Gameplay, Story and Value:
Core gameplay is the same as it’s ever been with Street Fighter. Each button is assigned to weak, mid and strong versions of either punch or kick, and each character has access to their own slew of special moves. Controls are quick and solid and there’s really no sense dwelling on the excellent gameplay that has been in place since the first iteration of Street Fighter II.
That’s not to say Street Fighter Alpha 2 doesn’t bring anything new to the table for 16-bit fighter fans though. Aside from an expanded roster, Alpha 2 introduces a Super Gauge used to pull off super-powered variants of special moves or burst into a high-speed combo attack. Ending a fight with one of these new mechanics results in a special finish, which really just means some flashy visuals and extra points. All of these new mechanics are easy to use and great to look at, resulting in a fighting game that’s as much fun to watch as it is to play.
One casualty to come as a result of all this new flare is the introduction of load times at the start of each fight. Before you can actually take control and start beating each other, there’s an awkward pause of upwards of three seconds. Also, while I didn’t have any issues with my Super Famicom copy, I’ve heard that this cartridge has a tendency to heat up pretty quickly.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
The visuals in this game have taken on more of an anime style than previous titles, which only serves to preserve it moving forward. Characters and animations are highly detailed and look fantastic. My biggest complaint is that you still have that letterboxing effect during fights. It’s not something you really notice during gameplay, but looking back over it I think it would have been nice if they found a way to use that extra space.
Music is as good as it’s ever been and all the digitized voice samples and weighty sound effects you’d expect to hear are present in full force.
I think I can safely say that this is my favorite fighting game available on 16-bit consoles, and if not my single favorite then at least tied with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Sure, there aren’t a ton of titles to choose from really, but this one just hits all the right chords for me. Characters are fun and easy to pick up and it’s quick to get into the action. All in all a fantastic fighter, and it has me excited to take a closer look at Alpha 3, which I’ll be playing as part of the PS1 list!