"You can't give it up! GO FOR IT, MAN!"
—Announcer, Alpha 3
In 1995, Capcom released a long-awaited real sequel -- or rather, a prequel to Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams (Street Fighter Zero in Japan). With a distinctive anime-styled look based on Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Alpha takes place between the first two Street Fighter games, and expands the Backstory of many of the major characters. The game also features returning characters from the original Street Fighter (who were merely computer-controlled opponents, namely Thai-kickboxer Adon and British punk Birdie), as well as characters from Capcom's beat 'em up Final Fight (ninja loner hero Guy and criminal samurai wannabe Sodom) and also introduced a few new characters, namely Dan Hibiki, (the quintessential Joke Character and Take That to Street Fighter copycat Art of Fighting); American soldier Charlie (who was introduced as Guile's missing friend, and was called Nash in Japan); and Italian fortune teller Rose. All of them joined to Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat, M. Bison and Akuma.
In 1996, Street Fighter Alpha 2 was released, which expanded upon the previous game, with tighter gameplay, new stages and endings, and five additional characters. Among these new characters were Sakura Kasugano, (a young Japanese girl who idolizes Ryu) Rolento from Final Fight and Gen from the original Street Fighter, as well as returning Street Fighter II characters Zangief and Dhalsim. The American arcade version added Evil Ryu to the roster, along with extra versions of Zangief and Dhalsim (in addition to Shin Akuma and Classic Chun-Li). Alpha 2 was re-released in Japanese arcades as Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha, which included all the added characters from the American release, as well as extra versions of all the Street Fighter II characters (including Classic Chun-Li), as well as new moves for some of the returning characters and minor changes to the fighting system (particularly in the Custom Combo system, which were easier to performed, but now required a larger Super Combo gauge). Zero 2 Alpha was ported to home consoles as Alpha 2 Gold, which added Cammy to the roster as well (although, she was only playable in the Versus and Training modes at first).
In 1998, Street Fighter Alpha 3 finished off the prequel sub-series, bringing the story all the way back to Street Fighter II's doorstep, and introducing some extensive retcons to the Street Fighter story and characters. Incidentally, Alpha 3 contains the largest character roster of the series, having the entire roster from Super Turbo (with Fei Long, T. Hawk, Dee Jay and Guile only available in the home versions), four characters from the original Final Fight, (Cody, Guy, Sodom and Rolento) Karin Kanzuki, (whose only appearance was on the manga Sakura Ganbaru!) Japanese wrestler Rainbow Mika, and Bison's female bodyguards Juni and Juli, plus every remaining returning character from Alpha 2, making Alpha 3 the game in the series with the largest roster. In 2002, Alpha 3 was ported to the Game Boy Advance adding Eagle, Maki and Yun (with his brother Yang) fresh from their appearance in Capcom vs. SNK 2. Finally, in 2006, Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution was added in the PSP version.
- Achey Scars: The scar on Sagat's chest glows whenever he is confronted by Ryu. In Alpha 2 Gold and Alpha 3, he gains a super which allows him to draw upon the feelings of anger and hatred invoked by his scar and buff the damage output of his next Tiger Blow.
- Adaptation Expansion: Cammy was added to the roster in Alpha 2 Gold (the console version of the Asia-only Zero 2 Alpha) after her appearance in X-Men vs. Street Fighter, although she did not have a proper in-game storyline in the game until its re-release for the PS2 as part of the Alpha Anthology.
- When Alpha 3 was ported to home consoles, not only did the home versions feature four extra characters (Fei-Long, T. Hawk, Dee Jay and Guile), but the sub-bosses (Balrog, Juni and Juli) were given proper storylines and endings that they didn't get in the original arcade release.
- The GBA version of Alpha 3 feature three characters not in the prior arcade and console versions: Maki, Eagle and Yun, all based on their Capcom vs. SNK 2 incarnations. Unfortunately, the GBA version is simplified and watered-down in other areas, including the lack of storyline. When the game was ported to the PSP later, the same extra characters were added, along with Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution, and all four were given storylines and endings.
- Announcer Chatter: The aforementioned Alpha 3 announcer. Most fans of fighting games know his lines by heart.
"Nobody blink, go for broke!"
- Bodyguard Babes: While pretty much any member of the Bison Elite Guard (the Dolls) may qualify, Juni and Juli both serve this function in-game in the arcade mode of Alpha 3.
- Broad Strokes: Contrary to popular belief, Alpha 2 isn't really so much of a remake of the original Alpha as it is both, a continuation and a remake. Some of the character endings in Alpha 2 (like Sodom's, Ken's, Rose's, and Sagat's) are rough continuations of their original endings from the first Alpha, while others (like Dan's and Adon's) are hard to reconcile with their originals. Charlie's endings in the first two Alpha games don't completely sync in with the fact that he is still alive in Alpha 3.
- Canon Discontinuity: The events of Final Fight 2 are hard to fit into the backstory of the Alpha series without invoking a bit of fanwankery. Mainly the fact that Guy has two different masters (Genryusai in Final Fight 2, Zeku in the Alpha series) and Rolento's allegiance (he was still employed by Mad Gear in Final Fight 2, but has clearly left the gang in Alpha 2). That still didn't prevent Maki from becoming a Canon Immigrant and being placed into the character roster of the portable versions of Alpha 3.
- Canon Immigrant: While Gouken was technically mentioned in Akuma's original backstory published during the release of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, his appearance in Akuma's ending in the original Alpha was his (and Goutetsu's) first and only appearance in the series until Street Fighter IV a decade later. Karin Kanzuki was originally Sakura's rival from a Sakura-centric spinoff manga titled Sakura Ganbaru!. Evil Ryu, the Super-Powered Evil Side of Ryu, was originally a creation of Masahiko Nakahira's Street Fighter Alpha manga published by Gamest.
- Character Roster Global Warming: Birdie and Zangief are the only Mighty Glacier characters.
- Continuity Cameo
- The Mad Gear gang from Final Fight can be seen in Sodom's ending in the first game, as well as spectators in the Metro City stage of Alpha 2 and 3.
- A billboard advertising a wrestling match between Hugo and an unknown opponent can be seen in Cody's stage in Alpha 3.
- Ken's stage in Alpha 2 is a set on a cruise ship filled with other Capcom characters (or at least very convincing cosplayers) attending Eliza's birthday party.
- Counter Attack: The Alpha Counters. A few other characters, like Karin and Dan, have attack reversals as well.
- Clear My Name: In Alpha 3 Fei-long is mistakenly accused of being involved in Shadaloo's drug trades, and he joins the tournament to learn what's going on. Yun's story mode has him actually believing the accusations and setting off with Yang to capture Fei-Long himself. After the Yun vs. Fei-Long mid-boss fight, Fei-Long explains what happened to Yun, so they decide to team up and protect Hong Kong from the real culprit: Bison. Then, Bison himself shows up: Fei-Long stays behind to fight him and Yun goes against Juni and Juli, then after Bison when Fei-Long loses.
- Crossover: The series can be seen as a crossover in a technical sense, since it was the first time in the franchise the Street Fighter II roster was pitted against characters from the first Street Fighter and Final Fight.
- Cut Song: This badass gem from the Japanese version of Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie plays during the Alpha 1 dramatic battle in the Japanese arcade version. This song is not featured in the overseas releases or in the console versions, where it was replaced with M. Bison's theme.
- Doomed by Canon: Charlie always dies at the end of each Alpha game. Because otherwise, what else will inspire Guile to pursue his revenge on M. Bison? This was almost averted in Alpha 3, where Charlie actually survived his ending, but the console version "fixed" this by adding Guile to roster and having Charlie die in his ending instead.
- Early-Bird Cameo: A few of the characters made background and ending cameos before becoming proper playable characters in the series.
- Balrog and Vega can be seen in both of Sagat's endings n the first two Alpha games.
- Fei-Long appears as a spectator in Dan's stage in Alpha 2.
- Rolento can be seen among the former Mad Gear Gang members gathered by Sodom in his ending in the first Alpha game.
- E. Honda appears in Sodom's ending in Alpha 2.
- Cody (and his girlfriend Jessica) appears in Guy's stage in Alpha 2. When a female fighter (Chun-Li, Sakura, Rose or Cammy) is in the stage, Cody will shift his attention away from Jessica and into the fighter, causing Jessica to get jealous and slap his face to get back his attention.
- Episode Zero: The Beginning: Due to its title in Japan.
- Humongous Mecha: The Buddha statue from Alpha 3.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of Ken's win quotes: "I need a better workout than this! Where's Eliza?" As fans of the franchise know, Eliza is his girlfriend and later (chronologically speaking) his wife; either she's his sparring partner or the two play kind of rough...
- Loads and Loads of Characters: By the time Alpha 3 hit the home versions, the cast included the entire Super Street Fighter II Turbo roster, a good chunk of characters from the first Street Fighter and Final Fight, and a handful of original characters. The GBA version even snuck in Eagle, Maki and Yun from Capcom vs. SNK 2, while the later PSP version added Ingrid from Capcom Fighting Evolution as well.
- Nintendo Hard: This series is particularly unforgiving.
- Out of Focus: When this series came around, this happened to nearly every character from Street Fighter II. Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat and M. Bison had been around since the first game, but Dhalsim and Zangief didn't appear until Alpha 2, Cammy returned in Alpha 2 Gold as a Vs./Training mode-only character before making a proper appearance in Alpha 3 along with E. Honda, Blanka, Vega and Balrog (who all had ending cameos in previous Alpha and Vs. games), and eventually Fei Long, Dee Jay and T. Hawk returned in the console versions of Alpha 3. Surprisingly, it took Guile, who was often seen by American fans as lead character in II, until the console version of Alpha 3 to return... and even then, he was a secret character.
- Recursive Canon: A Japanese poster for Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie can be seen in Ryu and Guy's stage in the first Alpha game.
- Ret Canon: The Alpha series feature a great deal of visual nods to Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
- The more muscular design of M. Bison compared to his original lean look in the early II games (although, he did have muscular design in the character art for Super Street Fighter II).
- The design of Bison's VTOL aircraft, which is even used as the setting of his stage in Alpha 2.
- The two-on-one hidden game mode in the first Alpha where two players as Ryu and Ken must fight a computer-controlled M. Bison. The Japanese version even plays a Q-Sound rendition of "Itoshisato Setsunasato Kokorozuyosato", the battle theme from the original Japanese version of the movie.
- The stormy battle scene from Ryu and Sagat's opening battle from the film is used as the stage for Sagat's final boss battle with Ryu in Alpha 2.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Ryu and Ken throw their Hadōkens simultaneously towards the screen in the opening sequence of Alpha 2.
- Smurfette Principle: The first Alpha only had two female fighters (Chun-Li and Rose) among the game's roster of thirteen. This gradually increased with the addition of Sakura among the five new fighters in Alpha 2, followed by the return of Cammy in Alpha 2 Gold and then by the addition of Karin, R. Mika, Juni and Juli among the nine new fighters (thirteen in the console ports) in Alpha 3, a total of 8 women among 32 fighters (literally 25% of the roster). That's not even including the addition of Final Fight 2s Maki and Capcom Fighting Evolutions Ingrid in the portable versions.
- Slipped the Ropes: Cody in Alpha 3 is a prisoner who makes a habit of breaking out of jail. He's handcuffed. In his taunt, he slips out of the cuffs, makes fun of his enemy and then puts them back on.
- Tag Team: A 2-on-1 tag-team system, known as "Variable Battle" was introduced in the PSP version.