Arcade style street fighting Beat ’em Up that fails to put up a challenge.
The once mighty crime organization Mad Gear is no more. But the high crime rate in Metro City did not end with the fall of Mad Gear. Instead, other smaller gangs started looking to take Mad Gear’s place. Widespread gang wars was fought until one rough-necked gang managed to claim the throne of the criminal underground – the Skull Cross gang.
One day a bomb detonated in the center of Metro City and after that, a huge uncontrolled riot broke out. Mike Haggar, the mayor of the town, along with the Lucia, a detective in the Metro City Police’s Special Crimes Unit decides to investigate. They are joined by the Bushin martial arts master Guy, who is also Haggar’s old friend, and Dean, a street fighter looking to avenge the death of his family.
Final Fight 3 is a side-scrolling arcade style Beat ’em Up game exclusive for the Super Nintendo. The game is about fighting criminal punks of the streets with either weapons or bare fists. It is a sequel to Final Fight 2 which came out in 1993, and it indirectly continues the story from there.
Final Fight 3 introduces two new playable characters to the franchise, Super Moves and an original single-player game mode where you can play with an AI controlled partner.
The controls are very easy to play with, but in order to fully optimize your characters powers you’ll need to grow a custom to how the game handles jumping attacks, throws and grapples. The safest way to approach an enemy is to do a jumping attack, and from there continue on to deliver a combo of attacks. Again, if you’ve played other Beat ’em Up games this will come to you naturally. The Super Moves also have a key role in the game and performing them needs a few minutes of practice.
The game can be played with four different characters who all have unique fighting moves and characteristics;
Mike Haggar – a professional wrestler and can crush multiple punks with one single pile driver.
Lucia – an agile fighter who has super strong kicks and lightning fast moves.
Guy – a master of the unique Bushin fighting style which allows him to jump off of walls and rush down foes.
Dean – a fighter who possesses the ability to charge his attacks with electricity and he has also picked up a few deadly moves from his street fighting career.
The fighters are more or less equal in power so they’re all good choices and they do spice it up with some variety.
Final Fight 3 can be played on a four different difficulty levels, but even on the hardest level the game is far too easy to beat. This is a big deal because the game only has six stages (plus one bonus stage) divided into various sub-levels, and a typical play-through will take just under an hour. Sure enough, there are some secret and optional levels to discover, but the game comes off as a little too short and non-challenging.
If you’re new to Beat ’em Up games then some of the bosses may seem a bit tricky at first, but even so you’re given enough extra lives to help you get through the game. If you lose all your lives, you can continue the game from where you died up to five times, which is very generous for this game.
To further help you through the game there are numerous health power-ups to be found along with some weapons.
Playing cooperatively with another player is the biggest draw of game. It does make the game a lot easier, but standing side by side with a buddy and tackle punks together is as fun as it gets in this game. It’s possible to accidentally hit your partner, so you need to be careful not to knock each other out. This is especially true when throwing enemies across the screen and when using weapons. The game detects hits rather imprecisely, so your attack may connect even when it doesn’t look like it would, and this needs to be taken into consideration when playing.
As mentioned above, you can play with an AI controlled partner instead of a human controlled one, but it won’t exactly do the job for you. Obviously the AI will make mistakes and play much like a total beginner, so you will not really be able to rely on it to cover you. You can adjust the AI partner’s strength from the options screen, but it only seems to affect how much damage it deals and how much damage it can take before going down.
While each playable character shares a few basic moves such as rushing, back-dashing and various grappling attacks, they also have character specific moves. For each attack that you deal you’ll slowly build up a gauge at the bottom of the screen. This is the Super gauge, and it determines when you can unleash so called Super Moves, which are the strongest attacks in the whole game. Once the gauge is all filled up you can perform a Super Move by inputting a special attack command (as indicated by the game manual). On average you’ll get to do Super Moves twice per sub-stage, so you’ll have plenty of chances to perform them. Landing a Super Move on a tough foe is always a highlight in the game.
The number one reason as to why this game is too easy is because of the limited AI of the enemies. They seem slow to react and they typically don’t do much to stop you. The AI also seems to have limits in how it works when it is off-screen. Enemies never attack when they’re off-screen and that in turn means that they’ll always try to walk into sight before they start attacking. Since you’re often forced to stand around and wait for the enemies to get into the screen (because the scroll won’t take you further), you’ll almost always have the upper hand and anticipate them. This is very notable because enemies tend to fly very far from even the slightest touch, so they’ll constantly fly off the screen.
When you beat the game you’re treated with a standard ending sequence and the staff roll. Then the game freezes, forcing you to reset the game or turn it off. Disappointingly there are no score boards or anything like that, so if you want to compete for a high score you must do it manually (with paper and pencil?).
Visually Final Fight 3 has a lot of merit. It has lush colors, huge characters on the screen and it packs lots of detail. All the backgrounds are beautifully hand drawn in a lovable 16-bit style which is very appealing. The urban setting in which the game takes place is very typical to the genre but it is very well done for a Super Nintendo game. There are some destructible environments thrown into the mix as well and it adds a nice touch to the whole game.
The animation is somewhat clunky and it looks as if some frames of the animation were cut out in favor of creating quicker and more snappy motions while still being limited by the hardware. When the going gets tough and there are around five or six enemies on the screen at the same time the characters will suffer from some minor flickering, and there is some consistent frame rate drops going on which can make the game feel a bit slow.
The soundtrack is also of very high quality. It captures the setting and mood of the game just perfectly by mixing gloomy and hectic tunes with some upbeat and catchy melodies here and there. The most memorable song of the whole game is the one that plays during the very first stage. It makes use of the iconic 16-bit fake electric guitar sample and it has an awesome bass-line to back it up. It’s super-catchy and has a tendency to stick for days – and that’s a good thing because the song is exquisite.
The fighting sounds quite typical with meaty smack- and smash noises. There’s also some voice acting in there in the form of screams, yells and grunts which all sound great in the context.
Final Fight 3 could have been mind-blowing awesome with only some minor tweaks. The dopey AI enemies won’t pose much of a threat, not even on the hardest difficulty level, and that’s the one big problem with this game. With the overall low difficulty level you’ll finish it on a lunch break, which indicates that this is a game for beginners. Playing with a buddy is fun for as long as it lasts, but the replay value is rather thin – simply because of the lack of challenge.
If you’re into Beat ’em Up games you’ll want to play this one through for sure, but sadly it will probably not satisfy your street brawling needs for long.