Capcom rocked your SNES two years ago with Final Fight, the baddest side-scrolling beat-em-up on the block at that time. Since then, the stakes for high-quality 16-bit brawling have been raised with the release of leaner and meaner games, like Streets of Rage 2 for the Genesis.
Now Final Fight 2 enters the scene with two-player action and new characters, but with game play very similar to Final Fight. This sequel puts up a good fight, but unfortunately it seems to have lost some muscle tone in the offseason. FF 2 is more like a tremor than an earthquake.
Mad as Heck
Final Fight reached a smashing conclusion when Haggar, Cody, and Guy pounded the Mad Gear Gang's boss Belger through a plate-glass window at the top of a high rise. Belger's splat on the cement below signaled the end of the Mad Gear's grip on Metro City... or did it?
Two years later, the remnants of the Mad Gear Gang have reassembled into a cohesive international crime force, vandalizing major cities around the globe. Worse yet, the Gears have kidnapped Guy's karate master, Genryusai, and his daughter, Rena. Cody and Guy are out of town, so Haggar recruits Maki and Carlos to help him throw a wrench into the gang's gears once and for all.
A Big Maki Attack
Teamwork is the key to success, and FF 2's team holds all the keys. Maki is Rena's great-looking sister, and she combines Chun Li's agility with Guy's ninjitsu. Carlos is Haggar's South American roommate, and his sword skills bring down the house! Mike Haggar is a Herculean professional wrestler who crunches all the skulls he wants with his new-and-improved Spinning Pile Driver.
ProTip: Land on enemies as you perform Haggar's Spinning Pile Driver for on-screen enemy genocide.
Unlike its forefather, Final Fight 2 enables two players to deal out the punishment together. You pick from the three fighters and leave one riding the pines for later. One player can also go it alone. Even in two-player mode, there's almost no slowdown, and the screen flicker is negligible. Character control is smooth and easy-going.
Fit for Fighting
Physically, Final Fight 2's in top form, but you'll notice right away that the moves are basically unchanged from the first Final Fight. You get the same variety of attacks, including punches, kicks, jump kicks, hair-pull moves, throws, and a special attack that saps your energy as it crushes the enemies. You also get knives, two-by-fours, and nightsticks.
Playing this game is like getting stuck in a time warp, because all the moves are stuck in a rut. Even though it's a good beating, FF 2 should have popped you with more complicated controller techniques, blocks, and reversal moves.
Punch an enemy, then grab him while he's stunned and use a throw.
Throw the Bums Out!
Ever notice how video game villains always return for more punishment in sequels? Unfortunately, that's the case in Final Fight 2. Some old favorites are back, such as the towering Andores, but they haven't learned any new moves. The new punk recruits wield sticks, knives, and shock guns, but their attacks are unimaginative and repetitive. The Mad Gear Gang just isn't as cosmopolitan this time around, and the bonus stages are also dreary doses of déjà vu.
- Batter the car in these four vulnerable places in the first bonus stage.
- Nail the drums when the flames dissipate in the second bonus stage.
The lack of diversity wouldn't be so bad if the enemies were smarter, but their SATs would probably match their shoe sizes. You can adjust the difficulty, but even on the highest level it's much too easy to grab and throw the feeble foes. Anyone with above-average skills will down Final Fight II in one sitting, wipe off the foam, and wonder where the rest of the games is.
Toss cronies into their boss at the end of the level. Fighting from a distance is safer than a hand-to-hand slugfest.
Massaged in the Eyes
Whereas the first Final Fight thrust you into city slums, bars, parks, and alleyways, the second takes you on a graphic tour of six famous cities around the world. The new backgrounds are crisp and detailed, but you may find the scenery less appealing in this go-round. International sight-seeing in front of cafes and docks doesn't work well with the fighting theme. However, the character animation is astoundingly smooth and fluid. Additionally, there is now vertical screen scrolling in addition to the horizontal movement.
In Holland, throw foes onto mines to detonate them safely.
Belted in the Ears
Final Fight 2 cranks some great sound effects, but a few of them -- like Maki's squeal -- can be annoying. The music's okay, but it loops quickly and is a big disappointment compared to the emotional, resonant tunes from the first Final Fight.
Final Fight 2's a fighter to be reckoned with, but it's not a knockout. You'll want to take it on for the thrills of two-player Final Fighting, but the game play's predictable, the music's weak, and the enemies are bums. This isn't the fight to end all fights, and we hope the next Final Fight installment is better... finally.
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