Review by xenodolf
"Final Fight. The raw, manly, hard-hitting beat 'em up that brought about several advances to the genre and inspired dozens of imitations."
In 1989, Final Fight took the arcade scene by storm - captivating its players, often luring a crowd of onlookers around them. Although beat 'em ups had been mainstream for about 5 years at this point, Final Fight brought along a certain style that became the standard for many later brawlers. It became quite popular to adopt the enemy life-bars, on-screen opponent names, and even the little facial pictures of the people you were pummeling. It would spawn several home console ports, most of which I found to be lacking the experience found at the arcade. Anyhow, I'm gabbing too much in my introduction, so let's start the review..
The visuals in Final Fight were amazing for a game created back then. Featuring large, fluidly animated sprites and detailed background environments depicting an array of battlegrounds. The trio of heroes all looked completely different - and a diverse cast was something most, if not all, beat 'em ups at that point in time were devoid of. There was a decent number of enemy designs: ranging from leather-clad rock-star wannabes and sleazy punks to obese middle aged men and what I assumed were vicious and barely dressed call girls. The fighting starts out in Metro City's ghetto, and ends up in a high-rise office building. Between them is a wonderfully illustrated underground fight club, bar, subway, park and several other locations. Enemies wouldn't just always appear on one side of the screen, but could be seen exiting building or sitting and waiting for your character to arrive. Even the car you punched to pieces looked well drawn, and it was only involved in the game for about 30 seconds! All of these details took me from being a kid in a dingy arcade to being there and guiding the justice-seeking trio through the gang controlled city.
With the exception of the Streets of Rage trilogy, I believe Final Fight has the best soundtrack for a 2D beat 'em up. The music reminds me of late 1980s industrial sewn together with a synthesizer score from the mid-1970s. The opening level's song sets the perfect mood for Haggar meeting up with Damnd and taking on the first of many waves from the Mad Gear gang. The battle noise is no less impressive, with over-the-top pounding, crashing, and crunching effects recorded flawless. You could always tell there was a Final Fight cabinet in an arcade from the trademark tumbling sound of bodies and all the memorable "YAAAAUUUGHS!" and "UUGGGGHS!". In fact, the only bad thing I can recall is that the person who screams for Poison and Roxy was obviously a man. This of course, may be have been just another hint about the transsexual status of the two "ladies". Its too bad the SNES sequels didn't quite match up to what was created for this game, even on inferior hardware.
Final Fight gives gamers the choice of playing as three selectable characters, up to two simultaneously. I do believe the archetype of a strong but slow character (Haggar), a fast but weak character (Guy), and one set between the others (Cody) - originated here. Each of these guys have a number of techniques exclusive to them, ranging from kneeing, to leaping off walls to kick, and powerful body-slams. The combat ensues almost instantly - throwing your choice of hero(es) up against up to a half dozen opponents at once. As I mentioned earlier, each enemy has their own life-bar, name, and a little facial picture presented on screen. This was another set of ideas Final Fight set into motion that became standard issue to a score of later brawlers. There were also several weapons scattered about the levels: knives, pipes, and katanas. Although any of the characters could use them at will, each one had a certain type that they could use with superior ability. After couple of stages, there would be bonus levels of you breaking through barrels, sheets of glass, or some gangster's car ("OH MY GOD!"). The bosses were all menacing figure, acting out unique attack patterns and requiring separate methods to successfully defeat. Although there are a bunch of enemy designs - you'll will have seen all of them by the end of the second stage. It would have been more exciting if we were gradually exposed to Mad Gear's roster of scumbags. The stage design is pretty good - but I think the factory's fire traps are a bit unfair, and the final level is bland and linear when compared to the rest of the game. Final Fight's game-play was monumental back in the day of its release, and still has a seductive charm to it nearly 20 years later.
There wasn't any lag, nor problems with the arcade cabinet's control scheme. All I can find at fault here is that sometimes the collision detection when using a pipe or katana was a little off.
Replay value 7/10
Despite having nothing to offer aside from the main brawling mode, Final Fight drew back fans time and time again for multiple playthroughs. You had the choice of three unique character, a feat for 1989, along with a decent number of levels satisfying in length. There are very few games in the age I write this review in that can muster that kind of attraction.
I don't care if you first beat 'em up was Kung Fu Master or Dynasty Warriors 5 - you'll be impressed by what Final Fight has to offer. The legacy of this game spawned three beat 'em up sequels and one versus fighter. It has been ported to many console with cuts, revisions, and occasional additional content (Final Fight One, Final Fight CD). If you were to dig through all the 2D side-scrolling brawlers throughout the 90s, it wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to unearth something that was influenced by Final Fight. This beat 'em up is deserving of my first 10/10 rating on Gamefaqs, and I implore you to play it. It was released a few years ago on the PS2/XBOX/PSP within the Capcom Classics Collection compilation part 1. No beat 'em up enthusiast should go without playing this game, especially if you're serious about your dedication to the genre.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/26/07
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