Monday, 1 April 2019

Street Fighter Alpha (Arcade)

It's the first of April, and as tradition dictates, I'm doing my one post a year (on this blog at least) about a mainstream videogame. My history with Street Fighter Alpha is a little odd: though the second and third games in the series were huge obsessions for me in me pre- and early teens, I never actually played the first SFA game until 2018, when it was included on the Street Fighter 30th anniversary compilation.

It didn't really have many surprises for me: like the first game in the other big CPS2 trilogy, Darkstalkers, it feels a lot like a proof-of-concept for its sequels. The roster's pretty slim, there's the seeds of certain ideas that would become more fleshed out later on, and so on. In fact, this is partially why I never played it before: its status as a "practice attempt" is so ingrained that even its story is completely overwritten by that of Street Fighter Alpha 2, and since the characters and lore have always been a big part of fighting games' appeal to me, I just never bothered after learning about that from the gigantic, now-legendary "Street Fighter Story FAQ" textfile that used to be floating around the internet.

It is a game with its own charms, though. There's some unnamable quality to the way it looks and sounds that fills me with nostalgia, and though the fact that there's even fewer stages than there are characters, the attempt to flesh out the selection by giving each one of them a couple of "time of day" colour palettes is a nice little bit of ingenuity. It also started the Alpha series' tradition of having ports to hardware that shouldn't be able to handle it. The second game had its SNES port, the third had the Game Boy Advance, but Street Fighter Alpha has two such ports: one to the Game Boy Color (which actually came out a fair while later than the SFA2 SNES port), and another to the CPS Changer. If you don't already know, the CPS Changer was Capcom's short-lived attempt at making a competitor to SNK's  Neo Geo AES, being a home console version of their CPS1 arcade hardware.

As already mentioned, the arcade version of Alpha was on CPS2 hardware, and the Changer port was the last game released on that system, done as a kind of swansong. It's almost arcade perfect, though. There's apparently fewer frames of animation in the Changer version, and I think there might be fewer colours and a bit more dithering if you look really closely, but mostly, it's not noticable at all. Anyway, those are my thoughts on Street Fighter Alpha. I'm sure most of you have already played it, but if not, it wouldn't hurt, would it?

1 comment:

  1. back when CPS1 was emulated but CPS2 was not, I played a ton of that SFA1 port on my PC. in single player, haha.