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Final Fight

It’s not a stretch to say that Final Fight did to the arcade beat em up what Street Fighter 2 did for fighting games.  It was electrifying.  There had been plenty of exemplary games prior to it but none that exhibited the level of production values and polish of Capcom’s classic.  So when it was announced for the SNES it was awaited with baited breath.  Unfortunately while it is a competent port for the most part there are glaring flaws that Capcom never fixed in its 2 releases of the game for the Super NES that bring the overall quality of the game down.

Former pro wrestler Mike Haggar is elected Mayor of Metro City (how the fuck does that happen).  It isn’t long after being sworn in that the Mad Gear gang, the dominant force in the city, kidnaps his daughter Jessica to keep him under their thumb.  With her boyfriend Cody and Guy along for the ride Haggar plans to stomp the Mad Gear out.  Originally released in 1989, the SNES port was a launch title for each region and would become infamous for its missing features and censoring.

As either Haggar and Cody or Haggar and Guy (more on that in a bit) you take to the streets and dismantle the Mad Gears, one bad guy at a time.  The journey to the Mad Gear’s base spans the entire city with 2 Bonus Rounds giving a brief respite from the action.  As has become standard for the genre, Haggar is the slow strong man, Guy the fast but weak ninja, and Cody the everyman, neither too fast nor strong.  There’s nothing revolutionary about the game play admittedly: you have a decent variety of moves and smash barrels and assorted objects to find extra health or weapons.  But it’s the execution that placed Final Fight above its contemporaries.

First the graphics.  Nothing else looked like Final Fight on release.  Featuring some of the largest sprites in a beat em up it looked phenomenal.   Although you are only visiting different parts of the city it does an exceptional job of conveying just how corrupted Metro City has become.  The cast of enemies as well have gone on to become iconic, with Poison, Sodom, Rolento, and Andore taking part in the later Street Fighter games.  And it’s well paced.  Despite the limited cast of enemies they are featured in such a way that nearly every level has 1 or 2 new ones to break the monotony.  And the bosses are some of the biggest ball busters in gaming history.

The SNES port to put it bluntly was butchered.  First of all there’s no multiplayer.  I’m not even a big multiplayer fan and I realize how retarded that is.  On top of that in the original release you only have a choice between Haggar and Cody.  This glaring oversight was somewhat fixed in Final Fight Guy; however Cody was removed in his place.  This made no sense; by the time they released FF Guy  Capcom had more than enough time to hear the fan outcry but still made a half assed rerelease.  The 4th level, the Industrial stage along with its boss Rolento was also cut.  These excisions could be explained by the game’s launch status but are still inexcusable.  A good portion of the game’s draw just isn’t there.

The changes don’t end there.  Due to Nintendo of America’s heavy handed policies all alcoholic references were removed, Poison and Roxy were replaced by generic thugs Billy and Sid, and any slight religious references were changed.  Bosses Sodom and Damned were renamed Katana and Thrasher and Christ, something as inoffensive as the bloke who cries “Oh my God!” after you smash his car were censored to “Oh my car!’

It’s a shame that so much was left out as otherwise the SNES version looks and plays the part.  But in this day and age where arcade perfect conversions are available along with other retro classics in cheap compilations there is no reason to revisit this travesty.