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ARTICLE

Gaming's Defining Moments: No.20

A year before its first proper "Versus" title, Capcom pitched its first ever multi-fighter battle within the Street Fighter template as a hidden extra within 1995's Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams.

Alpha was a re-imagining of the Street Fighter brand that drew a heavy backlash due to its anime-influenced portrayal of the franchise roster as Capcom turned back the years to the series' early days.

It was a step back in name only. Street Fighter III was still three years off, but would adopt the Special Arts techniques that Capcom had fiddled with the latter Street Fighter II editions but would finally come to fruition in the Alpha series - by the end producing three main versions and a mix of special editions.

Street Fighter Alpha Anthology
Dramatic Battle snuck back in come Street Fighter Alpha 3.

Come the series end, a year after Street Fighter III's debut, it was an attractive proposition for veterans as the Alpha 3's roster combined the cast from the Alpha series, whose move sets were now ingrained on player muscle memory, as well as the SFII fighters, who all for Ken and Ryu, had been cast aside for new characters for III.

While that might have been the major attraction of 3, and Alpha 2 arguably the peak of this sub-series, the original Alpha, with its character selection barely hitting double-figures, small number of non-character specific backdrops and that art style, is largely forgotten.

Yet its here that arguably Capcom tested a formula that'd become one of the company's most enduring and fan-friendly setups - tag-team Versus mode.

It's unknown if Dramatic Battle did give rise to the following year's X-Men Versus Street Fighter, or was just a fun throwaway addition based on already in-development work on the first Versus title. What is taken as granted is that Dramatic Battle, that saw two players join forces as Ken and Ryu and battle M.Bison simultaneously, was based on the preceding year's Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie.

Street Fighter Alpha Anthology
The tag=team pairings are felt all the way to today with the likes of Street Fighter X Tekken

The anime flick, which like most fighting game adaptations was light on story and heavy on match-ups, climaxed in a three-way tussle between the two World Warriors and M.Bison.

It was a natural conclusion for a movie that concentrated on the two old sparring partners similar move-set, and saw them work as one.

Dramatic Battle had two players sharing one energy bar, and while they couldn't harm each other, had to work tactically to take down Shadowloo's boss. Well, when we say "tactics" it usually descended into a button-bashing scrap.

The ramifications of that mode can still be felt all the way to today, with Street Fighter X Tekken's Tag Team mode. With fifteen years of crossovers under our belt, that moment's lost some of its sheen. But it marked a great crossover between mediums, and gave us something new in the fighting circuit.

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