Even more Street Fighter goodness.
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 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.
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.
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.