Oh good grief! I did a huge Megapreview all about Final Fight in issue 68 and I've just realised that the star of the game is called Haggar, not Hagger. (Prat. Ed) So it seems I was completely wrong. Er, sorry, everybody.
Anvway, on with the extreme violence. Haggar (I got it right this time) has just been declared Mayor of a rather nifty town in America called Metro City (where all the cars are Metros, I presume). Haggar used to be a bit of a street-fighter, but he's promised that he'll stop so he can spend more time being Mayor. Unfortunately, Metro City is still filled with violent dudes, and the worst of all are the Mad Gear Gang (so called became they're completely mad and they've got lots of, er, gears). They've gone and kidnapped Haggar's daughter, Jessica - for no apparent reason! Naturally, Haggar's none too pleased with this state of affairs, so with his mate Cody, he decides to go and deal with the gang personally.
The thing with the Capcom coin-op version of Final Fight was that it had absolutely mega-huge sprites. And guess what? The Speccy version's got them just as big! They're about half the screen high and rather spiffily detailed.
Of course there's a price to pay for these whoppers, and it's smoothness. As you might expect, the game is a bit jerky and uneven. The fighters move around nicely but when they carry out their special moves it occasionally gets rather confusing. You have the usual kick, thump, jump and duck moves plus others depending on whether you're playing Haggar, Guy or Cody. Cody does Ninja-style kicks and flips, Guy does massive punches and Haggar does wrestling body slams and strangleholds (and rather lethal they are too).
There are six levels of all this horizontally scrolling mayhem, which means you've got six backdrops to do your fighting in front of. Level One is the street (hence 'street-fighting'), Level Two the subway, Level Three is a restaurant, Level Four is a factory, Five is by a rather pleasant seaside bay and Six is a hotel (where you'll find Jessica, by the way). The baddies are pretty much the same throughout, but there are different weapons to be found in each level (such as knives and forks in the restaurant, sharp shells by the bay and so on).
Although the sprites can't be as slick as the usual mincing little jobbies you see, they really are works of art. You sense the power in the punches, gasp as your opponents reel back, blood spurting from their... (Calm yourself, James. Ed) But I suppose, at the end of the day, it depends what you're after in a beat-'em-up. Final Fight's got lots of moves and weapons (such as knives, iron bars and lots of yummy things like that) to use on your enemies, and plenty of non-stop face-punching fun. It isn't as slick and playable as some, but it's novel and the speed is impressive for the size of the graphics.
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