The Nintendo Entertainment System certainly had a rather wide variety of game types during it’s 10 year existence. From platformers, to action games, to shooters, to puzzle games, sports games, role playing games, you name it. But the one genre we’re here to talk about today is a fine little slice of gaming known as the “Beat ’em Up”. What defines a “Beat ’em Up”, as opposed to a “Fighting Game”, is that in fighters, your objective is to beat the snot out of the guy across the screen from you, and the person who takes the most rounds wins. But in a “Beat ’em Up”, the objective is to beat the snot out of every single thing that moves on the screen, and to do so until you beat all the bad guys in every single level, and finally save the day. So in other words it’s the difference between a Mohammed Ali fight, and a Jackie Chan film. The NES had it’s share of this fine genre, which enjoyed it’s “boom” period in the late 80’s and early 90s. Double Dragon, Renegade, River City Ransom, Toxic Crusaders, and of course Battletoads all graced the classic console. But I’m here today to tell you about one such game, released late in the NES’ life, years after the Super NES had launched, that may have gotten passed over by many. I’m here to correct that, because it just might be the best of the bunch….
Most gamers worth their salt know that the first game to truly establish the conventions of the genre known as the “Beat ‘Em Up”, was 1987’s Double Dragon. Developed by Technos, DD became an arcade smash hit that spawned a franchise, and the rest is history. Most gamers worth their salt are ALSO aware of the fact that while Double Dragon started it, another game that came along in 1989, pretty much perfected it. And that would be Capcom’s Final Fight. Originally meant to be a semi-follow up to their first (and terribly obscure) Street Fighter game, this classic was originally going to be called “Street Fighter ’89”. But once they realized it had really nothing to do with their first foray into one-on-one fighting, they renamed it “Final Fight”, and it was off to the races.
Now, Final Fight was an amazing arcade game, which received a very good port for Super Nintendo, and believe it or not even a solid one for Sega CD. The game was also popular enough to spawn two SNES only sequels, which saw it change characters, but kept the overall look and feel. WELL, around the same time that FF2 came out in 1993, another little known gem also released, for the by then fading-but-still-awesome original NES. And that game, was called “Mighty Final Fight”. Mighty Final Fight is a strange but wonderful beast. It is a fairly comical retake on the arcade original, complete with “chibi” (small, cartoony) versions of the main characters and enemies, and a goofier feel over all. But with the goofieness also came something that most wouldn’t expect, especially out of an NES “port”, and that is the fact that while the SNES version was a great game although lacking 2-player, this NES “remake” was actually superior in a lot of ways, even to the arcade original.
For one thing, unlike the better known SNES port, where you could only play characters Cody and Mike Haggar for some strange reason, in MFF you get to choose between all three from the arcade, which includes the ninja characer Guy. Like the SNES version, MFF is only single player, but honestly, that’s small potatoes compared to what they added to the game. Not only does the overall action feel even “meatier” with a superior sense of hit detection, but Capcom also took a page out of the NES port of Double Dragon’s book, and added an rpg like element wherein your character gains experience for every baddie he thrashes, and eventually you “level up”, with each level unlocking new and cooler attacks, as well as extending your life bar.
The game also includes most of the content from the original, though it only has 5 stages instead of the arcade’s six, in this case missing the “Subway” area. That aside, it’s got everything the arcade did with a bit more besides, and beyond that, even has one hell of a bad ass 8-bit soundtrack. And again, the soundtrack is arguably superior to the arcade or even SNES versions. All around, Mighty Final Fight is one hell of a game, loads of fun, and a perfect example of why the NES lasted an amazing 10 years in North America, because up through 1994 it kept getting sprinklings of high quality games such as this. In fact, 1993 was a huge year for the ol’ NES all around, as it not only got Mighty Final Fight, it also saw the releases of games like Kid Klown, Zen the Intergalactic Ninja, Duck Tales 2, Battletoads & Double Dragon, and of course Kirby’s Adventure.
So there you have it folks! If you haven’t ever gotten a chance to get your hands on this true “Beat ‘Em Up” classic, or haven’t even ever heard of it until now, please do yourself a huge favor and do so.You really can’t do much better in it’s genre, and as far as I’m personally concerned, it’s one of the greatest games ever crafted. So fire this bad boy up, and have a great skull-knocking time, on me! Cheers!