Final Fight (X68000) review
"From the wrong side of the tracks to mob boss Belger's luxurious penthouse, you'll bust punk heads with your fists and slice baddie bodies with powerful katanas. There's always a reason, and your reason is simple: the evil Mad Gear gang has kidnapped lovely Jessica! It's an overused plot device, but that's okay because cracking skulls would be fun even if there weren't any reason at all."
Beat-em-ups don't come much more famous than Final Fight. While the Knights of the Round and Captain Commandos get lost in the crowd, the grandaddy of 'em all pushed through the masses and made an indelible mark on the entire industry. Of course, Capcom porting it to about a zillion systems probably had some small part to play in that impact.
Final Fight doesn't aim high, but it hits its mark square and solid. From the wrong side of the tracks to mob boss Belger's luxurious penthouse, you'll bust punk heads with your fists and slice baddie bodies with powerful katanas. There's always a reason, and your reason is simple: the evil Mad Gear gang has kidnapped lovely Jessica! It's an overused plot device, but that's okay because cracking skulls would be fun even if there weren't any reason at all. Final Fight's simple structure made it accessible to arcade-goers, but accessibility doesn't do much without a powerful lure.
That's where the graphics come in. Next to Double Dragon's inch-high characters, Final Fight's enormous heroes and villains shocked the beat-em-up world. The stocky dwarf Abobo would stand no chance in manly battle against hulking stud MIKE HAGGAR and his ferocious German suplex! From buckles on suspenders to discoloration on pants, the character designs trumped all competition at the time. Moreover, every villain had a name. Punch someone and their face, name, and health meter appears onscreen underneath your life bar! It seems like old hat now, but that's because Final Fight turned it into an industry standard.
It would be a waste if such impressive characters were doled out sparingly. Fortunately, punks are pushed onto the screen with increasing frequency as the game progresses, showing off the game's diversity by mixing and matching character types. Like any beat-em-up, the same villains appear over and over, but Capcom did a good job of mixing fat men with scampering dynamite tossers and barrel-hurling baddies. The action kept players weaving, punching, and jumping — especially in the harrowing later levels. Players begged for more, and they were given a dozen clones that followed the same basic formula but never matched Final Fight's level of fame.
The X68000 port
With gorgeous graphics and fast-paced action, Final Fight was destined for home conversion. Capcom's mighty brawler joins the ranks of Ghouls 'N Ghosts and Strider as yet another excellent translation from arcade to computer.
Weighing in at only two disks, there's no floppy swapping to distract from the carnage. Furthermore, load times are remarkably short. The only thing missing is the Sega CD's fantastic music, which can't quite be compensated for even if you own an outside MIDI source. While the tunes are recognizable, the audio quality just isn't up to the level set by Wolf Team or Konami's incredible X68K scores.
What this port lacks in music, it makes up for in graphics. Although the high-res mode is uselessly squished, the 320x224 mode surpasses the sloppy SNES version for detail while maintaining the excellent color depth of the arcade original. J's yellow jacket and Sodom's orange-and-blue Samurai wrestling attire practically glow, and each groove in the Bay Area sidewalk can easily be discerned.
Furthermore, since this is a Japanese-only release, programmed and published by Capcom themselves for a platform that didn't exert any regulation on game developers, it's completely intact and uncensored. The women wear short tops, slices from the sword draw bright red blood, whiskey bottles can be picked up for bonus points, and the friggin' fourth level is actually in the game. One warning: unless you own two joypads, forget about the two-player mode. Sharing a keyboard just doesn't work.
The final verdict
As long as you're not playing the horrible SNES version, Final Fight is pretty damn fun. I still prefer the Sega CD rev with its excellent audio (by the Lords of Thunder guys!), but arcade purists and graphics whores should seek out this faithful port for their brawling fix. It's convenient to play (just pop the disks in the drives and turn the power on) and it's fairly common as far as X68000 games go.
Staff review by Zigfried (November 25, 2004)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
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