Fascism? Not in my city
After writing about Final Fight 2 for the SNES, a few people suggested I look more into Final Fight 3. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I last played it. Thinking about it, I was probably just out of college when I last went through it with a roommate. It has at least been long enough that I forgot about the enemies that are literally Nazis. Stahlhelm, stielhandgranate, the name “Fritz.” Guys are Wehrmacht as all get out. So now I get to see Mike Haggar pile-drive Nazis into the pavement, and I wonder how I’ve gone so long without it. I previously said the original arcade Final Fight was the only one worth playing, but anything that lets you suplex the German infantry is required reading in my book.
In any case, Final Fight 3 is the last sequel to the brawler that we’d see for a good while. If you want to exclude 2006’s Final Fight: Streetwise, there has never been another sequel. And really, it’s tempting to.
Jingle All the Way: The Game
Final Fight 3 returns us to Metro City where a different gang has taken over. I guess it’s kind of difficult to come up with a plot that doesn’t just involve a gang taking over, but let me try. Okay, so it’s Black Friday. Your child desperately wants one particular toy for Christmas, and you’re being pressured by your wife to get it. You have to bash your way through holiday shopper crowds. Crap, that’s just the plot of Jingle All the Way. Was there a Jingle All the Way game? No? Obviously, that was a missed opportunity.
In any case, Mayor Mike Haggar teams up with Guy from the first Final Fight, a lady cop, and Dean, a guy who Capcom thinks is far more interesting than I do. If you asked a robot to come up with a Street Fighter character, Dean is what it would churn out. It doesn’t matter, though, since Mike Haggar is here, and as we’ve already established, anyone who is not Mike Haggar is at a steep disadvantage.
This time around, Mike Haggar has become a fashion disaster. He’s wearing baseball catcher shinguards, bike shorts, a single suspender, and somehow grew out a tremendous ponytail since the last game. Once again, someone at Capcom thought this looked cool, and they are offensively wrong. This time, however, it was plainly done by someone with a soul, because no machine could create such visual disarray. Hopefully, that person’s soul can feel shame, as it should be steeped in it.
One cool feature of Final Fight 3 is that, if you’re like me and don’t have friends, you can enlist a computer-controlled character to join you. This is a welcome feature, but it has some substantial drawbacks. The biggest is that it slows the game to a crawl. Having a second protagonist on screen is obviously too much justice for the SNES to handle because every action brings the framerate to its knees. It’s surprising the feature made it through in this state, but I also welcome it. I accept the decision to choose between multi-player fun and a stable framerate. I appreciate the option.
However, if you choose to have a computer-controlled second player, make sure that you go into the options menu and tweak the setting HIT CONFIG into the off position. What does HIT CONFIG mean? It’s friendly fire. While this is often an option in beat-’em-ups, it really only makes sense when the other player is actually rubbing two brain cells together. The AI does not care about your feelings and will mercilessly unload a flurry of punches to the back of your head. To make matters worse, you can’t just turn and charlie horse them like you could a physical person.
Finally, the computer-controlled character has their own stock of lives. Once they run out, they go into a game overstate, and I don’t know how to feed them a continue. I’ve researched it, pressed random buttons, and read the manual, but found no way to revive them. I considered plugging in a second controller and pressing start, but I was afraid that would communicate to the game that another human wanted to play and I’d be stuck juggling two controllers. No, thank you. Better just to skip the option unless you’re painfully lonely and have a really good imagination.
Big dad energy
The combat has also been overhauled, and it’s awesome. Things like dashing/charging have been added. The characters have special abilities, including one that you can trigger after filling up a pain gauge. It’s not only the best the series has seen, but it’s also a damned good beat-’em-up system. It’s fast, varied, and allows for some extra strategy where it’s needed. On the other hand, it’s a bit more on the cartoon-y side, eschewing much of the grit the original arcade title was touting. To be fair, though, Streets of Rage 3 had a playable boxing kangaroo, and fortunately, we’re not quite there.
On top of those improvements, there are branching paths that open up when you break doors in the background and walk into them. It’s not the biggest shake-up, but it does add some nice replay value, which is always helpful in the genre.
The enemy variation is also a lot better in Final Fight 3. I mentioned punchable Nazis, but there are also little hairy dudes and even lady brawlers, which is a nice change from the usual censorship the North American versions get. There are some returning faces, such as Andore/Hugo, just in case you pine for the old days.
The soundtrack is also decent, bordering on enjoyable. I wasn’t a fan of the sounds of Final Fight 2, so I feel like breathing a sigh of relief. Weirdly, Final Fight 3 doesn’t have credits anywhere that I could find. I did some research and was only really able to find a few without any stated source. It suggested that the music was done by some of the same composers, but I guess they hit on a better theme this time around.
Overall, Final Fight 3 is a much better package than Final Fight 2 for a number of reasons. Heck, it feels a lot better than the SNES port of the first title. If it hadn’t been released so close to the end of the Super Nintendo’s lifespan, it probably would have been better remembered. It’s still a good Saturday afternoon affair, but you will definitely want to consider if pulling in a second player is worth sinking the framerate to the depths.
Zoey is a gadabout gaming hobbyist. She’s been playing video games all her life and is a lover of both new and retro games. She enjoys digging in the dirt and picking out the games that are perfectly fine if you clean them up a bit.