Review by Psycho Penguin
"One of the oddest, yet compelling, beat em ups on the market."
Porting an arcade/SNES classic to the NES had to be one of the oddest ideas Capcom has had. How could they possibly recreate the magic that the classic Final Fight created on an outdated console like the 8-bit NES? Not only was this one of the last games to come out for the console, it also happened to come out 2 years after the SNES port! The SNES port was no classic, but it managed to recreate the arcade experience faithfully (for the most part), and there's no way the NES could pull that off, right?
But guess what? The NES version is so completely different and bizarre that it works and manages to be more fun than the SNES version! How could this be? Well, the first thing is the complete makeover of the graphics. Gone are the rugged enemies and barren backgrounds of the original. In its place are cartoony character designs (miniature enemies and characters) and entertaining backgrounds. You even fight on a ship where enemies are drinking sodas while waiting for you! While a lot of people are not going to be amused by the graphical overhaul Final Fight went through for this game, I loved it and found myself coming back to the game because of the interesting and unique graphical style.
I really enjoyed the music in this one, too, despite the fact it's not "quality" in terms of the sound. What the music has going for it is how memorable it is. I really liked the first two songs in the game, the boss music, and the last stage's theme. Each stage has a song that fits the stage perfectly, and the boss theme really gets the tension going. While the third and fourth stages don't have memorable songs at all, I still managed to enjoy them. The soundtrack is definitely good and I downloaded the songs after playing this game.
It's absolutely amazing how much variety you get out of the game, too. Unlike the SNES port, you can use THREE characters this time. You can be Cody, a muscular dude in a t-shirt that likes to use punches and combo moves; Guy, a pink martial artist that can combine kicking and punching to be an ass kicking machine; or Haggar, the mayor of the city who's very big and slow but can use powerful attacks. This really helps to increase the replay value of the game, since each of them have different styles of attacks that make going through the levels interesting every time.
Controlling these three mammoths are easy enough. One button is used for jumping, one button is used for attacking. Simple, right? Then you can do things like grabbing onto an enemy and pushing buttons to do different moves on them. You can pick them up and bodyslam them, or throw them into other enemies. The variety of moves is incredible, especially for a 8-bit game, and this makes it one of the better beat em ups out there. The best part is that you get a different amount of experience points for the different ways you kill an enemy.
That's right, experience points are an integral part of this game. Your character starts off on level 1 (except Haggar, who starts off at level 3 but levels up slower), and as you kill enemies, you get experience points. Throwing them is worth more than punching them, for example. As your character levels up, you get more hit points and stronger attacks. Once they reach a certain level, you unlock their special move which does some serious damage (yet takes away hit points, of course, so use them sparingly!) Experience points was a genius addition to this game, and makes it even better than it already was. The only downside is the lack of an actual points system, but oh well.
The game itself is a basic side scrolling beat em up. You progress from left to right, beating up various enemies in various ways. If you like this kind of game, you'll have a blast. If you don't, you might still be interested because of the combo system and experience points system. I've never seen a game pull off a beat em up/RPG combo perfectly like this one did. The main draw to this game is the addictive replay value, due to the three-person system and the fact it's pretty short and can be completed in about an hour or so if you have patience enough to beat it in one playthrough. (Not that I condone emulation or save states or anything! Nope!)
The only reason this game did not score a 10 from me is the challenge, or lack thereof. Look, the game is only five stages long, and they give you six lives per continue, and three continues. Therefore, you have at least 18 lives to go through five stages. You also have the ability to gain more lives, and your life meter refills when you level up. There's also food items which regain all your health, and you regain health after completing a stage. That's a whole lot of lives and energy refills for a five stage game, especially when the first stage is REALLY easy. It's practically a four-stage game.
The bosses are not that challenging, either. Most of them just run around and chase you into a corner and occasionally charge at you. You can just run around until they charge, then do a combo attack on them. It takes a while, but you will rarely get hit if you follow their patterns. Even the final boss is disappointing. He'll do the typical chase and attack pattern for a bit, then start shooting off five rockets every time before laughing and being wide open for a combo attack. The patterns are really easy to figure out.
Despite the fact that the game was easy to the point I beat it (I suck at these games), this is one of the best beat em ups ever. Capcom took the awesome Final Fight formula and remade it into one of the best experiences you can have on the NES. This is a must buy and must play, despite the relative expensive nature of the game. It's worth the price, trust me.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/05/07
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