Although I started RVGFanatic nearly 12 years ago with the main goal of reviewing SNES games, I’ve always wanted to highlight a select handful of Genesis games that have resonated with me over the years. I finally reviewed my first Genesis game last month, Sonic the Hedgehog (appropriately so). It only took me over 11 and a half years but hey, this now makes two! Streets of Rage is a dear personal favorite of mine, especially when it comes to beat ‘em ups and Genesis games. Released in Japan on August 2, 1991, this month marks the 27th anniversary of Streets of Rage. And with the Streets of Rage 4 announcement made just a few days ago, I can’t think of a better time to pay homage to this game than right now.
By the way, there’s just something magical about those early Sega Genesis boxes. Many of them are incredibly nostalgic to me. Every little detail, from the white grid adorning the black background on the clamshell box to the cheesy but charming early ’90s art style, all add up to some wonderful memories of a special time in our young lives when video games were video games. By that I mean when games came fully packaged. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great benefits to the digital medium, but nothing will ever beat out physical copies complete with badass art and good old instruction manuals. All those vintage memories of sitting in the backseat of your dad’s car, eagerly scanning every tiny screenshot a hundred times over and devouring the manual front to back on the ride home… those times will never be replicated.
IT CAME FROM JAPAN…
In a rare case, both the Japanese and North American names for this game absolutely rock. Bare Knuckle sounds cool as hell, but then so does Streets of Rage. In fact, I’ll give the slight edge to Streets of Rage. Not just for familiarity and nostalgia but how can you beat the name STREETS OF RAGE? I mean, that’s badassery personified.
MEET THE CREW
THE STORY GOES…
ROUND ONE: CITY STREET
Although graphically it may not seem like much today, I can’t emphasize how much the visuals blew me away some 27 years ago. The first level sets the perfect tone, with the Pine Pot diner being a memorable standout. Although this first stage is full of bright lights and color, it’s also full of danger. There’s a certain grit to it and it has an impeccable late ’80s vibe. It almost feels like a Michael Jackson music video could break out at any moment!
Nothing like a good ol’ leaping knee to the mush.
Remember how those mini garage doors would open dramatically, revealing a bad guy inside? A classic trope of the genre that never gets old, no matter how many iterations appear.
Perhaps the coolest and most memorable “ass saving special” in beat ‘em up history. I don’t know of many cooler than calling on your cop buddy who comes barreling in only to launch an all-out fiery assault. It’s things like this that makes video games so damn fun.
The sprites in this game are smaller than I would like, but the bosses are usually significantly bigger. Just look at Boomer, f’rinstance. He was an intimidating sight back in the day, for sure, with his oversized boomerang and towering physique.
ROUND TWO: INNER CITY
I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a Michael Jackson music video just waiting to happen.
I remember this clown being the first regular enemy that gave me some trouble.
Wolverine’s claws but Sabretooth’s body. Lucky you, eh?
ROUND THREE: BEACHFRONT
When my best friend Nelson and I first saw this, we both had to pick up our jaws off the floor. Sure, it’s not as memorable as the rain in Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but this was definitely a cool moment. And one that sticks out in my mind even 27 years later.
ROUND FOUR: BRIDGE
What’s a beat ‘em up without a level where there’s some kind of opening to throw bad guys into?
Big Ben is yet another classic genre trope. It’s the fat bald guy who ironically likes to run.
ROUND FIVE: “SHIP HAPPENS!”
One of the cool things about Streets of Rage is how crowded the screen can get. Most SNES beat ‘em ups, for comparison sake, would often max out at three bad guys onscreen. Not the case here!
I love the SNES (you might have noticed that…) but there’s definitely nothing like THATon the Super Nintendo.
ROUND SIX: FACTORY
If you’re not careful on this level, your brains will get crushed. But it’s fair game, so lure the enemies in if you can. No bonuses, but it’s just plain irresistible!
Another classic genre trope: previous bosses becoming “regular” enemies. The actual boss for this stage admittedly reeks of laziness: it’s just the stage two boss, only this time there’s two of him to contend with.
ROUND SEVEN: FREIGHT ELEVATOR
No boss is featured here, it’s just a straight shot up to the final stage. My best friend Nelson and I always got a kick out of using our special attack here. There was something ridiculously amusing about watching our cop buddy send a blast high and deep into the night sky from ground level.
FINAL ROUND: SYNDICATE HEADQUARTERS
By far the hardest stage of the game. This is due to a couple reasons. Namely, being indoors, your special attack is rendered useless. The second thing is you’ll face enemies (and former bosses) galore! In fact, the ever lovable (or not) beat ‘em up trope of a “boss rush” or “boss gauntlet” is in full (annoying) effect here.
When you finally make your way to the top, Mr. X will offer you the chance to be his top crony. If you select yes, you’ll be sent back to level six and forced to play through to the end of the game. This also applies to when both players say yes. However, if one of you says yes and the other says no, you’ll be pitted in a duel to the death. Only by selecting no (both players have to select no in the 2-player mode) do you immediately fight Mr. X. This was pretty cool, especially back then when things were very cut and dry. This at least gave you the option to rebel and presents a bit of a moral dilemma. It’s nothing crazy but for 1991, it was a nice subtle touch.
My brother and I always held this final boss fight in high regard. That’s because Mr. X was the spitting image of my brother’s best friend’s dad. Yep, Kerwyn’s dad was Mr. X in the flesh. So whenever we went to Kerwyn’s house and saw his dad, we couldn’t help but stupidly grin at each other behind his dad’s back. Ah, to be kids, eh?
Mr. X’s lethal gun is no joke though, that’s for damn sure.
TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
One of the many neat things about Streets of Rage is the ability to work with your friend and perform some sweet tag team attacks.
STREETS OF RAGE 2
Released just mere days before Christmas of 1992, Streets of Rage 2 is often considered the best beat ‘em up not only on the Sega Genesis but of all time.
I definitely dig it too but I don’t know. Call me an overly nostalgic fool but I honestly tend to prefer the original game.
In terms of gameplay, Streets of Rage 2 is objectively the more polished product. But similar to Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, despite being the slightly inferior game, I actually prefer the first one. I know I’m in the minority but oh well. You like what you like!
STREETS OF RAGE 4
For years decades, gamers have been clamoring for a Streets of Rage 4. There were rumors nearly 20 years ago that such a sequel might appear on the Dreamcast but that dream was shattered in short order. However, just a few days ago on August 27, 2018, the announcement was made official… Streets of Rage 4 is finally happening after all these years! A teaser trailer was released and fan reaction is a mixed bag. Personally, I’m not a fan of the art style but I’m going to keep an open mind and wait to play it until I cast judgment. One thing is for sure, it’s just nice to see Streets of Rage 4 happening at long last. Here’s hoping it does the franchise proud like Sonic Mania did for Sonic the Hedgehog!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Streets of Rage was well received for its time. It was seen by many as not only a very competent Final Fight clone, but some even viewed it as superior, especially when you compare the Genesis game to the SNES port of Final Fight (which was butchered without question). However, some gamers feel Streets of Rage doesn’t hold up quite as well today as it did in 1991. I can see this perspective but I still get a kick out of this game whenever I play it.
One of my favorite Genesis games back in the day was Streets of Rage, and I still have a soft spot for it 27 years later. Playing it back in 1991 transported my best friend Nelson and I, two young regular 8 year old boys, into the baddest ass kicking warriors this side of town. In fact, one of my fondest memories that Christmas season was playing Streets of Rage at Nelson’s house while his family was hosting a party. I remember Nelson’s uncles were there; I used to look up to them because I thought they were so cool. That night we fired up Streets of Rage on the ol’ Genny and I remember all the uncles in the living room stopped what they were doing to watch us play. They too were entranced by the simple beauty that was Streets of Rage.
And I still remember to this day feeling so high and alive. Feeling that Nelson and I, along with Streets of Rage, became the smash hit of the party. It was the coolest feeling an 8 year old kid could experience at that point in his young life. It’s a feeling I wish I could bottle up because Nelson and I were floating on cloud 9 that night kicking ass and taking names, all as Nelly’s uncles watched on. There was something special about playing beat ‘em ups with your best pal growing up. And there was something extra special about playing a beat ‘em up the caliber of Streets of Rage with your best friend back in 1991. It was a moment in time that you just had to be there in order to grasp the full effect. The gritty visuals, the epic electronic dance music and just the overall feel of the game… Streets of Rage was and forever will be a special Genesis game.
The original Final Fight was ported over to the Super Famicom on December 21, 1990. It came out exactly one month after the Super Famicom launched in Japan. Final Fight 3 came out five whopping years later, landing in Japan on December 22, 1995. This time however, instead of being a revolutionary console on the upswing, the SNES was a grizzled vet practically on its last leg. Capcom cranked up the voltage as Final Fight 3 clocked in at an impressive 24 MEGS, making it the largest beat ‘em up on the SNES in terms of megabits. It featured branching paths, special moves, SUPER special moves and even a 2-player mode where the second player can be controlled by the computer if you didn’t have a buddy nearby. Capcom definitely redeemed themselves for the disappointment that was Final Fight 2. Let’s head back to Metro City one final time…
THE FINAL FIGHT — REALLY THIS TIME
I remember seeing previews for Final Fight 3 and Mega Man X³ in the back pages of GameFan in late 1995. Capcom was back at it milking more sequels than Friday the 13th. But that’s fine by me. Final Fight 2 was a sore disappointment and I had pretty decent hopes that they might get it right with Final Fight 3. Mega Man X³ looked like a welcomed addition to the series and it was just nice to see the Big C still supporting the Super Nintendo.
My brother and I hadn’t ‘upgraded’ to the PlayStation or Sega Saturn yet. We clung on to our Super Nintendo during its twilight years, although we certainly didn’t play it as much as we had done during the system’s peak. Still, I remember feeling like Final Fight 3 and Mega Man X³ was something of a last bastion of hope. A beacon of light in the darkness for the remaining loyal SNES fans who stuck by the system’s side even in its dying days.
Final Fight 3 is something of a special game to me in many ways. My family moved in late January of 1996. My childhood home. The place where I carved out countless memories with my parents, brother, uncle and friends for 10 years. The place that meant so much to me and was more than a town, more than a suburb. It was, in many ways, the wonder years.
And Final Fight 3, of the hundreds and hundreds of SNES games I rented from 1991-1996, proved to be the final (har har) Super Nintendo game I ever rented while living in my childhood home. In fact, it was just the weekend before we moved. I remember playing it with moving boxes all around the living room, cleaning up the streets of Metro City one last time alongside my older brother. Made for some good times and memories. As such, Final Fight 3 will always hold a special place in my heart.
THE FINAL FIGHTERS
Guy returns! As does good old standby, Mike Haggar, complete with a brand new ponytail. Some fans are split on the look but I always dug it. Dean and Lucia are the two newcomers. Bye bye Carlos and Maki from Final Fight 2. Honestly, I never liked them much.
After completing a martial arts training trip, Guy returns to Metro City only to find himself caught up in a riot. He is happy to once again team up with his old comrade, Mayor Mike Haggar, and bring justice to Metro City once and for all.
A former street fighter with a thorough knowledge of Skull Cross gang operations. He always carries a small picture of his family wherever he goes. The Skull Cross maniacs slaughtered his family when he refused to join up. Now Dean seeks swift retribution and some good old fashioned cold blooded vengeance!
A detective in Metro City’s Special Crimes unit, Lucia became Haggar’s ally after he helped clear her of a corruption charge. Now she’s returning him the favor.
The most popular mayor Metro City has ever known, Mike Haggar seems to become more powerful with age. And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Haggar has a few new moves up his sleeve… well, if he wore sleeves. Ah, you get the expression.
THE STORY GOES…
Well, that’s Super Play’s interpretation, anyhow. Classic SPLAY. No, here’s the real plot…
Classic Metro City map from the first Final Fight returns.
“GODDAMN look at you, Guy! Looking good as ever. How did your training go?”
“I picked up a few new tricks…”
“Metro City is under attack! If we don’t intervene quick, the Skull Cross gang is going to rip the city apart!”
“HOLD UP — WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?!”
“Does it really matter? All you need to know is I know where those scumbags are headed.”
“I guess I don’t have much of a choice. But if you’re lying, I’m gonna kick the shit out of you!”
“GONNA BE JUST LIKE OLD TIMES… FOR THE FINAL TIME.”
Questions abound — will the Skull Cross gang succeed where the Mad Gear gang failed? Will Dean get his revenge? Will Haggar’s ponytail choke a bitch? Let’s find out!
Japanese version on the right. Notice that it’s much fancier and was known as Final Fight Tough over in Japan.
ROUND 1: POLICE STATION
Running attacks are new to Final Fight 3. Each character also has a special move which is executed in Street Fighter fashion. These new tricks really add to the gameplay and helps to keep things fresh.
Another brilliant addition by Capcom, SUPER special moves can be performed when you fill up a small meter at the bottom of the screen. SUPER specials inflict a ton of damage, not to mention they just look frigging cool.
Barrels contain goodies to recharge your health or boost your point total. Making your way through Metro City Police Station, incarcerated members of the Skull Cross gang can be seen from behind their prison cells. Nice touch, along with the dim flickering lights.
Capcom delivers a nice tip of the hat to its roots. This scene is reminiscent of the car bonus stage from the first Final Fight. “OH! MY CAR” remains one of the most memorable lines in gaming history.
Known for its big beefy bosses, Final Fight 3 continues that tradition well. Meet Dave, a corrupt massive cop gone rogue. Gorilla slam his ass into oblivion, Ultimate Warrior style.
Unfortunately, our heroes were duped. The Skull Cross gang staged the riot to keep the police busy as they freed one of their leaders from prison. Meanwhile, Dean apologizes for before. He didn’t have time to explain then. He tells them he was a former street fighter on the circuit, and when he refused to join the Skull Cross gang, they slaughtered his family. Now it’s payback time!
ROUND 2: MAIN STREET
Haggar loves to show off his sinewy tight muscles as he sprints ahead. Now that Costco is infamously no longer selling their $1.50 polish dogs, everyone is flocking to Metro City for their hot dog needs.
Although perhaps not quite mutant, I like how Final Fight 3 introduces some gray area into some of their bad guys. I’ve always preferred my beat ‘em ups to stray a bit from the beaten path. Some of the fat enemies don’t look quite human. It’s almost like some of them are failed experiments gone wrong, or right, depending on your perspective.
Speaking of paths, one of the best things about Final Fight 3 is that there are multiple routes to take. Bust that door open and you’ll enter the Club. And speaking of best, what’s better than finding a big piece of BBQ chicken (that will fully recover your health) when you’re just one hit away from dying?
Callman, another big beefy (bald) badass, will kick the ever living shit out of you if you aren’t careful. The furniture goes flying!
Haggar’s mighty axe swing helps even up the odds.
Callman would be a hell of a linebacker in the NFL. I love how he’s so damn big that Haggar’s spinning piledriver on him looks a bit ridiculous!
Destroy the fence instead however and you’ll find yourself in a rundown park. Notice on the bench (zoom in if you’re on a mobile device) the word FUK. How that slipped by Nintendo of America… I’ll never know! You still fight Callman at the end here if you take this route.
ROUND 3: BUS STOP
Shattering glass windows is quite satisfying. This stage allows you to take a shortcut and skip directly to the next level by breaking the bus stop sign. But if you don’t, a bus will come by to pick you up.
Daaaamn! That’s the first thing I thought when I first boarded this bus. Look at the size of that ham hock! It’s almost big enough to fit a T-Rex.
Electrocute the competition with Dean’s mighty fist. There was a rumor that Dean is really a robot but that’s never been confirmed. Also, because the game refers to his family, that’s reason to believe the robot theory is off. Andore makes his first appearance here. Get too close and he’ll choke the hell out of you.
Showing off his strength, Dean lifts Andore high over his head before sending him crashing down across his knee. Ouch! Talk about a mean back breaker.
Eventually the bus stops at a scrap yard. Next stop: ELECTRIC AVENUE!
Soaring high into the air, Dean’s SUPER special is a throw from the heavens.
Jumping on top of the bus now, Dean faces off with Caine and his cronies. Caine is a lot tougher than Dave and Callman.
Caine’s odd design left me feeling a little unsettled as a kid. The hunchback, the abnormally long arms and incredibly shrunken head made him exactly the kind of creep you wouldn’t want to run into down a dark alley…
ROUND 4: THE SHIP
Destroying the bus sign allows you to skip the bus and fighting Caine. It takes you straight to the docks. Haggar loves a beautiful sunset.
Andore continues his progressive transformation toward becoming a full time Frankenstein. Watch out for those killer abs!
Running attacks brought a sense of speed to the game. It never gets old hitting a running clothesline on some sucker.
Finally, we get female enemies in a Fight Fight game on the SNES! The previous two games in the series altered the female enemies to be guys. ProTip: Avoid being in the middle of an Andore sandwich.
There’s an age old debate among some folks pertaining the question, is a hot dog really a sandwich? Fear no more, Final Fight 3 puts a definitive end to that debate.
Survey says… NOT A SANDWICH! Thank you, Capcom, for putting that silly notion to bed. You have a choice to go up the stairs or through.
Careful there Mike, those tiny masked guys are fragile. Most beat ‘em ups on the SNES features three enemies on screen at the most, but Final Fight 3 has a few sections where there’s four (as seen above).
Carrying a huge anchor, Drake (nope doesn’t look like Dave whatsoever…) will swing it around and try to crush you with it. If that fails, he’ll rely on his heavy bottom to take you out.
Another cool aspect about Final Fight 3 is that the shoulder buttons allow you to lock in on a direction. Double tap back when doing this and your character will do a quick hop backward. It just adds another layer of depth and nuance to the game and is the only SNES beat ‘em up to feature this.
BONUS ROUND 1: THIS IS SOME BULL
Bulldozer comes steaming after you, trying to knock you off the pier. Only jumping attacks work, and there’s barely any room (literally) for error.
Should you fail, one of your teammates will fly in for the assist. But if you can beat it, you’ll earn extra points.
ROUND 4B: CHINA TOWN
Boarding the bus and defeating Caine takes you straight to China Town. It’s a beautiful depiction of China Town at night with all the fancy lights shining.
Detective Lucia reporting for duty!
Andore likes it rough but not THAT rough.
Haggar takes over as we enter the kitchen. Wong comes busting out!
Similar to Caine, there’s something that’s just OFF about Wong. It’s definitely his creepy looking eyes, which left me a little unsettled as a kid. Watch out for his Blanka-like rolling ball attack.
Sleeping burning on the job there, are we, Wong? The way he convulses at the end is also a little disturbing. Quit staring at me with those alien eyes!
ROUND 5: FACTORY
Haggar finds himself trudging through a sewer to begin this stage. Capcom’s classic Yashichi icon can be picked up for temporary invincibility. Look between Haggar’s legs… damn that sounds like a sordid piece of fan fiction right there.
Another cool thing about Final Fight 3 is that certain weapons are better used by certain characters. For example, Haggar really knows how to swing the lead pipe whereas Guy is not nearly as competent with it. Again, this is another feature that you won’t find in any other SNES beat ‘em up.
Haggar in a shady back alley? Nope, nothing wrong with that. A new enemy called Hunter appears on this stage. Armed with a baseball bat and a mask, he’s pretty cool looking but is painfully slow. Still, a unique enemy especially in the Final Fight universe.
Hunter reminds me a lot of an enemy from Undercover Cops, who also wields a baseball bat.
Always fun to see stuff like this.
Destroy the second door to unlock a secret area.
Decimate all the computers here and you’ll be taken to the final round without having to face the boss of this stage!
However, if not, you’ll have to work your way to the boss.
Obviously, doing so is going to make your life harder but it also extends the game and lets you face arguably the toughest boss from the Skull Cross gang, Stray.
BONUS ROUND 2: RUNNING OF THE BARRELS
ProTip: Avoid barrels. Break computer.
ROUND 6: SKULL CROSS HEADQUARTERS
Finally, we come to Skull Cross HQ. Guy takes over, tossing bad guys around like sacks of potatoes.
“HADOKEN!”Not quite, but it’s still pretty cool. As is his spinning kick.
Capcom messed up on Guy’s SUPER special move. The bad guy always falls down before Guy can hit his little fireball, making this move look a bit silly.
Uncover more bonus rooms by breaking them open.
Peculiar to see BBQ chicken hiding inside a water dispenser, but alright then!
Andore’s no match for Guy’s fireball. And here’s another section of the game where four enemies crowd the screen at once.
Special moves really add to the quality of gameplay, requiring some level of skill to execute rather than just mashing away at the buttons. Toward the end, a chopper reveals itself to set up the final battle.
Details are on point here. Shock waves can be seen on the ground complete with a perfectly matching sound effect to punctuate the arrival of Black, the big bad of Final Fight 3 and leader of the Skull Cross gang.
Bursting out of his jacket, Black uses a spinning attack even more effectively than Haggar’s. That’s because Black’s spin attack actually sees him zipping around the screen like a mad man!
Beware of all the knives he’ll throw as well. When his health is depleted to the last bar, the screen will shift to the right slightly, revealing an electric generator.
Satisfying way to kill him! But you won’t have long to celebrate — the generator goes bonkers and the whole place is about to blow. RUN!
Haggar: “We saved Metro City! Thanks, Guy!”
Haggar: “Er, I meant thanks, guys.”
Guy: “No problem. But look at the city — it’s nearly in ruins.”
Lucia: “Well, that’s a problem for Mayor Haggar to deal with, isn’t it now?”
Haggar: “Don’t remind me…”
Drifters, by nature, come and go. Dean’s work is done. For now at least.
Kansas’ Carry On Wayward Son can suddenly be heard playing in the background…
“Carry on my wayward son. There’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no mooooore.”
Haggar and friends go out in style.
UH EXCUSE ME — PRESS START ANY SECOND NOW!
Capcom always had the greatest continue screens with their Final Fight games. Final Fight 3 is no exception.
GLITCHES R US
Although the production values for this game is solid enough, there are a few instances where you can see ever so briefly (less than a split second) some funky not-so-fluid glitches. It really doesn’t kill the game in any way (especially since it’s really not that bad) but it’s interesting to note regardless.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Final Fight 3 pretty much got brutalized by the critics when it was initially released back in January of 1996. The game was criticized for being outdated, out of touch with the times and not offering anything new. Which is crazy, considering Final Fight 3 not only added special moves but SUPER special moves (among other standout features). But I get it. It was simply a victim of its time. Back in 1996, most people were not looking to play an “archaic” 2D side scrolling beat ‘em up, and the game’s review scores reflect that sentiment. EGM gave it scores of 6.5, 5.5, 5.5 and 5. GameFan gave it ratings of 77, 67and 55%. Super Play minced no words, slapping it with an embarrassingly low rating of 49%.
I love Super Play. That fact is well documented around these parts. But I vehemently disagree with their assessment of Final Fight 3. First of all, to me it’s just ludicrous that you can rate a game’s gameplay as 70% but rate the game an overall score of 49%. I believe the gameplay and overall score should be similar. Yes, graphics, sound and longevity all play a factor in deciding the overall score but gameplay has to be where the emphasis lies. Come on Super Play, that wasn’t cool.
Final Fight 3 is one of those games that got killed in the press when it initially came out but is now acknowledged as a (really) good game. In fact, I can’t think of an SNES game that was more criticized at the time of its release yet is now so beloved as Final Fight 3. Again, it was a matter of timing and circumstances. Back in 1996, with all eyes toward the (32-bit) future, a game like this looked like a couple years too late. Capcom was accused of once again releasing a lazy sequel. But now however, Final Fight 3 has been received with welcome arms and is often considered as a top 5 beat ‘em up on the SNES. It added some great new features to the fold, including special and SUPER special moves, running attacks, throws from behind, the ability to lock your direction and even retreat with a quick dash backwards.
Lest we forget the branching (and secret) paths which help add to the game’s longevity. Hey remember those old “CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURES!” books? Yeah, Final Fight 3 kind of has that vibe thanks to its multiple routes one can take. Of course, perhaps best of all, two players can FINALLY use Mike Haggar ANDGuy simultaneously. The two new characters, Dean and Lucia, aren’t too shabby themselves and are much more interesting and fun to use than Carlos and Maki from Final Fight 2. Oh and you can’t forget the brand new Auto 2-Player mode. This option allows the computer to control the second player. It’s handy for those nights where it’s just you and your Super Nintendo [Isn’t that you every night? -Ed.] Shush! *looks into imaginary camera* This is a cry for help!
The graphics are pretty good. Sprites are big and beefy. There’s a good amount of color on screen, although a few areas are rather drab and lacking in intricate detail. Animation is a little on the wonky side though. Some animations could have benefited from more frames, but it’s certainly not wooden by any means. It’s just not as silky smooth as you would expect coming from Capcom. Sometimes Final Fight 3 looks great, and other times it looks only average. The same could be said for the music and sound effects. Some sound effects are a little muted while others, like the chopper landing sending out shock waves, are spot on. The music is pretty good in certain areas while forgettable in others. Thankfully, it’s the gameplay that matters most, and this is where Final Fight 3 delivers its biggest punch. It’s simply a blast to play, and thanks to all its nuances, it doesn’t grow nearly as repetitive as many other beat ‘em ups I could name.
But the game’s biggest flaw is that it suffers from some slowdown in the 2-player mode. Not to the point where it’s unplayable, but enough where it’s definitely a bit annoying. Still, that doesn’t stop Final Fight 3 from being the best Final Fight game on the SNES by a comfortable margin. It’s funny how so many people came to appreciate this game more only years and years following its initial release. There are a few other SNES games I can think of that fit this bill, such as Mega Man 7 and Street Fighter Alpha 2, but none wears it finer than Final Fight 3. While it has its share of flaws, Final Fight 3 is easily one of the top 5 beat ‘em ups on the SNES and a damn fine example of a beat ‘em up done (mostly) right.
Final Fight, originally released in 1989 in the arcade, was a huge success for Capcom. It was ported to the Super Famicom in Japan just in time for the Christmas season of 1990, and it came out stateside for the SNES in September 1991. Although an impressive early SNES game in many ways, the port was somewhat butchered. Namely, it lacked a 2-player co-op mode, Guy was M.I.A., an entire stage was cut out and of course, censorship because Nintendo early ’90s. In the late summer of 1993, Capcom attempted to rectify matters (and cash in) when they released a sequel, Final Fight 2, exclusively for Nintendo’s 16-bit system. It might very well be the first SNES game to have an exclusive sequel with the first game being an arcade port. (I certainly can’t think of an earlier example of such off the top of my head. If you can, then comment below). Unfortunately, Guy and Cody are sadly nowhere to be found, but on the bright side there’s now a 2-player co-op mode. Was Capcom able to strike gold, or were they simply looking to make a quick buck based on the brand that was Final Fight? Let’s head over to Metro City and find out…
The North American box is a little shady. Damnd, an old boss from the first Final Fight, can be seen on the box but he never appears in Final Fight 2. Also, there’s a green mutant peeking from underneath the sewers. There was no enemy close to this in the actual game. Ah, the ’90s. Bless your heart.
STROLLING DOWN MEMORY LANE
The above was originally written on RVGFanatic (the first version) on November 21, 2012. That date marked the 22 year anniversary of the Super Famicom. As I write this now, the Super Famicom is now nearly 28 years old and counting. Wow, if that doesn’t make me feel old! Well, as the picture above states, I suppose I owe you a story…
December 1991. I was 8 years old on vacation with my family and friends in Lake Tahoe. Back in the day my family formed a strong friendship with four families. Together, between 10 parents and 16 kids, we had some of the most legendary sleepovers in the history of mankind. 11 boys and 5 girls, ranging from birth dates of 1978 to 1986, staying up late doing whatever it is that boys and girls do. We rented out a HUGE cabin where all 26 of us stayed. It was INSANITY. One of the guys, Tommy, brought along his newly acquired Super Nintendo with copies of Super Mario World, F-Zero and Final Fight.
A very bizarre and peculiar thing happened on that trip. Something so strange that it haunted me throughout my childhood. That Sunday morning, my mom decided to let me sleep in while everyone else filed out for breakfast. I woke up to an empty cabin with weird odd noises coming from every which direction. If only those cabin walls could talk, who knows what ghastly and terrible secrets might be shed? I tip-toed downstairs, calling out the names of my family and friends. All the while knowing deep down that no one would answer my cries. No one living, anyhow.
Indeed, all I heard back in response was the loud hissing and groaning of the creepy cabin. Suddenly a cold chill swept up and down my spine as I knew something wasn’t right…
After braving my way to the kitchen at long last, I found a note taped to the fridge.
Steve, Everyone woke up early except for you and we went out to get breakfast. You stayed up so late last night and you need the rest. Make yourself some Honey Nut Cheerios, and don’t watch too much TV. We’ll be back soon.Love,
I couldn’t believe it. My mom actually left me home alone in the middle of nowhere — OK not quite, but still! Did she not watch Home Alone?! I remember opening the fridge and seeing an ice cold can of 7 Up, my favorite soda back then. Oh how I wanted to grab that bad boy and chug it. But alas, I was not about to use the bathroom. There was no way in hell I would risk having to saunter down that demonic looking hallway that stood between me and the bathroom…
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 a resourceful kid, I believed that spirits would never mess with you if you had the TV or radio playing. Any kind of noise would ward off evil spirits. They would only attack those who were alone in silence. So I promptly turned on the TV to watch WWF Wrestling Challenge for the hour. It wasn’t long before I spotted Tommy’s Super Nintendo lying on the floor. This was my chance! The older kids hogged the system the night before, leaving me out in the cold. I fired up F-Zero first and then played Final Fight until everyone came back from breakfast. Part of me was ecstatic to see them again as I was no longer alone in this cabin from hell. But something funny happened during my first SNES experience. It made me forget about all my fears and worries. Instead it 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 ever since that fateful December morning nearly 30 years ago, I’ve been a Super Nintendo fan for life.
THE STORY GOES…
ROUND 1: HONG KONG
Oddly (and regrettably), weapons in Final Fight 2 are more detrimental to you than they are to the bad guys. That should never be the case. There seems to be a split second delay when trying to use weapons, and I definitely do better when fighting with just my bare hands. The sound effect for the weapons are also incredibly weak. Nowhere near Capcom’s usual quality. Shocking and disappointing, which is sort of the theme throughout this game.
Haggar’s piledriver now rotates in mid-air and looks a lot more fluid and impactful than it did in the first game. At least Capcom got something right here.
Censorship strikes again. Won Won looked even nastier in the Japanese version — he wields a deadly meat cleaver there.
ROUND 2: FRANCE
Andore and Abobo were my two favorite goons to beat up as a kid. There’s just something satisfying about destroying the snot out of a towering titan with a jacked up physique.
Punch, punch, press up and punch. It’s an instant 3-hit combo ending in a throw that protects you and dishes out extra damage to any surrounding bad guys. In a pinch? You can do this after one punch instead of two. A staple of the Final Fight franchise, I wish all beat ‘em ups featured this handy technique. No need for grapples, although you can still do that if you want.
You’re on a midnight stroll looking for some thugs to trash and you spot some lackeys loitering around. Sometimes you can even sneak in a hit or two before they come to their senses. Truly a beloved staple of the genre!
You have to show them that you’re really not scared You’re playing with your life, this ain’t no truth or dare They’ll kick you then they beat you then they’ll tell you it’s fair So beat it, but you wanna be bad
Just beat it, beat it, beat it, BEAT IT! No one wants to be defeated Showing how funky and strong is your fight It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right
JUST BEAT IT, BEAT IT, BEAT IT!
The Street Fighter games and the original Final Fight did this a thousand times better. From the weapons sounding weak and lacking impact to the way the car is animated as it’s being destroyed, this car bonus stage comes off as a very weak homage. Shame, Capcom. SHAME!
ROUND 3: HOLLAND
Mines are scattered throughout this stage. Holland is my favorite level in the game because of that and the boss, Bratken.
They told him don’t you ever come around here Don’t wanna see your face, you better disappear The fire’s in their eyes and their words are really clear So beat it, just beat it!
You better run You better do what you can Don’t wanna see no blood Don’t be a macho man!
Standing 6’7″ and weighing in at 434 pounds of muscle, Bratken is a psychotic overgrown boy who loves toys. He was bribed to join the gang by being locked in a room filled with toys. But now he’s bored and wants to get out. Looks like he just spotted you, his next teddy bear victim. It’s too bad the rest of the game isn’t as interesting as this.
Love his, ahem, smashing entrance. Not the best animation though as dude is a bit stiff. But hey, that’s probably from being cooped up in his little cell there more than it is lazy programming on the part of Capcom, yeah? Right…
ROUND 4: ENGLAND
No one ever accused Final Fight 2 of being original. I love how Andore looks when he’s being thrown. Seeing his big old carcass flying around the screen like that is real sweet and satisfying.
Most of Final Fight 2 possesses a desolated and bleak look but this stage is the lone exception.
I never liked this clown. The look, the aesthetic, even his name Philippe. It just came off as very generic and forgettable to me. Give me Clown from Fighter’s History any day!
This bonus round is damn hard. Props if you can complete it.
ROUND 5: ITALY
This is particularly hazardous as you don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room and as I stated earlier, the weapons in this game suck. A beat ‘em up where weapons are useless is a crime. That’s a plain simple fact.
Capcom made a few glaring omissions with the SNES port of the first Final Fight. One of which was taking out a stage that featured Rolento at the end. I guess in their quest to fix past errors, Rolent came back for Final Fight 2. Love the shadows that trail him. Still shots does this no justice. You have to see it in motion to truly appreciate it.
ROUND 6: JAPAN
We come to our final stop, Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun. And, apparently, the Land of the Rising Haggar. Hmm. I’ll leave it at that.
Andore’s design was inspired by Andre the Giant. The 7’4″ 500 pound giant was a major attraction in the world of professional wrestling. Rest in Peace, big guy.
He blocks a lot and is a pain to put away.
Carlos is so tough that his sword is mostly for show. He’ll whip it out though in a tight spot. The sword, of course.
But ah, if only it were that simple. With Belger rotting away in some ditch, the new head honcho is a weird looking dude that goes by the name of Retu.
As the boys are busy trash talking, Tung Fu Rue Genryusai hangs precariously in the air.
A dramatic ending to a rather dull, pardon the pun, final fight.
The text above was inspired from the final two lines of John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Speaking of which, I had a chance to see the original Halloween in theaters back in 2012 when it had a special one night only showing. I can’t wait for the definitive sequel this coming October!
Fear not, Belger fans. He would later return to the series as Cyborg Belger in Mighty Final Fight, and then once more in Final Fight Revenge.
Final Fight 3? Naaah, Capcom would NEVER milk a franchise… oh who am I kidding? Let’s face it, they’ve produced more sequels than most horror movie franchises!
SAVE ME MAYBE?!
Obscure video game fact: Mike Haggar has a twin. The Haggar we know and love died in Final Fight 2 (as you can see here). That explains the ponytail Haggar sports in Final Fight 3…
TRICKS AND SHENANIGANS
Interesting note about the 2-player mode: you can hit your buddy but the damage inflicted is minimal. A fun little trick is hitting both your partner and a boss character simultaneously. You can hit your friend repeatedly without them falling over, and bosses can get caught in this endless loop. Your friend takes very little damage per hit while the boss will take normal damage. You can easily abuse this system. There’s also a code to play as the same character. Press Down, Down, Up, Up, Right, Left, Right, Left, L, R at the title screen.
Final Fight 2 offers four difficulty levels. The easier ones are a joke but Expert is downright brutal, with enemies requiring a hundred hits before perishing. You can only unlock the full ending if you can beat it on Expert (which features a nice Guy cameo). On a final note, there is some text in-between stages but no pictures to go along with them. It reeks of lazy programming and a lack of attention to detail, something very uncharacteristic of Capcom back in the ’90s.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Final Fight 2 received mixed reactions. Oddly enough, despite being previewed twice by EGM, it was never reviewed. However, in EGM’s bi-monthly affiliated sister publication, Super NES Buyer’s Guide, Final Fight 2 received ratings of 85, 85 and 92%. GameFan, notorious for handing out high scores like free condiments, was split with their thoughts on this sequel. They gave it ratings of 70, 78, 84and 93%. The 23% differential in the 70% and 93% ratings makes it one of the biggest scoring discrepancies in GameFan’s history. Super Play rated it 75%, which by their standards is a fairly respectable score especially for a beat ‘em up (a genre they often rated on the lower side). Most gamers seem to agree that Final Fight 2 is slightly above average at best, and at worse, kind of dull and not too good.
Final Fight 2 was one of those sequels that my brother and I highly anticipated back in 1993. We loved the first Final Fight but hated that we couldn’t play it together. Final Fight 2 promised to fix that glaring omission. While the 2-player mode is nice, there’s a bit of occasional slowdown. But that’s not the worst offender. The game, for some reason, is missing the magic of the first Final Fight. Even if you forget about comparing it to the original and judge it strictly on its own, it’s honestly kind of drab. There’s nothing particularly lousy about Final Fight 2, but it just lacks the magical ingredients that made the original so fun and endearing. Final Fight 2, in a lot of ways, really feels like a “direct-to-video” (or direct-to-SNES) sequel. And maybe that’s because it literally is. But Final Fight 3 proved you can be direct-to-video and still be good. Frankly, Capcom kind of went through the motions here and it shows.
That’s not to say Final Fight 2 is a bad game. But being decent yet disappointing sums it up best, and shows you the high benchmark standard that Capcom set with the first Final Fight. On the bright side, the visuals are pretty strong by late ’93 SNES standards, aside from some stiff animation and some backgrounds border on being a bit lifeless at times. On the down side, the music and sound effects are below Capcom par. Weapons are essentially ineffective. Carlos and Maki are generic enough to be forgettable as is the final boss. But although it lacks the polish you expect from a firm like Capcom, there’s no denying that beat ‘em up fanatics will still find some level of enjoyment; it’s not incompetent or unplayable by any means. There are just so many better choices available on the SNES, such as Return of Double Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. I’m glad Final Fight 2 came out, but I’m disappointed with how it turned out. Oh well, at least Capcom got it right on their third try. After all, they say third time’s a charm…
August 1993 was a big month for Capcom. They released two major sequels: Final Fight 2 (10 MEGS) and Street Fighter II Turbo (20 MEGS).
I remember thinking how cool 10 MEGS was because at the time SNES games were either 4, 8 or 16 megabits. A few were even 12. But 10? That was unheard of, and I think Final Fight 2 is the first 10 MEG game on the SNES. Games boasting 10 megabits were even harder to find than ones with 12.
In the same month Capcom blew our minds when they released the first ever 20 MEG game, Street Fighter II Turbo. What a time to be alive. Can’t believe it’s been 25 years. Happy 25th anniversary to Final Fight 2 and the SNES port of Street Fighter II Turbo!
With the boom of the 3D era in 1996, some of our old favorite genres took a backseat to this changing of the guard. Or in some cases, they became an endangered species. One of those was the beat ‘em up genre. From the glorious late ’80s to early-mid ’90s, beat ‘em ups ruled the arcade (and home console) scene. From classics such as Final Fight, Double Dragon, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage just to name a few, they were a staple of many childhoods. But they went by the wayside when 3D gaming ushered in the next generation. Enter Sega’s Die Hard Arcade. It was a 3D interpretation of the classic beat ‘em ups of yore. A Saturn port was released a year later in March of 1997. It’s not the best game in the world but damn if it isn’t wacky fun.
30 YEARS OF KICKING TERRORIST ASS
Today (July 15, 2018) marks the 30 year anniversary of Die Hard. Released in theaters on July 15, 1988, Die Hard carved its way into our hearts and memories. The film followed the exploits of one, John McClane. A one man wrecking crew, he attempts to save his separated wife and countless hostages from the vile clutches of some East German terrorists. Taking place over the course of one wild night (Christmas Eve) and one highly memorable location (the fictionally named Nakatomi Plaza), Die Hard was an action movie for the ages. It launched Bruce Willis into superstardom and had one critic call it “a perfect action movie in every detail, the kind of movie that makes your summer memorable.”
The film worked on so many levels. One of its biggest reasons was the pinpoint portrayal of villainous mastermind, Hans Gruber (arguably one of the best movie villains of all time, right up there with the likes of Darth Vader himself). Played by Alan Rickman, Hans Gruber was masterfully memorable for his accent and wicked ways.
Die Hard was filmed at Fox Plaza in Los Angeles. Completed in 1987, Fox Plaza is 35 stories tall (493 feet) and served as the film’s memorable backdrop. Made on a budget of 28 million, Die Hard went on to gross that number five times over for a whopping 128.1 million. There are currently five Die Hard films with a sixth one on the way. Willis will reprise the role of McClane but a younger version is being cast for the earlier portions of the film which will depict McClane as a rookie cop in the ’70s. Happy 30 years, Die Hard!
My girlfriend and I caught Skyscraper in theaters last night. I’m a big Rock fan but this one just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I was subconsciously comparing it too much to Die Hard, but it had none of the charm and memorable characters.
Die Hard Arcade was conceived by AM1’s Makoto Uchida. Uchida worked on numerous well known Sega titles such as Altered Beast and Golden Axe. A big fan of the original Die Hard film, Uchida had the idea of creating a 3D beat ‘em up with Die Hard as his main inspiration.
THE STORY GOES…
Wolf Hongo and his cronies have invaded a skyscraper in Los Angeles. They want the vast riches in the vault and have also kidnapped the president’s daughter. It’s up to you (and your partner) to stop Wolf.
Die Hard Arcade doesn’t take itself seriously as seen here. The president’s daughter manages to elude the bad guys at some point and they cannot find her despite her being right under their nose.
DEEP SCAN CAMEO
Deep Scan is a 1979 arcade game from Sega. Play it to earn extra continues.
“WELCOME TO THE PARTY, PAL!”
The action starts out hot and heavy on this little rooftop ledge.
Many weapons are in play, including brooms!
There’s also the ever reliable handgun.
The blocky graphics add to the charm of the game. It’s a little rough around the edges, literally, but that’s just all part of the charm.
Quick time events, if handled right, allow you to recover some lost health. If you fail however, you’ll need to clear that area of any bad guys that linger. You have to pay attention to which button they ask you to press, like a Simon Says. It’s pretty neat and was later used in Shenmue on the Dreamcast.
Next, make your way to this elevator lobby where you can beat up the bad guys with everything from a missile launcher to a grandfather clock! This game is ridiculous and I can’t help but love how insane it is.
The bum in the green hat actually falls into the blue dumpster during a cutscene prior to McClane arriving on the scene. As stated earlier, Die Hard Arcade doesn’t take itself seriously and has a ton of black humor.
Watch out for the water spray, which can juggle you for damage. It can also hurt the enemies. Pick up the fire axe and hack away. There are also exploding barrels that you can heave their way.
The next scene is unforgettable. One of the bad guys is relieving himself as you approach ready to maim. Stuff like this is what makes video games so great.
Yes, John McClane is suplexing a naked man in a diaper. Some descriptions defy logic.
Anti-tank rifles, clubs, guns and more can be used here. Or just kick their ass the good old fashioned way. Toilet paper rolls roll around. This section is by far my favorite part of the game and I wish it were longer.
Use robot arms lying around to send these bastards back to the trash heap.
“Come on, hand over the club. We all know how this ends.”
This big, beefy, masked mauler is one tough son of a gun. It’s a good thing you can shoot his ass and throw chairs at him, then. I love the whale swimming in the aquarium tank in the background.
THE SEQUEL: DYNAMITE COP
A sequel, Dynamite Deka 2 or Dynamite Cop in North America, came out in 1999. It was released in the arcade and on the Sega Dreamcast. It takes place on a boat and similar to the first game, has something of a cult following behind it.
DYNAMITE DEKA EX: ASIAN DYNAMITE
8 years later, a revised version of the second game was released in arcades in Japan only. It was an odd release to say the least. By then the beat ‘em up genre was even more obscure than it had been in the early 2000s. The game was never ported to home consoles nor did it ever officially leave Japan.
RE-RELEASE ON THE PLAYSTATION 2
In 2006, Dynamite Deka was re-released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 under the Sega Ages 2500 budget line. It featured revamped graphics.
Die Hard Arcade was even made into a manga by the name of Burning 2020.
It’s pretty incredible how Japan latches on to random entities and makes a “thing” out of them.
GameTZ (or Game Trading Zone) was a website where gamers can share their wanted and available list of games. You can browse other users’ listings and message them to strike up trades. I joined on March 21, 2001 — I was still a few months away from graduating high school. It was a crazy fun time… it was like the Wild West of the internet back in those days. People were more willing to trade before the site became a shell of itself in the years to come. My third deal there was trading my copy of Resident Evil (PlayStation 1) and $6 for Virtua Cop 2 and Die Hard Arcade (Saturn). At that time, I had just gotten back into all things Sega Saturn and I vividly remember the day Virtua Cop 2 and Die Hard Arcade arrived in the mail. Later that night, my brother and I binged on both games and it was the best arcade experience at home I had had in the longest time. It sent me on a tailspin of endless Saturn love as I would explore the system’s library further in-depth and uncover the most obscure of obscure games. Great memories!
There were truly some funky deals I made on GameTZ. Maybe a story for another day. But I can’t resist sharing a few right now. I once got Street Fighter Collection in exchange for Golden Axe: The Duel and an obscure Wolfgang Krauser collectible that I got in the mail circa 1994 via TAKARA. But perhaps my funniest trade was getting High Velocity (an obscure racing game for the Saturn) for my Predator 2 VHS copy. Ah, GameTZ, how I loved thee once upon a moon.
Die Hard Arcade is a blast. It never takes itself too seriously, it’s violent as hell and it’s stupid fun with a friend by your side. My brother and I loved playing this game and although it’s short at around 20 minutes or so, we kept coming back to it over the years. It’s a true testament to how fun and over the top the game is. We didn’t care that the graphics were a little blocky or that the story wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen a thousand times before: a good beat ‘em up should be fun and Die Hard Arcade most certainly is.
There’s actually something charming about the blocky visuals. It was in the early days of 3D where polygons were mostly blocky. Developers were still finding their way with the new style of graphics; it was a sign of the times. But the best thing about this game is teaming up with a buddy to kick terrorist ass in the most amusing of ways. Whether you’re chucking a grandfather clock at the bad guys or beating them upside the head with a broom, Die Hard Arcade is a memorable foray into the realm of the 3D beat ‘em up. It’s campy, over the top and balls to the walls nutty. It’s not a perfect game, but for what it is, it’s perfect (if that makes sense). Now excuse me while I find my copy of this game and dust off the ol’ Saturn one more time…
Capcom ported over two of their 1991 arcade beat ‘em ups, King of Dragons and Knights of the Round, to the Super Nintendo in the spring of 1994. A three year gap was an unusually long time for an arcade game to be ported back in those days, so both conversions were a pleasant surprise. Arcade translations typically came out a year (or two) later. Well, Capcom one upped themselves when they released yet another 1991 arcade brawler, Captain Commando, to the SNES in the late summer of 1995. Coming out a whopping four years later from its original arcade release, Captain Commando was an aging relic at a time where beat ‘em ups had lost a lot of their luster. Because it came out so late in the SNES’ lifespan, it never really got the attention it surely would have gotten had it came out three years prior in 1992. A bit of an ill-timed release, Capcom nevertheless forged ahead. And quite frankly, I’m glad they did. While it is a watered down version of the arcade original (as most 16-bit ports at the time were), Captain Commando is a reminder of the early ’90s when side scrolling brawlers ruled the scene. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start back at the beginning…
Captain Commando (geddit?) served as sort of a mascot for Capcom. He made his debut in 1985 in the Ghosts ‘N Goblins manual.
Then he began thanking you for buying Capcom’s games. This comes from 1987’s Mega Man instruction manual.
He showed up once again the following year in the sequel, Mega Man 2, thanking you for your purchase and support of Capcom. As you can see, he has altered his look over the years. Gotta keep up with the times, eh?
Captain Commando disappeared from making instruction booklet cameos by the time 1990’s Mega Man 3 rolled around. Then in 1991, it happened. Captain Commando received his very own game. Final Fight was a huge success in 1989 so Capcom was hoping for more of the same magic with Captain Commando. Fast forward to 1995. At last, Capcom converted Captain Commando to the SNES. Sacrifices were made but we’ll get to that later. For me, it was just good to finally see the good Captain and his unusual friends beating up hoodlums in my living room.
THE STORY GOES…
Taking place in the far flung future of 2026 (which is currently only 8 years away), Scumocide and his cronies are looking to rule over Metro City. Fun fact: this is the same Metro City from Capcom’s first beat ‘em up, Final Fight.
Captain Commando can electrocute bad guys and set them on fire. Yeah, he’s pretty bad ass. Ginzu the Ninja capitalizes on the obsession with ninjas back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Captain Commando doesn’t feature your prototypical cast. Look no further than these two. Mack is a mummy-like alien that looks more like one of the goons rather than one of our heroes. Baby Head is a a super genius baby who fights riding on an advanced mech suit that he himself built. Now that says it all, does it not?
MISSION 1: THE CITY
Captain Commando features 9 stages. The first one takes place in the City. I love little details like being able to shatter the store windows.
Enemies come bounding out of the sewers similar to the Foot Soldiers from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. Too bad you can’t fling the manhole covers back at them, though. On the bright side, unlike Turtles in Time, there’s no danger of falling through the manhole and losing precious life.
Rushing attacks are nice. I like how this first stage scrolls downward a bit. It’s a small touch that I appreciate, especially seeing as how most beat ‘em ups simply go from left to right with zero variation.
Hammer time! If you zoom in or squint, you can see a statue of Haggar there. As stated earlier, this is Metro City in the year 2026. The first boss is Dolg.
Cosplaying as a lost member of the Road Warriors (AKA Legion of Doom), Dolg is more bark than bite. When in a pinch, use Mack’s special spinning attack to clear the room.
MISSION 2: THE MUSEUM
Breaking the glass isn’t necessary — it’s mandatory. You’re then dropped into the bowels of this shady museum where you’ll run into savage neanderthals with names like Samson and Organo. I’m not ashamed to admit that the creepy lifeless family that stares at you in the background slightly gives me the heebie jeebies.
Barrels can be a lifesaver. Save the meat until your health is low. The oddly named boss here, Shtrom Jr., looks like a Radiation Ranger reject from Toxic Crusaders.
MISSION 3: THE NINJA HOUSE
Moving on to the Ninja House, you’re greeted by the heel wearing Mardia, a formidable female fighter who assuredly has never skipped leg day. Don’t forget to watch your back or else those knife throwing thugs will make you pay. A less muscular female attacks with stun rods. I like how this stage transitions from the city to a rural dojo.
Ninjas ruled the day back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. This game has them well represented. Not only can you BE a ninja but you’ll fight lots of ninjas, too. If the action gets too hot, try using the laser gun.
Musashi makes quite the entrance. Two questions: Is this Ronin 47 and where’s Keanu Reeves when you need him? Later on, more ninjas attempt to ambush you.
Crowded? Use your special move to make room. Watch out for their shurikens!
Luckily, this is just a (brilliant) fake out scene. You escape by the skin of your teeth without having to fight them.
However, going inside isn’t much better. Meet Yamato, a kabuki warrior wielding a halberd. He reminds me of Kyoshiro from Samurai Shodown fame, or should I say vice versa.
MISSION 4: CIRCUS CAMP
Ahhhh, the Circus. Where you can obtain fancy art and set folks on fire. Fun for the whole family!
Wookys (gotta love that name) are so fun to beat up. I’ve come to learn that any door brandishing the word DANGER on it is not playing…
Shatter the glass on your way to the boss whose name is “Monster.” Real creative there, Capcom…
Things got a little too hot for Mack so in comes the Cap! I love how he can set enemies on fire as well as electrocute them. Look at Dr. Tea Water getting all bent out of shape there.
MISSION 5: SEA PORT
Bailing so fast, Doc? This surfing bit adds some variety to the gameplay and helps to break up the monotony. Pick up a machine gun and let ‘er rip! Where do you think 1993’s Surf Ninjas got their inspiration from? Ah hell if I know.
Careful trying to jump kick those billboards. In this case, sometimes boards do hit back. But you know what — or who — doesn’t? Poor ol’ Dr. Tea Water that’s who!
MISSION 6: AQUARIUM
Electrocution vs. fire… who’s going to win? Fire, I see.
Wookys come out of the woodwork. Break the blocks there to reveal a gun. Shockingly, it does little damage but what great fun you’ll have shooting it.
Mysteriously named Z, he knows how to reach out and touch somebody. Unleash the Captain Corridor when you’re surrounded. Such a basic yet cool looking move.
Temporary invincibility is granted whenever you lose a life. I love the double and triple vision that this effect produces.
Somebody’s gonna get fired for attacking the wrong side! I love when games allow enemies to hurt their own kind on accident. It somehow makes the game feel a little more realistic. But best of all, it’s simply a hoot to see!
Remember Shtrom Jr.? Now meet his dad and his dad’s right hand man. Use Baby Head’s Knee Rocket to even up the odds.
MISSION 7: UNDERGROUND BASE
Beware of falling barrels. Give it your best Macho Man Randy Savage elbow drop impersonation. This is another level that scrolls downward. Nice.
Hitting a baby seems so wrong on every account, and that includes genius babies riding mech suits. But I suppose when a baby hits you in the face with a knee rocket, all bets are off (even though technically you should be dead).
Ginzu’s the name and slicing and dicing is his game!
Surrounded by two towering thugs? Hit them with the Smoke Bomb.
Originally named Blood, he’s been renamed Boots. Lame. Speaking of lame, the big brute blows up his desk to reveal a tunnel hatch where he attempts to escape. Fall down the rabbit hole and make him pay.
Captain Commando to the rescue!
MISSION 8: ENEMY SPACESHIP
Certainly will keep you on your toes. Hasty players may get zapped.
Assassin by day, hooker by night. They can even zap their fellow enemies!
“Thanks for the help, fat boys! Now my turn to give y’all a gift in return.”
Doppel replicates himself into all versions of the Commando team. You must beat all of them to defeat him.
MISSION 9: CALLISTO
Callisto, an enigmatic planet somewhere in the cosmos, is the site of the final battle. The first boss is back to exact revenge. Although it teases a possible boss rush, it thankfully isn’t. Check out the creepy (and probably wealthy) monsters in the background with babes hanging on every which side. It has a Mos Eisley Cantina vibe (from Star Wars fame). I almost expect Harrison Ford to come bounding in any second now as Han Solo!
Defeat Dolg and the hideous picture lifts, revealing Scumocide’s home base.
Heavier than a tank and taller than a mountain, Scumocide is a suitably intimidating final boss. Where’s The Hulk when you need him?
Whether he’s freezing your ass into a block of ice or incinerating your flesh, Scumocide doesn’t mess around.
Everyone has a weakness, even big badass warlords. Grab him, smash in his coconuts and finish him off with a piledriver that would make Haggar proud.
YOU’RE WELCOME, MARVEL
Scumocide defeated and world domination thwarted, Metro City celebrates its freedom and victory. When out of nowhere the good Cap appears on the screen to give the city a brief message. When asked who he is, he responds in dramatic fashion. It would have made Tony Stark himself blush. Hey where do you think Iron Man got its ending from?
As was the norm for arcade ports on the SNES, there’s an obvious drop in visual quality. But surprisingly, the sprites in the SNES port aren’t much smaller if at all. The colors aren’t as vibrant but the core basics are there. At least they are for the most part, anyhow.
One of the biggest differences is the toned down violence. Ginzu could slice enemies in half in the arcade version. Obviously, Nintendo was not going to allow that for the SNES port. It’s a bummer for sure but for me not a deal breaker.
Arguably the biggest omission however is the lack of robots to ride.
The other big sacrifice of course was going from 4 players in the arcade to only 2 players in the SNES port. But seeing as how there is no beat ‘em up on the SNES featuring 3 or 4 players co-op (I don’t count Peace Keepers since that was a special mode and doesn’t involve enemies), this shouldn’t shock anyone.
WHERE HAVE I SEEN THAT BEFORE?
Konami you sneaky bastards. Contra III: The Alien Wars (1992) is one of the best SNES action games ever made but damn if that intro doesn’t resemble Captain Commando (1991).
Shtrom Jr. and the Radiation Ranger (from Toxic Crusaders) bear more than a passing resemblance to one another.
Maybe it’s just me but the burning animation in Captain Commando reminds me of the burning scenes in Halloween II (1981). Especially the end where Michael Myers falls down on his knees before flopping face first.
Fans of Captain Commando would have to wait until Marvel vs. Capcom (1998) to use the good Captain once again.
His next appearance came in Namco x Capcom (2005). However, he did not return in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011) or its follow-up, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The next time we would see Captain Commando, or his costume anyhow, came in Street Fighter V as a costume unlock for Charlie Nash. The world awaits his next return. Or at least, me and four others, anyhow.
You wouldn’t know it if you’ve only played the censored SNES version but the universe of Captain Commando is quite barbaric. The arcade original was gruesome especially for its time and that violence is reflected in the manga series.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Captain Commando didn’t get much pub in the press because it came out fairly late in the Super Nintendo’s lifespan. That and I think because it was a port of an arcade game four years old, it never received the press it would have had it come out a few years prior. EGM, GameFan and Super Play didn’t review it. As for SNES players, it’s got something of a mixed reputation. Of course it’s been watered down in its arcade to home translation, but some still find it pretty fun. Others can’t overlook all the censorship. Whatever the case may be, copies of this game currently fetch triple figures online. Most SNES games now go for a pretty penny and this is certainly no exception.
People can hate on this port all they want, but I love the fact that Capcom gave it to us, period. They didn’t have to. After four long years they had every right to make other games for the SNES — a system that was inching closer and closer to the end of its glorious run. And yet Capcom didn’t. It’s far from perfect and sure, I’m as bummed out as anyone that the gore was removed and especially the robots to ride. But at the end of the day, those are only small components to the game. The question is, does the game itself still play well? And my answer is a semi-resounding YES. I love a well made beat ‘em up and while this isn’tthe pinnacle, it’s still a pretty solid example of the genre.
Graphically, it’s far from Capcom’s best. The visuals even appear a bit drab in places. But I feel it fits the game; there’s sort of an appropriate bleakness to future Metro City where Scumocide and his cronies (attempt to) rule. The sound effects unfortunately are not up to par by Capcom standards. Punches and strikes don’t have that satisfying OOMPH to them. Enemies also sound weird and off when dispose of. But the most important aspect of any game is how well it plays and Capcom did a good job there. The game is easy to pick up and it’s enjoyable especially if you don’t obsess over what it’s missing from its arcade original.
You still get all four Commandos and I like this cast of misfits a lot more than I do many others. I mean, you got a mummy alien and a baby genius riding a mech suit that he himself built! It’s bonkers and I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. A post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi atmosphere runs rampant throughout. Sometimes the action and enemy clones in these type of games can get rather repetitive but for me that’s not the case here. The enemies are just so wonderfully bizarre, despite the obvious tropes. The stages aren’t overly long nor is the game overly hard. It doesn’t wear out its welcome and is something you can pop in for some quick mindless action. I still play it randomly once every few years and it always leaves me with a smile on my face.
Beat ‘em ups ruled the arcade scene in the early ’90s. Irem released Undercover Cops in 1992. They then went to work on a Super Nintendo version but that was sadly canned. However, Varie (you might remember that name from my previous review of the Shin Nippon Pro Wrestling trilogy) picked it up and released a Super Famicom only version in March of 1995. I was beyond thrilled to discover this fact upon my SNES resurrection in early 2006. I always wanted to play Undercover Cops on my SNES. Thanks to Varie, I now could. Unfortunately, the port falls a little flat with me. I couldn’t help but feel it was a little lacking. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a bit by jumping 25 years into the future…
THE YEAR IS 2043
Council: “Everyone, the peace of our town is at its worst condition ever.”
Mayor: “I have a suggestion. Let the City Sweepers clean up the villains!”
Council: “Of course, Mayor. Violence begets violence! Let’s do it!”
Collectively, this fearsome unit is known as…
Individually, they’re known as, well, let’s go down the line.
Zan Takahara hails from Japan. He is the balanced fighter of the group.
Matt Gables is your good old American football player turned City Sweeper slash Undercover Cop. Notice his birthday — July 4, 2018 — as of this writing he’s almost about to be born. Surprise surprise, he’s the slowest but also the strongest of the trio.
Rosa Felmonde hasn’t even been conceived yet! Hailing from England, Rosa is the token quick but weak female fighter of the group.
SOAP? WHO NEEDS SOAP?!
The first thing I noticed about Undercover Cops is how dirty the game looks. I don’t mean that in a bad way; I actually like that it’s so gritty and grimy. It gives the game a rather grim and bleak atmosphere. So many SNES games are full of bright and bold colors. Not here and that’s a welcome change. I almost feel like I have to take a shower after playing this game.
Battle your way through rundown abandoned buildings, grimy festering docks and inauspicious underground tunnels to name but a few. Everything is in a deep state of decay. The enemies mostly consist of subhuman creatures. A wretched decrepit flock of sideshow freaks. You can bet they haven’t bathed in months (if not years). Even the good guys appear unpleasant and a bit dour.
Little details, as seen above, add to the fun of the game (it’s a shame then that the best stuff occurs early on). Crows fly off revealing in its wake two filthy bastards who soon rise like zombies. Send ‘em back to the hell hole they came from!
WANT FRIES WITH THAT?
To replenish your health, most beat ‘em ups have you consuming burgers, drinks and assorted meat. But not in Undercover Cops. So what does one eat? Mice, chicken, even snails! Gobble them up before they can scamper (or crawl) away. To make matters even more unsettling, the cops voice their pleasure whenever eating such delicacies. Zan gruffly shouts “GOOD!” and Matt screams “DELICIOUS!”Yum.
EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK
While other beat ‘em ups give you knives to fling or bats to swing, Undercover Cops on the other hand walks to its own beat. For example, nothing says PAIN quite like tossing flopping fish at the opposition.
But my favorite instrument of destruction is the random concrete pillar. You can either knock it over or unearth it with your bare hands (it’s quite amusing to watch the ongoing struggle that ensues).
Naturally, Matt is able to pluck it out faster than Zan or Rosa. Matt and Zan can use the pillar the same amount of times while it breaks fastest for Rosa. Poor Rosa. She’s got a serious case of Breath of the Wild…
It’s always lovely to see companies throwing in clever little easter eggs that show off past franchises. I always enjoy seeing stuff like that.
The concrete pillar just might be my favorite non-projectile based weapon to use in beat ‘em up history. It’s so satisfying to knock over the deformed cretins with it.
Here we come to the first boss, Parcs. He’s hiding a nasty secret beneath that weird looking exterior. Weaken him and soon he reveals his true form.
Bonus points for a highly creative first boss encounter. I love it when beat ‘em ups let you interact with the environment so seeing this for the first time had me jumping out of my chair. It’s too bad though that the rest of the boss fights are nowhere near as creative or fiendishly fun.
The beginning of Mission 2 is my favorite part in the whole game. Kick the barrel of flames or better yet, heave it at the enemies.
Upon impact the barrel will liberate a flurry of burning torches. It’s time to burn some bad guys alive! WICKED fun.
The scoundrels can toss the torches as well, and if you’re knocked down, one rapscallion in particular enjoys a hearty laugh at your expense.
The second boss, Fransowors, is where I personally believe the game began to lose me. It’s such an awkward character design and hell, even the name itself is weird. I didn’t like the aesthetics of this boss encounter at all. The background is dull and drab and Fransowors is one big annoying crybaby. It’s a major disappointment coming off the brilliance of the first boss fight with Parcs.
These underground diggers are deadly when traveling in packs. They like to do the spin cycle which automatically knocks you down. Unfortunately, because you aren’t granted temporary invulnerability after being knocked down, they can and will spam attack you until your life is gone. Only then can you beat them when you’re revived and then granted that precious second or two of invincibility. I hate when games make you lose a life and there’s nothing you can do about it. To me that’s plain lazy and poor game design and programming. My experience with Undercover Cops began to really sour at this point.
I dig the flashing tunnel. Reminds me of Elevator Action Returns…
These suckers greet you with a nasty little love tap if you’re caught in their path. They can’t be killed so just steer clear as they mindlessly march on by. Sometimes it gets really crowded and it feels impossible to come out unscathed. Luckily, any damage they inflict isn’t too much. Still rather annoying, however.
The end level guardian is a monster born from malpractice. And it wants you for dinner… not as a guest but the main course attraction! Sadly, this is where the game ends if you play it on Easy. Only on Normal or Hard can you go through all 5 missions. Below are some quick shots of missions 4 and 5 (note: these screenshots will depict the original arcade version).
Mission 4 = Motorcycle Madness. The SNES port allows you to assign a button to the run command. Turn this option on to make your life a lot easier.
Mission 5 is the longest and most tedious level in the game. You fight across a seemingly endless skyship where you battle a never-ending supply of cronies and a handful of Parcs (the boss from Mission 1).
Better stop Dr. Crayborn from launching the nuke before it’s too late. You’ll get a bad ending if you fail to do so.
Finally coming toward the end, you must battle zombie versions of the team!
Where’s Rick Grimes when you need him?
Doctor, I think there’s something wrong with you…
Your performance is tallied up at the end of each Mission. Depending on how much money you’ve earned, you’ll regain a certain amount of health (if applicable).
Obviously, there’s going to be a certain amount of sacrifices made when a company converts an arcade game into a much smaller SNES cartridge. Undercover Cops is no different. It was something you just accepted as a kid and in most cases, you were just happy to have a home port to mess around with.
LIFE AFTER CITY SWEEPING
Irem went on to make other similar post-apocalyptic arcade action games. These include:
A lot of the team who helped made Undercover Cops later formed the Nazca Corporation. They were responsible for a very famous Neo Geo game…
PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW
Undercover Cops was actually set for a March 1994 release. Hell, it was even reviewed in the March 1994 issue of Nintendo Power Magazine (issue #58). Sadly, it was canned and never saw the light of day in North America. Varie picked up the publishing rights exactly one year later and released it in Japan only on March 3, 1995. The actual Super Famicom cartridge currently commands a minimum of $200 — yowzers!
Maybe the ugly Americanized art sealed its own fate. By God is that fugly! Should have gone with the Japanese style box art…
Looks like the US version was fully finished and ready to go, especially if you’re going off the fact that Nintendo Power reviewed it. Not sure why it was canned except maybe Irem didn’t have faith in it moving the needle as it was a port of an arcade game two years long in the tooth and one that wasn’t a household name in North America. Whatever the case may be, it’s always sad to see promising games cancelled. I’m glad Varie picked up its publishing rights in 1995 even if the port job is a bit disappointing on Irem’s part.
Remember Spike Lee’s movie Do The Right Thing from 1989? The character Radio Raheem sported a four-fingered ring on each hand, with LOVE on the right hand and HATE on the left, to symbolize the struggle between the two emotions. That perfectly describes how I feel about Undercover Cops. I have a love-hate relationship with this game. I love that it was released at all following the US cancellation. I dig how twisted it can be at times, from eating snails to even knocking the skull off of Mission 4’s boss post fight and scarfing it down like how Joey Chestnut eats his hot dogs! I love the post-apocalyptic atmosphere. However, some of the aesthetics could use a little more work. Not having a 2 player option in 1995 is inexcusable. It reeks of laziness. I can see why it’s 1 player only, though. Even in the 1 player mode there’s a bit of occasional slowdown. I can only imagine how much worse it would be in a 2 player mode. But other companies managed to make it work, relatively speaking, so Irem should have found a way as well. I also hate that the game loses a lot of its appeal and luster by around Mission 3. I find it more repetitive than other beat ‘em ups from that era.
Not having a 2 player mode is not a deal breaker though especially if the game itself is good enough on its own. Sadly, there’s something missing. It’s definitely not a bad beat ‘em up but I can easily think of 10 more competent SNES beat ‘em ups I would much rather play. Undercover Cops is one of those games that start out real promising but quickly lose steam less than halfway through. Others have raved about this SNES version but try as I might over the 12 years I’ve owned it, I just can’t give it a ringing endorsement.
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.
Ah, Christmas. As a kid growing up, there was something truly sacred about Christmas. It was a magical time of the year where miracles happen and wonder is in the air. Every kid I knew looked forward to Christmas. Whether we were writing letters to Santa or out shopping at the local mall with our parents, Christmas was magic. And the best time of the year to be a kid. As soon as that calendar strikes October, you were in kid Heaven. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. The promise of frights, food overload and video game presents. I’ve had some great gaming-related memories of Christmas over the years. Here they are
CHRISTMAS 1989: THE GAME WAS CHANGED
In December 1989, my brother and I owned an 8-bit Nintendo. We loved it dearly. But one day we went to our family friend’s house. Denny was raving about his new game system, the Sega Genesis. I was only six years old, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. Denny showed us the cool clamshell box of Altered Beast. The art on the cover blew me away with its wild beasts and savage wolf man. Before Denny opened the box he asked me, “How big do you think the game is?” Hmmm, I figured since it was bigger than Nintendo, surely the cartridge had to be huge. Denny shook his head with a sly grin. He slowly opened the box to reveal the tiniest cartridge I had ever seen in my life. I was stupefied. The next big leap in video gaming was that small? Denny popped Altered Beast in and I sat back to watch. From the moment the game fired up and I heard the infamous voiceover “WISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!” I was hooked and sold. The graphics were jaw dropping! So too was the sound. I never looked at gaming quite the same after that fateful December day of 1989.
Over the years I remember going back to Denny’s place a lot during December. We held many family friend gatherings there. I remember watching him play games like Dynamite Duke, Thunder Force III and Gaiares. Man, what a time of innocence it was. Not only were we on the verge of a new decade, we found ourselves standing smack dab in a new generation of hi-tech gaming! And life, well, life was awesome. But just when I thought gaming couldn’t get any better, it did…
CHRISTMAS 1991: SUPER NINTENDO GENESIS
I was eight years old on vacation with my family and friends. My family forged a strong friendship with four families. Between the five families you had 10 parents and 16 kids (11 boys and five girls with birth years ranging from 1977-1987). We had some of the most legendary sleepovers in the history of such. We had monthly sleepovers and each time we would stay up until 1, 2 AM playing video games. It was a glorious time, and some of the best times of my childhood.
In December 1991, the parents wanted to go skiing at beautiful Lake Tahoe. We rented out a huge cabin where all twenty six of us stayed. It was insanity! The brothers, Tommy and Denny, packed their newly acquired Super Nintendo. This is the same Denny that first introduced me to the Sega Genesis and Altered Beast. You know how in every childhood gaming circle there was that one guy who got all the coolest newest games and systems first? Denny was that guy. Tommy and Denny also brought Super Mario World, Final Fight and F-Zero.
That Sunday morning I woke up to an empty cabin, with weird noises emanating in every which direction. A cold chill swept down the back of my neck as I tip-toed downstairs timidly. Desperately calling out the names of my family and friends, it wasn’t long until I realized I was the lone prisoner trapped inside this cabin from hell.
The only response I received for my cries was the hissing of the cabin. I felt a chill creep over once more. Some thing wasn’t right…
Once I managed to make my way to the kitchen I found a note taped to the fridge with my name on it.
Steve, The rest of us got up early to go out for breakfast. We’ll be back soon. You stayed up really late last night so I wanted you to get the extra rest. Make yourself some Honey Nut Cheerios and don’t watch too much TV. We’ll be back very soon.
Gee, thanks mom. I’ll be sure to remember this when I go to the booth next week to cast my vote in for Mom of the Year! I opened the fridge and saw an ice cold can of 7 Up. It was my favorite soda but there was no chance in hell I was going to brave it down that demonic looking hallway to make it to the restroom. No siree!
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 eight years old and resourceful, I believed spirits would never mess with me if I had the radio or TV playing — they only attacked those who were alone. So I turned on the tube and came across a WWF show. Ah, wrestling. It’s always comforted me and did so here. But before long the show ended and I was left thinking about what evil spirits might be milling about. That’s when I spotted Tommy’s Super Nintendo lying on the floor. All the older “cool” kids were taking turns with it the night before, and the younger kids (of which I was right on the cusp of) could do nothing but peer on wishing life had dealt them a better hand. So it suddenly dawned on me that this was my chance. This was my moment.
Powering up F-Zero, I was instantly transported to Mode-7 Heaven. Every single racing track blew my mind. I couldn’t believe how fast it played, and how AMAZING the game looked. And that MUSIC… oh man. F-Zero led me from thinking about ghosts to obsessing over intergalactic racing warfare! Later I plugged in Final Fight and found myself saving the good citizens of Metro City one jaw dropping stage after another, as I smeared the streets with the blood of the hooligans from the Mad Gear Gang. I had never seen such state-of-the-art arcade-like graphics before. The characters were unbelievably HUGE and at times I found myself wondering, “WHERE THE HECK IS THE COIN SLOT?!”
I played Final Fight until my family and friends came back. Part of me was ecstatic to no longer be alone in the cabin from hell, but something funny happened during my inaugural SNES playthrough. It made me forget about malicious ghosts and evil spirits. It 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. Even 25 years later, I still recall that Christmas with great reverence
CHRISTMAS 1992: KING OF THE KARTS
My mom and I used to go to the mall all the time. It was one of our traditions. She took me after school every Friday, rain or shine. I loved it because this was a time in life when the world was a different place. Even as young as 8, my mom allowed me to hit up my stores while she went shopping for clothes. This gave me a great sense of independence and for about 30 minutes I was on my own completely! I always visited Suncoast, Kay Bee Toys, Walden Books, Sam Goody, and of course, the classic SOFTWARE ETC.
Now rarely did she ever end up buying me anything once we reconvened, but that was never the point. It was fun enough thumbing through books, EGM magazines and drooling at the various action figures. It was the feeling that it produced. Just knowing you were on your own for half an hour made going to the mall a fun time. But the best times always came during Christmas season.
The mall Santa was there taking pictures, kissing babies and shaking little hands. At nine and a half years old now, I was too old for that stuff, but not old enough to not still believe in the magic of Christmas. So instead of sitting on Santa’s lap, I simply sat back from afar to admire what had been, and what once was.
My mom came over asking if I wanted to meet the mall Santa, but I told her I was too old. She looked at the kids rushing up to Santa just 20 feet away from us, lost in her thoughts. Somewhere in her aging face I saw her loosen up, as if she suddenly missed the days when I was that young scampering around. Perhaps it was the right kind of Christmas magic I’d need for what was about to transpire on that most magical late December evening…
There it was, plastered in big and bold blue letters. I always made it a point to hit up SOFTWARE ETC. each time we visited the mall. Of course, I could only dream of my mom complying to buy me a video game. Still, like a moth to flame, those bold blue letters always sucked me in. I stood there that evening in sheer awe of the endless shelves of SNES goodies — games in which I could only dream of owning. And then, there it was. High on the shelf I saw it, shining like a beacon of light. KING OF THE MONSTERS for the Super Nintendo! It was just one short year ago that I’d beaten the arcade and thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait for this to come home!” And now, it finally has. Only one problem, of course. How can I convince mom to buy it? Standing there, staring at the pristine shiny King of the Monsters box, my mind desperately raced through everything I could think of in order to weigh the odds in my favor.
I didn’t have very long to think…
“C’mon honey, we gotta get back home now.”
“What is it?”
“That…” I pointed to the King of the Monsters box sitting on the top shelf. “I want that.”
OK, so much for poetic language and convincing arguments.
My mom gave me “the look.” Uh oh. In the history of “momkind” the look has never been good news. Whether it was a look of frustration, disappointment or disgust, the look has denied kids an untold number of desserts, toys and video games. This task, I could tell, was going to be about as easy as Quantum Physics.
“Honey, that’s fifty five dollars.”
“No, it’s fifty four ninety nine!” I quickly countered. HA! I thought I had her — ahh, the bliss of being nine years old…
“Well actually with tax it’s about sixty,” she corrected.
Well DAMN. Talk about backfiring!
And then, out of nowhere, it hit me. My trump card. I explained to her how it was my favorite game, how I had to have it, and how much joy it would bring Kevin and me. And that if she bought it, it would count for not only my Christmas gift but also my birthday as well.
My mom grabbed the box to examine it closer. “Hey, isn’t this the game you played all night last year at Chuck E. Cheese’s? Is this the same one?”
***FLASHBACK TO DECEMBER 1991***
December 1991. My parents took me and my brother to our favorite place, Chuck E. Cheese’s, to celebrate the end of the year. My mother was rather strict so these rare opportunities where she allowed us to binge on our desires were not taken for granted! They ordered two large pizzas and got us 50 tokens. I knew where I was going to be for the rest of that night — at the King of the Monsters cab determined to beat it! It took me some time and way too many quarters to count but at last I did it, all while my mom sat back at the table eating unwanted leftover pizza crust and watching the whole thing go down.
***BACK TO DECEMBER 1992***
I nodded furiously and watched as my mom bit her lower lip, contemplating what to do. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she took the game to the counter. I stood there in awe watching as they swiped her credit card. It was the first video game she bought for me. Outside I could hear the chattering of youngsters and the HO-HO-HOs of the mall Santa. The Christmas season was ringing in full force, and this bit of Christmas magic only punctuated the moment. My brother and I played King of the Monsters as soon as I got home. It turned out to be a ho-hum translation but at the time I remember not caring a great deal about that. I was just grateful and still buzzing with excitement at the fact that the Christmas magic was still alive and well!
A couple days after my mom bought the game, I was playing it one night with my brother when she urged us to turn it off so we could drive downtown to see the fancy Christmas lights. It was a basic tradition in my family that every Yuletide we do so. I love the lights but that year my parents had to pry me away from my Super Nintendo. I guess as my brother and I got older, the more my mom fought to keep tradition alive. Like how she wanted me to sit on Santa’s lap the night she bought me the game. I guess that’s something I’ll find out for myself one of these days… [Sitting on Santa’s lap? How kinky. I see you’re on that naughty list… -Ed.]
Christmas ’92 proved to be one for the record books. In addition to my mom buying me King of the Monsters, that same year our uncle bought us Death Duel. I remember the ad from EGM. It looked cool and all, but honestly, my brother and I were a bit disappointed. Of all the games on our wish list, Death Duel certainly wasn’t even in the top 20. We tried not to complain though as our mom always taught us to be grateful and that any gift was better than none at all. Still, Kevin and I went home that night talking about how awesome it would be if Death Duel magically transformed into Super Mario Kart instead (the game that topped our Christmas wish list). It was rare that my brother and I both wanted the same game — he was a “mainstream” guy while I was more fond of the obscure underdog titles. However, Super Mario Kart transcended all of that. It was just that kind of game.
And then, as we were talking, an epiphany struck us. We suddenly recalled the ad for Death Duel in EGM. We pulled out the latest EGM issue that we had bought weeks earlier and madly flipped through it in search of our great loophole. Ah, there it was. Not suggested for children under 14. I was only nine and my brother was 11. My brother wouldn’t be able to play Death Duel for another three years! And five for me! Not that we couldn’t break the rules but when the rules benefit you, why not follow them?
After showing the ad to our mom, just as we predicted she would, she promptly called our uncle to explain the situation and asked if he kept the receipt. Luckily, he did and since we hadn’t opened the game yet, it was ripe for a swap. So later that week my mom took me and Kevin to exchange Death Duel for Super Mario Kart. I remember thinking that it was the greatest trade in the history of mankind. I still laugh thinking about this Christmas memory. Who knew a silly ad could bring about such a dramatic turn of events?
CHRISTMAS 1993: FIGHT CLUB
Leading up to Christmas that year I was completely fascinated with Interplay’s Street Fighter II clone, Clay Fighter. Endless controversial ads filled the pages of gaming magazines and I studied the many previews drooling in sheer anticipation of this new promising fighting game. And who could forget the Clay Fighter ad campaign? I sure haven’t — it’s one of the greatest ad campaigns in 16-bit gaming history.
I still remember fondly my cousin calling me one night in early December of 1993. It was rare in those days for her to call as we usually just saw each other in person and communicated that way. But on this fateful night she called asking for my Christmas wish list. My heart was racing as I knew there was really only one thing I wanted: a copy of Clay Fighter. I remember explaining to her over the phone what Clay Fighter was, and being positive that she was going to buy it for me. Yep, it was only a matter of days now…
Of course, she bought something else for me. It ended up not being a video game at all. After that phone call and everything, I couldn’t help but feel massively disappointed. In retrospect though, I’m lucky she didn’t buy me Clay Fighter…
I would be remiss not to mention World Heroes. My best pal Nelson bought it when it first came out around September of ’93, and we played it well into the winter. Nelly even lent me the game here and there. Uncle Ben flew in that Christmas and watched me play as Kim Dragon. Uncle Ben didn’t care for video games whatsoever, but even he was drawn into World Heroes. He rooted me on, suddenly morphing into an armchair gamer! He loved Kim’s Dragon Kick and called for me to do it each time. It’s a quirky memory that has stuck with me all these years.
Christmas ’93 was simply a great time to be a robust 10 year old kid growing up in suburban America. If you had a Super Nintendo, a best friend and you loved fighting games — what a time to be alive! With choices such as Street Fighter II Turbo, TMNT: Tournament Fighters, World Heroes, Ranma ½: Hard Battle and Clay Fighter, there were plenty of fighting games to choose from. The 16-bit war was in full swing, and if you had the SNES and Genesis like I did, you were the ultimate winner.
Having hounded my parents about Clay Fighter and them knowing how disappointed I was that I didn’t get it that Christmas, my mom allowed me to buy one video game in January of ’94. Thankfully, I rented Clay Fighter just prior to this once-in-a-lifetime decree. It wasn’t a terrible fighting game, it just wasn’t very good. My parents took me to Good Guys and I bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. Ninja Turtles meets Street Fighter II? Take my money, er, my parents’ money!
CHRISTMAS 1994: KAREN KOMBAT!
Christmas ’94 was marked by the return of my cousin Karen, whom I hadn’t seen in a while. She was now eight and my Uncle Ben also had a one year old daughter, Liz. My bro and I bought Mortal Kombat II for the SNES and we were playing it well into that Christmas season, much to Karen’s chagrin as it would turn out.
When Karen and baby Liz came over that holiday season, we showed off Mortal Kombat II in all its glory. Upon seeing the first blood spewing Fatality, Baraka slicing Jax’s head clean off his shoulders, Karen imploded like a soccer mom at a backyard wrestling event. Grabbing her baby sister in a mad panic, she screamed at us, “OH MY GOD! A ONE YEAR OLD BABY CAN’T BE EXPOSED TO THIS R-RATED VIOLENCE!”The way she yelled at the top of her lungs coupled with her mannerisms made it a moment in time. To this day I still give her a hard time about it whenever we see each other.
As it would turn out, Christmas ’94 was the last great gaming-related Christmas I can remember. Well, that was until…
CHRISTMAS 2010: PARTY LIKE IT’S 1994
November 2010. I bit the proverbial bullet and purchased an SNES PowerPak. This great device allows you to play almost any SNES game ever created. It comes at a steep price but as I found out firsthand later that Christmas season, it’s worth the asking price. Guess who visited that Christmas? None other than Karen and (no longer baby) Liz. Karen was now 24 and Liz, 17. It’s funny how life comes full circle sometimes.
Saturday, Christmas afternoon. Uncle Ben, his wife, Karen and Liz were visiting from out of state and staying at their second home. Uncle Ben invited the whole fam over for a night of Christmas family fun. Normally I take the Sega Saturn with me (for Saturn Bomberman), but this time I thought I’d try the Super Nintendo instead. It was the right call.
Ah, the advantage of having a PowerPak and not having to haul 20, 25 games with you. With one cartridge you can effectively carry hundreds of SNES games. That alone makes having some kind of flash cart worth the asking price.
We enjoyed a pleasant family Christmas dinner together that night. Then my cousins Karen, Liz, David, Mia and I retreated to the living room. I unpacked the Super Nintendo to a warm nostalgic reaction. “Oh my God, I haven’t seen one of these in forever!” Karen was most eager of all being that she was old enough to really remember it. The PowerPak worked its magic. I let her browse through the endless list of games. Her eyes popped when she saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time. “I remember playing this back in the day!” Karen had turned into a wide-eyed six year old kid before my very eyes. “WE GOTTA PLAY THIS!” she declared. Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting her to pick Mortal Kombat II.
Karen and David started out on the first level. The three of us felt like we were back at the arcades in the ’90s. Liz and Mia, being young teenagers and Wii fans, didn’t get the hype so they didn’t care to join in. But Karen, David and I were having a blast. The Ninja Turtles weren’t the only ones going back in time here…
The three of us rotated turns playing the two player mode. Each new stage brought about “Oooh I remember this!” memories. When we made our way to the sewer stage, with the giant yellow pizza monsters leaping out at us, Karen said, “I TOTALLY REMEMBER THOSE PIZZA MONSTERS FROM THE CARTOON SHOW!” We made it to Super Shredder, but soon fell at his evil hands.
After Turtles in Time, we switched over to Super Bomberman 2. It brought back memories of the early-mid ’90s when my old gaming group spent countless Saturday nights blowing each other up. We ended up playing the SNES from 6:45 to 9:20. We spent the next two hours talking and hanging out. Nothing like quality family time mixed in with a little multiplayer gaming
I slept over at my parents’ house that night since they live only 15 minutes away from Uncle Ben’s second home. Arriving around midnight, I was still in a Super Nintendo state of mind. I immediately popped in the PowerPak and fired up the beta version of World Heroes 2. Although I love the finished product, the beta version is more combo friendly and therefore more accurate to the arcade original. It’s almost like playing two different games! One more reason to love the PowerPak — you can play beta versions (if available) of your favorite games and compare.
The fatal four way match is good for a quick fix. After this, I went to brush my teeth. My parents had already gone to bed. I turned off the lights and lowered the volume. I hadn’t slept over in a long time so the house making all kinds of unusual noises in the dark was a bit creepy. I decided to go from one obscure Super Famicom import to another.
One of the weirdest games on the SNES, Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban is also rather fun. I had a blast going through the whole game. It was now 2:45 AM, and the house grew eerily darker and darker. It was the perfect time to load up the scariest Super Nintendo game ever created.
There couldn’t have been a more perfect setting to play Clock Tower. Weird noises emanated from the house as heavy rain crashed against the windows with fierce velocity. I never imagined in a million years that a Super Nintendo game could actually scare me. But on that night, Clock Tower succeeded. Scissorman left a wake of terror as he pursued me relentlessly throughout the mansion. It was one of the best gaming sessions I’ve ever had.
It was now 4:30 in the morning. Whoa, I played the SNES from midnight to 4:30. I staggered over to turn off Clock Tower, then I fumbled up the stairs in the dark. I was in a bit of a daze, feeling uneasy still thinking about the grisly images. I crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling in the darkness. What an epic gaming session and what a great Christmas! I laid there for a while just reflecting on the night before drifting off to a deep, peaceful sleep…
CHRISTMAS 2012: BIRDIES AND BOMBS, BABY!
Once again the PowerPak proved its worth. My brother, his girlfriend and I went to visit David and Mia. We spent the night playing 4-player BS Out of Bounds Golf and 5-player Super Bomberman 5. Nothing screams quality family time quite like blowing up your brother, or knocking your cousin’s ball out of bounds. Both games quickly grew heated as the trash talking (and laughing) compounded. The fondest memory I have of this evening came when David miraculously nailed a miracle trick shot. He bounced his ball against a plate bumper, which then ricocheted its way into the cup. Everyone in the room jumped and shouted in stereo. It was certainly mic drop worthy! We all gave David a hi-five and he wore the fattest grin I ever saw. To see him have that one moment of glory made my Christmas that year. Fittingly enough, we even gave him a golf clap
Christmas time always brings back such fond memories of time well spent with loved ones and video games. Especially when you were a kid, there was just something special and magical about Christmas season. Whether you received a new video game system or a new video game, many of us have nostalgic memories surrounding Christmas and video games. These were mine. And they’ve stayed with me long after the snow has faded and the lights have been taken down. As tomorrow marks the beginning of winter and as we draw closer and closer to yet another Christmas, I’m reminded of all these nostalgic memories. There’s something about gaming during the winter season that can’t be beat. Those early darkening late afternoons. The whipping rain lashing outside late at night as you play childhood favorites, or unearth new ones. Wherever you are at in this stage of life, may you be blessed each day and a blessing to others, too. After all, isn’t that what life is all about?
The Super Nintendo celebrates its 25th birthday here in the US! Released in late August of 1991, it’s hard to believe it’s been a quarter century since the SNES has dazzled and delighted an entire generation of gamers. In honor of this grand milestone, I figure now’s as good a time as any to share my first experience with the SNES nearly 25 years ago. The following story was published originally in Rob Strangman’s Memoirs of a Virtual Caveman (2014).
MY SUPER NINTENDO GENESIS
IT’S BEEN SAID that every gamer, regardless of the generation they were born in, recollects back fondly on their gaming childhood. There’s a certain sense of wonder, awe and magic when you combine quality video gaming and the pure innocence of a child. While I love gaming now as an adult, there are pros and cons to gaming as a kid, and gaming as an adult. Although I feel I’ve matured in my gaming tastes over the years, nothing can ever recapture the pure adulation of video game discovery through the impressionable eyes of youth. There was also the fact of perusing through glorious 400 page video game magazines, renting games every weekend and having excess time to game that today is no longer viable, for the most part. So, while every gamer will claim their generation had it best… for me, I can’t think of a better year I’d rather be born in than good ol’ 1983.
Being born in ’83 meant that I grew up, literally, with the classic 8-bit Nintendo. Living with my game loving uncle growing up, he bought a Nintendo for my brother (Kevin) and me circa 1987. I was four years old at the time, and the NES was just beginning to hit its stride and complete domination of the video game market. There was a mom and pop rental shop down the road called Evergreen Video that my dad would take Kevin and me every Saturday afternoon. It was thanks to Evergreen Video (and our local neighborhood friends) that we got to experience such classics like Contra, Mega Man 2, Battletoads, Double Dragon II, TMNT II: The Arcade Game, and Beetlejuice. Wait, no, scratch that last one. Point being, it was a glorious time to be a carefree kid, living in suburban America, enjoying the prime of the 8-bit NES with my brother, our friends and our crazy Uncle Jimmy.
But, like all good things in life, it had to come to an end at some point. Even at 7 years old, back in 1990 I could see the writing on the wall for my dear old friend when my uncle bought a Sega Genesis. Sega’s 16-bit monster absolutely blew me away. I remember before Uncle Jimmy bought it I saw it in action for the first time at my friend’s house. Denny showed me the box to Altered Beast, and it was love at first sight. As a staunch lover of all things monster-related, Altered Beast’s sleek box art displaying a savage wolf man amidst a barren wasteland instantly won me over.
“How big do you think the cartridge is?” Denny asked me, with a big grin on his kisser.
“Um, bigger than Nintendo?” I figured since Genesis was clearly a leap in technology that the cartridge needed more room to fit it all in.
Imagine my shock when Denny opened the clamshell to reveal a tiny little cartridge. He plugged the game in. Not 30 seconds later, I had to scrape my jaw off the floor. What I saw that day blew my mind; I knew the future of video gaming had arrived. It’s always hard to see a dear old friend slowly fading away. While my brother and I kept the NES alongside the Genesis, the 8-bit NES went from being my virtual best friend to something of a semi-dust collector. 1990 was definitely the year of the Sega Genesis.
But then, 1991 came. My friends began whispering around late summer of that year about a new Nintendo system coming out. They were touting how it would be the NES on steroids. Hence the name SUPER Nintendo, and that it was going to battle the Sega Genesis for video game supremacy. There seemed to be, in those days and at least in my young 8 year old eyes, a shroud of mystery and mystique surrounding the impending arrival of the SNES. If it truly was going to be the NES to the 10th power, then heads were going to roll. They say you never forget your first time. I can certainly agree with that.
December 1991. For Christmas vacation my family drove Kevin and me to Lake Tahoe. Along with four other families, we were going to sleep over together in a gigantic cabin that the parents rented out. Now there’s something you need to understand. This was my gaming crew back in the day. Between the five families you had 16 kids ranging from 5 to 13 years old, and we all shared a love for one another and video gaming. You had the brothers, Tommy and Denny. Denny was the one who first introduced me to the Genesis and Altered Beast. These were the cats that owned all the latest gaming shit you could only dream of having, too. All our parents got along like best friends, and it just so happened that the kids liked each other a lot, too. I could go on and on about those cats that I ran with back in the late ‘80s to late ‘90s. It had to be some of the most legendary sleepovers in the history of mankind. Imagine 10 parents and 16 kids thick as thieves. The parents would talk, reminisce about their glory days, laugh, karaoke and dance up a storm downstairs while the kids would be upstairs gaming or making random silly home videos past the witching hour. I remember times where we even stayed up until 2 AM. Whenever I think of my childhood, I can’t help but think of those gaming brothers and the countless epic memories we forged.
But I digress. Back to that fateful day of late December 1991. We all checked in, put away our things and began scoping out the humongous 3-story cabin. I remember it was freezing. My best friend in the group, Zack, and I were going to share a room with the brothers, Brian and Bryce. I was closest to these three. Within the whole group you had three different sub-groups. I was sort of the “leader” of my sub-group, due to age. My group was the 1983-1986 kids. The other group composed of the kids born from 1978-1981. And then you had the girls in one entirely separate sub-group. I was unpacking my clothes when Zack’s older brother walked in.
I have to pause here and provide a little context on Zack’s older brother. In the years to come following this weekend get away, pretty much everyone in our group affectionately referred to him as Sushi-X. It was due to his fervent love for EGM. Also, he was the best damn Street Fighter II player we ever saw.
So enter Sushi-X. He started telling us how our room was haunted. Now, mind you, I was 8 years old at the time and very impressionable. While I loved ghost stories and all that, I never wanted to experience one for real! Sushi-X, you have to understand, was sort of the unspoken ring leader of the group. Everyone respected him; at 13 he was the oldest at that point in time. I always sort of looked up to him as a gaming sensei and a life expert, just because, well, he was 13 and like I said, I was a very impressionable 8 year old child. Sushi-X began telling us this tale of an old lady who once lived in this cabin, and how she slept in the very room that I was going to sleep in that night. He said she committed suicide right here, right where we stood unpacking our clothes. I remember all four of us – myself, Brian, Bryce and Zack – staring at each other in wide-eyed terror. Sushi-X spoke in such a matter-of-fact tone that I think we actually bought his BS lies. Again, the pure innocence of being that young!
Thankfully, Tommy was also sort of an alpha male, and he always matched Sushi-X in stature within the group. Tommy ended the ghost story madness when he rushed into our room and cryptically declared, “Hey guys, if you’re ready to be blown away, come to the living room.”
I remember Sushi-X looking at me like, “Whoa, this gotta be good. Forget this ghost crap, deuces y’all!”
Good old Tommy. He saved the little guys as Sushi-X was the first one to bolt for the door. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief as Zack asked me, “Do you think my brother is telling the truth about that ghost lady?” It was all I could think about as the four of us followed behind Tommy and Sushi-X to the living room. As exciting as Tommy’s tease was, I was too preoccupied thinking about whether or not the room I would be sleeping in later that night was, indeed, truly haunted.
Once in the living room, I saw everyone sitting there. In front of us all was a TV and a black zipped bag. All eyes were fixed on Tommy and that bag which conspicuously sat beside him. Like a good brother, Denny was right next to Tommy, with the same big fat grin on his kisser that I had seen the year before when he revealed to me the cartridge size of Altered Beast. Suddenly, I forgot all about the ghost lady as a sensational feeling of excitement raged through every fiber of my being. I knew whatever this announcement might be that it was going to be monumental. Indeed, it would be a historic moment in time for this gaming group and a classic tale to be retold in the generations to come (wink).
“Well, now that everyone is here,” Tommy began, scanning the room and pausing for dramatic effect. He was always such a pro at being a showman. “Denny and I are proud to share with the group what we have brought. It’s inside this bag right here.” Tommy looked down and pointed to the black bag. He was surely milking this moment for all it was worth.
“While we’re still young!” interjected Nathan, the group’s token comedian. Everyone laughed. You could feel the palpable buzz and energy in the room as the moment of truth neared.
“Everyone’s a critic,” Tommy responded. I always admired him for his quick wit and repartee. Plus he certainly was always a straight shooter, never making up scary ghost stories just to rib on others. I’m looking at you, Sushi-X! “Alright, alright,” he continued. “Denny, if you would, bro.”
All 30 eyeballs in the room now shifted to Denny, who leaned over to unzip the bag. He looked at all of us, smiling, as he reached in. “What is it, what is it?!” he joked, as he held his hands in the bag for a solid 10 seconds. Like his brother, Denny knew how to milk a moment! Finally, after all the hoop-la he pulled out the brand new 16-bit Super Nintendo. Gasps erupted from the group along with shouts of joy and shock. No one in our group had yet to own the SNES, and now we just found out that Tommy not only owned one, but it was RIGHT HERE in the flesh ready to be played! The girls rolled their eyes as if to say, “That’s the big deal? Yuck.” They left while the rest of us crowded around the machine, as though we were fawning over a new born baby. We all wanted to be first to hold this new bundle of joy. It was an instant classic. A grand slam. The SNES completely, pardon the pun, changed the game.
What followed were hours and hours of F-Zero and Final Fight being played to death. Since I was in that second sub-group, and as these were single player games (prolonging the wait even further), there was an unspoken pecking order. Classic group dynamite, you understand. Thus, I never got to play either game that night, as the alpha males in the first sub-group (1978-1981) rotated turns. Even my brother got his licks in, and I remember thinking to myself what a miscarriage of justice it all was. Finally, nightfall came. After dinner we did some channel surfing. We came across Godzilla vs. Mothra. I’m a HUGE Godzilla fan, but our token comedian Nathan was doing his best Mystery Science 3000 Theatre impersonation that night, making all of us, including me, laugh our butts off. We had another late night as the group was infamous for, before finally crashing early in the wee morning hours.
The cabin groaned as I opened my eyes. I sat up and noticed my roommates Zack, Brian and Bryce were nowhere to be found. I chuckled to myself, figuring that they probably woke up early in order to make a beeline for Tommy’s Super Nintendo. I would have done the same if only I hadn’t slept like a hibernating bear. Opening the door, a cold chill instantly swept over me sending shivers up and down my spine. It felt like someone took electrical wires and brushed it across my back. I looked down the hallway, which was cloaked in an eerie darkness. It suddenly resembled a demonic hallway from a horror movie. I called out to my family and friends. No response. I had a Home Alone flashback. Was I, for the first time in my life, home alone? I shouted out again. Silence, except for the odd noises the old cabin was emitting. I began tip-toeing downstairs, making my way to the kitchen. Maybe everyone was at the breakfast table. Somehow, before I even reached the bottom step, I knew it was a false sense of hope. Sure enough, in the kitchen all I found was a note taped to the refrigerator.
Everyone left for brunch. We will be back soon. Sorry, I didn’t want to wake you up. You had a late night and I wanted you to get the extra rest. Make some Honey Nut Cheerios, and don’t watch too much TV.
Fantastic. Now I was trapped all by myself in this… this… THIS CABIN FROM HELL! I opened the fridge to take out the milk and spotted a cold can of 7 Up. Being my favorite soda, I wanted nothing more than to down that sucker right then and there, but I realized if I did I might have to use the restroom, and there was no way I was heading down that demonic looking hallway! Ah, the dilemma of my youth. I relinquished my grip of the can and closed the fridge with milk in hand. The cabin continued hissing, making all manner of strange noises. Boy, it’s so much more amplified when you’re all alone. I suddenly thought of the ghost lady Sushi-X told me about the day before. Damn you, Sushi-X. But, even at 8 years old, I was a fairly resourceful kid. See, I had this theory. Ghosts and spirits would never mess with you if you had the radio or TV on. Any kind of noise would repel them. Hey, I was 8, OK? I made my way over to the living room and immediately turned the TV on. I came across one of my favorite wrestlers, Hulk Hogan, on a WWF show. I always had an affinity for pro wrestling. I loved the larger than life characters and the in-ring artistry and mayhem. Seeing the Hulkster ramble on in one of his classic pre-taped backstage interviews, talking about praying, training and eating your vitamins was more than enough to make me forget about my current quandary: I was the lone prisoner stuck inside the cabin from hell.
But then, without warning, the show came to a close. I immediately felt unnerved by the dreadful atmosphere of the cabin. Have you ever felt a PRESENCE in the room with you? That someone, or SOMETHING, was watching you from the shadows? That’s exactly how I felt on that cold and dreary December morning of 1991. And then, it happened. My eyes spotted Tommy’s Super Nintendo lying on the floor. Of course! I was shaking but this time, it wasn’t because of the freezing temperature or my fear of what might have lurked in the shadowy cabin corridors. I was shaking because this was a historic moment, a monumental moment of firsts: first time being home alone, and first time experiencing the almighty Super Nintendo for myself in ALL its glory. Hey, it’s true what they say… you never forget your first time.
Powering up F-Zero, I was instantly transported to Mode-7 Heaven. Every single racing track blew my mind. I couldn’t believe how fast it played, and how AMAZING the game looked. And that MUSIC… oh man, it would haunt me forever in a way that would make any spirit of that cabin, if there were any at all, extremely jealous. F-Zero led me from thinking about ghosts to obsessing over intergalactic racing warfare! Later I plugged in Final Fight and found myself saving the good citizens of Metro City one jaw-dropping stage after another, as I smeared the streets with the blood of the hooligans from the Mad Gear Gang. I had never seen such state-of-the-art arcade-like graphics before. The characters were unbelievably HUGE and at times I found myself wondering, “WHERE THE HECK IS THE COIN SLOT?!”
I played both F-Zero and Final Fight with a grand deal of euphoria until my family and friends came back. Yes, part of me was ecstatic to no longer be alone in the cabin from hell, but something funny happened during my inaugural play through with the Super Nintendo. It made me forget about malicious ghosts and evil spirits. Instead, it transported me to the future of video gaming, where you could snap a bastard’s neck in two and soar 200 feet across a race track suspended high above a futuristic city – all in stunning graphics and sound. The new generation of gaming had officially arrived, and it was nothing short of awesome. I never looked back.
Now, nearly 25 years later since that epic and infamous family-friend weekend to Lake Tahoe, I still remember certain aspects of the trip as if it happened only yesterday. I remember the big snowball fight we waged against one another. And how Zack, Brian, Bryce and I got a SMALL measure of revenge on Sushi-X when we caught him off guard and pelted him with four lumpy snowballs in stereo. I remember trying to ski and falling on my ass, making me look like that which I fell on. I recall how freezing and creepy the cabin was, especially during the night time and how you would get chills up and down your spine whenever crossing one of its various “cold spots.” Hell, I remember being ditched for breakfast! But most of all, I will always remember, with great affection, a real deep fondness of the first time I ever experienced the Super Nintendo. It’s a precious memory that will remain embedded in my gaming heart even decades from now, long after the Tahoe snow has faded.
I still keep in touch with the old gaming crew, but like many things in life, it’ll never be like how it was once upon a time. I guess that’s why many fondly refer to those halcyon days as the good old days. But, rather than weeping over times that have long passed, I rejoice that I was fortunate enough to be there when it happened. As I said at the beginning, most folks like to claim their generation as the best because each person’s childhood is unique and precious to them. Likewise, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the years 1987 to 1995 was a special time growing up in suburban America. I basically grew up alongside the 8-bit Nintendo, the 16-bit Sega Genesis AND the Super Nintendo. It was a spectacular period in gaming’s history, and there’s a reason many fondly refer to that time as the “Golden Age of Gaming.” All in all, I considered myself pretty dang lucky.
Happy 25th birthday, SNES. Thank you for supplying us with an epic quarter century of awesome games and even better memories. Here’s to another gawd damn 25 years!