This content originally appeared in issue #3 of the Nintendo Fun Factor zine. The issue is available as a free download here; check it out!
This week, Capcom released the Final Fight trilogy on the Wii U Virtual Console and it’s as good of a time as any to celebrate this seminal brawler series. So smash a barrel, grab the snack within, and hit start on the second player controller (if applicable), to join us as we smash our way through the Final Fight releases on Nintendo platforms!
Final Fight (SNES, available on Wii and Wii U Virtual Console)
Originally conceived as a sequel to the thoroughly mediocre Street Fighter (the original, not II), Final Fight made a huge splash when it landed in arcades in 1989. It certainly wasn’t the first side-scrolling beat-em-up (Technos-developed-brawlers like Renegade and Double Dragon preceded it by years), but it was such a leap from those games in terms of playability and presentation that it was an instant hit in the arcades.
With the popularity of the game (and genre) at a fever pitch, it was a huge coup for Nintendo to have Capcom release the game as a launch title for the Super Famicom
in 1990 (and The SNES the next year). Unfortunately, the port had a number of issues, including censorship, a lack of multiplayer, a missing playable character (Guy), an entire stage (Industrial Area) cut from the game, and more. It’s a testament to how excellent the core game is that despite these omissions, Final Fight on the SNES was still an enjoyable experience over 20 years ago, and remains so today.
Final Fight Guy (SNES)
Aside from the addition of Guy, what else is new in this version? Not much actually.
There are a few different items and enemy placements, but still no multiplayer mode.
The missing stage remains missing, and while this version adds Guy, it removes Cody
(which is actually an OK trade imo). If you do decide to track down a copy of the game, I highly recommend going for the Japanese version, which can be found for under $10 in Japanese game shops or online retailers such as Amazon.co.jp. If you don’t have a fence for getting games from Japan to your country, your best bet is eBay, where copies go for $30-$90 depending on condition.
Even at $90, the Super Famicom version is a better deal than trying to score a copy
of the U.S. version, which was a Blockbuster Video exclusive and now sells for over
$200 (for just the cartridge)!
Final Fight 2 (SNES, available on Wii and Wii U Virtual Console)
This globe-trotting 1993 Super Nintendo exclusive rectifies what was probably the most egregious of the cuts to the original, adding a multiplayer mode. While the new characters Maki and Carlos feel somewhat uninspired, being able to punch your way through locations around the world with a friend makes up for their forgetability.
Mighty Final Fight (NES)
Possibly the first 8-bit demake, Mighty Final Fight is an awesome spinoff/re-imagining of/sequel to the original. Released late in the NES’ life (1993!) the game borrowed wholesale from its contemporaries, lifting the RPG-lite XP system from Double Dragon and the humorous chibi character designs from the Kunio series.
Mighty Final Fight plays great as well – controls are responsive and the game moves
at a brisker pace than its big brothers on SNES. Unfortunately, it is, like the original
SNES game, a single-player only affair. Had Capcom added a multiplayer option, this could have been the best game in the series – it really is that good.
Final Fight 3 (SNES, available on Wii Virtual Console)
As stated many times here, multiplayer is a key feature of the beat ‘em up genre. However, if you don’t have anyone to pick up that second controller because your friends are all too cool to play brawlers from 1995 (meaning not cool at all), Final Fight 3 offers a welcome solution- a computer-controlled partner of your choosing. This is a pretty great feature that unfortunately came a bit too late in the genre’s lifespan to really catch on, which is a shame, because it adds an extra layer of unpredictability and vitality to the experience.
AI partners aren’t all that FF3 adds to the mix. Characters’ movesets are expanded by the addition of special meters for Super Moves and double-tap dash-attacks. Although the game occasionally suffers from significant bouts of slowdown, Final Fight 3 is still an excellent entry in the series that brings quite a few welcome innovations. Not quite Capcom’s capstone, but a respectable ending of sorts to an era and genre.
Final Fight One (GBA)
This Game Boy Advance port of the original Final Fight, released in 2001, is superior to the SNES version in nearly every way. Not only are all three original characters playable but you can FINALLY play the game with a second player on a Nintendo system (provided they have a GBA, a second copy of the game, and a link cable). The Industrial Area is restored in this version, and the game’s cover art is done by legendary SNK/Capcom artist Shinkiro- two more great reasons to pick it up.
The only downside to this version is, while it’s still weirdly impressive to see the game running on a Game Boy Advance, it’s definitely the worst looking of the versions. Even with the visual downgrade, Final Fight One remains a lovingly-crafted port worth your time, and one that would be a fantastic Virtual Console title whenever Nintendo gets GBA games (outside of the Ambassador Program titles) up on the 3DS and Wii U eshops.
Mike Haggar – The Constant
We’ve covered each of the Final Fight titles
available for Nintendo consoles, but no retrospective of the series could be complete without a fitting tribute to its
most beloved character, the man always ready to answer the call when needed…
“The Mayor of Mayhem”
“The Burgomaster of Beat-Downs”
“The Public Servant of Punishment”
“The Chief Executive of Criminal-Element-
The Final Fight series has had heroes, villains,
and locations come and go throughout its
various iterations, but there remains one
consistent element that can be found in every game in the series. This common thread comes in the form of a muscle-bound, mustached man named Mike Haggar.
A former professional wrestler turned mayor, Haggar takes to the streets in the original Final Fight when his daughter, Jessica, is
kidnapped by the Mad Gear gang. Trading his suit for a pair of bright green pants and a leather-suspenderbelt-thing, Haggar becomes a one man criminal justice system, pummeling the scum of the city. Mike Haggar is a timelessly cool character, one that
we’d love to see return to a starring role in the future.