Mighty Final Fight
Box Shot
Mighty Final Fight
Platform: NES
Publisher: Capcom
Designer: Capcom
Genre: Beat-em-up
Players: 1
Published Date 1991
Reviewed by: Bryan Cord

Once in a proverbial blue moon, a video game comes along that so enthralls us with its exemplary graphics and zen-like gameplay that the resulting game play experience can almost be equated with a higher state of consciousness. As one might guess from the title though, Mighty Final Fight is not that game, but such trivialities don't stop it from being a blast to play nontheless. Although I'm not sure what prompted Capcom to throw together a port/parody of their smash arcade (and SNES, although it wasn't quite as good) hit Final Fight on the NES in that system's twilight days, this reviewer generally isn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Suffice it to say that, although the locales and sprites look downright silly (intentionally? You'd hope so..) when compared to the game's 16-bit counterparts, the action (while just a teensy bit reminiscent of the Double Dragon games or River City Ransom) is fast, addictive, and damned entertaining. Were it not for some rather glaring omissions, Mighty Final Fight would almost hold a candle to River City Ransom, widely-regarded king of the NES beat-em-up crop.

Almost from the time the power switch is turned on, MFF shamelessly parodies (again, intentionally? I really hope all this was intended, or I'd look pretty silly) its namesake. Things start out with a cinema scene in which the Mad Gears reveal that they've kidnapped Metro City mayor (and, inexplicably, one hell of a street fighter and pioneer of the wrinkle-free pant) Mike Haggar's daughter Jessica, just like in the arcade. Similarities to Final Fight end here though, as the almost-real-looking visuals of the arcade cinema are replaced by hilariously exaggerated cartoons in which everyone (well, everyone except Haggar- he looks a bit like Magnum, P.I.) looks like a little kid.

From here, things move (after a brief interlude in which the map screen is displayed) to the Slums, where the butt-kicking begins. The player can choose to pulverize the Mad Gears as Haggar, Jessica's sweetheart Cody, or enigmatic ninja Guy (who was omitted from the SNES Final Fight, but makes an appearance here). Each is rendered pretty laughably in that big-head-on-an-absurdly-small-body way (Guy looks like he escaped from Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Cody looks like an extra from Super Dodge Ball, and Haggar still looks a bit like Tom Selleck), but don't let it fool you-- these guys have access to every technique possessed by their arcade counterparts, and can kick every bit as much tailbone when they want to. The kids (well, only one of them, but I'll save the rant about the lack of a two-player feature for later in the review) move through all six (seven?) locales from the arcade game, beating the good intentions out of the hundreds of Mad Gears foolhardy enough to stand in their way en route to Jessica.

The backgrounds seem to be about the only thing given serious (as opposed to tongue-in-cheek, not sloppy) graphical treatment by the designers- it looks to me like serious effort was made to reproduce the scenery of the arcade game, but the end result wouldn't look the least bit out of place in the graphically-retarded River City Ransom. The enemies don't look a whole lot better, but just the fact that El Gado, Dug, Two P, Andore, and the rest of the gang from Final Fight (with the notable exception of the "fat guys"- no Bill Bull, Wong Who, or G. Oriber here) were given the cutesy big head/small body treatment by Capcom was the source of much delight here at the lab. Although the enemies don't have names in MFF, Final Fight buffs will recognize most of their favorites, as the stage layouts and even enemy locations have been kept more or less sacred. Considering the obvious hardware constraints of the NES, Capcom took what was probably the best possible route (shameless mockery, rather than attempted authenticity) when "porting" Final Fight.

Despite all this graphical dumbing-down, the game play of MFF is surprisingly faithful to its namesake. The two-button NES controls don't bog things down in the slightest (after all, the arcade game only had Jump and Attack buttons), and each character, as stated before for those who have been paying attention, has access to his arcade counterpart's full reportoire of moves (after a fashion- a couple of the techniques are downright unrecognizable, but they're all there). The razord-sharp control that was the hallmark of the original is also retained, as is the speed of the action and the high numbers of thugs that accost the player at one time, all of which make for some damned fine beat-em-up action (just like in the arcade!). Still, there are a few minor variations on Final Fight's gameplay. As your character progresses through the game, he'll gain "experience" by knocking out various thugs. This experience translates into levels, which translate into a longer life bar. Although convenient, this little modifification makes the game a mite easy (in fact, it's a veritable cake-walk to begin with), but is somewhat countered by the fact that there are no lead pipes, knives, katanas, or indeed any weapons at all to be had in MFF. Other than those trifling discrepancies, the game play is accurate almost to a fault-- even that annoying little quirk that knocks every enemy on the screen down when the player is resurrected (thus ruining all opportunity for cheap hits while invincible) is present.

In stark contrast to the rest of the game, the music in MFF is, to put it mildly, grating as all hell. The sounds are tolerable (the standard fighting-game crunches and grunts), but are nowhere near noteworthy enough to warrant not muting the sound at the first opportunity and seeking auditory background elsewhere (personally, I think "Raw Power" by the Stooges complements MFF nicely).

It isn't original, it sounds like hell, and it doesn't even try to look nice, but MFF is one heck of a game in spite of itself. Although not as polished as its progenitor, Mighty Final Fight is a sort of "Spaceballs" to Final Fight's "Star Wars" - a low-budget, tongue-in-cheek homage/parody that manages to be at least as entertaining as its visually-stunning namesake. The only really glaring problems with MFF are the shortish length of the game (and resulting lack of challenge) and the oft-lamented lack of a two-player mode. These flaws notwithstanding, Mighty Final Fight is one of the leaders in the genre, second only to River City Ransom in this reviewer's humble opinion.