Final Fight (SNES) review
"I vividly recall your so-called final fight through the crimson carpets of Mad Gear's mansion as being one of the most frenzied beatings to ever grace an arcade game, with packs of foes brandishing all sorts of weaponry flooding in from all directions. All the SNES version can manage are a few pathetic posers that are easily jump-kicked into oblivion."
The industrial stage of Final Fight was inarguably its most memorable. It opened with your manly characters--the wannabe ninja Guy, the knife expert Cody, and the pissed off Mayor Haggar--crossing an expansive catwalk while jets of bright orange flame shot up from below. As they foraged across this perilous pathway, swarms of deviants charged them in a vain attempt to stop their warpath; from the hulking wrestler dubbed Andore to the hunchbacked Dugs, the Mad Gear gang never lacked variety in its ranks. Later, everyone's favorite big men found themselves atop a massive cargo elevator, which suddenly began to speed upwards while the cityscape behind them vanished from sight. After warding off even more baddies with the help of some magically appearing swords and pipes, they found themselves face to face with the beefy Russian commando Rolento, who proceeded to litter the elevator with grenades while beating them around with his riot baton!
Unfortunately, the SNES isn't man enough to handle the industrial stage, and it had to be left on the cutting room floor. Honestly, I wish I could say that's the only problem with this port, as it's not like the original only had one good stage... somehow, though, Capcom managed to fuck the rest of the game up pretty badly too. I don't really even understand how they could, all you do is walk through a series of urban environments and beat up a bunch of sweaty men. The other cool levels are still present and accounted for; the bayside park whose waters dim under the impending dusk, the expansive subway stops and decrepit warehouses of the blandly named Metro City, the seedy bars and clubs of the West side... they never match the factory level, but the locales that made the cut are quite enjoyable. The real reason to play Final Fight was never its pretty environments, though, but rather its skull smashing action, and sadly, it's in that area where this version manages to fall so inexplicably far from the original.
The most noticable problem is the stupidly low level of challenge and intensity, caused mostly by the fact that the SNES is simply incapable of throwing more than a few foes onto the screen at once. Put aside your memories of the chaotic battles you once held against eight foes that all tried to rush you simultaneously, leaving you desperate to gain just a wee bit of leverage; you'll be lucky to have three targets on screen at any given time, and it changes Final Fight's battles from exhilarating to excruciating. I vividly recall your so-called final fight through the crimson carpets of Mad Gear's mansion as being one of the most frenzied beatings to ever grace an arcade game, with packs of foes brandishing all sorts of weaponry flooding in from all directions. All the SNES version can manage are a few pathetic posers that are easily jump-kicked into oblivion.
The insane level of opposition was only a portion of Final Fight's draw, though. The true reason to play the arcade game was undoubtedly the excitement of taking on the legions of enemies with a friend, or a complete stranger for that matter. I'm proud to announce, then, that the two-player mode has been entirely removed from the SNES port. No more will you be able to experience the savage beatings and choppy sword slices with buddies. It also doesn't help that the technical marvels of the game won't draw you in like before. Animation has been cut, while objects such as mammoth phone booths that lent the city streets a great deal of personality are no more. It also got slapped with some amusing censorship; smashing some random dude's car with a pipe is A-OK by Nintendo standards, just so long as he doesn't take God's name in vain when he sees the mangled heap of metal left in your wake.
There's still some fun to be squeezed out of this version of the game despite Capcom's porting blunders, though. Even when you take away the impressive enemy counts and enthralling two-player, Final Fight is still an amusing game. I've always been a fan of the way the combat works, how you really just need to land one blow before you start a nigh-unstoppable combo on your enemy, and how the same often applies in reverse. The throw moves are fantastic, too; nothing beats grabbing your enemy mid-attack and chucking him into a pair of fat guys. Plus, the various special moves are a blast to use, whether they be Cody's knife chucking or Haggar's... um, I don't know what you'd call it. He sticks his arms out and spins around like a crazy man. I call it great.
Also of note are the cool bosses, who remain practically unaltered in this outing. From the dreadlock-sporting brute who ambushes you at the end of stage one all the way to the wheelchair-bound geriatric in level five who randomly fires at both you and his colleagues with a crossbow, they're certainly an interesting bunch of freaks. They even require a decent bit of strategy, considering the fact that this is an early beat-em-up; unless you know exactly what to expect, the flamboyant Abigail will surely end your quest to save the less-than-delicious Jessica. But I could rattle off many lesser ingredients that managed to escape the conversion unscathed, such as the catchy tunes or the vibrant colors. The fact remains that as good as the original may be, the SNES version of Final Fight is an absolutely wretched port, and a mere shadow of the original experience.
Staff review by John L (November 25, 2004)
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