By the summer of 1993, Nintendo's 8-bit console was all but dead. It was in its eighth year on the market and was being eclipsed by 16-bit (and even 32-bit) consoles. But that didn't stop Capcom from releasing a pseudo-port of one of their most popular arcade games. This is Mighty Final Fight, a cutesy beat-em-up that manages to capture all of the fun and excitement of the 16-bit brawler, while adding enough new to make up for the limitations.
Mighty Final Fight doesn't stray far from the theme of the arcade game. The Mayor's daughter has been kidnapped and it's up to three bad dudes to slowly walk through the streets beating everybody up. I don't know why they don't just get in a car and drive to the criminal's hideout, but who am I to judge the mighty storytellers at Capcom?
Much like the arcade game, players choose one of three characters -- Cody, Guy and Haggar. Unfortunately this NES cartridge doesn't support two-players, but at least Capcom can blame it on the eight year old technology (unlike their mediocre Super NES port). Even with one person, the action is fast and there's more than enough content here to keep fans of the genre happy.
For the most part the core gameplay remains the same. The three characters walk from left to right beating up everybody in sight, all in hopes of cleaning up the streets and winning back the Mayor's daughter. This 8-bit version has a brand new leveling system. With each character players defeat, their experience grows and you become slightly more powerful. Seeing as players are forces to deal with every character, this experience system isn't crucial to the gameplay. Still, it's nice to see some depth added to this NES cartridge.
The fight spills out over five familiar locations, including the slums, river side, Old Town, factory and the bay area. The background graphics do a good job conveying the essence of the arcade game, even if the developers took some liberties when shrinking it to an 8-bit title. Longtime Final Fight fans will instantly recognize all of the enemies, from the bosses to the half-naked women. But like everything else, the characters have been shrunk to a more manageable size.
I was struck by how impressive all of the moves look. Even though we're dealing with ancient technology, the attacks are animated perfectly. When Guy punches a character he doesn't simply extend his arm, there's a full animation where he punches up, down and all around. Each character has their own unique regular and special attacks, so players will want to go through the game a couple of times to level up all three fighters.
This package works because the pace is quick, the gameplay is simple and there's a lot of personality to the shrunken graphics. Even without the two-player support, I prefer this 8-bit redesign to the Super NES port. Still, critics of the genre will find that it is yet another repetitive action game where all you do is mash the attack button. But don't listen to the naysayers, because Mighty Final Fight is one of the Nintendo Entertainment System's very last must-own games.