Review: Street Fighter Alpha Generations (2005)

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The young acolyte, Gouki is confronted by his Sensei over the use of the forbidden Hadou powers. Rain falls on the two as a girl and a young man run through the forest hoping to avert tragedy. This moody opening sets the stage for the exploration of the arrogance of youth, corruption of powers that can only be resolved one way: in a series of one-on-one, kick ass fights.

For those that came in late, Street Fighter is a Capcom arcade fighting game that debuted in the late eighties. Since then it has spawned innumberable sequels each bearing a slightly longer subtitle. Street Fighter Alpha: Generations is a prequel to the 1999 movie, Street Fighter Alpha. Generations pretty much takes for granted that you’ve seen the 1999 movie and familiar with the characters from standing shoulder to shoulder with someone playing the drum mat down at your local, dimly lit video arcade.

While Generations opens strongly, unfortunately set dressing is all this forty minute prequel offers. Like a party where you only know a couple of people, strangers mill around without introduction. Top-of-the-card fighters from the game make their obligatory appearances. Ryu shuffles in suffering the existential crisis that all videogames characters must face, ‘Why do I fight?’. School girl, Sakura Kasugano turns up to offer some moral support as does the perennially late Ken. These cameos feel perfunctory as if the characters are contractually obliged to appear.

Generations offers up some nice engagements that uses the game’s blocks, counters and projectile power-ups to present some dynamic fight sequences. Animation varies from highly detailed in the exciting set pieces to fairly plain in the quieter moments.

Its slight nature makes you ponder as to the reasons behind Generations conception. To return some six years later, one guesses that scripter Mituhiro Yamada was losing sleep over some unfinished business with the original movie. What results is a story with huge accessibility problems. Nothing major can really happen because that’s gonna go down in the movie. All a prequel can really do offer a few footnotes and clarifications. A moment toward the end seems to offer up a revelation but in isolation, without the context of the movie, the viewer is left with an uneasy feeling of uncertainty. Even those people who have seen the movie may need a refresher to remind of them of events that occurred six years ago.

Generations is an evening of awkward introductions and uncomfortable conversation dead ends. Viewers will have to settle for a prelude that offers potential but little in the way of payoff.

6 corrupting forces out of 10.
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