As I was casually strolling through Xbox Live Arcade earlier imagine my excitement as I noticed that Final Fight has finally crawled out of the woodwork and on to a popular console.
Ok, so maybe you can’t imagine. Maybe it wasn’t even excitement, maybe it was more of a raised eyebrow, but you must understand that over 20 years have elapsed since my excitement at first playing this game. Down to the local arcade we used to stroll in our inflatable shoes which seemed like a good idea at the time, and put our hard earned coins into the Final Fight arcade machine.
The premise of the game seems so simple now, but at the time it was groundbreaking. You, and a friend, got to beat the proverbial out of hordes of street villians in what proved to be one of the best beat ’em up games of the era. The storyline was suitably flimsy – the mayor’s daughter has been kidnapped by Mad Gear, a motley crime gang and not some kind of dutch mail order catalogue. Unluckily for the kidnappers the girl’s boyfriend is a badass street fighter, her best friend is a ninja and her dad (the mayor) happens to be a behemoth of a pro-wrestler. So rather than calling in SWAT, our heroes take to the streets to personally hand out the beatdowns. The gameplay was straightforward, no complicated moves to learn and the on screen characters were suitably large.
Fast forward many years of occasionally finding this gem in a seaside arcade and it finally comes to the mainstream and a new generation. The Xbox Live Arcade version is a superb remastering. The options available are excellent – you can choose original soundtrack or a remixed version. Graphically you can reproduce the arcade cabinet down the sides of your screen. You can even reproduce that unique arcade CRT screen glow. Unfortunately though this once king of beat-em ups has aged very badly indeed. Of course, I played it again and loved it, but this game has a certain novelty nostalgia value for me. Viewed from a neutral standpoint this game is nothing more than a button mash. The moves available are limited to basic punches, kicks and the occasional throw. Only occasionally do you get limited use of a weapon, and there’s no option to block. At the time this game was awesome, but it has now been surpassed by so many games in so many ways. But still, this little piece of gaming history was important in the development of the genre. Capcom, not long after making Final Fight released the legendary Street Fighter 2, and you can catch a few glimpses of Final Fight’s influences in that game.
Overall then, this game is worth trying if you remember and love the original. If this all seems like ancient history to you then steer clear, there are better beat-em ups out there nowadays. Personally though, this is a trend I would like to see continuing. A few of the things that would probably make me explode not including ZombiePirate actually fielding a fully painted army would be if beat-em ups such as ‘The Punisher’ and ‘Captain Commando’ were to get similarily re-released to Xbox Live. I wouldn’t have to face the trauma of scouring Margate seafront, dodging all the purple rinse grannies in kiss me quick hats for a game and end up spending my entire weekend surviving on candyfloss and chips in an arcade with seedily sticky carpets. I’m just to old for that kind of malarky now!