Retro Review: Final Fight / SNES (1991)

Final Fight for the Super Nintendo was a port of the arcade smash hit of the same name. The late 80’s to the mid 90’s were the golden age of beat ’em up style arcade games, featuring side scrolling action, lots of enemies on the screen, and co-op gameplay (which was pretty much required to get through the frantic levels). Capcom was a pioneer in this sub-genre thanks to the power of their CPS arcade board. Though kids these days don’t understand the allure of the arcade, there was a time when it was THE place to be. Why? Because while you were playing Atari 2600 or NES games at home you could go to the arcade and play games with graphics beyond your wildest dreams. The Super Nintendo was poised to start bringing some of these arcade hits home and I was very, very excited. When Final Fight hit the shelves it was a must own for me. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered I had purchased a watered down, censored version of the arcade classic.

Due to the restrictions of the 8-bit rom they used for the cart (and rumored deadline issues), Final Fight for the SNES had quite a few things missing. Gone was Guy, a selectable character from the arcade version. Also gone was the ability to play co-op. This was a big miss for me because playing with friends was one of my favorite things to do. And as I mentioned before, playing co-op is pretty much the only way to beat a game with all the mayhem going on in a beat ’em up game. Oh yeah, that wasn’t going to be a problem either…..due to the aforementioned restrictions, only three enemies were on the screen at a time. This made the game a lot easier than the arcade version. Beyond that, the entire industrial stage was left on the cutting room floor. So, in short, I’d bought a hollowed out version of one of my favorite arcade games (and you can rest assure that they didn’t advertise this on the box).

Final Fight also suffered from being released on a Nintendo system. Nintendo was notorious for forcing companies to edit their games for content. Mortal Kombat on the SNES is the shining example of this horrible policy. While they let up on this over the years, Final Fight was released before they’d loosened the reigns. Female characters were removed and replaced (because of their dress….the game takes place in the roughest parts of town). Names of characters were changed as well. Bars were renamed to clubs and all alcohol references were removed. A character who was in a wheelchair was redrawn to appear as if he was sitting in an office chair (so as to not appear handicapped). Blood splatter was also removed, which to most fans, was the biggest sin.

While I was disappointed in the version of the game I bought, the American public gobbled it up. It was a major hit for Capcom and another win for the SNES. And while I was disappointed, Final Fight for the SNES was still a fun game. It sported slick graphics and the controls were spot on. If I had never played the arcade version I would’ve never known what I was missing out on. Capcom later released Final Fight Guy, adding in the cut character (at the cost of Cody). Final Fight 2 was basically a beefed up and improved version of the original with Rolento as a playable characters and co-op.

Final Fight still stands on its on as fun game on Nintendo’s classic Super Nintendo. Is it missing out on a lot of features and content that would have made it better? Sure. But, the bones of that greatness are still there and Final Fight is one of the best beat ’em ups you can play. Plus, being able to play an arcade game at home, even if it was watered down, was super cool to my 12 year old self.


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