Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Review: Final Fight CD (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Sega (Sega/Mega-CD, 32X CD)
Instruction Manual: Not necessary
Difficulty: Hard
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $21.50 (used) $76.00 (new) ( – Price for Sega CD version only
Price: $23-$60 (used) N/A on US Version (new) on eBay
Other Releases: Arcade, SNES, Gameboy Advance
Digital Release? Yes – SNES version on Virtual Console ($8), Arcade version on XBLA/PSN as Double Impact ($10)

Final Fight is a pivotal late 80s arcade release for Capcom for two reasons: it established the norms that would make up the concept of the “beat-em-up” genre for its short-lived life (although it oddly enough didn’t introduce any of them) and it created the aesthetic and building blocks of Street Fighter II.  Anyone who has played this game or SFII will immediately be familiar with that semi-realistic semi-animated graphical style of Final Fight that remained exclusive to these two titles moving forward for a few sequels (I’m considering the numerous re-hashes of SFII to be sequels).  In full disclosure this is my favorite brawler of all time and definitely ranks highly in my overall top games I’ve ever played despite the fact that Final Fight doesn’t translate well to home consoles because it’s intended to take your money and prompt more quarters rather than be completed in a finite number of lives/credits.  In order to complete the game in the allotted five credits requires you to memorize the cheaper boss battles and exploit the collision detection.  For me it was just repetitive stupid fun.

Originally created by Yoshiki Okamoto as a sequel to Street Fighter (known better as Fighting Street) this game borrowed the gameplay from Double Dragon and adapted it, removing the one-on-one aspect of Street Fighter.  After receiving feedback from arcade owners at trade shows that the game played nothing like Street Fighter and that the Street Fighter ’89 title would be misrepresented, it was changed to Final Fight.  The game borrows heavily from pop culture and Capcom’s library as well – the plot is based on the movie Streets of Fire, most of the enemies have names from metal bands of the 80s, and even the gang you’re fighting, Mad Gear, comes from the 1987 Capcom arcade game Led Storm (the connection makes more sense when you consider it was titled Mad Gear in Japan).  It’s a pretty simple concept and title beyond that.  You play as one of three protagonists trying to save a young girl, Jessica Haggar, from the clutches of the Mad Gear gang that has kidnapped her to intimidate mayor Mike Haggar.  The protagonists are Mike Haggar himself, Jessica’s boyfriend Cody, and Cody’s best friend Guy as they punch through six different areas and finally take on a final boss.  This game was rated as one of the most popular coin-op arcades of that year, basically spawned many signatures from Street Fighter II, and has been kept closely linked to both that series and Capcom as a whole.  Home ports were to be expected but didn’t hold up quite as well for reasons previously explained – that is, unless you cheat for endless lives.

Initially the game hit home consoles as an early Super NES title, but was criticized for the many changes that needed to be made for release within Nintendo’s specs and limitations.  Due to size requirements, Guy was completely removed from the game as was the 2-player co-op option, entering and exit animations (like smashing doors) were removed, and the fourth stage (Industrial) was removed completely.  Not only that but the game was censored in America: Jessica is seen in a bra in the arcade and is now in a red dress, first boss Damnd and second boss Sodom were renamed to Thrasher and Katana respectively, female characters Poison and Roxy were made into males and renamed Sid and Billy, blood effects were removed, and when you destroy the guy’s car in the first bonus stage he now says, “Oh! My car…” instead of, “Oh my God!”  Although the censorship changes are minimal to say the least, the major game changes due to size requirements removed many aspects that made it a true “complete” port – especially considering that my favorite level is Industrial and favorite character is Guy.  A second game, Final Fight Guy, was released in Japan that featured Guy as the only playable character as well as a few minor changes (that removed the other characters from the picture) but still had no co-op or Industrial stage and was seen as a sprite swap that wasn’t all that necessary.  It was available here as a rental only in Blockbuster stores and all copies of the game in existence for the US are the used game sales from closing Blockbusters, which make it somewhat of a rarity.  Aside from the negative changes, the game retains decent graphical integrity compared to the arcade and thanks to the Sony sound chip it stands proudly next to the arcade counterpart.

In the Sega/Mega CD release, most of those short comings were fixed.  As far as I know there was no Genesis port planned but I’m unsure as to why, whether it was from the heavy graphical and sound needs of the game or because Capcom had a licensed deal for cartridge versions with Nintendo.  On the flip side, the Genesis did spawn the rip-off series Streets of Rage, which many consider to be the better series in retrospect – obviously I side with Final Fight.  In the Sega CD version co-op was kept in, all 3 protagonists appear, all levels (including Industrial) are intact, and it even added voiceovers for the few cutscenes in the game.  While some of the US censored changes are still there – boss name changes, for example – the female enemies and blood splat return.  All in all the game just feels like a more complete and faithful port of the arcade version and depending on your opinion has improved and more sharp graphics over the SNES version.  It’s difficult for me to truly comment on it because screen grabs and side-by-side plays on my standard definition television look quite similar aside from little UI changes, but with the graphical clean-up and improvements from emulation (which I will go on record stating that I hate those filters) it does appear to have a cleaner more vibrant look.

A Gameboy Advance version was released, Final Fight One, that brought the game to portables and is basically a port of the SNES game with all of the size-removed content (co-op, Guy, Industrial) re-integrated.  It’s still censored the same way the SNES game was save for Damnd and Sodom getting their names back and you can unlock the Street Fighter Alpha 3 versions of Cody and Guy as bonuses, but in 2001 it was a bit of a tough sale for a game that was then twelve years old.  I guess if you can find it on the cheap it can be a fun port.

Nowadays, especially given the cost, it’s a much better option to pick up the digital arcade transfer of this game on modern HD consoles.  The remake, renamed to Final Fight: Double Impact because it includes hack-and-slash Capcom arcade Magic Sword is a solid port and a tremendous value at $10.  This version allows you to have unlimited continues so you can actually see the ending, integrates online co-op, reverts back to the original arcade game, and various filters and resolution settings to make the game look as authentic or shiny and new as you want it.  It may have been slim pickings at the time, but thanks to the Sega CD, Genesis fans could finally brag that they had the better port of one of the most popular games from the late 80s/early 90s and I couldn’t have been more proud to own Final Fight CD.  In fact, the copy I have is the very version I bought from a FuncoLand for $15 in 1996.

I’ve captured about an hour of gameplay (almost beat the game!) for your review, but you have to excuse the quality.  Per a YouTube FAQ I encoded the gameplay differently (lower res, in MP4 format) and I don’t like the results but it took so long to encode I don’t want to change it for this video either.  More quality coming with tomorrow’s video, promise!

Written by Fred Rojas

November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Good info. Lucky me I found your site by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have saved as a favorite for later!


    June 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

  2. What a lame game…


    September 29, 2015 at 8:43 pm

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