As a fighting game fan, it’s always nice to get some classics ported to modern consoles, and for 2d fighting games, there’s no classic greater than Street Fighter. Alpha Anthology features all four games in the Street Fighter Alpha series (Alpha, Alpha 2, Alpha 2 Gold, and Alpha 3) and Pocket Fighter. However, while this is very nice, the main draw of Alpha Anthology is Hyper Street Fighter Alpha, something of an all-in-one compilation of the Alpha games, bringing together all the different characters and, more importantly, various console-exclusive characters, as well as new Isms from other classic Capcom games. While having the different Alpha games is great, it is Hyper that is the main draw of this compilation.
For those who don’t know, Street Fighter Alpha was initially a prequel to Street Fighter 2, whose cast is primarily made up of younger versions of the Street Fighter 2 cast (the younger Ken, who still has his long hair, and Shadaloo Cammy), and other friends and acquaintances who set the scene for the main Street Fighter series (like Charlie, who taught Guile his special techniques and Gen, who helped raise Chun Li and SF3’s Yun and Yang). The main thing that set the Alpha 3 apart from the other Street Fighters was the Ism system. The Ism system brought together different meter setups, mixed-and-matched other features like Air Guard and Recovery, and altered the offense-to-defense ratio. Not only did this set the stage for games like Capcom vs. SNK 2 and King of Fighters Neowave, but it also added a great level of depth to the game. The main three Isms are the X-ism, the simplest Ism with one big charge meter that does a full-power Super, A-ism, allowing for three varying strengths of supers (depending on whether or not a weak, medium or heavy attack is used) and the V-ism, the high-level play Ism that allows for the infamous Custom Combo, which typically can result in massive damage, or a quick waste of meter (for those who don’t use it properly).
The main issue for Alpha’s games is the arcade perfection. Hardcore fighting fans will be greatly pleased that the games are near-arcade perfect, allowing for all the on-the-ground tick throws and infinites you could want. The bad part for everyone else is that the games are near-arcade perfect, meaning all the good players are going to kill you almost instantly with their infinites and on-the-ground tick throws. Ultimately, like all fighting games, it’ll be up to the gamer to decide whether they’re going to play the game with tournament-level tactics that will kill your opponents with skills mastered after hours upon hours of arduous practice
As mentioned earlier, Hyper Street Fighter Alpha is the best aspect of Alpha Anthology for both the veterans and the newcomers to the Alpha games. HSFA is a versus-only Street Fighter, unlocked by beating the arcade mode for each of the other games present, which brings together all the characters from all the Street Fighter Alphas, including the console-exclusive characters like Guile and Fei Long (meaning the entire Street Fighter 2 cast, as well as the entire Alpha cast, is present for competition), but regrettably lacks the four characters added to Alpha 3 Max on the PSP (Yun, Maki, Eagle and Ingrid). There are some other noteworthy additions, however. New Isms were added, taken from other big Capcom fighters, like Street Fighter 3 and Darkstalkers. This adds a lot to the Alpha experience, and things like the SF3 Parries add a new layer of depth to the game. There is much fanfare surrounding HSFA, and is becoming quite popular among Street Fighter aficionados. But the completely competitive nature of HSFA may exile people who won’t have anyone to play against, and if this were online, it would’ve made HSFA one of the best fighters around. Regrettably, though, if there isn’t ever-present competition, HSFA may not be the ticket.
Graphically, Alpha can be looked at one of two ways. It has bright, colorful characters and quality animation, giving it a nice, cartoon-like look. On the other hand, when comparing to Street Fighter 3’s much-more fluid animation and slicker, more serious graphical style, there’s something left to be desired. Or when comparing it to Guilty Gear’s strikingly well-done characters and far-more detailed backgrounds, it just doesn’t look as good. Alpha has been around a lot longer, so it’s something of a product of its time, but it still just doesn’t look as good as some of the other fighters out right now. Sound is also not as good, with the midi-esque tunes in place of some REAL music. However, both of them are nice enough to get by.
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology is definitely worth purchasing for even light Street Fighter fans. It’s accessible to players of all skill levels, and Hyper Street Fighter Alpha adds something that even veterans who own the SNES and PS1 classics will want to check out. For fighting fans, this is a must buy. However, the lack of an online mode makes it so that the people with no competition within a reasonable proximity may be better off going with Capcom vs. SNK 2 or Street Fighter Anniversary Collection on the Xbox, to fight some people on Live.