Final Fight is an arcade classic that has been beloved in the gaming community since it hit arcades in 1989. It was ported to the SNES and even received two sequels on the system, but did you know it was also ported to the NES? In July of 1993 Capcom released Mighty Final Fight for the NES, a more lighthearted spin on the Final Fight story with a colourful chibi art style.
Being that Mighty Final Fight is a port of the original arcade classic we all know and love it makes sense that the plot follows the same basic premise. Our story takes place in Metro City, a metropolis overrun with crime, thanks to the Mad Gear Gang. The leader of this street gang has fallen in love with Jessica, the daughter of Metro City Mayor, Haggar. Jessica is a beloved figure in Metro City and her beauty gives its citizens the power to carry on through these hard times. Haggar receives a phone call in the middle of a training session with Cody, Jessica’s boyfriend, and Cody’s training partner, Guy. The villain on the other end of the line informs Haggar that Jessica has been kidnapped and will be forced to marry the leader of the Mad Gear Gang. Without a moment to spare, Haggar, Cody, and Guy spring into action and set out to take on the Mad Gear Gang once and for all to bring Jessica home safely.
As you might expect, Mighty Final Fight is a side scrolling beat-em-up. Unlike some of the other Final Fight games, this game is single player only. If it had two-player co-op I think this game would be much more commonly remembered and considered one of the greatest 8-bit beat-em-ups. Also unlike the other Final Fight games, this game gives you the option to play as any one of the three main characters, Cody, Guy and Haggar. All of them have their unique abilities and move sets that are outlined in more detail in the next section of this review. Mighty Final Fight also stands apart from the other games in the series by introducing a level system for character progression. The player is awarded experience points for defeating an enemy and the amount of experience you get depends on what move you finish off your opponent with, the more complicated moves earn you more points. Once you earn enough experience your character will level up and unlock new fighting techniques. The game is generous enough to give the player 6 lives per game, but if you do get a game over you can continue a few times and select a different playable character if you wish. There are even bonus stages throughout the game where you can earn extra lives, health power ups, player specific weapons, and even extra continues. Even with all those lives and power-ups, this game is no walk in the park. It has a fair amount of challenge, just enough to keep you engaged but not enough to end up in the same category as games like Ninja Gaiden. It may seem too tough at first but the excellent control is easily mastered with practice and gives you the ability to see the game through to the end, just as I did in the video below. Overall, the gameplay is excellent. It is fluid, responsive, satisfying and most importantly, it is a lot of fun.
CODY - “A tough street fighter who is skilled with knives.”
Fighting Style: His own unique blend of karate and boxing
Move List: Over the Shoulder Throw, Jump Kick, Knee Drop, Knee Bash, Super Kick (reduces energy)
Special Move: Tornado Sweep
Weapon Power-Up: Knife
Cody is Jessica's boyfriend and a martial arts master. He is the most balanced of the three characters as far as speed and strength go and he has some interesting moves. His special move, the Tornado Sweep, is very cool. He can use this move to create a projectile of pure energy, similar to the Hadoken from Street Fighter. Unfortunately, Cody needs a second or two to summon the strength to pull the move off so it isn't really that useful in a game where the enemies are near you most of the time.
GUY - “Descended from ninja, he possesses incredible agility.”
Fighting Style: Ninjutsu
Move List: Back Roll Toss, Jump Kick, Elbow Drop, Knee Bash, Super Kick (reduces energy)
Special Move: Tornado Kick
Guy is my favourite character of the three. He is a student of Ninjutsu under Master Genryusai and helps Cody train as his training partner. As the game says, he is the most agile and can move around the screen faster than the other two, while having the same basic strength stats as Cody. His special move, the Tornado Kick, is an awesome kicking combo. When Guy unleashes his Tornado Kick he performs a devastating kick combo, roundhouse to spinning side kick, to the opponents head. This move can easily be added to the end of a punching combo by the player once you master the control, making Guy super fun to play as.
HAGGAR - “The hot-tempered wrestler and mayer of Metro City.”
Fighting Style: Wrestling
Move List: Head Butt, Body Squat, Suplex, Piledriver, Spining Clothesline (reduces energy)
Special Move: Running Clothesline
Weapon: Oversized Mallet
Haggar is a beast and he always starts the game at level 3 strength. He is the mayor of Metro City, Jessica's father, former wrestler and champion street fighter. His in game sprite is huge and he is much stronger than Cody and Guy but he is quite a bit slower. According to the Mighty Final Fight manual when Haggar performs his special move, the Running Clothesline, he moves at "the speed of light" to apply this fatal wresting move. However, this is the only time he moves quickly, but it is helpful having his incredible strength on your side. If you are having trouble beating the game there is a little trick that you can do which was revealed in the Classified Information section of Nintendo Power Volume 56. Start the game as Haggar and get game over 3 times. Then start the game as Cody or Guy and you will start at level 3 strength, just like Haggar.
I love the character variety in this game. They aren't simply palette swaps of the same character like you sometimes see in games from the 90s, but full fledged different characters with different stats and move sets. This keeps the game fresh and gives you a reason to play through it again. The bosses on the other hand, are not as unique. There are four different bosses, Thrasher, Katana, Abigail, and the leader of the Mad Gear Gang. You fight Abigail twice and he is no different the second time you face him. Katana you fight three times but he gets a palette swap each time you fight him. He also behaves a little differently the second two times you fight him but it would have been nice to see some further variety in the bosses.
The graphics and art in this game are superb. They are a great example of what the NES is capable of. The sprite art and animation here are some of my favourite on the system. I love the way the enemy’s react to being hit and the way their faces express their shock after being punched. The backgrounds are well detailed and colourful, and I like the chibi art direction the developers decided to go in for this title. All that being said, this game suffers greatly from flashing sprites. The picture processing unit in the NES is only capable of displaying eight sprites per scanline at one time. Character models are often made of multiple sprites themselves and when too many sprites are on the screen at one time the hardware must prioritize what needs to be shown. This results in the flickering of sprites that is a characteristic of so many great NES games. This happens a lot in Mighty Final Fight. It bothered me a little when I first got into this game but after playing it for a while I stopped noticing it and it left my mind almost entirely because I was enjoying the gameplay so much. Flickering sprites are better than having the NES slow down and chug along, another common happening in NES games, and Mighty Final Fight never slows down at all.
The last thing that is worth mentioning here is this game's soundtrack. It is awesome. It is more Capcom 8-bit greatness, right up there with Mega Man. The sound effects themselves are pretty much what you would expect but the music is great enough to be in my personal library and on regular rotation when I am in the mood for video game music, which is most of the time. Composers Setsuo Yamamoto and Yuko Takehara did a bang up job here, writing heart thumping action music putting you in the mood to fight!
Mighty Final Fight is a fantastic beat-em-up that is unfairly overlooked and often forgotten. I think this is due to its late release on the NES. By this point the SNES had already been out for two years and Final Fight 2 was about to release on that system. Today, the late release means it is rare and expensive in the retro video game collecting scene. Fortunately the Famicom version is much cheaper and contains no major changes other than the language in the cut scenes. I recommend going that route if you want to play this game on an original cartridge. Overall I have a hard time thinking of much of anything negative to say about this game. It is a little short and doesn't have a two player co-op mode, but it is still a very fun and challenging single player experience. Some of the bosses are repeated and the sprites flash a lot, but the gameplay, control, soundtrack, and art are so good that you forget about these flaws. I highly recommend this game to casual NES fans and hardcore collectors alike and there are ways you can play this game without spending your hard earned dollars on a copy of the NES cartridge. It is on the 3DS and Wii U virtual console, it's on the Capcom Classics Mini-Mix for Game Boy Advance and there's always the flash cartridge route. There plenty options to get out there and return peace to Metro City.
Mighty Final Fight is a fantastic beat-em-up that is unfairly overlooked and often forgotten.