Running on the new CPS-2 hardware, Super Street Fighter II reworked the game’s presentation from the ground up. New sprites and backgrounds were created for all existing fighters and stages. Returning fighters were given new moves, such as Ryu’s red fireball, Balrog’s headbutt and new ‘normals’ for the Grand Masters. A new scoring system awarded points for landing the first hit, performing combos, and reversals.
But the game’s biggest change was the addition of four new fighters to the roster including MI6 operative Cammy, kickboxer Dee-Jay, movie star and Bruce Lee ripoff Fei Long, and grappler T. Hawk. Fans loved exploring the new characters, but lamented the game’s slow speed compared to SFII Turbo.
Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994)
Super Street Fighter II Turbo added throw escapes and the ability to juggle your opponent to the game’s mechanics. But the biggest change was the Super Combos. Super Combos were high-priority, multi-hitting moves that can be performed once the player had filled a meter at the bottom of the screen. Super combos were flashy and added another layer of complexity to the game, becoming a staple of the series. Players could also set the speed of the game at the character select screen.
Also new was the series’ first hidden character: Akuma. Skilled players could fight Akuma instead of M. Bison if they met certain requirements in Arcade mode. Akuma’s fighting style resembled Ken and Ryu’s, except he had an air fireball and multi-hitting ground projectiles. A nerfed version of the character was playable via a code. SSFIIT is one of the most balanced and beloved entries in the series. Tournaments for the game are still held over 20 years after its release.
Street Fighter: The Movie (1995)
Returning characters: Akuma, Balrog, Blade, Cammy, Chun-Li, E. Honda, Guile, Ken, M. Bison, Ryu, Sagat, Vega, Zangief
Returning characters (home version only): Dee-Jay, Blanka
New character: Sawada
Based off the abysmal live-action film, SF:TM came and went quickly. The digitized live action poses looked stiff compared to the fluid movements in previous entries. While appearing similar, the home and arcade versions were developed by different teams and have big differences in their fighting engine.
The arcade game was released to middling reviews and players went back to Super SFII Turbo. The home versions suffered from input lag and long loading times, and are largely considered an embarrassment. On the other hand, what other game would let you play as Ming Na-Wen, Kylie Minogue, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Raul Julia?
Street Fighter Alpha: Warrior’s Dreams (1995)
Returning characters: Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Birdie, Adon, Sagat, M. Bison, Akuma
New characters: Charlie, Rose, Guy, Sodom, Dan
Taking place between the first entry and Street Fighter II, the Alpha series borrows its storyline from the Street Fighter anime movie. The primary plot revolves around M. Bison’s mission to capture Ryu and harness his fighting potential.
SFA brought back Super Combos with a few enhancements. Now players could charge up their Super meter up to 3 levels and use one or all of them when executing super moves. Alternatively, they could use one level to perform Alpha Counters, attacks that instantly respond to opponent’s attacks when executed while blocking. Air blocking was also possible.
Five new challengers joined the fray. Charlie played very similar to Guile, fitting considering he was Guile’s partner in the Air Force. Rose could reflect fireballs and channels energy through her scarf. Guy, who like Sodom comes from Final Fight, had an array of moves to rush towards his opponent from the ground and air. Sodom was a grappler who fought with jitte.
Returning fighters also received a boost. Adon, not seen since SF1, had an array of kick attacks that arced at unique angles. Fellow SF1 alum Birdie was a grappler who brutally slammed opponents with his chains.
But perhaps the most memorable newcomer was the hidden character Dan. Dan was a parody of Robert Garcia and Ryo Sazaki, two fighters from SNK’s Art of Fighting that resembled Ryu and Ken in appearance and backstory. Dan’s special moves were pale imitations of Ken and Ryu’s moveset with laughable range and effectiveness. Despite this he’s astonishingly overconfident, constantly taunting his opponent during matches. Although players were initially disappointed by a seemingly ‘wasted’ character, Dan has since become a fan favorite.
Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)
New to Alpha series: Dhalsim, Zangief, Gen, Cammy (Gold version only)
New characters: Rolento, Sakura, Evil Ryu
SFA2 only had one major addition to the fighting engine: custom combos. Using the Super Meter, Custom combos allowed fighters to string special moves together and juggle their opponents for a few seconds. They proved to be extremely powerful in the right hands, with some characters able to perform 100% “touch of death” combos (see the video below).
The new fighters brought more variety to the roster. Sakura, a teenage Ryu superfan, gave a new take on the “Shoto” archetype. Rolento appealed to Vega players with his unorthodox jumping arcs and movements. Gen, returning from SF1, has two separate stances with normals, specials, and super combos specific to each. Finally there was Evil Ryu, who fought similar to Akuma. Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold, a rebalanced update, added Cammy.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1998)
New to Alpha series: E. Honda, Blanka, Vega, Balrog
New characters: Karin, R. Mika, Cody, Juni, Juli
Added to the home versions: Guile, Fei Long, T. Hawk, Dee Jay, Yun, Eagle, Maki, Ingrid
Sporting an overcaffeinated announcer, a drum-and-bass soundtrack and a new, hyperactive UI, SFA3 feels like a culmination of the games that preceded it. Now players could select different fighting styles, or ISMs, for each character. X-ism was reminiscent of Super SF II Turbo, with higher damage output and one large Super meter. A-ism played similarly to previous Alpha games, with a Super meter that could build up to 3 bars. V-ism featured a new Custom Combo system.
Karin was the standout new fighter of the game, featuring complex series of commands that can chain together. Cody, another Final Fight alum, made his Street Fighter debut in a ridiculous Hamburglar prison outfit. R. Mika provided a unique take on the grappler archetype. Juni and Juli were less interesting, being essentially Cammy clones.
The home version of SFA3 featured World Tour mode, an RPG-like experience where players fought through special battles that featured unique scenarios like multiple opponents or increased damage. Fighters could earn stat bonuses and special abilities to equip and take into Versus mode. It also included a large selection of other modes such as a robust Survival, Dramatic Battle, Team Battle and Final Battle modes. The sheer variety was unusual for Capcom leading some to hope that the days of the bare-bones arcade port was over. Sadly that was not the case.
Not content with that, Capcom added classic characters Guile, Fei Long, T. Hawk, and Dee Jay to the Playstation release. The PSP version added SFIII’s Yun, SF’s Eagle, Final Fight 2’s Maki and Capcom Fighting Evolution‘s Ingrid to the mix.
Unfortunately, the custom combos of SFA3 dominated all other fighting styles, limiting its appeal for tournament players. Worse, players discovered infinite combos, making fights repetitive. Many hardcore fans prefer Alpha 2 to this day. Still, for a casual fan looking for a Street Fighter fix, it’s a tough game to pass up. It was released on the Playstation, Saturn (Japan only), Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, PSP, and PS2 (via a compilation disc).
- In 2003 Hyper Street Fighter II was released on the Xbox and Playsation 2. It allowed players to select any version of the fighters from the SFII series and face them off against each other.
- In 2006 Capcom hid Hyper Street Fighter Alpha as a bonus game in its compilation Street Fighter Alpha Anthology. It bore many similar features to Hyper Street Fighter II, allowing players to select any version of fighters from the Alpha series.
- In 2008 Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix was released on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It recreated the original game in high definition and included a remixed soundtrack. This was rereleased on the Nintendo Switch as Ultra Street Fighter II in 2017, adding Evil Ryu and Violent Ken to the roster.