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Mighty Final Fight (NES) artwork

Mighty Final Fight (NES) review

"Mighty Final Fight is a prime example of what happens when a developer competently ports a big game to a smaller platform."

Mighty Final Fight was always kind of a crazy game. Released in 1993, it was a very late addition to the NES catalog, a re-imagining of an arcade game that had no business being shoehorned into the little 8-bit box. Even the SNES version of Final Fight was missing key features like its two-player mode and an entire character, so why would they then decide to bring the game to the NES? I don’t have the answer for that, but what I can tell you is that Mighty Final Fight is actually my favorite home version of Final Fight. No, seriously!

If you’re not familiar with Final Fight, the first thing to know is that it has what may be the greatest setup for a video game in the history of video games. Metro City is a place overrun with crime, thanks to the ubiquitous Mad Gear gang. The Mayor of Metro City is Mike Haggar, a former pro wrestler (this was all a lot funnier before Jessie “The Body” Ventura actually won political office). When Mad Gear kidnaps Haggar’s daughter Jessica, Mr. Mayor doesn’t call the police, oh no! He decides that the only logical course of action is to take to the streets and beat the living daylights out of every Mad Gear member he meets until he finds his little girl. Helping him out are Cody (Jessica’s boyfriend) and Guy (Cody’s ninja friend, because why wouldn’t he have a ninja as a pal?). The trio goes about cleaning up Metro City, one broken nose at a time.

Seriously, how epic is that for a premise?

The story, obviously, is about as important here as it is in an adult film. Final Fight was all about cracking heads with a buddy in the arcade, so how does that translate to the small, 8-bit screen? Well, it loses quite a bit in the move, but Mighty Final Fight plays to the strengths of the NES. The result is a fun beat ‘em up that’s designed from the ground up for its platform.

Mighty Final Fight is unfortunately a single player game, much like the NES port of Double Dragon was. What this game has going for it, however, is the fact that it’s been built with such an approach in mind. The levels, though inspired by the arcade game, are entirely new. There are never more than two enemies on the screen at once, which eliminates the constant back-stabbing found in the original release. Mighty Final Fight manages to cram most of the enemies from the arcade into the cartridge as well, and though it loses the co-op mode, it at least features the entire cast of heroes. Not even the SNES managed that.

Yes, your favorites are here, from Two P to Andore to Sodom. Of course, some changes had to be made to make room for all of those bruisers. I hope you like your heroes chibi-sized and your enemies on the adorable side, because that’s what you get with Mighty Final Fight! Capcom uses these super deformed sprites to comedic effect at every turn, and they borrow more than one page from River City Ransom. It adds enough charm to the game that I can’t help but fall in love with it again every time I play it.

When it comes to the necessary kicking and punching, Mighty Final Fight actually eclipses its source material. Beating the tar out of Mad Gear gangbangers earns experience points, which allows Haggar and company to level up and learn new techniques. Most of the attack animations in this game are vastly different from those featured in the arcade original, and the trio is liberal in their pilfering of moves from the Street Fighter series. With the inclusion of a range of moves that is sufficiently diverse to include everything from Guile’s Flash Kick to Ken’s Dragon Punch, Mighty Final Fight proves that you can teach an old vigilante new tricks. These additions give some extra spice to an already fun brawler, and they are the main reason why I prefer this version of the game to its SNES big brother.

Things falter a bit when it comes to the graphics, though. The super-deformed art style of the characters adds a lot of charm to the game, but it also suffers from a crippling amount of flicker even though no more than three characters are ever shown on a screen at once. The backgrounds also lack that extra bit of Capcom “oomph” that I’ve come to expect from the developer, especially considering how late in the NES’ life cycle this game was released. It’s by no means awful to look at, but Capcom is a company I hold to a higher level than other developers of the time, and this game doesn’t have the same sense of style as their other games on the console.

When it comes to audio, Capcom always managed to squeeze the best out of the NES sound chip, and Mighty Final Fight is no exception. The music actually isn’t inspired by Final Fight at all, and instead sounds like it came straight out of a Mega Man game that was never made. While not quite as catchy as some of Capcom’s more prolific NES soundtracks, Mighty Final Fight soon had my foot tapping away as I was doling out justice in fist form.

Mighty Final Fight is a prime example of what happens when a developer competently ports a big game to a smaller platform. While it loses a lot of the features of the arcade and SNES versions, it makes up for those losses with unique moves and an art style that brings a smile to my face. Sure, I can play an arcade-perfect port of Final Fight on newer consoles, but I’ll always come back to Mighty Final Fight, if for no other reason than to see Guy bust out E. Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap one more time.


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Freelance review by Julian Titus (June 14, 2013)

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