Metro city has gone a bit downhill. Only a bit, mind you. It used to be plagued by crime and corruption. Those foolhardy souls who dared walk the streets at night got mugged, then the muggers got robbed, then the robbers got beaten up, and so it went on.
Decent folk moved away, and come to think of it, the indecent folk moved away as well. Nope, Metro City really was a pretty nasty place to be..
Then the Mad Gear Gang arrived... Cursed with the most pathetic gang name since "The Jets" in West Side Story they vented their rage against the paralysed city/ The terrified people with their close harmony renditions of Leonard Bernstein songs and bribed the mayor to allow them to carry out their nefarious deeds without recrimination.
Let's face it, they took the place over. Then the mayor mysteriously vanished, and the city looked for a new hero to rid them of the Mad Gears. This hero came in the imposing shape of Mike Haggar.
Haggar, quite handily, happened to be an ex-wrestler and street fighter (as well as having a wonderful singing voice and a penchant for Shakespearean verse).
He refused to bow down to the Mad Gears' offers of bribery and corruption, so they kidnapped his lovely daughter, 'Jessica'.
"What a drag", thinks Haggar, "Still, sounds like an excuse to walk the streets and kick the hell out of everyone I meet." And that's exactly what he does.
Meanwhile, over in the gym, Guy and Cody are discussing the pros and cons of having immensely stereotyped butch Yankee names when the phone rings. "Jessica's been kidnapped," says Cody in a blinding flash of lateral thinking. "My sweetheart since childhood," he adds to clarify what little plot there is. "She's my friend too," pipes up Guy, feeling a little left out, 'cos he's fancied Jessica for ages and only ever kissed her once (when she was drunk at the annual Street Fighters Xmass Ball).
By a blinding stroke of luck, Guy and Cody are more than a little adept at the old martial arts. Yes, Guy and Cody just happen to be a couple of black belt ninja types, which is just as well 'cos otherwise they'd heads kicked in, wouldn't they? So, pausing only to style their har, they set off to join Haggar for a relaxing spot of urban violence.
It's here that you come in. You must take control of one of the three heroes, or two of them if you can con your mate into joining in, and guide them through 19 (very short) levels of highly predictable beat-'em-up action.
Their noble quest takes them from the filthy back streets of Metro City, through the subway, into a wrestling ring (for some inexplicable reason) and every other typical setting for a beat-'em-up before they Reach Jessica.
Unfortunately, they also reach the bloke responsible, if not downright guilty, for lumbering the Mad Gears with such a duff name. 'Tis the Mad Gear gang-lord, a sinister geezer in a wheelchair with a harpoon gun.
The first thing to strike you about Final Fight is the graphics. They're massive, and colourful to boot, and are pretty much identical to the coin-op. The enemy are varied and look really mean, the backgrounds are also nicely rendered, although there is no way to interact with them by swinging from lampposts and climbing on crates and so forth.
The animation on the characters is surprisingly fluid but with several big sprites on screen they start to slow down. However, the game's biggest plus is also its undoing. The sprites are so big that they mean any real control over the action is pointless. Once the action starts all the baddies crowd around you and the only way to get out is to just frantically punch and kick in all directions.
One flying kick and you can take down everyone in your path. Even the biggest baddies are a cinch to beat, with little or no tactics required. This means that on your first go you'll probably play most of the game, if not complete it. Ho hum.
Putting that gripe aside for the moment, the sound is pretty well executed with the arcade music playing over the now essential opening storyboard. The effects are OK, but to be honest, they're just too derivative. You get the standard thump and crunch noises whenever anything gets hit.
The subway section offers some respite with a great reproduction of a train noise clacking away in the background, but apart from that there's nothing new. It would have been nice to hear the swishing of the lead pipe as you swing it, or some speech dotted about but, alas, it was not to be. Technically speaking it's a major achievement. The graphics are excellent and the sounds are well above average for this sort of game, but there's just no challenge whatsoever when playing it.
OK, now all the macho men reading can skip this bit as it probably won't apply to you, but for the more sensitive among you there's also the question of morals. Don't get me wrong, beat-'em-ups are fine by me. Target Renegade on the humble Speccy was the bees knees as far as I am concerned - after all, it's only a game, right? But a game where you have to beat up women with lead pipes, vandalise cars and assault cripples may just be stepping over the mark slightly. It's up to you whether or not this bothers you, but some may find the indiscriminate brutality a little startling. Just thought I'd warn you, being the caring, 90s kind of guy that I am.
Getting back to my major grumble though, it's just so easy! It shouldn't take your average games
I suppose if you're new to beat 'em ups Final Fight is a relatively untaxing introduction to the genre, or maybe you're looking for a really easy game to massage your ego a bit. IF that's the case, Final Fight should suit you down to the ground, but I think most people would be happier with something with a bit more wallop to it. Rent a couple of Jean Claude Van Damme movies instead. They're cheaper, just as violent, and they'll probably last longer as well.