Most people are familiar with Final Fight’s appearance in arcades, on the Super Nintendo, and most recently on the Live Arcade. However, the game has seen its share of ports, including multiple computer renditions, a goofy NES game, and a fantastic translation on the Game Boy Advance. What follows is a complete list of all versions of the original Final Fight. Excluded are the two Super NES sequels, spin-offs, and an attempted re-boot on the PlayStation 2 that we would all like to forget.
Arcade (1989): The original is a classic for a number of reasons, notably due to the amazingly attractive visuals. Walking into an arcade back in 1989 and seeing sprites of this size was staggering, and the superlative gameplay mechanics were barely tweaked for Capcom’s future arcade beat-em-ups. Final Fight felt great, each enemy reacting to every punch in a way that sold each blow. Co-op play was a necessity, and accidentally punching your partner was part of the fun.
SNES (1990): The first home port of Final Fight did not bring with it many positives. While the game brought home amazingly accurate visuals, the lack of two-player action and the deletion of Guy were signs of a rushed port. The mechanics were intact, but a level (the industrial area) was missing. Enemy counts were understandably slashed to let the SNES keep up with the action. Still, for the time, this was the best way to play Final Fight, especially considering how accurate the controls and feel replicated the arcade game.
Amiga (1991): A clutter of home computer ports were brought out in 1991, all published by U.S. Gold. Out of these, the Amiga was the best across the board, but unfortunately misfired on the gameplay. Punches felt soft and lacked impact, while combos did not always finish. You could trap bosses in a corner, throw punches, and they would never fall until defeated. Screen scrolling was sloppy, and the music was missing. Considering it fit into a meager 512k, it is an impressive feat, but only marginally fun to play.
Amstrad (1991): Another one that looks nice (at least considering the hardware), but the gameplay seems centered around the timer rather than beating people up. Incredibly slow, the animation is choppy enough to make it difficult to see what is actually happening. The number of sprites on screen is limited, keeping down intensity. Enemies just sort of fall over when hit. No music was included, just a basic punching sound that certainly did not help.
Commodore 64 (1991): At least the title screen and character select screens look nice. Beyond the pathetically simply visuals, gameplay hardly resembled Final Fight. Enemies can easily break your combos, and there is no animation to indicate a hit has landed. Again, no music, just muddy punching effects. A single player experience, mostly because the hardware would not allow for more than three sprites total at any time.
ZX Spectrum (1991): If you thought the Commodore 64 was the last piece of hardware that should have a port of Final Fight, you were wrong. Not only is this version slow, it was almost impossible. Enemies can hit the player at will. The massive sprites obviously pushed the hardware, but with the classic yellow/blue/gray and black tints, you could still barely see what was happening. Your foes took forever to be knocked out, and it was certainly no fun to do so in the first place. Quite possibly the worst conversion of the game ever released.
Atari ST (1991): Probably the closest to the Amiga port. Collision detection, while soft and at times sketchy, was at least satisfactory. Sprites were both large and colorful. Only music is available, but it has been altered from the arcade with little regard for the original composition. Scrolling was choppy, but again, serviceable. Enemy AI was set to “pummel,” surrounding the player and wailing away, making escape difficult.
SNES (1992): A re-release of the original, only replacing Cody with Guy and renaming it Final Fight Guy (appropriate, no?). The game played exactly the same as the 1991 port. Two-player support was still missing, and now of course Cody was gone. Released as a rental exclusive in the US.
Sega CD (1993): Quite possibly the best home port ever released prior to the arcade translation on the Xbox 360. While the visuals are slightly muddy and lacking vibrant color, the music… just wow. The remixed, jazzy updates of these tracks are superb. Two-player support is included, and it handled an acceptable amount of enemies on screen despite the flicker. All of the levels are included, and a bonus survival mode remains an exclusive to this day. A bit expensive to track down these days, but money well spent.
NES (1993): Super deformed versions of Cody, Guy, and Haggar are brought to the NES in a version that has loose ties to the original (and it is admittedly a questionable inclusion in this list). Super moves are added like Street Fighter, and the cartoony bosses now have rather ridiculous patterns. Damnd now jumps around like a crazed child on a playground. While only single player, it was well paced, fast, colorful, and unique. Surprisingly satisfying.
Game Boy Advance (2001): The franchise nearly went a decade without a home port, but the wait was worth it. Visuals, despite the small screen, were accurate, as were the fighting mechanics themselves. New boss conversations were enjoyably goofy, and once unlocked, you could control Street Fighter Alpha versions of Guy and Cody (that’s fan service). A save feature let you resume at any level you stopped at, and the music was accurate to the arcade original. If you don’t have a Sega CD, a fine fall back version.
Wii (2007): The Virtual Console contains the SNES version. Still single player, and still missing Guy.
Xbox 360/PS3 (2010): Packaged with Magic Sword, Final Fight Double Impact contains an accurately emulated version of the original arcade edition. Remixed music is a bit of a letdown, more so if you are familiar with the Sega CD version, but online co-op is a first for the series. Enemy counts, aggressive difficulty, and unlockables (including a priceless episode of the US Street Fighter animated featuring Final Fight characters) make this one worth playing through again.