Final Fight (Arcade) review
"I don't spend nearly enough time with beat-em-ups and I'm probably a worse person for it, but even I love Final Fight. Then again, everybody loves Final Fight. It's just one of those ideas that's perfect, even on paper. You and a friend choose ripped city mayor Haggar, ninja Guy, or generic white dude Cody and take to the streets, smashing your way through the population of a small nation. What's not to love? What more could you need? "
I don't spend nearly enough time with beat-em-ups and I'm probably a worse person for it, but even I love Final Fight. Then again, everybody loves Final Fight. It's just one of those ideas that's perfect, even on paper. You and a friend choose ripped city mayor Haggar, ninja Guy, or generic white dude Cody and take to the streets, smashing your way through the population of a small nation. What's not to love? What more could you need?
These games get a bad rap for being mindless among the uninitiated, who claim that all you do is just walk around punching things. Technically true, but it's on par with saying that all you do in Contra is walk around shooting things. Ignoring its shameful SNES port, Final Fight doesn't work because you're beating up enemies. It works because you're beating up tons of enemies, quite literally if you count the jolly fat guys who charge at you like a rugby player. At least Capcom had the sense to not make them spit fire, too. The hordes are relentless, and even when you do have a moment to catch your breath, there's a timer and a big arrow pushing you along to the next urban riot. That's what makes this game tick. Buff dudes in leopard print spandex who try to grab you, trannies with handcuffs flipping through the air, skin-tight pants as far as the eye can see—usually I have to pay $250 an hour for that kind of action.
The lesser men of those who can still find an arcade might whine that Final Fight gets just as expensive, but that's crap. This is no quarter muncher. It's all about crowd control, and admittedly, if you're an idiot who just strolls into the fray then it's going to put a hurt on your wallet. Play your cards right, though, and you're an unstoppable juggernaut. Hop over your enemies to keep them from surrounding you, get them to move together into a pack, toss them into each other as if you're bowling—you've always got options, and it's just about not losing the upper hand. Any console or computer game with overwhelming odds like Devil May Cry 3 or Doom II is no different, although Final Fight's enemies are admittedly even more frightening than the legions of Hell.
Special moves are a huge help when you let yourself get overwhelmed, too. I lied when I called Cody generic: he's a KNIFE MASTER, which means he uses knives just the same as anybody else uses their fists. More adorable are Haggar's wrestling moves, from piledrivers to... well, I have yet to figure out what you'd call it. He sticks out his arms and spins around like a crazy man. I still call it great.
It just wouldn't be generic salivating praise for a well-loved game if I didn't talk about the levels, and Final Fight delivers just as well on that front. The arcade version is packed with detail and looks fantastic, no qualification like “for an 80's arcade game” necessary. A mob in the background of a colorful street fair cheers for you when you're straightening out a crooked cop, while the owner of a bar just shakes his head disapprovingly when you whirl on through, his patrons either casually ignoring the brawl or just staring.
I still say the industrial level is tops, though. Bursts of flame shoot up through the grated floor in patterns during the first part, giving the whiners something else to say is unfair and the rest of us something new to toss our enemies into. Past that is a freight elevator that takes you miles into the sky as the cityscape in the background disappears from view—while Rolento of Street Fighter Alpha fame jumps and cartwheels all around, chucking grenades at you from the girders above. The best of us finally find a use for the wall-jump and just kick the fucker right out of the sky.
Final Fight is everything great about beat-em-up games in one nice little package. Typical, maybe, but the difference here is that a normal shmup has you blasting little planes while your average FPS is packed with cookie cutter goons. “Typical” for a beat-em-up still means trannies and fat guys, which says more than anything why I need to spend more time with the genre. This game plays like a dream and it's as intense as can be, even if it carries itself with the genre-defining wink and a nod. I'm not the sort of person who could tell you why The Punisher is or isn't better than Streets of Rage 3, but there's one thing I can tell you: Final Fight's got crossover appeal and if you don't play it, the authors of the other, better reviews and I will smash up your car with our pipes.
Featured community review by bluberry (September 27, 2008)
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