(Disclaimer: if you have not read the piece on Street Fighter Alpha then please read that as you may not understand some of the content featured in this.)
It is time for the next part of our coverage for the Street Fighter Alpha series we will be looking at the sequel Street Fighter Alpha 2 released in arcades and to several home consoles during its initial release and the subsequent releases over the following years, along with an enhanced port released in only the Asian territories and Brazil under the title Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha. I only have access to the arcade versions of these games so I will only be covering this version in the following review, there are ports to the PlayStation family of consoles, Sega Saturn, Super Famicom/SNES, PC and this game, as well as all others in the series will be released as part of the 30th anniversary collection that is coming soon to all current generation console platforms and Steam (sadly Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha will not be included).
Street Fighter Alpha/Zero 2 & Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha – Arcade (1996)
Released worldwide by Capcom into arcades in 1996 and utilizing the same CPS2 hardware as the previous game in the series, Street Fighter Alpha 2 also known as Street Fighter Zero 2 in japan is both a sequel and remake of the first game. Building on some aspects of the story that were laid out in Alpha while altering some details for a more comprehensive story, this entry also introduces more features and mechanics to the game to improve on the foundations of the first with the enhanced version of the game being released later that year.
Some of the new additions to this game include an expanded roster taking the characters established in the first release including the hidden characters and adding new playable characters, some of the combatants added are an original creation, a boss from the final fight universe and returning characters from previous titles, along with addition in game features.
There are also three hidden characters that are alternate versions of the playable roster that are exclusive to the western arcade release and can be accessed via a code. Additional hidden characters were added to the enhanced version of the game that was only released in the Asian and Brazilian territories, containing even more content than the first release under the title Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha.
Here are the details of the new roster members for this release,
- Dhalsim – a yoga master from India who has the power to stretch limbs, teleport and breathe fire, he made his first appearance in Street Fighter II: the World Warrior. The alternate version of Dhalsim is unlocked via code, available only in the western version of Alpha 2 and the enhanced Zero 2 Alpha, his move set is altered and super bar skills are removed.
- Zangief – a Russian professional wrestler who fights for the glory of the USSR, his first appearance was in Street Fighter II: the World Warrior. The alternate version of Zangief is unlocked via a code, available only in the western version of Alpha 2 and the enhanced Zero 2 Alpha, like Dhalsim his move set is altered and super bar skills are removed.
- Gen – a Chinese martial arts master and assassin who was featured in the first Street Fighter game.
- Rolento – a mercenary and soldier who was a boss in the game Final Fight making his first appearance in the Street Fighter universe.
- Sakura – a Japanese schoolgirl who wants to become a world famous fighter after being influenced by Ryu, she also makes an appearance in the Capcom game Rival Schools: United By Fate
- Evil Ryu – a corrupted version of Ryu who utilizes skills and moves similar to Akuma, he is a hidden character unlocked via code.
- The other alternate versions of characters are Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat, and M. Bison, unlocked via code with their move sets altered and super bar based skills removed.
There has only been a couple of new features added to the standard version of Alpha 2, the first is the secret mid-boss and special encounter battles that will occur if specific requirements are met, the mid-boss isn’t the same for all characters but the special encounter is always against Shin Akuma, a powered up version of Akuma that is much more powerful that the standard playable version, the special encounter battles add an additional challenge to the single player game.
The second additional feature is the custom combo system that replaces the chain combos of the previous version, activated by pressing a combination of attack buttons, for example pressing two punches and one kick simultaneously or vice versa, custom combo uses the super meter bar to activate a timer to that allows attacks and special moves to be chained into a combo, the timer will be stopped if the combo is interrupted by an opponent hitting the character that is in the middle of a combo.
The enhanced version of the game, Zero 2 Alpha, has all the same content as the standard release with the addition of the Dramatic battle mode where you fight co-operatively with another player against a series of opponents, the second additional mode is the survival mode where you fight through all 18 characters on the roster in single round battles, if damage is taken then some of the players life bar will regenerate between fights and if the player is defeated then the game will end. These modes are accessed by using cheat codes at the title screen of the game.
Core gameplay of Alpha 2 and the enhanced Zero 2 Alpha remains unchanged from the previous entry in the series with the single player mode consisting of eight opponents that are battled in best two out of three round matches with a final sudden death round if a clear winner is not determined after the first three. Multiplayer gameplay is also unchanged and the games overall balance is unchanged apart from some minor tweaks reducing damage of character special moves and the alpha counters.
The super combo inputs and attacks remain unchanged for the returning characters with all of the new playable characters that join the game having two super combos except for Sakura and Evil Ryu who have three and four respectively, the alternate versions of characters featured in both Alpha 2 and the enhanced Zero 2 Alpha have no super combo attacks and some attacks are even removed matching them to their Super Street Fighter II Turbo counterparts.
Like the previous game the final battle of the single player game is determined by the current character chosen, the progress of the player is also partially reset if the player changes character still maintaining some of the defeated opponents which is possibly a way to prevent another player from defeating the current player and taking over their game.
The difficulty of the game is fairly balanced with the difficulty of both games slowly increasing as the game progresses yet depending on the final opponent of the characters story the difficulty can ramp up, even more so if the player manages to fulfil the conditions to face the secret boss Shin Akuma who has the capability to destroy a player in seconds of the fight starting.
The multiplayer aspect of both versions of the game is where it shines like all other Street Fighter Games with almost endless possibilities when it comes to the potential matches that can be made, playing against a friend is the most fun that I had during my time playing Alpha 2. The chaos that ensued as both myself and a friend attempted to use special moves and super combos was the best part of the multiplayer experience as we didn’t use any move lists and simply tried commands that we already knew.
All the music for existing Street Fighter characters is remixed themes from previous games and the final fight characters have what sounds like remixed music from their respective areas, some of the character backgrounds feature characters from other Capcom titles including Final Fight, Darkstalkers, Captain Commando and Strider. The appearances of these characters brings the various Capcom universes together and potentially ties them all together, or it may just be an homage to the other games that made Capcom one of the biggest arcade publishers in the world at its prime.
Overall this is an excellent game with no downsides that I can see and the enhanced version adds even more content, so with all that said I will be giving this title the maximum I can using the star rating I have used for all other Street Fighter releases, this game gets 5/5.
(images taken from public sources, videogame museum, google images and fighters generation)