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23 Endings
Game Over: Final Fight vs. Streets of Rage
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 19, 2017   |   Episode 19 (Show Archive)  

   
Welcome to the nineteenth episode of 23 Endings: The Early Years, the show where we put old school video game endings into proper context. Today we're going to settle 1991's biggest debate -- Final Fight or Streets of Rage? Which of these old school beat 'em ups has the best ending? Find out now when you watch this brand new episode of 23 Endings: The Early Years!


When it comes to the feud between Final Fight and Streets of Rage, a lot of people like to compare the bullet points -- which had more levels, more characters, a two-player option and so on. We've already hashed this out in another video, so instead I want to focus on their stories and figure out which brawler had a more satisfying ending.

Let's start with Final Fight, which was Capcom's biggest game at the Super NES launch. This is the story of what happens when unbridled capitalism goes up against the wrong politician. In one corner we have Belger, a crooked businessman who is used to being able to bribe the people in power. In the other corner is Haggar, a former pro-wrestler who was elected mayor of Metro City after promising to take a bite out of crime. When Belger doesn't get his way, he goes personal and has the Mad Gear street gang abduct Haggar's daughter Jessica. But let me assure you, he messed with the wrong politician.

So Haggar tracks down Jessica's meathead boyfriend, Cody, and the two team up to punch every Mad Gear member they can find between here and Belger's skyrise. They fight in a moving subway car, through a seedy restaurant and in Metro City's scummiest bathroom before finding the heavily guarded office building where Jessica is being held captive. It all leads to Haggar doing this to the crippled Belger.

For all the problems I have with Final Fight on the Super NES, I like this ending. In fact, I like the whole fight. We're expecting a big tough guy for the final boss, but instead we're punching a guy in a motorized chair. Granted, he's still a big tough opponent (especially with that harpoon gun), but he's not exactly what you're expecting. I also like how they set up that he's in a skyscraper, only to conclude the game with him plummeting to his death.

What I don't like is everything after the fall, especially the conversation between Cody and Jessica after the credits. You would think that a guy that just walked across town to save his girlfriend would want to stick around and celebrate, but no, he slips out the back and forces Jessica to chase after him. She wants to strengthen their relationship, but all he wants to do is beat people up in the street. It's easy to see why this relationship went south before Street Fighter Alpha 3.

Now when it comes to Streets of Rage, Sega didn't spend as much time trying to world build. Hell, I'm not even sure they named the city. Instead they set up this simple story -- a crime syndicate has managed to take over the once peaceful metropolis by corrupting the police force. Now a former boxer, a martial arts master and a judo expert turn in their badges to clean up the city the old fashioned way -- walking left to right and punching people in the face.

Okay, so maybe that's not the most original story for a beat 'em up, but what sets Streets of Rage apart is that it has a couple of different endings. You see, once Alex, Blaze and Adam make their way to the syndicate's hidden headquarters and come face-to-face with Mr. X, they are given an option to become the right hand man to the evil crime lord. If one of the players takes him up on the offer, the two friends will turn on each other Double Dragon-style. Now if you beat the other guy and then still decide to fight Mr. X, this is the ending you'll get.

If you choose not to accept his offer, things play out exactly how you would expect -- he floods the room with a bunch of bad guys and tries to take you down with an assault rifle. But our hero has come too far to die like this. He kicks Mr. X's ass and this is what happens.

Instead of giving us the ending in one large chunk, we get brief shots of still images sprinkled throughout the credits. We see that with Mr. X out of the picture, the police force appears to be back to normal, leading the trio to watch the sun set over the peaceful city. I like the song and the message is good, but this isn't nearly as memorable as what we got with Final Fight. On the other hand, I like that we're given a good and bad ending, depending on the choice you make. While I like Streets of Rage more, I have to say that Final Fight has the better ending.
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