Final Fight 3 brings the franchise back from its globe-trotting sequel, settling into a desolate Metro City now taken over by the Skull Cross Gang. Despite the change in gang, series favorite Andore returns, apparently the final surviving member of the Mad Gear, and unable to escape his lifestyle.
Despite obvious attempts to deepen the fighting engine, Final Fight 3 miscues its design with peculiar assailants. Ditching the previous thugs allows for a host of oddball newcomers, including an old war veteran who tosses potato mashers and a clan of mask-wearing baseball players, a possible homage to the film The Warriors.
Taking them out is gratifying, with new, involved combos and special maneuvers pulled from Street Fighter. Guy, returning from his absence in Final Fight 2 (and depending on whether or not you played the original SNES port, his absence there as well) uses speed to dominate. A running combo begins with a forceful elbow, followed by a string of rapid-fire shots to the abdomen, ending with a sweeping kick to knock the opponent over.
Despite the obvious attempt to breathe life into an ailing franchise, including adding depth to the backdrops with shattering glass and or/objects plus multiple paths, Final Fight 3 is searching for its identity. There is desperation in the music that suits a grittier, harder edge that never appears in the visuals, and the negligible number of tracks cannot fill a low number of stages. Designs appear wanting, particularly newcomer Dean, with a brief mention of appearing in the Street Fighter tournament before walking away from Metro City into the realm of forgettable game characters.
It is oddly fitting that Final Fight 3 ends with Haggar, Guy, and Metro City cop Lucia staring at the cities skyscrapers as the sun rises above them. It is the final blissful moment for this series before it degraded into an abysmal one-on-one fighting game and dreadfully miscalculated PlayStation 2 revival. It is a shame the trilogy ends seeming more concerned with a rushed production schedule and stockholders than staying true to the original.
Final Fight 3 is available now on the Virtual Console for 800 Wii Points.