Hello all! Last week brought us to a galaxy far, far away to a game with impressive technology, even if the game fumbled a bit.
This week brings us the first arcade title ever on Game of the Week! (Um...I’m pretty sure, anyway.)
Final Fight is Capcom’s beat-em-up, released in 1989. Like most brawlers, it’s thin on plot, but that’s intentional. The daughter of the mayor of Metro City gets kidnapped by the Mad Gear gang, and you go rescue her. That’s it.
But Final Fight’s charm lies not in the bare-bones plot, but rather in the characters and “just go with it” atmosphere. As everyone knows, the mayor of Metro City is one Mike Haggar, former wrestler tuned mayor. Mike Haggar is basically the best character in gaming, and he’s joined by Cody, a street fighter, and Guy, Cody’s martial artist pal.
It all looks like this, as do most beat-em-ups.
Final Fight features a more simple, meat-and-potatoes combat system than, say, Street Fighter II or even Double Dragon. You’ve got two buttons; Jump and Attack, and you launch combos by simply hammering on the Attack button. Also, you’ve got jump kicks, and pressing both buttons together does a spin attack; pretty standard in the genre.
There’s weapons, and you can find food in trash cans. Like, fully-cooked chickens in the trash. It’s great. But, like most (or all) brawlers, 100% of your time will be spent beating the holy snot out of hundreds of dudes by pressing the Attack button again and again about 40,000 times or so (maybe; I don’t wanna count).
It’s admittedly, at first glance, not too dissimilar from other games in the genre. But the difference, and the reason it’s my favorite, is the personality.
Personalities like Mike Haggar. Seriously, look at that dude!
What makes a game great is the things that happen between the lines of code. It’s not enough to make a game that works; all the parts have to fit together. And when they fit together perfectly, that’s when a game becomes more than the sum of its parts.
That’s what happens in Final Fight. The characters are great, the art is a wonderful showcase of late 80’s/early 90’s style, and you can feel the impact of every punch you land. That’s a hard thing to capture in games even today; the feeling of power. It’s got something to do with the sound effect of each punch and how your enemies go flying backwards at the end of a combo, or the slam you get when Haggar suplexes a hapless dude who is clearly outmatched. I mean, look at the size difference between Haggar and the doof he’s attacking up there. That’s not even remotely fair.
And then there’s the boss characters. Including Rolento, who appeared in the Street Fighter Alpha series along with Cody and Guy. And Belger, the last boss, who you get to hurl out of a skyscraper just because. It’s all just stupid, hilarious action movie fun.
It’s true that Final Fight really deosn’t offer anything story-wise, nor does it contain any real substance. It’s a testosterone-fueled power fantasy, really. But that’s okay. It’s a riot to play, and it’s the best beat-em-up ever made (I look forward to your comments, Streets of Rage fans). It’s the best because of how it all fits together and how it doesn’t take itself too seriously, like Double Dragon did back then.
Stick with the original Final Fight; the SNES sequels aren’t as great, and I didn’t mention Streetwise on PS2 for a reason. This one’s still a classic.
(And I didn’t mention the whole Poison thing on purpose. Look it up if you like.)
Next week-A couple of weeks back, I talked about Geist, a great sort of “B-game;” my term for a fun one-and-done title. Let’s check out another one; this one’s got a cool throwing blade you can use.