Tag Archives: final fight

FGC #106 Street Fighter Alpha 2

Yay fighting!I’m a professional computer geek, but I’ve never analyzed the specifications of my cherished video game systems. From the Atari to the Playstation 4, I’ve made a conscious decision to stay away from looking at the nitty gritty of any given gaming hardware, because, frankly, I don’t want to know. I know that I can get… obsessive about details, and, like avoiding checking my checking account balance every five minutes, I figure I’ll be happier if I don’t know that game x is only using 80% of the processor speed, and, ugh, this game would be so much better with a proper frame rate. I like Clerks and Star Wars The Force Awakens equally despite their wildly disparate budgets, why should I judge Cave Story against Super Mario Galaxy just because they happen to be on the same system? We’re well past the point when graphics or framerates were the be-all end-all of gaming (if such a time ever existed) so knowing the exact specs of any given hardware isn’t going to give me a good idea of whether or not its games are “good”.

And, really, with that in mind, as a layman to the idea of platform functionality, there have been very few occasions when I “noticed” the failings of any given hardware. I always (eventually) upgrade to the most modern gaming consoles not because I’m sick of looking at yesterday’s graphics or because I need that many more zombies on my screen, I upgrade because Final Fantasy 13 isn’t going to be on Playstation 2, so it’s time to upgrade to Playstation 3. Come to think of it, I have never upgraded to a newer system for anything other than the latest iteration of a franchise, whether that be Mario, Final Fantasy, or… Toejam and Earl. I’m not proud. Point is, if they had kept making NES games, I’d have kept buying NES games… and my functioning NES and games like Shovel Knight and Mega Man 9 seems to prove that. Okay, I know those games couldn’t really work on old school hardware, but maybe that’s the point? Thanks to not worrying about hardware specs, I can fondly recall old systems as less “hardware” and more “an aesthetic”. Ah, the neo-classical 8-bit days…

But the good old days weren’t always good, and Street Fighter Alpha 2 is as bad as it seems.

Take thatNow, I want to be clear here: I really like the Street Fighter Alpha series. For one thing, right from the start, it fully embraced the anime aesthetic of Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie. Street Fighter 2 has practically become a part of my DNA, but I was never really fond of the general “look” of that game. Can’t really tell you why, but if I had to put it into words, I’d say that the designs of Street Fighter 2 look more like an animated adaption of the WWF, while Alpha is decidedly Dragon Ball. Maybe I like super beefy Bison, or this has become a retroactive fondness for the Alpha sprites thanks to the Vs. series, but whatever the case, I know I didn’t give Chun-Li a second thought until she started fighting on the Great Wall of China. And, while Alpha seemed like more of a random experiment than anything else, Street Fighter Alpha 2 really started to seem like its own series that incidentally happened to feature some familiar faces. And Street Fighter Alpha 3? It’s one of the best Street Fighter games, period, and I’d play it over Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (its closest analogue in the SF2 series) any day. Heck, I think I like SFA3 better than Street Fighter 4 (pick the version of your choice).

Street Fighter Alpha 2 even gets a special place in my heart because it introduced my most common Street Fighter go-to: Sakura. Like Dan and Akuma, she’s another variation on the Ryu mold, but unlike her male contemporaries, she seems to be a perfect combination of “weird” and “actually fun to use”. Yes, I know she only really appears in Alpha and 4, but she also snuck into Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and she might be my favorite character to actually play as in that overcrowded roster. I’ve always said that the shoryuken should have more horizontal windup.

So, as an officially recognized arcade rat and lover of Street Fighter, I was looking forward to Street Fighter Alpha 2 for the SNES back in the Owielate 90’s. Following the tradition of roughly every other Street Fighter hitting the SNES (Street Fighter 2, no champion edition, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Street Fighter 2, no super 2 turbo), Street Fighter Alpha (1) completely missed the system… but here’s the superior sequel, anyway! And, yes, this game was released for those “next gen” systems, but who cared about those? I didn’t want Tekken, I wanted more SNES hits like Chrono Trigger and Yoshi’s Island. Why upgrade to new hardware when the SNES is pumping out hit after hit? Street Fighter Alpha 2 arrived the same Christmas as Donkey Kong Country 3, so obviously we’re dealing with a very healthy platform.

Except… not so much.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 is more than a little compromised to fit the confines of the SNES. I was always one to “believe the lie” when it comes to arcade ports or sprite reuse (Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one of my favorite fighting games, and it was years before I noticed [at another’s insistence] that its sprites had a number of frames clipped from earlier, more expressive versions), so when I was told SNES Street Fighter 2 was “arcade perfect”, I believed it, because it’s not like I was dragging the ol’ fat TV into the arcade to compare. But here, in this Street Fighter, it’s more than a little obvious…

Just not the same

At the time, I wouldn’t have been able to enunciate exactly why I thought it was wrong, but I would have been able to tell you that… something got lost in the trip from the arcade to my basement. A game doesn’t have to be 100% arcade realistic… but it should be somewhere in the ballpark, particularly for a game as pretty as Street Fighter Alpha 2.

And then there’s the worst part: load times. Every match starts with an announcer shouting “Fight!”… and then a significant pause as the game catches up. First of all, load times are annoying, that’s a given. But even beyond that, the pause is right as the match starts, so, until you learn to figure out the exact delay involved, you can pretty much kiss scoring a first hit goodbye, because you better believe your opponent has no problem with the interruption.

Right in the bisonToday, these load times are just an annoyance, but back in ’96, this was practically salt in a gaping wound. I was a Nintendo kid, and had decided that the N64 was the only system I would ever need. I didn’t have many concrete reasons for this lifestyle choice, but one of the few irrefutable facts I could hoist in the direction of the haters was that the N64 was cartridge based, so I wouldn’t have to sit around waiting for discs to load like on the hated Playstation or irrelevant Saturn. No load times! That and Mario 64 were all we had! And here was a cartridge game on my beloved SNES (home of Secret of Mana!) that had load times! Betrayal most foul!

Within six months, I would own a Playstation. By the following Christmas, I would have already completed Wild Arms, Final Fantasy 7, Tekken 2, and Mega Man 8. I completed the abhorrent Beyond the Beyond through sheer, dogged determination (“I will make this purchase worthwhile!”). By New Year’s Day, 1998, thinking about the SNES as anything but old news would seem quaint. Most of my friends had already sold their old systems, and only ever held that “ancient” ABXY controller at my place for the occasion round of Super Bomberman. The old generation had passed, and the new gen of CDs and Z-buttons reigned supreme.

Where are they now?If it hadn’t been for Street Fighter Alpha 2, I never would have seen which way the wind was blowing. Yes, I would have bought the N64 (actually… I think I already had), and, yes, I would have bought the Playstation (alright, I would have begged my grandparents for a Playstation… same difference when you’re 14), but I never would have felt that the SNES to N64 was anything but an involuntary transition. Forced obsolescence, right? No, SFA2 proved that SNES’s obsolescence was anything but forced, and we’d squeezed every last drop out of that 16-bit hardware. Time waits for no generation, man or hardware, and Akuma was the reaper du jour.

Not a bad lesson to learn from a game about face punching.

FGC #106 Street Fighter Alpha 2

  • System: Super Nintendo was the point of this whole article, but it was also available for the Playstation and Sega Saturn. And arcade, of course. I can’t speak to the other system ports, though, as I waited until Alpha 3 to pick up on the series again.
  • Number of players: Two, which is the apposite number of street fighters.
  • Any more modes than the launch version of Street Fighter 5: Don’t think so.
  • Favorite Character: It’s Sakura. We already covered that. Really, I’m trying to find a way to phrase “inevitably I was going to gravitate toward the one that looks like Sailor Moon” without sounding like a creep. I was thirteen, alright?!
  • It makes less sense every game: How do all these guys afford airfare to fly around the world, fight for two minutes, and then fly off to some Really?other country? Sakura is a high school student! Zangief doesn’t even own a shirt!
  • Final Fight: We’re still a game away from jailbird Cody, but Guy, Rolento, and Sodom all officially make the Final Fight universe square with Street Fighter in this edition. Alpha 1 already had Sodom and Guy, but that game was already coasting on dubious canonicity.
  • Did you know? As a bit of a SNES bookend, Sodom is known as Katana in Final Fight (SNES) and Street Fighter Alpha 2 (SNES). It even reads “Katana” on his truck’s custom license plate. The name change didn’t stick, though. I wonder why Capcom never decided to “correct” the Bison/Vega/Balrog trilogy…
  • Would I play again: This version? No. Street Fighter Alpha 2 in general? Probably not, because I vastly prefer Street Fighter Alpha 3. Sorry, but, you were great at the time, but times change.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Fable 3! Oh, I shall be king for a day. Or queen. Whatever it takes, really. Please look forward to it!

That's gotta sting

FGC #059 Final Fight 2

The Main Man(continued from page C1) which is why it became a custom of the area to store our cooked meats in crates and barrels.

Also, this week in 199X was another curious historical event for our beloved Metro City: the political plummet of former mayor Mike Haggar.

We’ve discussed Mayor Haggar many times in this series, from his victories as a professional wrestler to his political campaign that involved suplexing a live shark (and this author maintains that, had that feat been attempted in the water, we would have seen a very different history of Metro City). Discussing Mayor Haggar at this point seems almost superfluous, as even school children know the minutia of the man, like how he met his beloved Nancy, and if someone is at all curious to learn more, they need only get within fifteen feet of Mike’s Maritime Maintenance to hear tales spun well past closing. Here’s a tip, when he starts talking about the time he fought a giant, hungry space god, it’s time to head home.

But there’s one tale Mayor Haggar never tells.

Readers old enough to remember the rise of the Mad Gear Gang and the ensuing conflict (dubbed by some overzealous reporters as The Final Fight of Metro City) will no doubt recall the heroics Mayor Haggar showed during the battle. Congresswoman Jessica Haggar, then just a teenager, had been dragged, quite literally, into the conflict, kidnapped from what should have been a pleasant evening of dancing with her then boyfriend, Cody Travers. Reports diverge at this point, but it is confirmed that Mike Haggar personally waded into the fray to rescue his daughter. Haggar was joined by Cody and/or an “international ninja” named Guy (last name unknown). The reasoning behind this differing account has been discussed before, but it is still my belief that various news sources chose to downplay or outright eliminate Guy from history due to his nationality ruining the “heroic native sons” narrative for Cody and Haggar. Later, Cody’s descent into crime could not be associated with “Hero Mayor Haggar”, so he was erased to make way for Guy’s reemergence. Whatever the case, whether everyone fought side by side or singularly, all three men were at least involved in the conflict, and were eventually victorious over the Mad Gears. Jessica Haggar made it home without a scratch, escorted by her father and two freshly minted heroes.

He's worth so many pointsMost towns don’t declare a city-wide holiday celebrating the day a man was defenestrated through a skyscraper, but Metro City has never been most towns. Mayor Haggar experienced a popularity surge not seen since the days of knights and demons, and many called for Haggar to run for positions like governor, senator, and even president. Haggar was riding a wave of national popularity, but it would be the international stage that would knock him from that perch to the cold, dark waters below.

As Cody Travers began his crash from hero to outlaw (yes, gossip rags at the time claimed Cody was “on vacation” with the mayor’s daughter, but Jessica’s autobiography From Lariat to Law School: One Woman’s Journey would later reveal that Cody was already having problems with the MCPD, and was only on the streets thanks to her father’s influence), Guy was continuing his training traveling the world. Guy was keeping a low profile, likely trying to hide himself from any gang reprisal, when information was leaked that Guy’s fiancée and future father-in-law had been kidnapped by a newly reformed Mad Gear Gang. Presumably, this was all an effort to draw Guy into a trap far away from Metro City, but there was one glaring problem: Guy was nowhere to be found!

Enter Maki Genryusai, the last remaining blood relative of the victims. Maki attempted to contact Guy, but received no response. She was a trained martial artist, so she considered rescuing her family singlehandedly, but she came to a fateful decision: she contacted Mayor Mike Haggar for help.

This cannot have been an easy decision for the mayor. On one hand, Guy had been a faithful ally of Haggar and all of Metro City in the past, and had been instrumental in rescuing Haggar’s own blood, so it would be only appropriate to reciprocate the favor. On the other hand, this kidnapping happened in far off Hong Kong, far beyond the jurisdiction of an American mayor. But perhaps the issue had already been decided when Haggar learned the Mad Gear Gang was responsible. Aides on site that day would later claim that fire burst forth from the mayor’s eyes when he was confronted with the realization that some Mad Gear members had not yet experienced his piledriver of justice.

Mayor Haggar’s journey was now inevitable, but as he prepared to leave his beloved city and join Maki on this deadly quest, another warrior threw his fist into the ring. A curious young man named Carlos Miyamoto claimed that he owed a favor to Haggar and Guy, and pleaded to assist the assault team. Very little is known about Carlos, and he was never seen again beyond this “second” Final Fight, but many have floated the theory that his love of katanas and obvious Japanophile tendencies (Carlos Miyamoto? One doesn’t need to be an onomatologist to see the problems there) reveal that he was an unmasked, incognito Sodom, a bitter former Mad Gear member. This conflicts with reports that Sodom was participating in a martial arts tournament around this time, though rumors still abound.

The trio journeyed initially to Hong Kong, but found information that the Mad Gear Gang had fled to Europe. Everyone flew from country to country in pursuit of the gang, visiting an American Marine Base in France that had been infiltrated, and then touring Holland to follow the lead of an imprisoned criminal claiming to have Mad Gear ties. An international incident nearly occurred when that prisoner, Bratken, recommended Haggar find the remaining Mad Gear members in England. Unfortunately, this was all a fiction of Bratken’s sadistic mind, and Haggar and company accidently demolished a circus troop starring England’s beloved Philippe the Clown. Luckily for everyone involved, it’s legal to maim a clown after 8 PM on a Sunday in the UK, so no one was prosecuted for damages.

Finally, Rolento, a lieutenant in the Mad Gear Gang, was found hiding in Italy. When questioned about how Rolento could be free and living in Italy after his reported defeat during the Metro City incident, Cody Travers claimed he “couldn’t quite remember ever meeting the guy. Did we ever actually go to his factory?” Regardless, Rolento was finally apprehended at his Italian villa, and revealed the shocking truth to Haggar: the Mad Gear Gang had never left Japan, and this European tour had all been a distraction. He went on to explain that transporting two captives across Europe would be a “logistical nightmare” and “too much trouble” and “what were you morons thinking?” Rolento gained an all new scar that day.

Back in Japan, Haggar, Maki, and Carlos ventured through the Mad Gear Stronghold, and confronted Retu, a part-time kabuki performer who had acquired the reins to the Mad Gear Gang. After some twirling and jumping, Maki decided to just kick Retu through a window. Retu survived, however, because, unlike his predecessor, Retu was hurled out of a window on the ground floor. Retu went on to get a job with Channel 6 in the small town of Springfield, and Maki was reunited with her family.

SHULK TIMEThe Mad Gear Gang was never seen again, but Haggar was not greeted with a hero’s welcome upon his return to the states. He had only been gone a week, but in that time, the worm had turned, and Metro City was in an uproar over its mayor’s latest “vacation”. The Mad Gear Gang had sympathizers in Metro City’s government, and information had been leaked that revealed that Mayor Haggar and his entourage had traveled Europe entirely on the city’s dime. Metro City had been in an economic spiral following the gang wars, it was in no position to support international vengeance quests waged by its politicians, so Haggar was in hot water. He tried to explain that eliminating the Mad Gear Gang “once and for all” would be the only way to keep the city safe, but a city needs more than flying kicks to stay secure, and Haggar had threatened that stability more than a hammer punch ever could.

The inquisition that started this week back in 199X would last for months, and Mayor Haggar may have had mighty muscle control, but he was a poor politician when it came to damage control. Attempting to maintain his persona as a super-powered “everyman”, Haggar grew a ponytail, and claimed that this whole debacle was the result of him “going through some stuff”. The public wasn’t buying it, though, and it seemed all but assured that Haggar’s term would end with the man leaving office in disgrace.

Fortunately for Haggar, but unfortunately for the city, the Skull Cross Gang rose from the ashes of the Mad Gear Gang, and attempted to seize control of the city. Haggar and a returning Guy worked together with gang informants and the MCPD to stop the riots that ensued during the conflict, and, while that battle is a story for another day, it did serve to catapult Haggar back to his former standing. Haggar would go on to serve another two terms, and was followed by his own hand-picked successor, Mayor Two P.

Just goes to show that Metro City will love you if you beat up thugs in Metro City, but not anywhere else.

Well, that’s it for this week’s column. Be sure to come back next week, when, in honor of his birthday, we’ll take a look at the life of Mr. Hoover, aka Metro City’s own Baby Commando!

FGC #59 Final Fight 2

  • So angrySystem: Super Nintendo, though also available on the Wii Virtual Console.
  • Number of Players: Two, just as it should be.
  • This Final Fight has two simultaneous players, but it got played a lot less than Final Fight 1, why? I’m going to have to go ahead and say it’s due to a complete lack of adolescent evolved acrobatic amphibians.
  • Guy Problems: It is a really odd choice to base the entire game outside of Metro City, travel to Asia repeatedly, and make the captives related to Guy… but not include Guy as a playable character. Was he switched for Final Fight’s first female, Maki, at the last moment, or were the developers just toying with Guy’s random absence from Final Fight SNES? The world may never know.
  • Favorite Character: I don’t know why I played as Carlos so much as a kid. Hm, probably because swords are cool. Anyway, Haggar is much more fun as an adult, mainly because he seems to have an actual move repertoire. I want to like Maki more, but I can’t really find her niche here, as Carlos seems faster, and Haggar is definitely stronger. I think Maki is supposed to be fast, though.
  • Did you know? This article is a tribute to my mother. Figure that one out.
  • Would I play again: Yes. I was rather surprised at how much more I enjoyed this game over original Final Fight, and now I really want to give it a try with two active players, which I think I only ever experienced once during a rental some twenty years ago. Somebody please grab that second controller, there’s senseis to save!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… to go out on maternity leave. Wait. What the hell? ROB, is this one of your damn excuses that…

Huh?

Oh, alright. Yeah. That… errr… I don’t… Huh. Wait, maternity leave? You’re a girl robot? Then who is the…

Huh?

Primal Prime, the time traveling revived control suit that became the very embodiment of the Autobot Matrix of Leadership itself? You’re the father? Oh, this raises so many more questions. So, so many.

Well, great, what the hell am I supposed to do in the meanwhile, Random ROB? What’s that? There’s something on the back of your maternity leave request? Oh.

This could work...

Yes. This could work. Come back later today for more information on FGC Reader’s Choice Challenge.

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