Merits of the Alpha Series?


#1

I’m curious to hear opinions on this as the Alpha series seems to have fallen in popularity both in terms of play and discussion greatly in the past several years. When I first got into A3, I hadn’t played much, if any SF since SF2T. I never played ST, A1, or A2 so I had a lot of catching up to do. I never got any good with custom combos, never played competitively, just scrubbed it up for hours in arcade mode learning the moves/combos of all the characters (PSX, so fucked frame data, but lots of characters). I went back and explored previous games but eventually I got into the SF3 and CvS games and forgot all about Alpha.

At the time A3 seemed to be the most popular SF besides Marvel, all the game magazines said it was the best SF ever (whatever that counts for) and all the pros seemed to be playing (judging from reading SRK at least). There were some old timers who still claimed A2 and ST were superior, but everyone seemed to be hot for A3 and Marvel. However, over ensuing years 3S and CvS2 seemed to eclipse the Alpha games, and by now it seems almost no one talks about them.

So I’m curious as to where the Alpha games, and particularly A3, stand in the eyes of competitive players. Which Alpha game is considered best? How do they stack up against the venerable ST, and popular 3S? What do people think today about features like airblocking, air throws, custom combos and alpha counters?

Discuss and enlighten!

** Also, I would ask that we keep this discussion to gameplay, balance, and combat mechanics mainly, as the one thing which has already been discussed thoroughly even of late is fans’ love for Alpha’s art, character designs, stages, etc. which I don’t think needs to be retread too much. Please post your Dan/Sakura/insert character here raving fanathons elsewhere.*


#2

Well the Alpha games definitely introduced gameplay aspects like air blocking, Custom Combos, multiple Super Arts, etc. It changed the SF engine to be sure but it was still recognizably SF and didn’t fall too far from the tree.

One of the complaints about SF3 is that it “doesn’t feel like Street FIghter” (which I don’t understand myself, but whatever…) and I always saw the Alpha series as a logical bridge between the SF2 games and the SF3 games.


#3

Alex Valle: A2 > A3

…and he was a champion in both.


#4

inb4 mr. jeff hizzle aka ragingstormx

someone correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t alpha 3 die because it didn’t have a decent console port?

alpha 2 is a good game, definitely one of the better street fighters ever made.

as for alpha 1 it sucks.


#5

I always regarded the Alpha series as the sharpest departure from the street fighter template, because of the mechanics of the thing. Some of it’s innovations were great, some were downright disruptive to the strategic aspect of the game that players had gotten used to over years.Air blocking for example, IMO was a BAD mechanic-it took a huge amount of the strategy out of the game, because there was little or no risk involved in a jump-in, so that became the default option. Defensive rolls, was another example of a BAD mechanic IMO, because while they were fun to use to escape a knockdown mixup, they lessened the importance of knocking someone down in the first place.On the other hand, guard crush was a great idea which cut down on some of the pain in the ass turtling tactics we’re used to.

Multiple levels of super were interesting technical additions too, and multiple different supers themselves, as well as the different ISMs in A3, although IMO this did lead to a very offense-favoured game versus something like super turbo which i felt had hit the perfect balance between offense and defense.All of the different attacking options a character had could lead to a little too much flexibility on offense and a little more disadvantage to a defender.Kinda like “Shit, he has a full super bar, what’s he gonna do??An air zanku hadoken, or a ground zanku hadoken, or a raging demon, or a shin shoryuken.” etc…That was a lot of shit to watch out for, and made for a lot of complication to a relatively simple format.

In terms of Graphics and presentation, no question alpha 3 won hands down, which was probably a lot to do with why all the magazines etc raved on it, and the OP is correct, this has been covered enough, but in terms of core gameplay, with the exception of that stupid alpha counter mechanic, i think Alpha 2 was probably the closest the series got to improving the format of Super Turbo, while not changing the mechanics of the thing too massively as per Alpha 3.

Somebody made a point on the lack of availability of a good console port leading to the demise of the series, and i agree.This, along with the alpha games being around just as the arcade scene was starting to die but arcade perfect console ports not yet being commonplace, (anyone remember the godawful SNES Alpha 2 port??) probably meant that most people simply just didn’t have enough exposure to a good version of these games to win them enough lasting appeal.It was only with the recent re-ignition of interest in retro gaming, and capcom’s wave of cashing in on the street fighter heritage that we finally got some decent alpha ports on home consoles.Alpha Anthology for PS2, which was stellar, or Alpha 3 Max for PSP which was the best home version of that game IMO (except for the shoddy controls on the PSP) were the only worthy home versions i’ve played.

Looking back at the alpha series, there were a few great mechanics like isms, and choices of supers etc which deserved to (and did) get carried forward to other SF series, and i do like the alpha games a lot (with the exception of Alpha 1, which was crap), but in retrospect, i’m kinda happy that the series was pretty much an “aside” in the history of street fighter.I will always remember it as a more “dial a combo, less strategy, more blindly attacking” kind of game which is not what i love about the franchise.I’m sure all those scrubby street fighter 4 Ken players would love it if they tried it, but i think i’ll stick to playing HDR for my competitive fix for now…


#6

I didnt like A3 that much, V-ism was the ubersauce, and it feels kinda floaty to me, A2 on the other hand is one of my favorite SF games ever, brilliant game, would kill for an A2 HDR. A2 was probobly the closest SF game to the SF2 series for “feel”, I also really liked having multiple supers with CC’s. I liked most of the “New” characters in A2 as well (most of the time new guys are lame) Rolento, Nash (Guile clone), Sodom, Gen, Guy, all hella cool. (I hate Rose, but I guess she was pretty cool too.)

(We need more A2 players on GGPO, if any of you have not played on GGPO you gotta check it out, great games, great players.)

And as a side note, I quite like the Alpha Counters in A2, takes a good chunk of meter (And you have to use the right one or it will whiff), so it has an actual cost, unlike Parrys and Focus Attacks. More tactical application IMHO.


#7

SFA2 feel more like SF to me than A3, since it doesnt have as much crazy shit in it. It really boils down to preference between the 2. Both have rather deep gameplay, but A2 has less BS to deal with.


#8

I dunno, when I look back over the SF Series, ST,A2,3S just stand out as the most memorable versions of the game for me. A2 was the first SF game that I really, really got into playing, so I have a definite preference for it, but I think it remains more true to the SF formula than A3. A single, universal super combo/AC/CC system, a standout cast, a less halfassed presentation(A1). I like the parity in the way the A2 super gauge could be used, it led to characters being played more uniquely and made the cast more approachable. Air blocking changed a lot of tactical dynamics in the game, but I liked A2’s offensive approach. There’s different school of thought on the character designs, with a real emphasis on getting rid of characters with airborne-charge based moves. No Blanka, No Honda, No Vega, No psycho crusher antics like the old days…which is something the design teams carried further in the SF3, and something I didn’t honestly mind. Yeah, it plays very, very different in style from SF2, but I look at that as one of A2’s virtues.

A3 just became too much of a mess with Xism/Aism/Vism, Saikyo, Mazi, styles. I think A3’s overly cheesy, pastel colored presentation and emphasis on V-ism juggles(juggles in general, really) kinda cast a shadow over people’s memory of A2. A1 was too undeveloped to impress many players who had already gone through 5 different versions of SF2. A2, by the time it was released, faced a much different spectrum of games. You were right in the middle of the Playstation 1 popularity explosion and the decline of the arcade scene, Tekken, SF Ex series, the SFMovie game launched with it bombed, A1 was just an ok port of an ok game. A2’s port was extremely disappointing, there wasn’t much reason to play it if you had arcade competition. A3’s popularity came from that it got the ports right…for the most part. The Saturn was a non-factor in terms of sales by then, so A3 became the most popular SF title because the amount of stuff they overloaded it with that players remember(World Tour, huge cast). For that, it works, but I still think A2 represented one of the more positive evolutions in the series, just well made and focused.


#9

I find Alpha 2 to be comparable in quality to Street Fighter IV. Even though it doesn’t have Balrog or Abel, I actually like the roster more (Adon, Guy, Charlie, and Birdie over Rufus, C.Viper, and El Fuerte), the music is much more enjoyable (SF4 has a few good real enjoyable tracks like Volcanic Rim, Old Temple, and Cruise Ship Stern while all of SF2’s stages and themes are real good), and I like the Super and Alpha Counter system a bit more than attempting to EX people for a counter or guard break. It’s more practical in my perspective.


#10

Brazilians are keeping A2 alive in GGPO, needs more Americans


#11

Alpha 2 is way better than SF4 lol


#12

I’m challenged to A2 and A3 constantly…I prefer A3 because I get to use Cammy. I’m comfortable getting into any game that has Cammy in it.

I always loved the ISMs in Alpha 3, how one’s a Genei-Jin, another one has 3 levels, etc. I also enjoy the juggle combos…the juggling in Alpha 3 is INSANE…


#13

Interesting. Why would you say A2 is way better than SF4 RSX (can’t tell if you were being sarcastic or not)? I have a lot of nostalgia for the Alphas, especially A2, and I’d rather play A2 than SF4. But its hard for me to say that A2 is WAY better than SF4 gameplay-wise. I agree with Durango that they are comparable games in terms of depth and options, and choosing between them seems to be a matter of personal preference. I like A2’s meter game, with multiple lvl 1/2/3 supers, versatile CCs, and ACs over SF4’s comparatively limited systems, even with FADC, and A2 seems to play faster in general. On the other hand, the lack of mobility options in A2 feels very limiting compared to modern games (no dash, high jump, etc), and A2’s gameplay is kinda rough in some areas (specifically, the ridiculously damaging CCs, overpowered ACs that can be used to kill).


#14

Usually when someone has me low on life and ac to kill me they die cause I counter their ac, and the person who activates without it being guaranteed usually gets counter cc’d. SF4 just dumb in some aspects, like people being able to mash df+p to dp even the smallest hole in block strings or teh huge window for error when inputting motions. Even gameplay wise I feel A2 is better, but thats just my opinion. I think SF4 is a ok game, and alot of people I talk to only play it cause that’s the thing to do, not because it’s a “great” game. Idk, there is alot of stuff I could say bout SF4, but bottom line is A2 is dead and SF4 is the hotness atm. I’ll stay on ggpo thx.


#15

I can sort of relate. The absolute most fun fighting game I’ve played gets basically zero attention.

There’s actually a lot of really good fighting games that have to struggle hard to get any attention at all simply because they aren’t mainstream and for no other reason. It’s been proven that a perfectly good game will be ignored until it gets an arcade and console port and is featured at SBO/Evo.

But personally I can’t hate on SF4 just because it’s trendy. Being jealous of it’s popularity isn’t a good enough reason for me to dislike it. To me it’s just another Capcom game, with the same share of good and bad points as all their others (barring CFJ/CFE).

Though in regards to SFA I can’t help but feel there’s a certain stigma surrounding it that keeps players from wanting to play it. Be it SFA2 or SFA3, people always throw around excuses. What ever happened to just giving it a try and deciding whether you like it or not? I played SFA2 and I don’t like it, I played SFA3 and I did like it, and I wonder what the hell is with all the excuses people come up with that have nothing to do with whether they’ve played and disliked/liked it or not. Every time I hear and excuse I can practically feel the anti-hype growing.

Know what? I don’t need an excuse not to play a game, nor do I need an excuse to play one. Most of the time reasons don’t make any sense anyway. Sometmes perfectly good games just aren’t fun, and really poorly built games are awesomely fun.


#16

Your message prompted me to read your “countering AC” post - good stuff to try when I get back into this game, though I’d still maintain you’re at a pretty bad disadvantage when you have low life and they have meter - you basically have to change your entire game to bait the AC, and that leaves you open to other stuff. As for ccs, my criticism wasn’t so much on how easy it is to land ccs, but more to the damage - 50% for 1 meter, 80%+ for full meter is a really steep price considering how easy it is to land ccs in this game.

As for SF4, I agree that a lot of ppl have a bandwagon mentality towards it, and it is just ok as a game. Since you clearly know what you’re talking about, I did want to hear what the exact reasons were that you thought A2 is better than SF4 gameplay-wise. The best I can come up with is that generally A2 has a better balance between offense and defense than SF4, which is too slow and defensive. If you’d rather pm me the reasons so as not to cause a flame war or whatever, that’d be cool too.


#17

Average damage for a lvl 1 cc is actually 35-40%, lvl 2s are around 50-65%, adn most lvl 3s are 70-80% but still vary. Lvl 3 from Bison or sak barely does 50%. But I’ll take some time to pm you when I get he chance.


#18

A3 died out because it got too broken and there was never a good console port of it until a few years ago (Alpha Anthology) when everyone had already stopped caring. That’s it for the most part. Japan and Europe didn’t ever really give up on the game completely though. A lot of the top SF4 names you see now like VER, Inbe, HOT, Makoto and Maho are all A3 vets.

It’s a shame considering the base game system is really deep and well made even if some of the hitboxes for anti-airing are kinda wonky.


#19

That’s very true.


#20

Thanks man.

Oh, and in response to the OP, this attitude is why the alphas are dead in the us atm (along with the fact that alpha 2/3 arcade cabs have been AWOL for years now):

http://forums.shoryuken.com/showthread.php?t=202187

A thread full of scrubs and quitters who like to run their mouths like they know something, instead of adapting to ccs. Sad.