The second installment of the spin-off Street Fighter Alpha series and the sequel to (and remake of) Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams, Street Fighter Alpha 2 features five new playable characters (Dhalsim and Zangief from Street Fighter II, Gen from Street Fighter, Rolento from Final Fight, and newcomer schoolgirl Sakura), new backgrounds for all returning characters, and updated gameplay mechanics (including the introduction of the "Custom Combo" system, which allows players to use their Super Meter to make lengthy timed chain combos).
Sometime in August of 1996, Capcom released an update to the game in Japan only, titled Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha, that includes hidden character variations of some characters resembling their Super Street Fighter II Turbo appearances, an updated Custom Combo system requiring a different combination and less super meter to perform, new moves for some characters, and hidden game modes including Survival Mode. This version was further revised in the Street Fighter Collection compilation (for the Saturn on November 30, 1997 and PlayStation on December 16, 1997) as Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold (Street Fighter Zero 2' in Japan and Street Fighter Alpha 2' in Europe), adding Cammy in her X-Men vs. Street Fighter appearance as a hidden playable character.
The original game was ported to the Saturn and PlayStation on September 30, 1996, featuring an arranged soundtrack and the game's hidden boss (Shin Akuma) as a hidden playable character. It was also ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on November 1996 (as one of the two games to use the S-DD1 microchip enhancement for sprite data, causing some loading times) and the PC on November 1998. The game was later re-released (alongside a revised Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold) for the PlayStation 2 in the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology compilation on June 13, 2006. The PlayStation version was later digitally re-released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (both via PlayStation Network) on June 4, 2009, while the SNES version was digitally re-released for the Wii Virtual Console (on December 7, 2009) and Wii U Virtual Console (on May 22, 2014).
Street Fighter Alpha 2 retains most of the features in Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams like the three level super combo gauge, alpha counters and air-blocking. The main new feature in Street Fighter Alpha 2 is the custom combo system which replaces chain combos from the previous game. When the custom combo guage is at level 1 or above the player can activate a custom combo by by pressing two punch buttons following a kick. Custom combos grant the player a limited amount of time to chain almost any attacks together into a combo. The time limit is dependent on how much power was in the super meter when the combo was initiated.
The game's roster includes 18 playable fighters, five of which are new additions. Only one of these new additions (Sakura) is a brand new character. Three of the returning fighters were originally hidden in the original Street Fighter Alpha, no longer requiring a cheat code to use.
In most versions of the game (the only exception being the original "Zero 2" Japanese version), fighters returning from the Street Fighter II series (except for Akuma) have hidden variations resembling their movesets from Super Street Fighter II Turbo. These versions of Dhalsim and Zangief were included in all versions starting with "Alpha 2", while these versions of Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat, and M. Bison were only included in "Zero 2 Alpha" and "Alpha 2 Gold". Ryu, Chun-Li, and Akuma also have hidden variations of some sort.
- Gen (from Street Fighter)
- Rolento (from Final Fight)
- Dhalsim (from Street Fighter II, has a hidden SSF2T variation)
- Zangief (from Street Fighter II, has a hidden SSF2T variation)
- Cammy (from Super Street Fighter II, based on her X-Men vs. Street Fighter appearance, added in "Alpha 2 Gold" and only playable with cheat code)
- Ryu (along with a hidden SSF2T variation, he has a hidden "Evil" variation in "Alpha 2", "Zero 2 Alpha", and "Alpha 2 Gold", in which he has some of Akuma's moveset)
- Ken (has a hidden SSF2T variation)
- Sagat (has a hidden SSF2T variation)
- Chun-Li (along with a hidden SSF2T variation, she has a hidden "classic outfit" variation in all versions, in which she wears her Street Fighter II outfit)
- M. Bison (known as Vega in the Japanese versions, has a hidden SSF2T variation)
- Akuma (has a hidden powerful "Shin" variation, fought by reaching the last fight without losing a round, getting three perfects, and getting five super/custom finishes, only playable in some console versions)
Guy's Stage (from left to right):
Ken's Stage (from left to right):