Looking Back: Street Fighter Alpha 2 on the SNES

The Super Nintendo port of Street Fighter Alpha 2 confused many. While the Super Nintendo did have some fantastic Street Fighter ports in the past, many developers at the time (including Capcom) had already abandoned the Super Nintendo for the Playstation, Saturn and Nintendo 64. Capcom themselves had skipped porting Street Fighter Alpha to the Super Nintendo because the hardware couldn’t handle it.

So when this came out in 1996, it sparked a lot of questions. Why is this being ported to the Super Nintendo now? Do Super Nintendo players still want more Street Fighter? Is this port even any good?

Porting this game must have been a technical nightmare. The arcade game featured cutting-edge graphics, sound and gameplay, which even the Playstation couldn’t run perfectly. On the Super Nintendo, it was clear that even more concessions had to be made. Sprites were smaller and less detailed, backgrounds lost detail, the music sounds worse, some frames of animation were cut, sound effects are muffled and in some cases, cut out completely.

The biggest concessions really hurt the experience in my opinion. Most famously, the Super Nintendo port of Alpha 2 featured load times before the start of every round. I can’t think of any other cartridge-based game that has load times. Once the fight starts, the controls just don’t feel right. I’ve played every Super Nintendo version of Street Fighter, and this one is sluggish in comparison. I’m not Street Fighter master, but I had difficulty pulling off basic combos that I could do in the other Street Fighter iterations easily.

All of its shortcomings aside, the Super Nintendo port of Street Fighter Alpha 2 still stands as a technical marvel, of sorts. You still get all of the main characters and some of the hidden characters. All of the moves are there. All of the combos still work. If your expectations are going into this that this is the best possible version of Street Fighter Alpha 2 you can jam onto a SNES cartridge, then you’ll likely have fun with this. Every now and then, I’ll put aside Super Street Fighter IV and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift and zone out to this version of Alpha 2.

I know this isn’t the best version of the game, but I never picked this up when it first came out and I’ve always kind of wanted it ever since. It just came out too late in the Super Nintendo’s life cycle and I had already moved onto the Nintendo 64. Tracking down the actual cartridge may cost you a pretty penny on eBay due to the rarity of it, but it’s also readily available on the Wii Virtual Console.

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