Like so many Capcom classics, Final Fight is a pop-culture archetype, its opening backstreet belt a nostalgic incendiary for arcade goers of the 90s. That distinct credit jingle, those copper rusted oil drums, that telephone booth, that basement warehouse, that beef sirloin inside a pillar of car tyres... and sun-kissed, blonde-dreadlocked Damnd busting through a wooden door and heckling you with his ferocious smoker's cackle.
It's still plain to see why it was ahead of its time. Street Fighter 2 may have guaranteed the fortunes of Capcom, but even in the wake of Makaimura, Bionic Commando and Strider, it was Final Fight that first cemented it as a force to be reckoned with. It was a larger-than-life offering, technically advanced for 1989, visceral and visually supercharged, and, contrary to the complex dynamics of the aforementioned, won audiences by virtue of its relative simplicity and dramatic cinematic qualities.
If you can accept that the scrolling beat-'em-up is married to a specific point in arcade history, Final Fight has barely aged. Ported to just about every console on the map, it's a model for the genre: its sprites bold and beautifully drawn, its collision detection boasting a tautness of unmatched precedent. Competing developers turned out copycat software in droves, but none could match Final Fight's inimitable snap: the feel of its punch volleys and the raw discord expelled from the CPS1's guttural sound chip.
Read more…