Final Fight: Sega CD

Final Fight: Sega CD
Final Fight: Sega CD

Insert Disk collects Final Fight for the Sega CD.

Today’s retro game review is Final Fight for the Sega CD. This retro gaming classic is a must own beat ’em up game from Capcom. Final Fight set the arcades alight back in the 90’s with its bold presentation, satisfyinggame play and memorable characters. Final Fight was certainly a favourite of mine back in the arcades but many of the home conversions were lacking in the same excitement. The Sega CD edition of Final Fight (Final Fight CD) seemed to get everything right though and remains high up on many Sega CD collectors all-time favourite game lists.

Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. This is an episode I’ve been wanting to make for some time as it features one of my favourite arcade games of all time. Join me as we crack some skulls in Final Fight for the Sega Mega CD.

When I was growing up the experience of going in to an arcade was a magical experience. The dimly lit rooms, the flashing lights, the numerous attract screens of the cabinets and the distant sound of air hockey pucks being hit. You would walk by the cabinets deciding where your 20p piece would be best invested. You’ve already overdosed on the Turtles and Simpsons arcade game and turned pre-diabetic at the amount of hours you’ve invested in Burger Time. You need something fresh and exciting. Something bright. Something bold. Something life changing.

This is when I encountered Final Fight. The word Capcom meant very little to me back then but it was the start of something very special. Final Fight just looked, sounded and felt great. To a youngster in need of a hit of arcade action Final Fight was the hottest ticket in town. Look a kung fu bloke, this dudes dishing out some beats to the gangs and this guy just set fire to his own friend! It was just breath-taking…

…and then in walks Haggar. Like a giant rampaging Freddy Mercury on steroids things really start kicking off on the streets of Metro City.

At this juncture in time the arcade was king. I of course had the Amiga conversion of Final Fight but it never really held a candle to the arcade original. I later saw the Super Nintendo release but the censorship and lack of features just made it one more reason to avoid the system. Then, rumours of Sega’s futuristic beast the Sega Mega CD circled the magazines of the day. A full 2 player, uncensored version of the game was to land in 1993. For Sega fans with the hardware this was one of the most anticipated game launches of all time.

Here in the UK the Sega Mega CD version was dialled back with some censorship. For those with Japanese hardware though the gloves were off and things were about to go down on the streets of Metro City once more.

So, how is it…? In a word… “Mania”.

The music was true CD quality, the game even had a narrator and the ability to deliver pain and suffering to the Mad Gear gang, unrelenting. This was it, this was Sega and Capcom vision to deliver the arcade experience in to the home and I absolutely adore this game. When I play this one, I’m right back in that arcade desperately searching for coins to feed them in to the cabinet. In truth this is an arcade favourite and perhaps also holds the number 1 spot on my Sega Mega CD list. The game is very much based around a story of revenge. Metro City has been set siege to by the gang known as Mad Gear. The newly elected mayor Mike Haggar makes it his mission to take on Mad Gear who control much of the criminal activity in the city. Haggar’s daughter Jessica has been kidnapped by the gang and let’s just say that this does not go down well with Haggar the former street fighter.

Along with Haggar Jessica’s boyfriend Cody joins the fight as well as Guy, Jessica’s friend because, well, you know you always have to have someone that knows ninjitsu in a street brawler. You take to the streets for some good old fashioned beat ’em up action. The opening scene is very much a tribute to the Double Dragon series with the girl being carried off by the gang. Guys, Cody and Haggar share certain attack mechanics. All can hold an enemy and can perform jumping attacks. If in trouble you can also hit A and B together for a special move but this will drain some of your life, so use it wisely.

There are notable differences between the fighting styles of the three heroes. When Haggar picks up a knife he throws it as a single serve item whilst Cody re-uses the weapon to repeatedly stab his enemies. The most notable fighting style you’ll notice though are the grapples. Whilst Guy and Cody can throw the enemy Haggar takes this to the next level by grabbing them and then launching in to the air with them, anyone in their way simply gets squashed. This makes Haggar by far the most fun to play with. Baring down on enemies and then pile driving them in to oblivion is the type of escapism that beat ’em up games were made for. There’s just nothing more satisfying that a raging Haggar as he wipes out a room. Just look at this action on the moving train. The environment, the music and graphics all make this game so appealing. Other mechanics from the arcade are all in here, destroying scenery will often give you weapons of food which will be much needed at times. It’s now engrained in gamers minds that it’s fine to eat food straight from dirty city streets. You will need this food too. Final Fight due to its coin guzzling arcade origins is at times brutal and unforgiving. In the fights with the bosses such as Sodom don’t be surprised to see your life bar being wiped off a quarter at a time. Abigail can literally take half of your life bar with one punch if you’re not careful.

Final Fight offers some great bosses from the street gangs to the police, the wrestlers and even a boss that thinks it’s fair to simply pelt you with grenades. So, there’s plenty of variety and memorable characters in here to lay in to. When you’re not punching the gangs you’ll be setting about their property. The classic, “Smash the car” bonus round is now an iconic Capcom moment. Simply set about destroying a car as fast as you can for bonus points. Final Fight is also a game that has been subject to either controversy or censorship over the years. The Nintendo Super Famicom edition is considered to be very limited. Not only is it lacking in multiple player modes and the exclusion of Guy without the additional game “Final Fight Guy” attempts to limit controversy were made. Most notably the characters of Roxy and Poison were replaced with Sid and Billy as it was thought that violence towards women was unacceptable.

Sure, it’s fine to throw fire in to this guy’s face and stab obese people but heaven forbid women get involved in video games. As a result the Nintendo version of Final Fight was badly hobbled. It was then later suggested that no, Poison was actually a male character so it was ok to include them in the game. I won’t go in to the whole saga in this episode but it led to an on-going Capcom gaming theory that Poison is actually an early transgender character. The truth actually appears to be that Poison is indeed female but gamers still love to fan the flames of controversy and why not Capcom themselves are to this day reluctant to state a definitive answer to the question. Its likely that this comment on Poisons gender so many years ago has now been blow well out of proportion.

What you will find in terms of censorship on Sega platforms spilled over when the US release of the game was modified for the US audience. There are small tweaks in the game, the most notable Jessica’s underwear has been covered up in the US release by a red dress. It’s not a game changer by any means but one more reason fans cite the Japanese Sega Mega CD version as the true conversion of the game.

Of course none of this stops the fun but it does bring in to question other elements of the regional releases. Take a look here at a quick comparison of the introduction scenes. In the Japanese version Haggar seems notably annoyed and angry and the voice acting is spot on. In the US version Haggar and the gang member just seem to be having a casual business call. Top this off that in the original Japanese version the animation was made to sync with the voice acting. In the US version the lip sync is just a bit off. Again, it’s not a deal breaker but one more reason fans of the game tend to gravitate towards the Japanese release of the game. And here is that release. I’ve owned both European and Japanese versions and can confirm that the Japanese edition is where the action is at. You will need the Japanese hardware to play this game but its well worth it in my opinion, particularly if you are a serious Sega collector. It opens up a new avenue of collecting for you.

The artwork is really iconic and just everything you would want from a Sega CD game. Great artwork and a simple case to hide the all-important game disc. I have to say, Capcom and Sega really did well with the manual. You’ll get an introduction of the story. A simple explanation of the rules. Explanation of the options menu. Character bios including move sets and some general strategies to engage the enemy. Explanation of the special moves, the weapons, the power ups and the points items. Interestingly the manual also gives you a taste of the levels with an image and description of each round in the game. To top this off you get an illustration of all of the gang members and bosses. Its satisfying that this thug is called Bred. Overall this is a physical presentation that you’ll want to preserve in a protective sleeve jacket if you have one.

In terms of pricing UK editions of the game can be found for around the £50 price point but will almost certainly rise over time as this really is a true Capcom classic. The North American NTSC edition prices ranges greatly on the online auctions. Complete in box though $150-$200 is not an unusual price to see online. However, do yourself a favour and pick up the Japanese uncensored version for as little as $25 or £20 here in the UK.

So, Final Fight, is it worth collecting? In a word “Yes”. As a Sega collector, fan of beat ’em ups and someone that has nostalgia linked to this game it’s an essential item. Not just to put on a shelf but to really get involved and play. Due to the reliance of the Mega Drives colour palette it’s not a perfect conversion. However, it’s about as perfect an edition you will find. The Sega Mega CD version of Final Fight captures that arcade feel, the dramatic scenes of gang violence and energy that should be present in all games similar. This was a favourite of mine back in the day and I’m happy to confirm that Final Fight still shines as a best in class street brawler. Without it we may not have seen games such as the Streets of Rage go on to pick up its crown.

Final Fight remains an important game for Capcom and its fans.

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