Bring it Back | Final Fight
Welcome to our first entry in our brand new feature series, Bring it Back! This weekly series will focus on games from the past, many we know of, and many that have fallen into obscurity. While we don’t expect them all to come back, the goal here is to put a spotlight on IPs that deserve another chance at life. This can mean ports, remakes, or even sequels; anything that puts historic franchises back on the map. We encourage open discussion in the comments here, reminiscing on these games and hopefully showing the IP owners that we want to bring them back. Our first franchise to feature for Bring it Back is none other than Capcom’s Final Fight series!
Final Fight is an incredibly iconic franchise in the beat ’em up genre, rivaling series like Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, and more. Originally releasing in arcades in 1989, this series has given birth to deeper combos in beat ’em up combat. It’s also provided quite a legacy, which has in turn brought forth lots of homages, tributes, and of course, memes. Final Fight also shares the same universe with the popular Street Fighter franchise, even sharing multiple characters. The original adventure of Cody, Guy and Haggar going against the Mad Gear Gang is a tale that many know, and we think it’s time to Bring it Back!
The Final Fight series has several games, some more successful than others. Interestingly enough, it started in the arcade, but quickly continued on home consoles with Final Fight 2 and Final Fight 3. This is of course, after the first game got a port, and even an alternate version with Final Fight Guy. The original game even got a Sega CD port with Final Fight CD, adding voice acting, higher quality music, and a time attack mode. Unfortunately, it did suffer a graphical quality drop and even less responsive controls.
While the series was seeing a lot of success during this time, it did come with some complications. A lot of Final Fight’s content was subject to censorship, going as far as to rename or replace characters. Damnd and Sodom were given new names and Poison and Roxy were replaced with male henchmen. In fact, Poison herself has been subject to a lot of controversy regarding her sex, as Poison is in most cases considered to be a trans female. The subject has been known to be ambiguous in some situations, but that’s a story for another day. Either way, despite Poison and Roxy being replaced, Poison has become a popular mainstay in the Street Fighter series, appearing as playable in Street Fighter X Tekken, Ultra Street Fighter IV, and Street Fighter V.
Speaking of Street Fighter, shortly after the release of Final Fight 2, Street Fighter Alpha arrived. This would be the first step in the franchise crossover, as it would feature two playable Final Fight characters. Guy, one of the main protagonists, joined the fight along with the boss character Sodom. Street Fighter Alpha 2 continued the trend by adding the boss character Rolento, and Alpha 3 would bring Cody into the mix (later versions would also add Maki). Cody’s inclusion here is important, because at this point in his life, he’s a convict. After some time, Cody succumbs to boredom and fights criminals for fun, getting himself arrested in the process. Even though the cells can’t actually contain him, this is the life he was to grow used to. For now.
While the Final Fight series had a lot of narrative, it was the Street Fighter integration that really built a world. The two sharing a connection really made the Final Fight characters gain some extra depth. There’s a lot of untapped potential in story based games in this world. Despite this, the series continues with a fighting game instead of a beat ’em up. Final Fight Revenge brings the characters to a 3D fighter, and this is even where Poison’s first playable appearance comes from. It’s a little clunky, but it has its moments. While the characters work well in fighting game setting, the beat ’em up genre is their home.
Of course, that seems to be a monkey paw curse. While the characters Hugo and Poison would appear in Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, and Maki and Rolento appear in Capcom vs. SNK 2, the Final Fight series remains quiet all the way up to 2006. Final Fight: Streetwise was a sort of gritty sequel for a different time. Think Fight Club meets Def Jam: Fight for NY. Playing as Cody’s brother Kyle, you fight to save your brother after he gets kidnapped. It’s a 3D beat ’em up with a frustrating camera, music group product placement, out of place themes, and even a Cammy cameo. The game was made by an American Capcom team, and due to negative reception, it doesn’t appear to be canon.
With that failed attempt at reviving the franchise, Streetwise remains as technically the last Final Fight game. While the original game did get an HD port in Final Fight: Double Impact (and again in the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle), there hasn’t been any new games in the franchise. Of course, Capcom is well aware of the popularity of the characters. Guy, Cody, Rolento and Poison all became playable in Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken. Mike Haggar even became a playable fighter in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and again in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
Of course, the genre of the beat ’em up during all this time was much less popular. First person shooters were gaining more momentum, and the industry was changing. Even now, with Street Fighter V, we have the most Final Fight-centric roster to date. Cody becomes the new mayor of Metro City and is no longer a convicted felon. Poison and past boss Abigail continue to be street thugs as they join the roster. Final Fight 3’s Lucia continues her police duties as she brings her fiery spirit to the game. Technically, you even have Zeku, Guy’s former Bushinryu master who goes on to form the Striders (another Capcom nod). It’s clear that these are important characters to Capcom, and the opportunity is now.
You see, beat ’em ups are starting to have a renaissance. River City Girls, Battletoads, Streets of Rage 4 and several others are doing fairly well. If these games can come back after decades, then Final Fight certainly can. The biggest question is presentation. As mentioned before, these characters have been appearing in a lot of fighting games with their own styles. Street Fighter V’s art style has some criticism from fans, so it might not be the best approach. Perhaps a 3D cel-shaded look like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, or even hand-drawn 2D animation. The overall look and feel should be familiar for fans, but maintain a sense of modern presentation. We don’t want to go too dark and gritty like Streetwise again. It’s also a good idea to find a suitable but appealing style that works for the series.
Of course, the visuals are only one aspect of the presentation. Music is a big part of it too, and it has to be done right. Thankfully, these characters have extensive source material in this category. The various Final Fight inspired remixes in Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom are pretty solid, so it would be great to continue off of that. If they go the retro route, they can even try to bring back some of the original composers. Obviously, you also have a solid list of voice actors to consider, as many of these characters have a voice. This series is ripe for some deep story content, but it shouldn’t go overboard either. It’s best to keep it simple, but have enough to show character growth and appeal to fans.
Perhaps the biggest hook the game would need is the gameplay. A 2.5D beat ’em up wouldn’t be super original, but it would still be the best approach. It’s good to stick to the roots of the genre, and we saw where experimenting takes it. Of course, it may be a good idea to give the game more to do, unless you go in with a lower price point. I can see a new Final Fight game releasing for $30 or $40 and managing to be worth the money. Add some online play for up to four players, some nostalgia, and you have a lot of potential recipes for success. Take advantage of the Street Fighter universe and integrate more characters too. Maybe make a Street Fighter character playable for the first time?
There’s a lot of potential in a new Final Fight game, and Capcom is starting to revive some of their dormant franchises. Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Resurrection is a good example of a series that hasn’t seen the light of day for a while. Perhaps with the right minds, we could see a new Final Fight game in our future. What do you think? Is this a series you’d like to see make a comeback? Let us know in the comments below and tune in next Sunday for our next “mystical” Bring it Back feature.