole, this is a better compilation than the Anniversary Collection. Even if you only plan to play Alpha 3(Seeing how its got the most characters), it's nice to have the other 2(5?). If you love Street Fighter, or Fighting Games, this is a no-brainer.
 9.0 out of 10.

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