In the early 1990’s – the dominate gaming hardware wasn’t just made by Sega and Nintendo; but those found in the arcade. One of the first genres that emerged from the Arcade was the beat ’em up genre. For some reason every video game company had to had a beat ’em up and it wasn’t long before companies became competitive in term’s of these kind of games. Capcom was one of the stronger companies that got players intrigued with every new release and decided to try there hands at this specific genre. Even though the first Street Fighter wasn’t such a huge success, a small sequel got players more interested into the franchise, and some consider it to be game that paved the way for the entire series as hole. So today we will revisit a true gaming cult classic, Final Fight.
The plot of these types of games were similar with all the same tropes such as a damsel, a gang, a mob boss and usually they didn’t stray to far from the formula. The story begins with one of our main protagonists, former wrestler and mayor, Mike Haggar, getting a phone call from Damnd, a member of a street gang. Damnd informs the mayor that the Mad Gear Gang has kidnapped his daughter, Jessica, and that if he doesn’t comply with there leaders demands they would kill her. Now most mayors would at this point go to the bank and get some cash to pay the ransom, but not Mike Haggar. Instead he calls Jessica’s boyfriend, Cody, and his best friend, Guy, to join him and try to rescue his daughter. The three then set out through the city street’s fighting corrupt cop’s, wrestlers, and countless gang members in order to cleanse the city of the Mad Gear Gang and get Jessica back.
The game play is nothing to brag about, yet for some reason the game is addictive and is defiantly made so that you can sink countless of hours. Player’s can choose between three characters Cody, Guy and Haggar and each character has his own fighting style. Since Haggar was a wrestler most of his moves consist of multiple wrestling techniques, while Guy is a professional martial-artist and his fighting style is consisted of different variation of karate, takewando and hapkido techniques. Cody on the other hand fights like any common street fighter and is personally my favorite, in terms of moves and controls. Every character has a fast punch and kick and a harder punch and kick, which they could combine in order to unleash the characters special moves. As we already said the main plot revolves around the protagonists beating the crap out of any street thug they come across in the city street. That said Final Fight is a side scroller beat ’em up who’s premise is mostly to get from one end of the map to the other while defeating countless obstacles in there way in order to get to the final boss. Like in every beat ’em up, there could be found power ups along the way, such as different type of weapons and even food that can replenish health. These are one of the reasons why these types of games were addictive, because you could play them for hours and they were still fun especially when played coop.
We mentioned that at the end of each level there is a boss boss battle depending of the area in witch the characters was. Surprisingly Damnd is the boss at the end of the first level, for a guy that seemed like one of the main baddies I was shocked to see him at the beginning of the game. I was especially excited for one particular boss battle, which was really challenging since it was the only fight in witch you do not face one opponent. Instead of throwing you a street thug, the developers decided to let you face off an entire family of pro-wrestlers known as the Andore family. This fight sees one of the protagonists fight four “Goliath’s” in a caged arena and even though it might seem though it still isn’t that imposing as you think. This boss battle is one of the few in which the player has to take his time and plan every attack before executing. I actually considered this fight to be more interesting than the final boss battle against Belger, the Mad Gear Gang’s leader and a ruthless crime lord.
Since the game came out after the first Street Fighter it’s is notable to say that Final Fight introduced one of the series most iconic characters. After the events of the first game Cody and Guy were the first characters that were introduced in Street Fighter Alpha, while Mike Haggar went to star in Final Fight sequels. From the Alpha series and on word’s Cody is introduced as an escaped prisoner who still fights the local city gangs, while Guy is still training as a martial artist and looks out for Cody in dire situations. Other notable characters were also introduced to the Street Fighter series such as Sodom, one of the top members of the Mad Gear Gang who is also a god damn samurai, Rolento, a mercenary for Belger, and even Andore was added, who was also renamed as Hugo. One of the most notable characters that was added to the fighting game rooster was Poison, Hugo’s female manager, who has also spawned a lot of controversy in the gaming world. The public reacted negatively to the main characters beating the hell out of females, so in order to calm the public down, the developers stated that Poison’s gender is unknown and that she may even be considered half male, half female. Some versions of the game even changed here character entirely, replacing her with a character named Sid.
The visual style of the game is very appealing for a game that was released in 1989. The game is set in the corrupt Metro City, and the developers really depicted the struggle the city is going through in these so called “gang wars”. The slums of Metro City were done with such detail and were mostly inspired by major cities such as New York, Los Angeles and New Jersey. The soundtrack packs a special punch and we have to thank Manami Matsumae and his crew at Capcom for that. Most of the names and characters in the game were inspired by real life people. The members of the Mad Gear Gang, Axl, Sid, Billy were inspired by Axl Rose, Sid Vicious and Billy Idol, while character such as Andore was inspired by the real life wrestler Andre the Giant. Due to the games huge popularity its was ported multiple times, even for the newer consoles such as the PS3. It’s most popular version was on the Sega-CD, and I personally have this version and think it’s the definitive. It’s also interesting the fact that Final Fight garnered two more games on the SNES, a mediocre fighting game on the Sega Saturn and one horrible sequel/spin-off on the Playstation 2. In the end there was a plethora of games from this Street Fighter spin-off and soon in created a whole new franchisee on it’s own.
Overview: Final Fight is one of the recognizable beat ’em ups of all time in the gaming world, for its simple, yet addictive game style and action. There have been many more and for that reason this cannot be considered to be the best out there but it’s certainly stood the test of time, even to this day along side other beat ’em ups. There is no reason why you should not give this old gem a try, at first it might not seem nothing special, but when you scratch the surface you will see it’s greatness. I can say that it holds a special place in my heart and was one of the games I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. I hope that many other share my opinion and would gladly replay this classic title, and hopefully discover the fighter in themselves.