| paleface [sys=PSP; cat=Fighting; loc=NA] |
|Alpha/Zero is my least favorite of the "real" Street Fighter groups (counting Street Fighter II--see entry 679--and Street Fighter III--see entry 439--as the others). It lost the sort of rough and tumble, and careful pacing, of II, and replaced it with a sort of hodge-podge of weird characters and flashy moves that now just feel like a more or less generic, though pretty good, fighting game. I'm not fond of many of the character designs, especially since most of them are set up as wrestler (360 spin moves) or charge (hold a direction) characters. Heck, I don't even like Cammy that much in this game for some reason; the only one I'm fond of at the moment is Maki; Rolento and Eagle *might* be okay, but I've yet to go back to refresh my memory.|
Anyway, there are a lot of character, particularly since they've added four to the already large cast from the Dreamcast version. The new arrivals are Maki (yay!), Eagle, Yun (from III), and Ingrid, who I think is new; anyway she's a very annoying little maid girl with glittery fx moves, who feels like one of those awful new KOF characters that have been popping up lately. Ugh.
I'm not a huge fan of SFA's "isms," which change the strengths and super types of your fighter. Mostly I'm not fond of them because it seems like the default, A, is just plain better than the others. I first tried playing the 100-battle "Kumite" mode with X-ism, 'cause it sounded cool that your moves would do more damage, but the larger downsides are that you take more damage, only have one super and one super charge, and in general just get stomped. Then there's V-ism, which takes away the standard supers and replaces them with a "Custom Combo" mode where you get a shadow character who follows you, repeating your moves, so you can sort of gang up on the opponent until they hit you--oh, but you can't block or something while doing this, and your normal attacks are weaker. So yeah, A seems to be the clear winner, unless I'm missing something, which isn't too unlikely.
Fortunately, the game has a huge variety of play modes, some of them quite innovative, and really ones that I wish other fighting games would implement. The best mode "World Tour," has you start with a character and take them on battles around the world against random opponents. You pick your -ism, and if you win the fight, you may gain a level for that -ism, making it more powerful (generally raising your stats); you may also get a new equippable skill, like air blocking or increased combos or something.
And it isn't just plain random battles, either. You may face two characters, or even two characters that you have to take down multiple times in a single round; and there may be special rules like you have to beat them within the time limit, or their hits have an increased chance to stun, or whatever. It keeps things interesting. It's particularly a hoot fighting two characters at once.
The other modes include standard training and vs modes and such, as well as modes where you can fight against two characters, or with a buddy, fighting co-op against a string of opponents. That mode is really fun two-player, and damnit, more games should have something like that. Then there's Survival mode, and the 100-match Kumite mode, and a boss battle mode, and a team battle mode that I haven't tried.
New since the DC version is an "Edit" mode where you can assign attribute points to one of the existing characters, sort of molding them with particular strength and weaknesses, and maybe doing other stuff. I didn't really mess with it.
There's also a "Network Battle" mode, which, sadly, is only Ad-hoc local battles with people in your immediate vicinity. It looks like they got some good stuff in there, like the ability to set up tournament brackets and stuff, but dang it, how long is it gonna take for developers/publishers to realize that the PSP can do Internet multiplayer? Man.
Load times here are actually surprisingly brisk; I went through a full 100-match Kumite, with a stage/character load between each 1-round match, and the load times didn't bother me, which is saying something. You can save your progress midway through World Tour, which is nice (you can't in Kumite, which seems like an oversight, but the PSP's "Sleep" mode came in very handy there). The graphics look lovely on the PSP screen; I dunno what kind of rescaling they used to get the old low-res sprites and backgrounds up to the PSP's rez without pixelization of some kind, but it worked beautifully. You can stretch the graphics widescreen, but they look blurry and weird that way, so I just play with sidebars.
You can use the analog stick to input moves; you can also map special moves onto single buttons, I think; and you'd need to do that stuff if you were trying to play the game on a stock PSP, because the PSP's D-pad is so shockingly bad at registering the diagonal movements so necessary to pulling off pretty much any special move in a 2D fighter of this type. What I would suggest, though, is to do the easy "shim" mod on your D-pad (see entry 1028), and then you'll be pulling off fireballs, uppercuts, and super moves with relative ease. It really is remarkable. Please don't try playing the game without it, because you will hate it. Capcom was giving away their own D-pad stick-on (see entry 1027) with pre-orders for the game on their web site, but these just plain don't cut the mustard.
SFA isn't my favorite fighting game by any means, and I only like a few of the characters, but it has some really good modes, and this is a dang good port of the game. Now if only they would port II and III to the PSP, man, that would be sweet.
|Ooh, the one thing really lacking here is pause-menu move lists. I mean really, this is 2006, we shouldn't have to drag the manual around with us if we want to look up a character's moves.|
|Just noticed the DC version doesn't have Kumite mode, so that may be new to this one, or maybe it appeared in between on PS2 or something. Also, in the PSP version there's a "Reverse Dramatic Battle" mode, where you can fight against two NPCs at once; the DC version only has Dramatic Battle (two players vs 1 CPU) and then an all-player version (two players vs one player).|| ||