Are you a sadistic and bloodthirsty game player? Do you enjoy partaking in the odd boisterous barbaric brutality? If you answered yes, then you sir probably enjoy the classic beat ‘em up genre. The SNES is loaded with them. Take control of the Lee brothers, the Battletoads, ninjas, knights, hell, even Batman! Final Fight was the very first to hit the SNES and helped pave the way for others to come. It’s hard to believe it’s now been over 25 years since it came out. It’s amazing how so many of our childhood favorites have been celebrating 20, 25 and even 30 year anniversaries in the past year or so. These games keep getting older, but our memories remain!
By the way, talk about a funky box art. I imagine their dialogue like this:
“Are those skull earrings?”
“Why yes, Mommy got me them.”
“Cool, I have a pair just like that at home.”
“Yeah ain’t they great. They accentuate my scar!”
THE FIGHT BEGINS
Final Fight originated as an arcade in Japan (December 1989) and shortly made its way to the US at the turn of the 1990s. No, it wasn’t the first beat ‘em up ever, but it was one of the earliest and the first to hit the Super Nintendo. It will forever hold that distinction as #1… but is it truly number one, as in the best?
Let us take a closer look then…
FINAL FRIGHT: A HAUNTING TO REMEMBER
Not only was Final Fight the first beat ‘em up to hit the Super Nintendo, it also happened to be the second SNES game I had ever played. Way back in December 1991 on a cold and dreary morning while vacationing in beautiful Lake Tahoe. As documented in F-Zero, the first SNES game I ever played, I found myself home alone on a Sunday morning in a huge cabin that my family rented out. My family and friends left for breakfast while I was still asleep. My mom didn’t want to wake me up after a long night of hanging out with the guys so she decided to let me sleep in. The moment I woke up, I felt a chill and knew something wasn’t right. The cabin was right out of a horror movie, with demonic looking hallways and weird noises hissing everywhere as though it were a real breathing entity. The cabin was freezing too! I crept downstairs and found a note from my mom explaining why she let me sleep in, and telling me to make some Honey Nut Cheerios. But food was the last thing on my mind!
Ever feel a presence in the room with you? That someone, or something, is watching you? That’s how I felt on that cold, dreary December morning of 1991. But being 8 years old and resourceful, I believed spirits would not mess with me if I had the radio or TV turned on — any kind of noise. I believed they only attacked those who were alone. So I turned on the TV and watched a WWF show for a while. Then I spotted Tommy’s Super Nintendo lying on the floor. It suddenly dawned on me that this was my chance! With all the “cool” older kids gone, little ole me could finally have a turn. I started with F-Zero and then played Final Fight until my family and friends came back. Sure, part of me was ecstatic to see them again — I was no longer the lone prisoner trapped inside this cabin from hell — but something funny happened during my inaugural playthrough with the SNES. It made me forget about evil spirits and instead transported me to the future of video gaming, where you could snap a guy’s neck in two and soar 200 feet across a race track suspended high above a futuristic city — all in stunning graphics and sound. And it was nothing short of magic.
Damn, can’t believe it’s now been 25 years since that fateful December morning. For more details, check out My Super Nintendo Genesis.
THE STORY GOES…
Yes, there is an option mode but you had to do this code to activate it first. With Extra Joy on, your special move is just “A” instead of “Y” + “B” — hey, every little bit of help counts, right?
Haggar has perfected his German Suplex to a tee, ramming his victim head first into the canvas. That’ll give them something to remember you by! Er, that is, if they are still conscious…
Pick their sorry carcass up, give them a few headbutts and send them packing with a smooth piledriver. Simple but effective combo.
Sometimes you just need a little space. In such instances, employ the devastating spinning clothesline. It’ll teach the bastards a thing or two about personal space!
Did you know you can punch twice then immediately throw them? Just hold up or down on the control pad while you’re delivering your punches. I never knew about this back in the day! It completely makes the game a much easier (and more enjoyable) experience. It turns you into a lethal, efficient killing machine.
Cody’s knuckle sandwich combo. Want fries with that?
For major damage and a sick looking combo, jump in with a downward strike, punch them three times and polish it off with a shoulder throw. +10 for style, +100 if you knock out some other baddies on the opposite side too!
Starting out in the classic slum, march your way through crime-ridden Metro City in five different war zones. Yes, the arcade had six. But more on that a bit later…
PUTS THE “FINAL” IN FINAL FIGHT…
Who could ever forget Final Fight‘s perilous continue screen?
STAGE ONE — THE SLUM
Maybe Haggar’s got some candy there, or money. You know, the homeless epidemic has really hit Metro City hard as of late…
[Or maybe Haggar is offering him a black eye -Ed.]
There’s that, too…
Sorry, that was pretty bad. Knock over tires or drum cans to reveal items for extra points, weapons or food to replenish your health. I wonder who puts it there? I guess every major crime lord has a little bit of heart in them after all…
OH CRAP! Surrounded by a group of petty thugs, what’s a guy to do in this ruthless day and age?!
Connecting on your special move takes away a small portion of your health, but it’s the right call when surrounded. Otherwise, you’ll most likely be on the receiving end of a gang attack and lose significantly more energy than you would had you used your special move at the first sign of trouble.
Haggar can only toss the knife while Cody can actually hang onto it for a bit and go MICHAEL MYERS up in this mutha! Cool little touch to further differentiate the two. If you’re playing as Cody and wish to launch the knife, then simply hold down. Sweet.
Much love and respect to baseball pitchers. It’s such an unnatural throwing position and why so many pitchers have jacked up shoulders. By the way, it’s a little known fact that Mike Haggar was the MVP of the Metro City Maniacs* — a softball recreational league that plays ball every other summer. *Complete and utter BS.
Say hello to the first boss, Damnd! Er I mean, Trasher. Damn that censorship, pun intended.
At any rate, Damnd is a bit of a puss who prefers calling on his lame lackeys to do the fighting for him. His trademark sit and whistle makes the seamless leap over to the SNES port. At opportune times, Damnd will try to blindside you, the gutless git!
“That’s right! Shouldn’t have messed with me, pal!”
“How could I lose to a guy in the middle of a mid-life crisis!?”
“HEY! SHHHH! Keep that on the down low, will ya!”
“Damnd bastard! Throwing shade at me huh? This serves you right!”
“Jeez would you go on and die already!?”
STAGE TWO — THE SUBWAY / PARK
El Gado with the ol’ reliable KIDNEY PUNCH.
… and Hags with the even more reliable sword slash!
Check out how deceptively deep this game is. Yup, when timed right, you can deflect the enemy’s projectiles. Sure, you could just sidestep it, but we all know one universal truth: REAL MEN DROPKICK!
We’re not gonna take it! No! We ain’t gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it anymooooooore!
Ah, you gotta love Twisted Sister. Their cult song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” became something of a rebellious cry for teenagers and young adults in the mid ’80s with its never-say-die, take-no-BS mantra. In some circles it became the anthem of a generation more than 30 years ago.
STAGE THREE — WESTSIDE
Forgot to RSVP? As long as you didn’t forget how to pull off a dropkick, you’re good to go.
Speaking of Andore, the big beefy goons in beat ‘em ups were always my favorite kind of enemies to fight. Abobo was an actual boss while Andore is a top-tier regular enemy. I have a soft spot for bad guys who aren’t quite boss-worthy, but are much tougher than all the other regular bad guys. Whenever I think “beat ‘em up baddies,” Andore and Abobo are the first two I always think of.
STAGE FOUR — BAY AREA
“What? Have I taken one too many blows to the head? Doggie, YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?”
“You’re lucky! Capcom took out a WHOLE stage to make life easier for ya, and for them as well! You know, less programming on their part.”
Nobody did bathroom scenes better than Capcom. Remember Birdie’s stage from Street Fighter Alpha 2? It’s always a riot to beat up bad guys against a grimy and dodgy looking backdrop! This is FINAL FIGHT after all, not friggin’ ballet!
Smash several glass windows in succession. It’s a lot tougher than breaking the car. Who knew glass could be harder to demolish than a car? Oh those silly Capcom hipsters.
STAGE FIVE — UPTOWN
Watch out for the shattered glass. See what happens? OH CRAP, HAGGAR’S LEGS! It proves that broken glass isn’t safe at all. [Maybe you shouldn’t have dropped out of Metro City Community College -Ed.]
Say hello to the final boss, Belger. He must be real happy to see Haggar, because he’s got a second arrow gun hiding in his pocket there…
Jessica has no eyes. Damn, Haggar with them freaky genes. Belger is a handful, but you can actually grab and throw him consecutively if timed and positioned correctly.
ARCADE VS. SNES COMPARISON
Fans of Guy were bummed out to find he was nowhere to be found in the SNES port. Capcom then released Final Fight Guy on the SNES in July 1994. This version allowed you to play as Guy but Cody was taken out and there’s still no simultaneous 2 player mode. What the hell, Capcom? Shame on you.
More disappointing than losing Guy was losing the 2 player mode. Early beat ‘em ups like Rival Turf proved it was possible. Even with one player, Final Fight occasionally slows down to a crawl at certain points. Capcom didn’t quite yet master the ins and outs of the SNES in 1991, but as we all know, they soon would in the years to come.
Elevators were modified. You don’t actually see your character ride through the elevator in the SNES port.
Obviously the SNES could only replicate so much of the arcade. Of all the little details I personally missed the rundown jagged wooden set piece there. Baddies remain the same for the most part though, sans one major change. But more on that later.
SNES couldn’t have the word “SEXY” sprawled across their bathroom doors, could they? Instead, they have the word “kiss.” Come on, Capcom! At least change it up completely. How about something like “Mad Gear rules!” Sure, it’s super generic, but it’s still a lot better than just “kiss.”
The SNES port sees a maximum of three baddies onscreen at any one time. The arcade had as many as eight! Obviously, you can’t expect much on this end. There were many 16-bit beat ‘em ups that maxed out at three bad guys.
Here’s the missing fourth stage: the Industrial Zone. It’s very tough and I’m fine without it, but it does lose points for pure authenticity. Oh, see the scantily clad broad there?
Roxy and Poison were way too controversial for Nintendo of America, so Capcom altered it to be this lame looking bloke instead. Sid and Billy, sorry to say this but y’all just weren’t the same.
Rolento, being the boss of the scrapped Industrial Zone, is also MIA.
Belger didn’t change much in the SNES port. Though in the arcade he actually had a wheelchair while in the SNES port it looked more like a mobile love seat, which would suit Jessica just fine I’m sure [OH LORD! The images… AHHH! -Ed.]
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Being one of the earliest SNES releases, some critics were kind enough to overlook its deficiencies. Many fans, however, were not as forgiving.
- EGM: 8, 7, 7, 7
- Super Play: 86%
The Super Nintendo port of Final Fight is undoubtedly flawed. No 2 player mode, no Guy, an entire missing stage and only up to three enemies on the screen at any one time. It sounds like a lot is missing but when you actually play it, it still comes off a quality beat ‘em up. The gameplay is still there and when you consider this was one of the earliest SNES releases, the whole thing somehow manages to come off as impressive. Those visuals were mind blowing back in 1991. You had to see it 25 years ago to truly appreciate it. I mean, the characters were HUGE for the time, and I remember thinking to myself, “Where the hell is the coin slot?” As kids obviously we didn’t know any better. Nowadays it’s easy to see what the shortcomings are, but for an early launch game Final Fight impressed. The sound effects had a nice crunch to them and it did bring a lovely arcade feel home to our living rooms.
For all of its shortcomings, Final Fight still plays remarkably well. Compared to other SNES beat ‘em ups that came out later, Final Fight plays as well if not better than a good handful of them. It’s one of those weird games that you kind of have to grade on a bit of a curve. Viewed strictly in a bubble of its release date — September 1991 — this was a quality product, despite the missing elements. It’s not the first SNES beat ‘em up I reach for when I’m in the mood to kick some 16-bit ass, but I have to admit I do enjoy playing it still to this day because the gameplay has held up 25 years later. If it had a 2 player mode it would earn an even better score but as is, it’s still pretty good. Hardcore anal fans need not apply, however. This one ain’t for you. For the rest of us, you could play far worse beat ‘em ups on the Super Nintendo than Final Fight.