Final Fight (SNES) review
"Wielding pipes and swords in addition to being able to toss about knives helps keep the gameplay fresh, as your actual hand-to-hand repertoire is limited to pounding one button continuously to unleash a series of kicks and punches before a knockdown is scored. You can also jump kick foes to effect an immediate knockdown of lesser damage. Pressing both buttons simultaneously will have your character execute a spin move that is unique to him. Haggar performs a lariat, and Cody does a spinning kick. Sadly, Guy's spinning kick is M.I.A. along with him, so that the coolest character and the coolest move are lost in one go. "
I give you baseball. Because three strikes turned an arcade slugger of a beat-em-up into Michael Jordan… with a bat in his hands.
When I first took in Final Fight, like many gamers I marveled at the splendour of the SNES palette put to work. The tunes and sound effects are appropriately grimy-sounding too (though clearly not on the level of the visuals).
Certainly, Capcom's violent Double Dragon-killer seemed destined for further success on the then-new Super NES console. I mean, if any system at the time could manage a faithful translation, it was the fledgling SNES. But programmers were new to the system, and lazy, and probably a bit too politically correct for their own good (the Big N was still pretty strict with the amount of 'questionable content' they'd allow into a game for one of their systems). Because not only is the SNES Final Fight devoid of 2-player simultaneous action, it makes the trip home without two of it's most memorable characters from the coin-op: the player-controlled hero, Guy, and the nearly breast-baring, stiletto-wearing slut belonging to the Mad Gear Gang that has so lately taken over the Metro City. Shame on you Capcom! Shame on you Nintendo! Leaving the wondrous whore out of the game was especially tasteless.
The omissions are unforgivable, but a reality. With regret in our hearts, we have to make do choosing between the all-around fighter, Cody, clad in blue jeans and white T-shirt; and the powerhouse Haggar, the muscle-bound mayor of the city in turmoil. Cody's stake in this is that his girlfriend Jessica was kidnapped by the Mad Gear Gang leader, Belger. (Ostensibly, Guy's reason for fighting was just to kick some ass because he's got ninja skills and he likes to use them.) The mayor, on the other hand, has actually taken the entire matter of swelling gang activity into his own watermelon crushing hands, and sets out in brown overalls sans shirt. Can you picture your mayor doing the same for your city? I thought not. As the disturbing visual fades from your troubled mind, take some time cleaning up your wretch. Or wiping your tears of laughter away. Either way.
Wielding pipes and swords in addition to being able to toss about knives helps keep the gameplay fresh, as your actual hand-to-hand repertoire is limited to pounding one button continuously to unleash a series of kicks and punches before a knockdown is scored. You can also jump kick foes to effect an immediate knockdown of lesser damage. Pressing both buttons simultaneously will have your character execute a spin move that is unique to him. Haggar performs a lariat, and Cody does a spinning kick. Sadly, Guy's spinning kick is M.I.A. along with him, so that the coolest character and the coolest move are lost in one go.
Final Fight suffers from the repetition that Double Dragon did, but to a greater degree. The crisp, glossy backdrops include the murky interior of a moving subway car replete with skulking toughs propped up against doors, and loitering, leering from urine-tinged seats. They're rebels without any cause other than doing you in. They are the lay-abouts that are the pick of the gang element litter; they've nothing going for them except fighting innocents and spiritual stagnation alike.
You'll fight them in parks too, with benches along the bay. And you'll fight them on the mean streets as the sun tears shreds of blazing red from the darkening sky. You will encounter foes your size, and a few smaller, but many more larger, like the towering Andre the Giant clone, Andore, and the massive oddity that is Damnd, and the urban samurai with super-human speed known as Sodom. You'll remember Damnd fighting and running and whistling for back up, Andore's impossible throws and stomps, the bullet slipping madness of the dirty cop encounter, and Sodom's steel-swinging dominance in the squared circle. Indeed, Final Fight is nothing if not atmospheric.
The bright, bold visuals, somewhat addictive button mashing action, and grim aspect of gang-infested environs make up Final Fight's appeal. But the repetition every fighting game seems to struggle to come to grips with is exacerbated here by limited gameplay elements. There are no jumps of any consequence, there are no fences to scale--both ingredients that the older Double Dragon had. True, this variety was missing in the coin-op, but when that already flawed blueprint is crippled by the three strikes offered up by the SNES port: no second player, no Guy, no hot girl enemy with scandalously rising crop top--the combination does some serious damage.
Tragically, Final Fight is a case of fully-fleshed atmosphere mated with half-ass gameplay--so that when you get the game over screen with your character strapped to a chair, dynamite pressed to his chest, you might be inclined to leave well enough alone.
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 13, 2004)
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