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Ever played Final Fight? If you just said no, shame on you; you probably like Streets of Rage instead. Most people don’t even know there are sequels to the original Final Fight, and that’s just sad. Gritty, urban beatdowns to a catchy, classic Capcom soundtrack… Every Final Fight game was a masterpiece. If you don’t agree, well… Too bad; you’re wrong.

Final fight 3 trustYou’ll see this a lot. Trust me.

We will put the focus on the black sheep of the franchise. (At least from the 16-bit era.) Most people who played Final Fight 3 didn’t like it as much as they should have. And it’s all their fault, too! Imagine; you’re going through a run-down city, beating the hell out of 75% of the population to great music! Who doesn’t like that? Well, Communists, for one. People who eat puppies are also on this list, so before falling off the fence on the wrong side of the argument, hear me out.

Final fight Lucia doing C ViperLucia doing her “C.Viper” impression.

Final Fight 3 is a major upgrade and return to glory for the series.  FF2 was pretty good, but you lose over half the original roster, and the plot is silly, even by Capcom standards.  You weren’t really getting Oscar-worthy material in FF1, but at least the suspension of disbelief was a lot easier to maintain.  FF3 ditches the “save a girl” formula and opts for the “Vanilla bad-guy organization is taking over the city” approach, making the plot really insignificant in the end.  I think we can all agree on that.

Either Haggar power upEither Haggar just got a powerup, or this dude is about to get a rectum full of asphalt.

The gameplay is stellar, and takes the series to a whole new level of depth and strategy.  The characters aren’t just sprite swaps with slightly different attributes anymore, oh no.  Every character, all four of them, are extremely unique and have their own set of advantages.  They even have matched weapon pickups they excel with!  In the original Final Fight, Haggar was your man for any weapon except the knife, with his super quick swing recovery.  Now, all characters use different weapons accordingly.  Since Guy is a ninja, and you have to use nunchaku at some point during your ninja-ing career, he swings twice and has extended range with nunchakus.  Lucia, being a riot cop, has advantage with the Baton.  Haggar, being the Mayor of Metro City and EVERYWHERE else on the planet can swing the good ol’ lead pipe like nobody’s business.    All characters also have a unique Super Move that utilizes it’s own meter at the bottom of the screen.  And if THAT wasn’t enough, each character has fighting game-style inputs that do different actions, as well.  To top off this cherry sundae of control awesomeness, you also have a button that lets you face one direction while moving in another.  Yes, you can moonwalk in FF3.

A friendly fire final fight 3Friendly fire just isn’t. Don’t be a dick!

The enemies aren’t quite as numerous, and that’s disappointing.  In the original Final Fight, you could be facing down up to six guys at one time.  In FF2 and 3, you only get 4.  This doesn’t seem to make a huge difference on the surface, but you can feel it.  The enemy diversity suffers a little because of this, but somehow the game manages to make each separate encounter memorable, with a different strategy required no matter what character you’re playing.  The bosses are also extremely difficult, with less of an emphasis on pattern memorization and more on solid reflexes.  Stray, the boss of level 5, is an excellent example of this concept

final fight gameBut let’s not take any with us. That would be fair.

What most people bitch incessantly about is the overall game design.  The enemies look stupid.  The backgrounds are stupid.  Hell, somehow they even made Mike Haggar look stupid.  Yes, the Mayor of the Milky Way looks like Freddie Mercury with kneepads and a ponytail.  Dead serious.  You also get to fight such wonderful enemies like Arby, the fat mechanic!  Fritz, the helmet-wearing grenade chucker!  Caine, the long-armed, wrench-swinging, dreadlocked freak who you can never kill no matter how hard you try and the game just pisses you off with his nonsense and UGH!  So on and so forth.

Final fight sub sandwichGuy spots the world’s biggest sub sandwich.

The main draw of the game for me, however, is the concept of branching paths.  Breaking open doors and other parts of the scenery will open up new levels and shortcuts, and sometimes even boss fights!  There is a lot to do in this busy little game, and it’s worth a shot.  Two player mode is “off the chain” as the cool kids would say, and smashing the bad guys while saving our favorite little metropolis has never been so much fun as it is in this game.  Go on patrol with the Metro City Neighborhood Watch Association for this one, folks.  You won’t be sorry you did.

Final Fight bossIf you made it here, you’ll wish you didn’t. Seriously, this boss is an asshole.