I'm Taking A Look Back At Street Fighter's Innovative History Before Street Fighter V Came Out
Street Fighter Alpha series
I felt that Street Fighter Alpha series was pretty much the peak of innovation for Street Fighter during the late 90s. The games took advantage of the fifth generation consoles' power while some of them had a very depowered version in the Super NES. I'd like to focus on the Playstation version which I've played Street Fighter Alpha 1-3.
What I love a lot about the Street Fighter Alpha series and why I'd want to play them all over again in contrast to the Street Fighter II series. It fixed a lot of problems from the Street Fighter II series like hard to execute character specific moves, you get to keep your meter full for the next round if you filled it the last round in contrast to Super Street Fighter II Turbo and the controls were much easier in general. Plus, some super powered characters like General Vega (General Bison) and Gouki were toned down a bit because they were just too powerful early on. Later entries of the series allowed you to play as alternate versions of characters like
As for innovative gaming, Street Fighter Alpha 3 has a unique system that allows one to play your characters in three different variations. Okay, it's not as deep as Mortal Kombat X's use of three variations per character as these were limited to X-Ism (Turbo style improved meter), A-ism and V-ism. X-Ism only gave you one Super Combo to do and it had that really fancy effect that I love. A-Ism was the standard Alpha meter which we all know and love allowing Super Combos to be performed at three different levels. V-ism replaced Super Combos with the Custom Combos. Custom Combos were introduced during Street Fighter Alpha 2 as fast combos but they were somewhat made easier to connect during the next game. This was my favorite entry and deserves a lot of mention for really good innovative gaming.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 also had other unique stuff such as the non-playable version of General Vega which I call as "Final Vega". Final Vega had that CPU-only move which I dubbed as the "Final Psycho Crusher" which if you don't block, you could lose almost your entire life. The game also had a different version of Balrog which was fought only in Arcade Mode. He was made playable during Street Fighter Alpha Anthology for the sixth generation consoles when you finished Street Fighter Alpha 3 for the first time. You had the option to use Shadaloo-ism for all characters which granted characters access to the Final Psycho Crusher. The game's innovation for the 3rd entry IMO was the best they could offer to keep the gaming style fresh.
Street Fighter EX Series
I remembered how blocky or polygonal style 3D graphics were once considered cool but now they've aged badly. The graphics had to be innovated and made better because sooner or later, blocky graphics won't work anymore. I guess Street Fighter tried to enter into the world of 3D because of other games doing the same. But unlike Mortal Kombat which entered into full 3D, Street Fighter remained in the 2.5 world. Meaning that it stayed old school with the fighting plane while innovating a lot of new school stuff into the game series. Street Fighter EX3 was Playstation 2 exclusive during the sixth generation era.
Getting involved in the Marvel vs. Capcom series
Street Fighter's innovation got it involved into the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Two games got involved namely X-Men VS. Street Fighter and the other is Marvel Super Heroes VS. Street Fighter. A lot of new stuff were introduced like Street Fighter Super Combos were beefed up. My favorite example is that Ryu's Shinkuu Hadoken is changed from a destructive fireball into a super beam type attack and Chun Li's Kikosho formed a destructive dome.
The game showed some innovations that were in the Arcade but were never brought home because of the limits of the fifth generation system. I wonder was it already a wrong time to innovate that time? Maybe yes, maybe no because the fifth generation systems took out the true meaning of Tag Team Play so you couldn't fully play the two games to their fullest at home.
I could talk about the limits that it had. Both X-Men VS. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes VS. Street Fighter (and also Marvel VS. Capcom) didn't fully utilize the partner system due to memory constraints. For instance, your partner only comes to do a counter, an assist move (for Marvel Super Heroes VS. Street Fighter) and when a team Hyper Combo had to be done. This was fixed during the sixth generation to seventh generation consoles.
What's interesting is that Street Fighter is still the most involved in the Marvel VS. Capcom series. Marvel VS. Capcom 2 was a fun party game but not having character endings was a bummer. Marvel VS. Capcom 3 game for the seventh generation consoles and sadly, it wasn't taking advantage of the cool features. Like why would we want to watch cards hop on each other during online battle and even if the game has had smooth controls, it's anemic compared to the Street Fighter IV series. I hope Capcom doesn't repeat the same mistake.
Street Fighter III series
I didn't feel that welcoming at first with Street Fighter Alpha 3 since most the characters I was familiar with are gone. But it was a fun ride anyway trying new stuff and since I still had Ryu and Ken so I was fine. The new system had buttery smooth controls and a new fighting system. You got to choose only one Super Art (this is what Super Moves were called here) that you use for the whole duration until you lose a match and you must select again. Which Super Move you choose can determine your playing style and how long the meter filled up. In my case, I only played Street Fighter III Third Strike.
For game innovations, I didn't like the return of the mini-games in between matches. It just reminds me why I really don't want to play the Street Fighter II series. Fortunately, you can earn the option not to pass through them. My favorite part is that you may choose between two opponents for your next match except for the last two rounds. Gill was a pretty cool boss. I felt he was an improvement from the iconic villain General Vega. He could resurrect himself at a full meter so you need to beat him or find a way not to get him back to full health as part of the fun. Since the game gave you an easier time to
For the sixth generation consoles, I really love the Capcom VS. SNK series. Okay, I'm not really a fan of SNK and I hardly had exposure to SNK characters. But this was the game that gave me a taste of what it was to play SNK characters with some different innovations they had. I don't feel qualified to critique the innovations of SNK since I only played their characters in this marvelous crossover. If I played any SNK games in the past, I barely played Samurai Shodown or Fatal Fury.
But guess what? This game really Street Fighter Alpha 3's engine modified. You had three different ways to play in Street Fighter Alpha 3 right? In this game, you had six different ways. C-ism allowed you to use the Street Fighter Alpha series standard meter. A-ism allowed you to execute both Custom Combos and Super Combos now. P-ism uses Street Fighter 3's bar but you don't select a Super Art while you had the ability to parry like in the said game. SNK grooves all focused on the fighting systems from Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting and Samurai Shodown. I didn't use too much of the SNK grooves but anybody who's more into SNK games would want them around.
Street Fighter IV Series
For the seventh generation consoles, Street Fighter IV is what I call improving a lot from what Super Street Fighter II Turbo left behind. The fighting styles and just some things reminds me of Super Street Fighter II Turbo because characters only had one Super Combo. But the improvisation was that you had four small meters to fill. One portion gave you the ability to throw an EX Move while at the fullest, you can unleash the Super Combo. I felt like Netherrealm Studios took inspiration from that meter.
The other part of the innovation is called the Ultra Combo. I was kind of intrigued at this innovation because it only filled up when you're hit. It's almost like a variation of Samurai Shodown's meter where it only got filled when you get hurt. When you're hurt, you get the ability to unleash a powerful move that caused more damage than usual. This made you change the way you wanted to play like if you hurt your opponent enough, they can unleash an Ultra Combo on you too. Pretty much a strategic depth that made me think why in the world didn't Capcom treat Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (which came after) which as much care as respect as they did with Street Fighter IV?