Final Fight One
By Eric Kennedy Tuesday, 28 Jul 2009

When it comes to the classic beat’em-up Final Fight, the discerning gamer has many flavors to choose from. You can go for the slickness of the nearly arcade-perfect Sega CD version, with it’s arranged soundtrack and crisp graphics; or you can settle for the watered-down Super Nintendo cartridge, if you can stomach the removal of two-player cooperative mode, bland music, and censorship that makes Metro City somewhat dull. You can even get your fix on the NES with super-deformed graphics via Mighty Final Fight. Yet above them all stands Final Fight One for the Gameboy Advance. While it does suffer from the technical limitations of a portable system, there are several key improvements that trump those concerns.

Final Fight One gameplay 1

First and foremost, it handles the best of any version. The Sega CD port is agonizingly slow, and even though the SNES improves upon that, FF One possesses responsive controls and fast-paced action that far outshines the others. This is critical to my enjoyment of the game, because while some of you might not remember how difficult it is, just getting past the second stage is nearly impossible without practice. Enemies swarm you from both sides of the screen, and stage bosses require patience in order to minimize the loss of lives. Final Fight is not a game that can be won through

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attrition. The only way to counter the constant assault from hordes of enemies is with well-timed punches, quick reflexes, and meticulous crowd-control. FF One eases the sting of difficulty by giving you the tools to handle the job, while also moving the game along at a much more “zippy” pace.

With the game being as hard as it is, it’s tough to find the motivation to keep trying after multiple game over screens. It’s a little more palatable on the Sega CD, because you’re treated to a highly-enjoyable soundtrack and co-op play, but let’s face it: most of us would rather just pop the disc into a CD player, and two-player mode means twice as much ass for the Mad Gear gang to kick. The GameBoy Advance remake actually rewards you for coming back again and again. Every bad guy you pound gets you closer to the next unlockable secret, such as extra lives, rapid-fire punches, or even a stage select option if things get desperate. I found that as I played the game more and more, I was able to tailor the difficulty to what I thought was fair, without feeling like I was completely compromising the challenge level. Plus, being able to eventually play as Alpha Cody helps the game feel just a little more fresh and exciting.

Final Fight One gameplay 2

While you might think that the lowly GBA sound chip couldn’t hold a candle to the SNES or (especially) the Sega CD, it actually acquits itself very well. The SNES version suffered from lackluster samples, and while the redbook audio of the Sega CD is a technical masterpiece, it doesn’t suit the nature of a beat’em up very well. FF One features a hard-driving, face-pounding soundtrack that instills you with the proper sense of aggression. Kudos to Sun-Tec for taking great care in retooling the music to better fit the faster pace of their port! They could have easily given us an uninspired copycat of the SNES arrangements, and it makes all the difference that they didn’t.

Version comparisons aside, you probably want to know how the game stands on it’s own merits. For Final Fight fans, this is an absolute no-brainer: it’s everything you love about the classic beat’em-up, with all the right adjustments. For those looking for a carefree, fun romp in ass-kicking land, well… given the steep difficulty of the game, you could probably find something more immediately gratifying, and with more varied action (I found myself using the same manuevers over and over again for most of the game). If you love a classic challenge, one that rewards you for honing your skills to a fine point, and using that fine point to rip the bad guys a new one, this is a worthy $10-$15 purchase. The weak of constitution and slow of reflex need not apply. You’ve been warned.


3 Responses to “Final Fight One”

  1. Zach Patterson Says:

    Nice review. Hohman and I have fond memories of dominating Final Fight on Sega CD a few times, but I didn’t know that this version came packed with excellent extras. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a copy sometime.

    also, as an aside, i always thought adding One to the end of the title was an exceptionally goofy move by Capcom.

  2. Eric Kennedy Says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure why they felt “One” is appropriate, or why they chose to ignore the standards convention of adding “Advance” to the end of a GBA port.

    Speaking of extras, I forgot to mention the added dialogue between your character and each stage boss. It’s not much, but it adds just a bit of charm to the game. It’s different depending on who you pick, too.

  3. Zach Patterson Says:

    saw perhaps the worst condition copy of this game ever at a Gamestop this past weekend. The entire label had been ripped off the game and replaced with a Gamestop UPC label, and the left side of the cartridge was scuffed and bent so bad that it looked like someone has rubbed sandpaper on it for a few hours and then run it over with a car a few times. and they were STILL selling it for $6.99. my god.

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