Street Fighter Alpha II (also known as Street Fighter Zero II) was released in 1996 as an update to the original Street Fighter Alpha. The story behind this game is an override of those found in Alpha, and canonically, all but one ending (Charlie's) occurred.
The English localizations of the Arcade and Saturn versions features three new characters not found in the Japanese originals, which consisted of Evil Ryu (a version of Ryu with Akuma's powers) and classic versions of Dhalsim and Zangief that had no super moves and played like their original versions in the Street Fighter II series.
Street Fighter Alpha II was highly anticipated by gamers. A number of factors conspired against the release of the sequel, however. The CPS-2 board upon which the games had recently been based was essentially little more than a slightly improved CPS-1 board. Capcom was diverting resources to the development of 3D arcade games and the new CPS-3 board, which eventually debuted later in that year. As such, sparse resources were devoted to Street Fighter Alpha 2, some reports stating that at times, the team working on it was said to number one person. Despite this context, the game was released in early 1996, 8 months after the original, and garnered immediate praise from the press and public alike.
Correcting what had often been the primary complaint about the first Alpha game, Alpha 2 was a significantly more polished and balanced game. Primarily, the degree to which each character's set of moves complemented the others was again addressed.
Several new features were introduced in this incarnation: the chain combos were removed (although Gen and Guy could still perform a few), custom combos, a concept which would be refined in later games, were also introduced in Alpha 2 - the player could press a combination of buttons (two punches and one kick or vice versa) to initiate a state where all moves could be canceled into each other at increased speed, thus allowing the player to create their own super combos. A Custom Combo would allow a character to chain any move into any other move, while the super meter gradually decreased. Although the ability to perform super combos were unaffected, characters were kept in forward motion, so the character was left vulnerable should the opponent end up on the other side of the character. Also, Alpha Counters were revised so that they would be variable to the situation i.e. a punch Alpha Counter would result in an anti-air counter while with kick would respond low. Rose's Alpha Counter actually switched positions with the opponent, this became a critical move if Rose used it while in the corner.
Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha
Due to presence of additional characters in the English localization of Alpha 2, Capcom produced this update specifically for the Japanese and Asian market. Zero 2 Alpha was released on August 5, 1996 in Japan. It is slightly enhanced, giving some of the characters a number of new moves, while additional game modes were also added, such as 'Dramatic Battle' (the 2 on 1 game mode from the original Alpha), 'Shin Gouki Mode' and 'Survival'. This update also added classic versions of Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat, and M. Bison (in addition to the classic versions of Zangief and Dhalsim featured in the localized Alpha 2) and the Japanese debut of "Evil Ryu".
This game reached North America and the PAL region in the form of Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold (or Street Fighter Zero 2 Dash in Japan), which, until the release of the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, was only available on Street Fighter Collection for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and further presented the first Alpha appearance of Cammy, previously introduced in X-Men vs. Street Fighter, but lacks the 2-on-1 Team Mode from the arcade game.
The version of Alpha 2 Gold in Street Fighter Alpha Anthology is actually a combination of both, the arcade and console versions, retaining the arcade version's 2 on 1 Dramatic Battle (which is retroactively added to the original Alpha and Alpha 2 as well) and features Cammy as a fully playable character with her own full fledge storyline.
Alpha 2 brought back every character from Alpha, including the hidden characters Dan, Akuma, and M. Bison. Alpha 2 also brought back Gen, from the original Street Fighter, and Zangief and Dhalsim from Street Fighter II (the latter two allegedly due to popular demand), as well as Rolento from the Final Fight series. Sakura made her first appearance in this game.
The three hidden characters from SFA were made originally selectable and five new characters were added, among them old SFII faces Dhalsim and Zangief together with later favorite Sakura. This was also the first appearance of 'Shin Akuma' in the home versions, the so-called "real" Akuma, capable of throwing double fireballs mid-air and all-around superior to the normal Akuma. He was a hidden character.
- M. Bison
- Evil Ryu
- Shin Akuma
- Dhalsim (Classic version)
- Zangief(Classic version)
- Ryu(Classic version) Available in Gold version
- Ken (Classic version) Available in Gold version
- Chun-Li (Classic version) Available in Gold version
- Sagat (Classic version) Available in Gold version
- M. Bison (Classic version) Available in Gold version
The game was again ported to the Saturn and PlayStation, the Saturn version again the superior port, due to the ability to select the classic Champion Edition versions of Zangief and Dhalsim, Chun-Li's original Street Fighter II outfit (complete with her original fireball motion), an Evil version of Ryu, a special version of Sakura, and Shin Akuma. The Saturn port also features an exclusive Survival Mode, as well as an Art Gallery. A PC version was also available, though it did not carry all the hidden characters that the Saturn version had, namely the other versions of Zangief and Dhalsim, Evil Ryu and Sakura. Interestingly, due to the implementation of the S-DD1 chip that was used for graphic decompression, a conversion of this game was one of the last games on the SNES, despite the doubts about it being feasible. While it is commonly not compared favorably to the Saturn or PlayStation versions, it is a competent port, featuring all of the original characters featured in the arcade version, no other secret characters are available, though Shin Akuma can be fought against). In order to fit in the cartridge, some graphic down-scaling was done (the characters are smaller) and the animations are less fluid.
Numerous game magazines at the time voted SFA2 one of the best arcade games of the year, the relatively minor changes to the fundamentals of the game and the extensive polishing of the same winning formula gained general approval from competitive fans also.
- Street Fighter Alpha 2 featured an early use of "EX" characters, which were alternate versions of characters possessing different movesets.
- The Australian stage in Street Fighter Alpha 2 was based on the area where Ryu and Sagat fought in the opening scene of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie.
- The Saturn version includes a palette swap of Sakura, later included in Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha