Street Fighter Alpha: An oral history

Street Fighter 1: An oral history – Polygon is the first part.

What’s next is some parts of the original text, in the link at the end you have the full text with A LOT of anecdotes from various people from the Capcom sphere, directly or not.

A game of convenience

Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams wasn’t a remake, though it had traits of one. Falling early in the Street Fighter timeline, the game brought back two characters from the original Street Fighter and two characters from Final Fight, and folded them into a game that played like the next incremental step after Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo.

With popular characters like Chun-Li and Akuma on board, and a new look that added a youthful, anime-inspired style, Capcom put together a game that bought itself time before the next proper numbered Street Fighter sequel would be ready — and allowed it to use up some of its leftover arcade hardware. To that end, Capcom ended up making two slightly different versions of Street Fighter Alpha: one on its new CPS-2 hardware that powered the Super Street Fighter 2 series, and a slightly compromised version that ran on its legacy CPS-1 boards.

A big break

On top of the short timeline, one of the biggest challenges the Street Fighter Alpha team faced was its lack of experience. While the game was led by Noritaka Funamizu — a series veteran who had overseen multiple Street Fighter 2 games — the team also consisted of a number of younger members, including planner Hideaki Itsuno.

At the time, Itsuno was new to Capcom, having worked on a couple of obscure quiz games, and Alpha served as a turning point in his career. Following Alpha’s release, Itsuno moved into various leadership roles, overseeing Capcom’s first attempts at 3D fighting games, working on key 2D fighting games like Capcom vs. SNK, and eventually heading up the Devil May Cry and Dragon’s Dogma franchises and becoming one of Capcom’s most popular game directors.

He says it all started when Funamizu noticed him playing a game from Capcom rival SNK.

A console-like game

With only three months scheduled to develop the game, and the need to also make a version that ran on Capcom’s dated CPS-1 hardware, the Alpha team had to cut certain corners to make the game work, leading to a lot of experimentation. As Itsuno remembers, Street Fighter Alpha marked a time Capcom allowed itself to break its own rules.

A dramatic battle

Despite Street Fighter Alpha’s short development cycle, the team at Capcom was able to include a number of bonus features, ranging from secret characters like Dan and Akuma to a hidden Dramatic Battle mode — a two-on-one fight where players controlled Ryu and Ken in a confrontation against M. Bison, mirroring the battle at the end of 1994’s Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie. As it turns out, the Dramatic Battle mode came about in part because of a song.

Meeting demand

After Capcom released Alpha, the audience was split. While some thought the game felt too simplified and unrefined, Alpha appealed to an audience that wanted a new version of the game that wasn’t overly demanding to play and brought back familiar elements from previous games. The peak days of Street Fighter 2 were behind Capcom, but Alpha kept the pipeline flowing and helped Capcom clear out its hardware.

Street Fighter Alpha: An oral history – Polygon

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