Developer(s) – Capcom
Publisher(s) – Capcom, Ubisoft & US Gold Ltd
Producer – Yoshiki Okamoto
Designer(s) – Akira Nishitani & Akira Yasuda
PEGI – 12
Originally intended to be a sequel to the first Street Fighter game, but later switched from a fighting game to a beat ‘em up, Final Fight is a game made in the same vein as Double Dragon and the future classic Streets of Rage, which whilst I found to be an overall mediocre gaming experience, does have a different kind of value to it.
Graphics – 7/10
First of all, there is some basis in visual diversity, since the level designs are pretty varied and somewhat unique for the time. But the main issue I have with it is that most of the characters present are hopelessly generic; all but one. The character Poison actually has an interesting piece of history behind her. When it came time to release Final Fight on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo took umbrage with the idea of players having to fight women in order to progress, since their censorship policies were at their most draconian at the time. Capcom tried to get around it by saying that Poison wasn’t, in fact, a woman, but a man. Although Nintendo told Capcom that they had to change it anyway, Capcom has stuck with the idea of Poison being a man ever since, making for the inclusion of one of the first transgender video game characters in history.
Gameplay – 6/10
A retro 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up, I found the gameplay to be repetitive and lacking in incentive. There is some basis in variety in gameplay with the number of weapons that can be picked up throughout, but in all honesty, that’s about as far as it goes, and it’s not really enough to keep things overly interesting. The only game of its kind that I have sent any extended amount of time with is Streets of Rage, and I think Final Fight pales in comparison.
Controls – 6/10
The main reason why I have taken umbrage with this kind of game is because of the control scheme. Because the player has to be on a fairly precise angle with enemies they need to fight in order to progress, to me, it makes the hit detection particularly sketchy, and by that token, it’s very easy to mess up, which makes for games like this being a somewhat uneven challenge.
Lifespan – 1/10
Like most arcade games, Final Fight was primarily designed to be played through multiple times in quick succession, and so, the lifespan of one playthrough is hopelessly short. Taking an average of merely half an hour to complete, I think it’s just as well that it lasts so short a time since there is the little basis of variety in gameplay to warrant it lasting any longer than it does.
Storyline – 6/10
The game’s story involves three playable characters, Cody, Guy, and Mayor Mike Haggar resolving to rescue the mayor’s daughter, who is also Cody’s girlfriend, from the infamous Mad Gear gang. It’s a story extremely typical of what was being released at the time; a story made in the same vein as Super Mario Bros, which had come some years before this game. Since there wasn’t a great deal of emphasis put on the story at the time, the characters are forgettable at best, and Poison is the only standout element of the entire title for me.
Originality – 7/10
Although I have gone into depth about how extremely generic I think this game is overall, with its repetitive and tedious gameplay, short lifespan, and lack of story, Capcom made it a unique game, as well as a unique series, for pioneering equal rights in video gaming, and there are have been only a handful of games to do so, such as Metroid, which helped to pioneer the female protagonist, and the Sly Cooper series also helped to pioneer wheelchair-bound characters in video games.
In summation, although Final Fight has indeed served as a fairly important piece of video gaming history, I didn’t personally get much enjoyment out of playing it, unfortunately. Streets of Rage would go on to become the only 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up the game I would vaguely enjoy, but there wasn’t much else apart from Poison to make Final Fight stand out to any great extent for me.