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I must admit to going completely blank when it came to remembering what Final Fight was. I knew I'd heard of it before, I didn't think I'd ever played it, and I knew it was significant. Somehow. Just don't know how, or why, or what it was - until I started playing, that is, and remembering all that.
Jessica, the daughter Metro City mayor, Mike Haggar, has been kidnapped by the Mad Gear gang. The only way to get her back is to do what they say... unless you happen to be a former professional wrestler whose kidnapped daughter is dating a martial arts master skilled with knives, who also happens to be friends with a master ninja. I think your chances may be pretty good in this scenario...
So the question is simple: Will we save Jessica or will the streets be home to our Final Fight?
See what I did there? Damn right, you did.
I didn't think I'd be playing the Game Boy Advance version of Final Fight, released as Final Fight One, but that's what happened and I'm impressed with how close it is to the arcade original (at least to the layman, I suppose).
Choosing to be either Mike Haggar, martial artist Cody or ninja guy, uh, Guy, you must work your way through Metro City, punching, kicking and german suplexing gang members and mini-bosses along the way. Each character has their differences, Haggar being slower and more powerful than Cody, and Guy showing off the kind of speed of which Bruce Lee would be proud, for example.
The joy of Final Fight comes from the controls being as simple as possible, with a jump button and an attack button. With these buttons and the D-pad, though, you can pull off plenty of combos and throws. Move into an enemy without attacking (or getting hit in the process) and you'll automatically grab them, with the option to throw them in character-specific animations. You can even throw someone at the end of combos or into other opponents on the screen to cause mayhem and thin out the enemy ranks.
The plot is equally simple, for some reason involving a dual sword-wielding samurai in the middle of a wrestling ring as a boss fight. It is safe to say it has a bit of fun with the plot, which is largely inspired by the film Streets of Fire. Haven't heard of it? No, neither have I.
With customisable difficulty options, this GBA remake kept me entertained for a while, essentially button mashing my way through stages. Well, at least one stage. Why would I mention difficulty options, I wonder...
Oh, Final Fight doesn't pull its punches. Here I am, losing health before even scoring a single point. On the GBA version, difficulty affects both how many opponents spawn and face you on screen at once, as well as the amount of damage dealt and received, and I have to admit to dropping it down from Normal just to see a bit more of the game, and still you could find yourself in tricky situations.
If timed right, an opponent could punch you, then punch you again as soon as you'd recovered, way faster than your human reactions could have pressed the attack button to throw a punch of your own. You'd be caught for a few seconds at a time, each punch doing damage and you being essentially powerless until you lucked your way out of it.
It could easily wipe out one of your lives, and it's not just simple punches that manage to pull this annoying feat off - I was subject to repeated diving attacks that would land on me as soon as I even thought about getting up from having been knocked down with the last attack.
There are, of course, health items and weapons to pick up and aid you in your fight, but the weapons have limited use and can be knocked out of your hands in an instant, and the health consumables can be few and far between.
I didn't come up with a great tactic for making progress, though playing patiently had a bit more success but where's the fun in that?
I don't know if 'perfect' is the right word, but 'pretty damn fun' should go quite far when it comes to Final Fight. It's a beat 'em up, there's not a whole lot of skill involved (though it would have helped me), your opponents are varied enough to be both interesting and annoying, and the characters too have enough differences for you to find one you like and get the most out of them.
As a game that makes you look strong - for a while at least - Final Fight allows you to feel great. It's a nice little pick-me-up after a stressful day. Take that, co-worker! Eat it, you yappie bloody dog! Thwack, asshole. That kind of thing.
Don't punch dogs, beat up digital street gangs instead.
If you haven't already done so, go and play one of the many versions of Final Fight that are out there, and save Jessica, or Mike Haggar will piledrive you onto the concrete.
Plenty of facts to be had with Final Fight, notably its early name - Street Fighter '89. Because it was nothing like the original Street Fighter, it was renamed and spun off into its own series, allowing for the creation of a proper Street Fighter sequel, Street Fighter II.
Final Fight, developed by Capcom, first released in 1989.
Version played: Game Boy Advance, 2001, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1989 (michaelpf08)