Back in the days when arcade conversions were often enough to make or break a home console, the earth-shattering news that Nintendo had secured a port of Capcom's Final Fight for its soon-to-be-released Super Famicom sent shockwaves through playgrounds all over the globe. In this pre-Street Fighter 2 world, Final Fight was the biggest ticket in town; a side-scrolling brawler in the tradition of Renegade and Double Dragon, it boasted massive character sprites, a wide repertoire of attack moves and instantly accessible gameplay. Nestled neatly within Nintendo's 16-bit launch line-up, it was a definite system seller - despite the fact that cartridge memory constraints meant the two-player mode, third character Guy and an entire level were left on the cutting room floor.
While Sega fans would eventually get a port of Final Fight for the Mega CD three years later, back in 1990 the news was nothing short of devastating. The Mega Drive was famed for its superlative arcade ports - which included Capcom favourites Strider and Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, both skilfully converted by Sega itself under license - and prior to the announcement of the Super Famicom edition, there were idle rumours that Final Fight was headed to Sega's console under a similar arrangement. When that didn't happen though, rather than admit defeat in the battle of the side-scrolling fighter, Sega did something which has been a common practice in the video game industry since its very inception: it plagiarised.
Streets of Rage - or Bare Knuckle, to use its Japanese moniker - was as close as Mega Drive owners were ever going to get to Final Fight at that point in time. One of the three playable characters - Axel Stone - bares more than a passing resemblance to Final Fight's hero Cody, right down to the white T-shirt, tight stonewash jeans and sporty sneakers. The core mechanics are also very similar; both games expand on the template laid down by Double Dragon and focus on combination attacks and grapple moves, the latter of which can be finished off with a throw - perfect for crowd control as the hurled assailant becomes a wrecking ball which can be used to take down other enemies.
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