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FGC #590 Final Fight: Streetwise

Today’s article contains one (arguably) graphic GIF of Playstation 2 quality. The image is basically the point of this essay, but if you are squeamish around such a thing, please be aware of its presence beyond the “read more” link du jour. Probably nothing you haven’t seen before, but, ya know, it bothered me, which brings us to today’s topic…

That logo is hotWhere is your videogame uncanny valley threshold?

Today’s game is Final Fight: Streetwise. As many people know, this was Final Fight’s attempt to enter the 21st Century with a Playstation 2 game that upgraded/marginally rebooted the original arcade classic. And, given Final Fight was always a handful of baseball bats away from just being The Warriors, this could have worked out well. Fight weirdos in strange costumes across a generally grungy city? Tale as old as time! And, while Final Fight: Streetwise maintained the concept of “beat ‘em all up”, it went a little off the rails when it decided to start aping the wrong crowd.

The blitheringly obvious greatest influence on Final Fight: Streetwise? Grand Theft Auto 3.

And this was not a good thing.

It is easy to see what happened here. Grand Theft Auto 3 was possibly the most popular and influential videogame of the era. And, to be clear, “influential” in this case absolutely means “there were 10,000 games all trying to get a piece of that sweet, sweet GTA3 pie”. This was the epoch when “sandbox gameplay” became a bullet point on every game cover from Final Fantasy to Hitman. Some of these copies were net goods, though. Spider-Man went from having “levels” to gaining the sprawling cities he always needed, and we likely would have never seen something like Fable without it being pitched as a “medieval GTA”. But, on the other end of the spectrum, we had any number of titles that wanted to make a claim at “gigantic, open worlds” without putting in the effort to actually design said worlds. And thus did we play through a number of games that would have been simple, progress from level to level affairs a few years earlier, but now had to have “hub cities” that were about as densely populated as Lost Springs, Wyoming (look it up!). And now you were forced to putter around for hours between missions and maybe the best you could hope for was some kind of collectible scavenger hunt. Apparently, the lesson so many game designers took from GTA3 was not that it had a fun, varied world where you were constantly learning you could do new things (God, I could write an article just about the exhilaration of finding a car jump ramp for the first time in GTA3), but simply that it was “big”, and you could walk around at your leisure. Oh, and GTA has a lot of “maturity”. Maybe we should shoehorn some cusses into our games, too…

FIGHT!Final Fight: Streetwise decided to chase the gameplay concepts and maturity of Grand Theft Auto 3 like a Japanophile running down a katana collection. FF:S takes place in a largeish (by PS2 standards) world with distinct neighborhoods, shops, and citizenry. There is the main plot, and a variety of “side quests” that can be distributed by assorted townsfolk/drug dealers. There are quests, both required and optional, that allow for the player to experience an escalation of regular gameplay, or more “minigame”-like fare. And, while Final Fight has always been a “street” franchise that included mature themes (the boss of Level 3 is a corrupt cop! You can eat his gum!) and roaming, malevolent gangs, the decision was clearly made at some point to make Final Fight: Streetwise feature characters that could be immediately described as “hardcore”. The central problem of this story is not a princess kidnapping, but a new drug on the streets. Our current hero is battling in an underground fight club to make ends meet, and all the previous protagonists are all suffering from various states of decay and corruption. And the new characters are all either morally compromised, or clearly too good to survive the whole of this adventure. This is a real story about real people in a real mean neighborhood.

And, unfortunately, you are not at all prepared for how this game is blitheringly, rock stupid from top to bottom.

You can read a game summary, Final Fight wiki article, or even the previous paragraph and think to yourself, “Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.” You may be like me, and imagine a game that indulges in that “grim ‘n gritty” style, but, even if it’s not your thing, it can still be good. It has happened before, right? It doesn’t have to be bad! This is a Capcom game! They know what they’re doing!

This happens all the timeWell, bad news, folks, Final Fight: Streetwise is an aggressively stupid game. There is no other way to describe it! This is a story where the featured characters are all idiots that always choose the single stupidest move possible. “This guy tried to kill me once, but maybe if I be polite, things will be better… whoops, got tricked, now he tried to kill me again.” That’s a plot point! It is meant to be a surprise when the mafioso that initially threw the protagonist into a deadly pit fight then again tries to kill the hero through an immediate bout of arson even though he was being so polite. And, granted, “being polite” should be rewarded for Kyle Travers, as his default mode is just cursing and punching people. I am not just talking about during gameplay, either! Kyle immediately resorts to fighting literally everyone he encounters. With a deft hand, a writer could portray Kyle as a man that knows he is in a rough situation, and immediately reacts to even the slightest kindness with inversely reciprocal brutality. But this is not a story written by a deft hand. This is a story about solving every problem with punching, and being rewarded for punching as hard as possible. And this translates to the gameplay, as literally everything in this world, from the sidequests to the gyms where you can spend your rewards, exists exclusively to power Kyle’s punches. And, again, this is a videogame, that could work. But, unfortunately, it all works to make this Final Fight world seem entirely too small to support the kind of game that could be happening here. It makes every corner of Kyle’s quest feel… stupid. This is a stupid hero doing stupid things in a stupid world.

A meeting of the mindsBut it is still a world. And it is a world that, with its “streetwise” aesthetics, tries to be realistic. The voice acting and graphics are great (by a Playstation 2 standard), and, if you are willing to forgive a number of (stupid) limiting choices in the game, you could easily see this as more of a “real world” than the cartoon world where you frequently see a dude in a gi tossing fireballs out of his hands. The venues in Final Fight: Streetwise are like those from the original Final Fight: subways, fighting rings, and the mean streets. And, while there are a few fantastic special moves as Kyle levels up, the majority of the fighting is based on traditional punches, kicks, and grapples. It is easy to slide into the simple comfort of playing this generally mundane game, and imagine you are controlling a real character in a real world.

And then you bash a sleeping dog with a baseball bat.

Here comes a GIF of that thing I just said

FGC #570 Final Fight

Let's wrastleI think I’ve figured out how Final Fight has influenced the characters of Final Fight. Here are my findings:

First of all, Final Fight, in at least one form, is 100% canon in the Capcom universe. This presents an issue: which version of Final Fight is meant to be canon? And, if one version is canon, then what is the deal with all these other Final Fight games? After all, we’ve got Final Fight 2, Final Fight 3, that one ridiculous Final Fight fighting games with the zombie, and absolutely no other Final Fight franchise games ever again. The point? There is a Final Fight timeline. There are actual sequels to Final Fight. But Final Fight in its original form mutates across different systems and (possibly) timelines. What is going on here?

For the answers, we shall work backwards from Final Fight’s first prominent canon appearance elsewhere: Street Fighter Alpha. The Street Fighter universe has been surprisingly stable over the years (give or take Jimmy Nash in other media), so it is safe to assume anything established in Street Fighter is consistent canon. And who are some Final Fight characters to appear as playable in Street Fighter? Guy! And his frenemy, Rolento! And who doesn’t appear in the Super Nintendo version of Final Fight? Guy! And his frenemy, Rolento! Now, you could theoretically claim that this proves nothing. Why? Well, Guy and Rolento both had a stake in Final Fight 2, so their rivalry could have conceivably been founded not during the Metro City incident, but amidst the globetrotting of Final Fight’s second adventure. However, Cody shows up in Street Fighter Alpha 3, and his change in demeanor is outright stated to be a result of Metro City shenanigans, and he did not make an appearance in Final Fight 2. So Rolento’s familiarity with Final Fight’s chief protagonist only has one explanation: Final Fight: Arcade is the true story of Final Fight.

Glad we have a straight answer there.

This only happens in one versionSo Final Fight: Arcade is how it all happened. Where does that leave Final Fight SNES, though? This is a Final Fight title, but it is missing the Factory Stage, Rolento (the Factory Boss), and, most glaringly of all, Guy. One can forgive a lack of a two player mode for not impacting the canon, but two whole characters missing? And not even mentioned? What happened there?

The answer is simple: Final Fight SNES is Cody’s memory of how Final Fight happened.

It all makes sense: Cody is established in the arcade version as something of a hotheaded rival to the cool, collected Guy. And, during the ending, Guy kicks the crap out of Cody, because… uh… Guy was having a rough day? Something like that. So how would Cody take that loss? He would write Guy out of the story! “Yes, I rescued my girlfriend, Jessica. Well, I guess her father, Mayor Mike Haggar helped, too. But, you know, I was in charge. The mayor listens to me and these dukes,” Cody states as he takes a moment to kiss his fists. “Guy? Oh, that wannabe ninja dude? Yeah, I mean, he and I spar sometimes, but I don’t remember him helping out at all. Yeah, don’t remember that guy at all. Get it? Guy? Because his name is… Oh, whatever, you wouldn’t understand.” This also accounts for Poison’s change in gender, as Cody would never admit to being smacked around by a woman, even if she was a highly capable Mad Gear member. And as for Rolento and the factory? Cody knew what he was doing when he omitted Guy, so he wanted to avoid blowing the whole story with something as fantastic as fighting through a flaming factory on the way to stomping a militia leader. Cody can embellish how much meat he eats out of barrels, but nobody is going to buy the fact that he could soak a grenade or two without it being his final fight.

And Final Fight Guy? You could probably claim that that is the story from Guy’s perspective, wherein Guy omits Cody in response to hearing Cody’s version of events. But Guy apparently gives Cody a pass on helping for “being in Japan” during the events of Final Fight…

Nobody buys this

There is not a single person that knows Cody that would believe that dirtbag street punk would ever visit Japan, left alone leave Metro City for any reason other than hearing the McRib is back a few towns over. Cody is the exact kind of vagrant that bums around his hometown forever and spends the rest of his days complaining about his knee arthritis kicking up when it rains. Nobody believes Cody has a passport. Nobody believes Final Fight Guy right from Guy’s first words.

Is it hot in here?And speaking of testimony, Final Fight One, the Final Fight version that appeared on Gameboy Advance, allowed “new” Cody and Guy to be playable characters. After punching enough dudes, you can select not only Guy, Cody, and Haggar, but also Street Fighter Alpha’s Guy, and Street Fighter Alpha 3’s Cody. This means you can play as Cody in his 2nd evolution: a down on his luck convict wearing his prison stripes. Given the dialogue spoken during Final Fight One (and, yes, this is the one [non-mighty] Final Fight version where the characters actually talk past the opening), the “future” characters are revisiting their own memories of Final Fight as their older selves. So why would that be happening? The answer lies with “Prison Cody”: this is one of Cody’s many parole hearings, and Cody and Guy are both testifying about how Cody is an upstanding citizen (that punches hundreds of other citizens). Future Cody even admits that he does not remember the factory area (because he took a shortcut), but goes with the story because he wants to show accurate parity with Guy. Everybody on the same page? Great! Maybe Cody will be back on the streets and… fighting? Again? No, probably best to keep this malcontent locked up.

But, as we all know, Cody is eventually released in the Final Fight/Street Fighter canon. By Street Fighter 5, Cody is not only a free man, he is also the new mayor of Metro City. And, for that significant rehabilitation, we must thank the power of cartoons.

Mighty Final Fight is the greatest deviation from the other Final Fight releases. At first glance, this NES game may appear as a simple “demake” conversion of Final Fight, similar to how many SNES/NES games were “shrunk” to fit the parameters of a Gameboy cart. But upon actually playing Mighty Final Fight, you’ll find this is much more than a “chibi” graphical switch. Your characters level up! The stages/backgrounds are totally different! Certain bosses return for fresh rematches! There is some kind of weird dialogue! The final boss is a cyborg now!

Going down?Actually, let’s focus on Belger. In the original Final Fight story, he is a “legitimate businessman” kingpin of crime that has kidnapped Jessica because he wants to extort the mayor. In Mighty Final Fight? Belger is a cyborg “beast” that kidnaps Jessica because he has a crush on her. He’s practically Bowser! And does that make Cody into Mario? Maybe! And what else is missing from Mighty Final Fight? Edi E., the corrupt cop that previously stalked around Metro City. With the removal of a “morally gray” police officer and his favorite sidearm, Mighty Final Fight becomes a lot more kid-friendly. Right down to Mike Haggar getting a “whacky” hammer to swing at his foes (oh, there’s the Mario of the group), everything about Mighty Final Fight seems to be made to appeal to younger kids not yet old enough for the “real” violence of Final Fight.

So it’s pretty obvious what happened here: Mighty Final Fight is the “animated series” version of Final Fight. It is the adaption of Final Fight made for children. And considering who might have a reason to create to such a thing (and an entire city’s budget to do so), one can presume Mayor Haggar himself produced and oversaw the creation of Mighty Final Fight. How do you get a whole new generation of Metro City youths to grow up to be fine, upstanding citizens who do not join the Mad Gears? Indoctrination! Hagger is good! Mad Gears are bad/silly! The mayor is always going to help you out, children, he just has to escape from Abigail’s deadly kisses right now!

And did it work? Well, as previously mentioned, Cody becomes Mayor of Metro City by Street Fighter 5. He has traded in his prison stripes for a fancy suit. And what else has Cody dropped? He lost his previous “throw a rock” fireball…

I almost had 'em

And picked up the Tornado Sweep ability…

This is justice

Which was Cody’s special attack in Mighty Final Fight.

World's strongest dude

Yes, you guessed it, Cody watched a cartoon version of his Final Fight adventures while in prison so much, he not only learned how to be a better man, he also internalized an entirely new special move. Mighty Final Fight influenced the youth of Metro City and Cody Travers.

Final Fight may have a lot of versions, but at least some of them are doing some good for the community.

FGC #570 Final Fight

  • System: The Super Nintendo version is most ingrained in my mind, but it is also the worst. Go play the Sega CD edition! Or the arcade! Or the weird-ass Gameboy Advance version! And Mighty Final Fight for the NES is its own animal that I really should be covering separately, but I only have so much time.
  • Number of players: A good version of Final Fight has two, but it is not unusual to only see one.
  • Love you, AbbyLet’s Talk about Mighty Final Fight for a second: This is one of the few beat ‘em up games where it feels like the level up system is justified, as it doesn’t completely break the difficulty of the game depending on your level (it mostly just gives you extra health and a fireball). This, almost by default, makes Mighty Final Fight one of the best beat ‘em ups out there, and certainly top two for the NES (see also Project, The Manhattan). And the final boss is a cyborg gangster, which is better than some dork imitating a disability while tossing off crossbow bolts.
  • Favorite Final Fighter: Mayor Haggar is how I learned to stop worrying and love the piledriver.
  • Forever Friends: Guy and Cody have appeared in Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter 4. Cody returned again for Street Fighter 5 (with Lucia and Abigail!). And Mike Haggar has been showing up in the Versus franchise. But the Final Fight trio never appeared in a playable incarnation in the same videogame ever again. Well, unless you count Final Fight Revenge, which no one does, least of all its participants.
  • Have fun!What’s in a name: In addition to Poison’s identity issues, the SNES/GBA versions rename Damnd and Sodom (to Thrasher and Katana, respectively). I understand having to think of the children when seeing a name that sounds an awful lot like “damned”, but Sodom is biblical, people! You religious people love the Bible, right? Leave the poor Japanophile be. And he was named for a German thrash metal band, anyway…
  • Did you know: Katana/Sodom is the only boss in Final Fight that doesn’t call for reinforcements. I guess this means he’s honorable?
  • Would I play again: I am occasionally nostalgic enough to replay Final Fight. I don’t usually last past the subway, but I’m pretty sure Damnd will never be able to enjoy a hamburger again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Shock Troopers for the Neo Geo! That’s shocking! And maybe trooping! Please look forward to whatever that means!

OH MY GOD

FGC #106 Street Fighter Alpha 2

Yay fighting!I’m a professional computer geek, but I’ve never analyzed the specifications of my cherished video game systems. From the Atari to the Playstation 4, I’ve made a conscious decision to stay away from looking at the nitty gritty of any given gaming hardware, because, frankly, I don’t want to know. I know that I can get… obsessive about details, and, like avoiding checking my checking account balance every five minutes, I figure I’ll be happier if I don’t know that game x is only using 80% of the processor speed, and, ugh, this game would be so much better with a proper frame rate. I like Clerks and Star Wars The Force Awakens equally despite their wildly disparate budgets, why should I judge Cave Story against Super Mario Galaxy just because they happen to be on the same system? We’re well past the point when graphics or framerates were the be-all end-all of gaming (if such a time ever existed) so knowing the exact specs of any given hardware isn’t going to give me a good idea of whether or not its games are “good”.

And, really, with that in mind, as a layman to the idea of platform functionality, there have been very few occasions when I “noticed” the failings of any given hardware. I always (eventually) upgrade to the most modern gaming consoles not because I’m sick of looking at yesterday’s graphics or because I need that many more zombies on my screen, I upgrade because Final Fantasy 13 isn’t going to be on Playstation 2, so it’s time to upgrade to Playstation 3. Come to think of it, I have never upgraded to a newer system for anything other than the latest iteration of a franchise, whether that be Mario, Final Fantasy, or… Toejam and Earl. I’m not proud. Point is, if they had kept making NES games, I’d have kept buying NES games… and my functioning NES and games like Shovel Knight and Mega Man 9 seems to prove that. Okay, I know those games couldn’t really work on old school hardware, but maybe that’s the point? Thanks to not worrying about hardware specs, I can fondly recall old systems as less “hardware” and more “an aesthetic”. Ah, the neo-classical 8-bit days…

But the good old days weren’t always good, and Street Fighter Alpha 2 is as bad as it seems.

Take thatNow, I want to be clear here: I really like the Street Fighter Alpha series. For one thing, right from the start, it fully embraced the anime aesthetic of Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie. Street Fighter 2 has practically become a part of my DNA, but I was never really fond of the general “look” of that game. Can’t really tell you why, but if I had to put it into words, I’d say that the designs of Street Fighter 2 look more like an animated adaption of the WWF, while Alpha is decidedly Dragon Ball. Maybe I like super beefy Bison, or this has become a retroactive fondness for the Alpha sprites thanks to the Vs. series, but whatever the case, I know I didn’t give Chun-Li a second thought until she started fighting on the Great Wall of China. And, while Alpha seemed like more of a random experiment than anything else, Street Fighter Alpha 2 really started to seem like its own series that incidentally happened to feature some familiar faces. And Street Fighter Alpha 3? It’s one of the best Street Fighter games, period, and I’d play it over Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (its closest analogue in the SF2 series) any day. Heck, I think I like SFA3 better than Street Fighter 4 (pick the version of your choice).

Street Fighter Alpha 2 even gets a special place in my heart because it introduced my most common Street Fighter go-to: Sakura. Like Dan and Akuma, she’s another variation on the Ryu mold, but unlike her male contemporaries, she seems to be a perfect combination of “weird” and “actually fun to use”. Yes, I know she only really appears in Alpha and 4, but she also snuck into Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and she might be my favorite character to actually play as in that overcrowded roster. I’ve always said that the shoryuken should have more horizontal windup.

So, as an officially recognized arcade rat and lover of Street Fighter, I was looking forward to Street Fighter Alpha 2 for the SNES back in the Owielate 90’s. Following the tradition of roughly every other Street Fighter hitting the SNES (Street Fighter 2, no champion edition, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Street Fighter 2, no super 2 turbo), Street Fighter Alpha (1) completely missed the system… but here’s the superior sequel, anyway! And, yes, this game was released for those “next gen” systems, but who cared about those? I didn’t want Tekken, I wanted more SNES hits like Chrono Trigger and Yoshi’s Island. Why upgrade to new hardware when the SNES is pumping out hit after hit? Street Fighter Alpha 2 arrived the same Christmas as Donkey Kong Country 3, so obviously we’re dealing with a very healthy platform.

Except… not so much.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 is more than a little compromised to fit the confines of the SNES. I was always one to “believe the lie” when it comes to arcade ports or sprite reuse (Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is one of my favorite fighting games, and it was years before I noticed [at another’s insistence] that its sprites had a number of frames clipped from earlier, more expressive versions), so when I was told SNES Street Fighter 2 was “arcade perfect”, I believed it, because it’s not like I was dragging the ol’ fat TV into the arcade to compare. But here, in this Street Fighter, it’s more than a little obvious…

Just not the same

At the time, I wouldn’t have been able to enunciate exactly why I thought it was wrong, but I would have been able to tell you that… something got lost in the trip from the arcade to my basement. A game doesn’t have to be 100% arcade realistic… but it should be somewhere in the ballpark, particularly for a game as pretty as Street Fighter Alpha 2.

And then there’s the worst part: load times. Every match starts with an announcer shouting “Fight!”… and then a significant pause as the game catches up. First of all, load times are annoying, that’s a given. But even beyond that, the pause is right as the match starts, so, until you learn to figure out the exact delay involved, you can pretty much kiss scoring a first hit goodbye, because you better believe your opponent has no problem with the interruption.

Right in the bisonToday, these load times are just an annoyance, but back in ’96, this was practically salt in a gaping wound. I was a Nintendo kid, and had decided that the N64 was the only system I would ever need. I didn’t have many concrete reasons for this lifestyle choice, but one of the few irrefutable facts I could hoist in the direction of the haters was that the N64 was cartridge based, so I wouldn’t have to sit around waiting for discs to load like on the hated Playstation or irrelevant Saturn. No load times! That and Mario 64 were all we had! And here was a cartridge game on my beloved SNES (home of Secret of Mana!) that had load times! Betrayal most foul!

Within six months, I would own a Playstation. By the following Christmas, I would have already completed Wild Arms, Final Fantasy 7, Tekken 2, and Mega Man 8. I completed the abhorrent Beyond the Beyond through sheer, dogged determination (“I will make this purchase worthwhile!”). By New Year’s Day, 1998, thinking about the SNES as anything but old news would seem quaint. Most of my friends had already sold their old systems, and only ever held that “ancient” ABXY controller at my place for the occasion round of Super Bomberman. The old generation had passed, and the new gen of CDs and Z-buttons reigned supreme.

Where are they now?If it hadn’t been for Street Fighter Alpha 2, I never would have seen which way the wind was blowing. Yes, I would have bought the N64 (actually… I think I already had), and, yes, I would have bought the Playstation (alright, I would have begged my grandparents for a Playstation… same difference when you’re 14), but I never would have felt that the SNES to N64 was anything but an involuntary transition. Forced obsolescence, right? No, SFA2 proved that SNES’s obsolescence was anything but forced, and we’d squeezed every last drop out of that 16-bit hardware. Time waits for no generation, man or hardware, and Akuma was the reaper du jour.

Not a bad lesson to learn from a game about face punching.

FGC #106 Street Fighter Alpha 2

  • System: Super Nintendo was the point of this whole article, but it was also available for the Playstation and Sega Saturn. And arcade, of course. I can’t speak to the other system ports, though, as I waited until Alpha 3 to pick up on the series again.
  • Number of players: Two, which is the apposite number of street fighters.
  • Any more modes than the launch version of Street Fighter 5: Don’t think so.
  • Favorite Character: It’s Sakura. We already covered that. Really, I’m trying to find a way to phrase “inevitably I was going to gravitate toward the one that looks like Sailor Moon” without sounding like a creep. I was thirteen, alright?!
  • It makes less sense every game: How do all these guys afford airfare to fly around the world, fight for two minutes, and then fly off to some Really?other country? Sakura is a high school student! Zangief doesn’t even own a shirt!
  • Final Fight: We’re still a game away from jailbird Cody, but Guy, Rolento, and Sodom all officially make the Final Fight universe square with Street Fighter in this edition. Alpha 1 already had Sodom and Guy, but that game was already coasting on dubious canonicity.
  • Did you know? As a bit of a SNES bookend, Sodom is known as Katana in Final Fight (SNES) and Street Fighter Alpha 2 (SNES). It even reads “Katana” on his truck’s custom license plate. The name change didn’t stick, though. I wonder why Capcom never decided to “correct” the Bison/Vega/Balrog trilogy…
  • Would I play again: This version? No. Street Fighter Alpha 2 in general? Probably not, because I vastly prefer Street Fighter Alpha 3. Sorry, but, you were great at the time, but times change.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Fable 3! Oh, I shall be king for a day. Or queen. Whatever it takes, really. Please look forward to it!

That's gotta sting

FGC #059 Final Fight 2

The Main Man(continued from page C1) which is why it became a custom of the area to store our cooked meats in crates and barrels.

Also, this week in 199X was another curious historical event for our beloved Metro City: the political plummet of former mayor Mike Haggar.

We’ve discussed Mayor Haggar many times in this series, from his victories as a professional wrestler to his political campaign that involved suplexing a live shark (and this author maintains that, had that feat been attempted in the water, we would have seen a very different history of Metro City). Discussing Mayor Haggar at this point seems almost superfluous, as even school children know the minutia of the man, like how he met his beloved Nancy, and if someone is at all curious to learn more, they need only get within fifteen feet of Mike’s Maritime Maintenance to hear tales spun well past closing. Here’s a tip, when he starts talking about the time he fought a giant, hungry space god, it’s time to head home.

But there’s one tale Mayor Haggar never tells.

Readers old enough to remember the rise of the Mad Gear Gang and the ensuing conflict (dubbed by some overzealous reporters as The Final Fight of Metro City) will no doubt recall the heroics Mayor Haggar showed during the battle. Congresswoman Jessica Haggar, then just a teenager, had been dragged, quite literally, into the conflict, kidnapped from what should have been a pleasant evening of dancing with her then boyfriend, Cody Travers. Reports diverge at this point, but it is confirmed that Mike Haggar personally waded into the fray to rescue his daughter. Haggar was joined by Cody and/or an “international ninja” named Guy (last name unknown). The reasoning behind this differing account has been discussed before, but it is still my belief that various news sources chose to downplay or outright eliminate Guy from history due to his nationality ruining the “heroic native sons” narrative for Cody and Haggar. Later, Cody’s descent into crime could not be associated with “Hero Mayor Haggar”, so he was erased to make way for Guy’s reemergence. Whatever the case, whether everyone fought side by side or singularly, all three men were at least involved in the conflict, and were eventually victorious over the Mad Gears. Jessica Haggar made it home without a scratch, escorted by her father and two freshly minted heroes.

He's worth so many pointsMost towns don’t declare a city-wide holiday celebrating the day a man was defenestrated through a skyscraper, but Metro City has never been most towns. Mayor Haggar experienced a popularity surge not seen since the days of knights and demons, and many called for Haggar to run for positions like governor, senator, and even president. Haggar was riding a wave of national popularity, but it would be the international stage that would knock him from that perch to the cold, dark waters below.

As Cody Travers began his crash from hero to outlaw (yes, gossip rags at the time claimed Cody was “on vacation” with the mayor’s daughter, but Jessica’s autobiography From Lariat to Law School: One Woman’s Journey would later reveal that Cody was already having problems with the MCPD, and was only on the streets thanks to her father’s influence), Guy was continuing his training traveling the world. Guy was keeping a low profile, likely trying to hide himself from any gang reprisal, when information was leaked that Guy’s fiancée and future father-in-law had been kidnapped by a newly reformed Mad Gear Gang. Presumably, this was all an effort to draw Guy into a trap far away from Metro City, but there was one glaring problem: Guy was nowhere to be found!

Enter Maki Genryusai, the last remaining blood relative of the victims. Maki attempted to contact Guy, but received no response. She was a trained martial artist, so she considered rescuing her family singlehandedly, but she came to a fateful decision: she contacted Mayor Mike Haggar for help.

This cannot have been an easy decision for the mayor. On one hand, Guy had been a faithful ally of Haggar and all of Metro City in the past, and had been instrumental in rescuing Haggar’s own blood, so it would be only appropriate to reciprocate the favor. On the other hand, this kidnapping happened in far off Hong Kong, far beyond the jurisdiction of an American mayor. But perhaps the issue had already been decided when Haggar learned the Mad Gear Gang was responsible. Aides on site that day would later claim that fire burst forth from the mayor’s eyes when he was confronted with the realization that some Mad Gear members had not yet experienced his piledriver of justice.

Mayor Haggar’s journey was now inevitable, but as he prepared to leave his beloved city and join Maki on this deadly quest, another warrior threw his fist into the ring. A curious young man named Carlos Miyamoto claimed that he owed a favor to Haggar and Guy, and pleaded to assist the assault team. Very little is known about Carlos, and he was never seen again beyond this “second” Final Fight, but many have floated the theory that his love of katanas and obvious Japanophile tendencies (Carlos Miyamoto? One doesn’t need to be an onomatologist to see the problems there) reveal that he was an unmasked, incognito Sodom, a bitter former Mad Gear member. This conflicts with reports that Sodom was participating in a martial arts tournament around this time, though rumors still abound.

The trio journeyed initially to Hong Kong, but found information that the Mad Gear Gang had fled to Europe. Everyone flew from country to country in pursuit of the gang, visiting an American Marine Base in France that had been infiltrated, and then touring Holland to follow the lead of an imprisoned criminal claiming to have Mad Gear ties. An international incident nearly occurred when that prisoner, Bratken, recommended Haggar find the remaining Mad Gear members in England. Unfortunately, this was all a fiction of Bratken’s sadistic mind, and Haggar and company accidently demolished a circus troop starring England’s beloved Philippe the Clown. Luckily for everyone involved, it’s legal to maim a clown after 8 PM on a Sunday in the UK, so no one was prosecuted for damages.

Finally, Rolento, a lieutenant in the Mad Gear Gang, was found hiding in Italy. When questioned about how Rolento could be free and living in Italy after his reported defeat during the Metro City incident, Cody Travers claimed he “couldn’t quite remember ever meeting the guy. Did we ever actually go to his factory?” Regardless, Rolento was finally apprehended at his Italian villa, and revealed the shocking truth to Haggar: the Mad Gear Gang had never left Japan, and this European tour had all been a distraction. He went on to explain that transporting two captives across Europe would be a “logistical nightmare” and “too much trouble” and “what were you morons thinking?” Rolento gained an all new scar that day.

Back in Japan, Haggar, Maki, and Carlos ventured through the Mad Gear Stronghold, and confronted Retu, a part-time kabuki performer who had acquired the reins to the Mad Gear Gang. After some twirling and jumping, Maki decided to just kick Retu through a window. Retu survived, however, because, unlike his predecessor, Retu was hurled out of a window on the ground floor. Retu went on to get a job with Channel 6 in the small town of Springfield, and Maki was reunited with her family.

SHULK TIMEThe Mad Gear Gang was never seen again, but Haggar was not greeted with a hero’s welcome upon his return to the states. He had only been gone a week, but in that time, the worm had turned, and Metro City was in an uproar over its mayor’s latest “vacation”. The Mad Gear Gang had sympathizers in Metro City’s government, and information had been leaked that revealed that Mayor Haggar and his entourage had traveled Europe entirely on the city’s dime. Metro City had been in an economic spiral following the gang wars, it was in no position to support international vengeance quests waged by its politicians, so Haggar was in hot water. He tried to explain that eliminating the Mad Gear Gang “once and for all” would be the only way to keep the city safe, but a city needs more than flying kicks to stay secure, and Haggar had threatened that stability more than a hammer punch ever could.

The inquisition that started this week back in 199X would last for months, and Mayor Haggar may have had mighty muscle control, but he was a poor politician when it came to damage control. Attempting to maintain his persona as a super-powered “everyman”, Haggar grew a ponytail, and claimed that this whole debacle was the result of him “going through some stuff”. The public wasn’t buying it, though, and it seemed all but assured that Haggar’s term would end with the man leaving office in disgrace.

Fortunately for Haggar, but unfortunately for the city, the Skull Cross Gang rose from the ashes of the Mad Gear Gang, and attempted to seize control of the city. Haggar and a returning Guy worked together with gang informants and the MCPD to stop the riots that ensued during the conflict, and, while that battle is a story for another day, it did serve to catapult Haggar back to his former standing. Haggar would go on to serve another two terms, and was followed by his own hand-picked successor, Mayor Two P.

Just goes to show that Metro City will love you if you beat up thugs in Metro City, but not anywhere else.

Well, that’s it for this week’s column. Be sure to come back next week, when, in honor of his birthday, we’ll take a look at the life of Mr. Hoover, aka Metro City’s own Baby Commando!

FGC #59 Final Fight 2

  • So angrySystem: Super Nintendo, though also available on the Wii Virtual Console.
  • Number of Players: Two, just as it should be.
  • This Final Fight has two simultaneous players, but it got played a lot less than Final Fight 1, why? I’m going to have to go ahead and say it’s due to a complete lack of adolescent evolved acrobatic amphibians.
  • Guy Problems: It is a really odd choice to base the entire game outside of Metro City, travel to Asia repeatedly, and make the captives related to Guy… but not include Guy as a playable character. Was he switched for Final Fight’s first female, Maki, at the last moment, or were the developers just toying with Guy’s random absence from Final Fight SNES? The world may never know.
  • Favorite Character: I don’t know why I played as Carlos so much as a kid. Hm, probably because swords are cool. Anyway, Haggar is much more fun as an adult, mainly because he seems to have an actual move repertoire. I want to like Maki more, but I can’t really find her niche here, as Carlos seems faster, and Haggar is definitely stronger. I think Maki is supposed to be fast, though.
  • Did you know? This article is a tribute to my mother. Figure that one out.
  • Would I play again: Yes. I was rather surprised at how much more I enjoyed this game over original Final Fight, and now I really want to give it a try with two active players, which I think I only ever experienced once during a rental some twenty years ago. Somebody please grab that second controller, there’s senseis to save!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… to go out on maternity leave. Wait. What the hell? ROB, is this one of your damn excuses that…

Huh?

Oh, alright. Yeah. That… errr… I don’t… Huh. Wait, maternity leave? You’re a girl robot? Then who is the…

Huh?

Primal Prime, the time traveling revived control suit that became the very embodiment of the Autobot Matrix of Leadership itself? You’re the father? Oh, this raises so many more questions. So, so many.

Well, great, what the hell am I supposed to do in the meanwhile, Random ROB? What’s that? There’s something on the back of your maternity leave request? Oh.

This could work...

Yes. This could work. Come back later today for more information on FGC Reader’s Choice Challenge.

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