Why pay the ransom when you can have the...

Final Fight logo

US Gold * £24.95 * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out now

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 gamesplayer longer than an evening to play the game from start to finish. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't 25 nicker a bit steep for a game that probably won't remain challenging for more than an hour or so?

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.

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Big, arcade-style sprites often make a bigger splash. Is size all important though? Or is it what you do with them that matters?

Beat-em-ups are a curious breed. Their intensive joystick action ensures you can't play for hours, while their violent theme is often cited as computer gaming's most deplorable aspect; yet still they keep on coming. Final Fight is a cracking conversion of the Capcom coin-op but is that enough?

The thick plotens
Guess what, the world's gone down the tubes again. Thugs and hoodlums rule the streets, but there are three warriors whose martial skill can set society back on the straight and narrow. You and another player can do some serious butt kicking in big sprite style.

If first impressions are anything to go by, then Final Fight scores. The sprites are huge and move with a speed which promises major league action. As one of three fighters, you're equipped with the fighting moves with which to dear the scum from the streets. Each battler gets a kick, punch and special move to do down the enemies of law and order.

The fights follow predictable patterns, as you stroll from left to right the first foes to show out are the level's losers: who are easily whipped into shape, providing a quick trainer in how to use the moves and street furniture (weapons). After a few layers of losers you go heads up with that level's boss. These guys aren't dangerous, but they are tough, and a solid series of sequential hits are needed here.

After each level you're transported to another location but annoyingly en route your man's managed to lose any weapons he had before and each section has to be beaten within a set time. The limit's generous, but it pays not to hang around searching for dropped knives or drain pipes, because this fight's a long one and losing a credit for any reason means you ain't going to see the end.

It takes no time at all to get to grips with the joystick moves because they are limited and logical. Without fire pressed, up makes you jump and left or right forces a walk. With fire pressed and the stick centred the battler punches, with the stick pressed left or right he kicks, while down starts off the special move.

In the arcade it was the special moves that made the machine worth playing. Two of the three heroes go into a pirouetting sweep kick, flooring all opposition. While the slower Haggar (who used to be Streetfighter) lovingly hugs foes, tums them upside down, jumps in the air and smashes their head on the pavement. Silly but spectacular.

Each fighter has their own energy bar and while they're actually bashing the opponents their's is displayed too, revealing how close to death both are. Both parties have generous amounts of life energy which doesn't help the action as there is little threat. It simply makes the stand up slugging matches slow affairs.

Sprites are huge and move with a speed that promise major league action.

Animated aggression
The animation of sprites stresses speed before smoothness. Making them attack causes a swift shift of frame from their rest position straight into the attack, which while you're playing just looks fast. Watch over another player's shoulder and it begins to appear like a crazed flick book. For the purposes of the game though the system works and keeps the pace high: essential for arcade style action.

The background illustration, though, doesn't equip itself nearly as well, failing to be convincing, even when your attention is focused on the fight. Monotone is the overriding message, with simple sketches of objects and onlookers providing the backdrops.

Final Fight is enjoyable to a point, that point being where you realise that nothing new is going to happen. It smacks of formula with the same style of attack following time after time. Each major villain has to be beaten using a specific technique, but as you have relatively few moves the experimentation quotient is low. Without this the bad guys lose the fear factor that all guardians need if they are to lift arcades to classic status. The limitations of the arcade's overall design combined with the limits of the beat- em-up genre force Final Fight into a gameplay corner. It's one from which it cannot escape, because it does not break enough rules. Graphically the sprites are large and move fast, but this is at the expense of smoothness. The heroes seem to skate along when scrolling and the backgrounds are unconvincing at best.

A strong conversion of an average punch out arcade. Because of the coin-op's play problems the effort put into the conversion side is frittered away. It's one of the best conversions of a Capcom arcade for a long, long while but accurate copying of large sprites - the arcade's major puller - can't make for long-term computer entertainment.

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Wir Bildschirm-Rowdies sind besser als unser Ruf - nie würden wir ohne triftigen Grund zuschlagen! Aber was soll man machen, wenn einem am laufenden Band die Freundin entführt wird? Kurz gesagt, die jüngste U.S. Gold-Umsetzung eines Capcom-Automaten zeichnet sich nicht gerade durch eine originelle Hintergrundgeschichte aus...

...schon eher durch technische grundsolide Programmierarbeit! Das beginnt bereits damit, daß sich gleich drei Helden darum reißen, das Mädel aus den Klauen der üblen Girlnapper (einer Gang namens "Mad Gear") zu erretten: Neben den beiden kampfsporterfahrenen Freunden der Vermißten mischt auch ihr Papa mit, der die ganze Wrestling-Erfahrung seiner Jugendtage in die Klopperei einbringt. Der alte Herr ist zwar nicht ganz so schnell wie die Jungs, kann aber umso kräftiger hinlangen.

Hat man sich schließlich für einen bzw. zwei der Digi-Rächer entschieden (Zwei-Spieler-Modus), geht's ans große Staunen - groß schon deshalb, weil nahezu sämtliche Sprites, die hier aufeinander eindreschen, im King Size Format daherkommen! Ja, Programmierer Richard Aplin hat seit den Tagen von "Double Dragon 2" einiges dazugelernt...

Grafik und Sound haben zwar nicht ganz die Güte der diesbezüglich praktisch hundertprozentig originalgetreuen Super Famicon Version (weniger Grafikdetails, im Spiel selbst nur FX), aber das Gebotene reicht immer noch problemlos, um Final Fight über den Durchschnitt der Amiga-Prügelspiele zu erheben.

Die Level sind schön abwechslungsreich, es geht durch schimmlige Lagerhallen, ungepflegte Kneipen und ratternde U-Bahnen, dann wartet ein (End)-Gegner im Boxring auf seine Abreibung. Zwischendurch erscheinen Feuer-Hindernisse und Bonusrunden, wo man ein Auto zertrümmern oder Scheiben einschlagen darf bzw. muß. Waffen und sonstige Extras findet man ebenfalls zuhauf, z.B. Messer, Stangen oder Pizzastücke - ob die wohl eine verirrte Schildkröte liegengelassen hat?

Freilich, Gehirnakrobatik wird dem finalen Fighter nicht abverlangt, wir haben es hier letzten Endes nur mit einem stinknormalen, horizontal scrollenden Haudrauf-Spiel zu tun. Aber, was heißt eigentlich "nur"? Nachladezeiten gibt's praktisch nicht, Zweitlaufwerke werden unterstützt, der Energiehaushalt von Freund oder Feind wird jederzeit angezeigt, und sogar die Joystick-Steuerung kann man sich vor dem ersten Kampf demonstrieren lassen.

Kurzum, wenn es darum geht, sich mal so richtig zünftig abzureagieren (im Dienst der guten Sache, versteht sich!), wird man von Final Fight bestens bedient. (mm)

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Just sometimes, there's nothing quite as satisfying as utterly sadistic bone-crunching...

I'll tell you - the home computer's a marvellous invention, isn't it? It's great. Nowadays, the Good Things In Life are simulated from the comfort and safety of your own pad. There's no need to socialise when you can put the real Uzi down and slap some heads in the front room instead.

There are times when I wonder just what the nation's mothers must make of all this computer fighting malarkey. I'm sure they must find it all quite disturbing, what with these little people being bashed with fists and feet and baseball bats - and even axes - on screen. Why, we could be breeding a race of highly-trained killers here through a seemingly innocent medium!

To be honest, I couldn't care less. Look, let's face it: the world's no longer the global garden full of flower-pressing and skipping and kissing and love and stuff it once was. And just so long as all this rucking lark doesn't extend to the frail old dears on the streets then it's all right by me.

In Final Fight you get to smack hundreds of ruff 'n' tuff geezers in the teeth. There are a fair few chicks to punch up the bracket, too. Oh dear. It's all getting out of hand, isn't it? Not really, no - it's all essential to the plot, which you get to see at the beginning in a sort of Rock-Hard Computer Comic form.

You see former street fighter Mike Haggar has been elected mayor with a policy to clean the scum from the city streets. Fair enough, but now the conflict's gone up a notch - it's just become something personal. The city's most ruthless gang - the Mad Gear - have kidnapped Mike's daughter, Jessica, who also happens to be emotionally attached to quiff-wielding hardman Cody and a good friend of his tough mate Guy. Can you guess what happens next?

Those are the Good Guys in Final Fight. You only get to play one of them at a time (of course) but you can involve a similarly inclined pal by getting him to join in the Good Fight as one of the remaining duo. (Now, that's a real hoot - doffing each other up as well as the Bad Guys).

Each of these three Good Guys has his own Special Move. Fat Mike, for instance, has this hard curshing-and-smashing-the-opponent's-head-on-the-ground move. Guy wears tights and skips a lot, I can tell, because his secret is the 'Off The Wall' jump which involves spinning around in the air with his leg sticking out like some big girl. Cody's more of what you'd call a bit of ladies' man - he really cuts it with a knife and his version of Guy's move is actually quite butch.

Mike and his mates aren't the only ones with Special Moves at their disposal - the Bad Guys have their own variations on the theme, too. Take the cute cart-wheeling chicks for example, and the fat, baldly slap-head who charges around like a bull.

So what makes Final Fight one of the best computer scraps in the world? In its favour there's the fact that almost all of the rest are rubbish. but even so Final Fight's not really that brilliant in any technical way as a beat-'em-up anyway. It is a right laugh to play through, and that's far more important.

Which leads me nicely - and seeing as how you asked - into some of the Penn criteria for a thumping good beat-'em-up...
It's got to be fast, and that extends to being able to perform 10 million moves (punches, for example) in about two seconds flat. The fighter's repertoire of moves should come from a few, intuitive joystick movements and firebutton presses. Players should then be rewarded by being able to develop skills according to their own ability.

A degree of context sensitivity would also be employed so that the style of move executed would depend on the situation - for example, if the player was very close to an opponent at the time of unleashing an attack then he'd perhaps headbutt him or grab his hair instead of just punching him (as would be the case if the distance between the combatants was greater), and the opponents would be seen to react accordingly.

The characters have to be large enough for the player to be able to see (everyone in Final Fight is pretty porky). And the opponents need to be many and varied in terms of intelligence and physical skills - i.e., the quantity and type of moves they can perform.

Anyway, Final Fight is a step in the right direction until the day that dream beat-'em-up comes. Anyone who enjoyed Golden Axe will go a bundle on this - and then some.

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Some things never change and maybe we should all be truly grateful that there are these immutable laws which govern things. That way you always know West Ham are going to fall on their faces just as glory beckons, that dogs always crap on the pavement outside of your door and that arcade manufacturers will continue to churn out this kind of game until the sun ceases to rise over their oriental skyscrapers.

Listen to the plot and see if you can recognise it. A mayor's daughter is kidnapped by hoods in rough tough Metro City and he sets out to rescue her by beating the living daylight out of everyone who crosses his path. But there are some remarkable, imaginative twists to this modern coin-op myth. One, that the mayor is an ex-streetfighter with a range of wild pro-wrestler moves, two, that he has a couple of beefy mates called Cody and Guy who are both martial arts experts and three, er, well that's it I'm afraid.

Indeed, Final Fight looks impressive with big fat sprites and some excellent backgrounds, particularly the tube train on stage two with its swinging straps which neatly give the impression of speed as you move through the carriages.

There are six stages of action which move through the city's underbelly of slums and warehouses to the subway, the upmarket West Side (you know it's upmarket because the characters lay into each other in front of restaurants), the city's industrial sector and an uptown area composed of smart streets and hotels one of which contains the kidnapped Jessica (stripped for some reason to her underwear).

The real problem with this game is not that you've seen the action before - let's face it, if that was a problem then we'd all have stopped playing these games years ago - but that it's not good enough. The characters are limited to a few moves augmented occasionally when you pick up a weapon like a knife, or a piece of pipe. It's not just the small amount of moves you can pull, but the completely detached feeling you have while implementing them that really makes Final Fight decidedly average.

The sprite detection is loose enough for you to simply move around a bit and pull off the most destructive kick you have to take out the opponents. All the hidden objects, food items for extra power, and weapons strewn throughout the game can't make up for the lack of gameplay.

Final Fight follows a long line of venerable beat 'em ups like Double Dragon and Dragon Ninja. While some of these conversions have left a lot to be desired, Final Fight is certainly no better.

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Shoot 'em up, slash 'em up. beat ém up. Now there's a new genre to add to the list: Final Fight - the first camp 'em up. David McCandless reviews this newie from US Gold with gay abandon.

Beat 'em up /beat um up/ n 1. a video game involving two brothers (often genetic twins) who set off on a mission to rescue their girlfriends (kidnapped by a gangland boss or evil drug dealer called Mr Big or Mr Long but not Wide). 2. a cry uttered by louts, after their sixteenth pint at 11.57 PM every Friday night as they leave Mr Pdang's Papadom Emporium and see someone who looks like he might not be completely British.

Metro City is a corrupt place. It's ruled by gods of sex, drugs and violence. The mayor was corrupt, the police are corrupt, those sorts of flat bugs you get scurrying about when you lift a rock up in your garden are corrupt, You (and a possible pal) are en route to oust Mr Big and his gang, The Mad Gears, from his festering pus-hut of a palace and rescue Jessica (the daughter of new mayor 'Honest' Mike Haggar).

Your choice of three Yankee heroes includes: Guy, a Ninjitsu expert; Cody, a sort of all-American, barrel-chested street fighter; and Haggar, who is, (surprise, surprise) an ex-wrestler who'd be more at home with the Chippendales if he wasn't the new mayor of Metro City.

Amiga reviewMacca: How many? How many beat 'em up games are there? Well, I'm not going to reel them all off, but if I was to say "About a million-squillion-billion," you'd get the idea. Aren't they fab though, eh? Mindless violence, ninja skills a-bungo, piledriving, chopping, kicking, endless enemies, big clubs, small clubs, medium-sized clubs, fairly small cl... (I think we get the idea. Ed.) So, after using all the clubs of varying sizes, you get bored and look for something different. What has Final Fight got then, eh?

Well, Final Fight's graphics are excellent and outrageously camp. One mutha looks like Jeff Minter on steroids (scarey), one could be Mr T (pretty scarey), and another is a twelve foot policeman who looks like he'd be perfectly at home at The Blue Oyster Club (very, very scarey).

Beat these about the head and shoulders with a knotted rope, and you have to face an Elvis look-alike and Bluto from Popeye. You can't win, basically. There are women as well, but they're semi-naked, synchronised cartwheelers with hand-cuffs. Well...

These Gay Pride nightmares are huge Gay Pride nightmares. All of them at least one third of the screen high (and sometimes as wide). They have three basic motives: to jump around and attack you; to stroll up and attack you; or to run backwards and forwards like Scooby Doo monsters and attack you. When people do this to you, you're best advised to retort in a similar vein.

The game is very quick. Even with so many tattooed arms and pairs of hot pants on screen, it doesn't slow down. The scrolling is very pleasing too. So, in a nutshell, (or should that be codpiece), Final Fight is excellent, violent, death-dealing fun. Stop