Shiga Naoya

Article By: BAD 
Written [ 01/06/02 ]

 For the first article of the year, I thought of many, many topics to write about, but hands-down the most appropriate to start out the year with is coverage on Final Fight 2. Yes, that's right, one of the best side-scrolling beat'em ups ever to grace this splendid earth. I had forementioned my love for this fantastic game in a previous column, so now is the time to tell of the greatness that the game is. I'd have to say that of all the side-scrolling fighters, Final Fight 2 has had the most impact on me, mostly because of the fact that it is the sequel to Final Fight. For those that have read the Final Fight One article I wrote a while back, skip the re-cap on the series, but for those depreived of Final Fight, read on. As a side note, Final Fight 2 will be referred to as FF2 in this article, and has absolutely no relation to any one of Square's atrocities. When I first witnessed Final Fight, I was amazed by the main characters, and how each differed in abilities that could be used to clean house on the unique enemies and bosses of the game. Guy, Cody, and Haggar were able to crush the Mad Gear by picking up weapons like knives, murasamunes, and pipes, which made the game twice as fun; there's just something really fun and exciting about mowing down countless thugs with a murasamune or a pipe. The game's stages and tunes were also a plus, and the ending was also great, with a standard tone. Overall, the game was amazing to me, and I never thought about a sequel to the masterpiece until I saw screenshots in a magazine back then, of Capcom's newest project: Final Fight 2.
I was completely taken by the beauty that was Final Fight 2 contained in the screenshots littered upon the pages of that magazine. Looking at the game, I thought to myself, "this game looks great!" and proceeded to read on about what I consider, even now, to be one of the games I have most anticipated. With two new characters, and only Haggar returning, I was anxious to see what other characters made the line-up for FF2, and who was cut from the game. However, I didn't actually realize the greatness, the goodness, the absolute splendor and sheer happiness that the game represents in design and presentation, until I played it. Final Fight 2 retains the same healthy dose of skull-crushing, bone-breaking mayhem that the first game had, with new weapons and other methods of brutality to crush the threat at hand. In good company with other great fighters of that time like Street Fighter II Turbo and Fatal Fury 2, Final Fight 2 served as a knockout punch to me. As you may already know, FF2 is the product of the best developer the world has known: Capcom. Known for their polished fighters, FF2 shows no change of pace in this direction, as Capcom did a wonderful job on the characters, the stages, the sounds, the music, and the overall presentation of the game. What a great game this is; truly a great game. My love for this series is second only to Street Fighter, and the flame still burns.
 To start, one of the things I like most about Final Fight 2 is the characters; from the three selectable fighters, to the enemies and bosses, the design of FF2's characters is fantastic.Some may say the design of the characters isn't overly unique, or the greatest ever, but the truth is that the characters are unique not only in design but also in their environment (variation is the key). The only returning character from Final Fight is Haggar, while Capcom introduced two new characters to the series: Maki and Carlos. Haggar is drawn differently in FF2, with huge shin guards and bare-knuckle gloves, and looks a lot more ruthless than his Final Fight incarnation. Although the Haggar in Final Fight looks and sounds ruthless, the Haggar in Final Fight just seems more menacing to see, especially when swinging a 2 x 4 at the speed of light. Maki, from Japan and a friend of Guy, is one of my favorite Capcom characters ever; she plays very similar to Guy, with the biggest combos in the game, a wall-lap special move, speed, with also the short damage absorption of Guy. Of all the female characters in Capcom games, Maki has got to be one of the best I've ever seen (and a favorite!). The coolest thing about Maki is her ability to wield the tonfu more efficiently than the other characters, allowing her to just plow through several enemies at a time with speed and power. Upon seeing Maki make the roster of Capcom VS SNK 2, I was completely surprised and happy to see that Capcom added such a great character that deserved recognition into the VS games. Carlos is from Mexico and has a katana blade on his back for easy access, and plays a lot like Cody; his damage is minimal, his speed and damage is average, his reach is useful in long-range combat against bosses. What about Haggar? Well, haggar plays about the same as far as combos and jumping atacks, but for holds and throws he has gained a Body Slam (instead of the Boston Crab), and his biggest, most powerful and useful move, the Spinning Piledriver (of Zangief fame). Haggar is slightly faster than in Final Fight, which helps him a bit more to plow through enemies in more of a rush style with his new moves. Of the three characters, I used to think Carlos was the coolest, because of his fighting style and special attack, but the clear winner for the best character in the game is Maki. Maki's character design is fantastic in every way; she uses Ninjitsu like Guy, her animation is beautiful in every movement she takes, and her voice-over is great. The animation on Maki's moves is just amazing - just look at the flow of great animation that composes her ground combo. The animation in this game is on par with that of Street Fighter II Turbo, which was released at about the same time Final Fight 2 was. With this at hand, it's easy to see why I love the animation in Final Fight 2 so much; because the hues, presentation, and animation style are so much like Street Fighter II Turbo, the game looks great.

Maki may be the greatest character in the game, but the other characters move with great fluidity in their animation as well. The enemies and bosses are no exception; just look at the animation and design of even the small thugs in the game. final Fight 2 like Schot, Bull, Elias, Eliot, or Elick, or the knife-weilding Leon. The best of the Final Fight 2's thugs is probably Schot, who shares a striking similarity with Two P. from Final Fight. Capcom also put more detail overall into the enemies of Final Fight 2; in FF2 they have more detailed faces, different upper body designs, and weild different attacks (although they look slightly similar). Apparrently, in the first Final Fight, the Andore family managed to survive the assault of Guy, Cody and Haggar, as they are back in this game redesigned with hole-ridden overalls and the same pissed-off faces of discontent. The return of the Andore family was also a great touch to the character development of the game, because among so many new characters, it's nice to see a few familiar faces to beat in. It's cool just to see the Andores once again wreaking havoc, dawning red, blue, and silver threads just as in the previous game. Still, after witnessing the great character design of the Andore family revisited, the real treat to the eyes is the bosses. The bosses in this game are a lot bigger than the bosses in Final Fight, and they weild attacks completely different than the bosses in Final Fight did. Most of the bosses in Final Fight 2 are huge, and the design of the bosses is unique and memorable. For instance, the game pits you against a giant airborne Chinese chef jumping around the screen, a musclehead Navy reject, a circus clown with a mean cane attack, and Rolento, the crazed militant villian who also appears in the Street Fighter Alpha series. Look at the bosses and realize that they are all completely different; the Chinese chef Won Won is completely in a different league than the likes of Phillipe, as Rolento is very different from the musclebound Freddie, or the terrible Bratken. Just as in Final Fight, Capcom managed to keep the theme of variation, with bosses of different aesthetic properties. One of the more notable bosses is Phillipe, who although is a circus clown, doesn't share the cheesy stereotype of what hollywood 'bad clowns' are like. Phillipe uses his cane to attack, as well as a slide tackle, as you fight him on a moving circus train the Mad Gear uses to smuggle illegal goods. Brilliant. Still another example of a cool boss is Bratken, a muscle-bound freak who loves to play with toys and wants to smash you via a plethora of kicks, shoulder rams, hard-hitting punches, and high-flying airborne attacks; any other games with a boss as crazy as this? To add to the mix of psychopaths and muscleheads you fight, Rolento greets you after a long elevator ride by drowning you in grenades; absolutely fantastic. The end boss, Retu, looks like a crazed Kabuki actor (unique, unique, unique), who uses heavy punches and cyclone kicks across the screen and into the air to kill you. When I first saw Retu appear out of the background darkness, I was a bit intimidated by how big this boss really is; easilly the biggest, most tough boss of Final Fight 2, and a very memorable Capcom boss at that. A long time ago GamePro did a review of FF2 and claimed the game had some boring enemies; now what the fuck were they talking about? What were they expecting? A burly Chinese madman chef chasing you around the screen wasn't good enough? A rotten circus clown amidst thugs and street trash not clever enough? Rolento, cramming grenades down your throat...not good enough? An end boss that resembles a crazed out Kabuki actor not creative enough? Fuck that review; I'd like to see what game met the prerequisites of that review. No side-scrolling fighter at that time even got close to what Capcom accomplished with Final Fight 2. Sure, a few SNK side-scrolling fighters at that time were nice (Sengoku, and a few others), but nobody was able to rival that of the polish and great design of the enemies in FF2.
 Now, on to the music and sounds of the greatness that is Final Fight 2. The sountrack in FF2 is a bit more upbeat than Final Fight, not as upbeat as Final Fight One, but a bit more upbeat and a bit less low. The music actually plays a big part in the presentation to me, because in certain stages the music fits perfectly with the stage or action taking place. The music is just plainly the evolution of what Capcom leanred to do with the CPS-1 hardware, that's all; the music is a change of tone, definately, but still great nonetheless. Just listen to the great track of the first and last stages of the game - now that's hardcore. The sounds are cool, with lots of thuds and punches to slam your ears, along with the dose of death cries from the rats of the Mad Gear. As said before, I think the best in the game are the sounds of Maki; there's just something about Maki that screams quality, even in the short battle cries. The enemies' groans of defeat sound cool too, as well as the slightly deeper groans of defeat the bosses let out upon impact with pavement. New sounds of slashes and thuds from knives and tonfas or 2 x 4's also really add some goodness to the thug pounding of Final Fight 2. The sounds of the hits the player deals out are more crisp and fluent than in Final Fight, as well as the many battle cries of the game. From the intro to the ending, I think all of the music in FF2 is pretty good, and none of the tracks make me sick the way RPG tracks usually do.

 Now, the stages that make the mood of Final Fight 2. Truthfully, I bitterly oppose the old GamePro review summation that the stages of FF2 are boring and do not 'fit' the action of the game. Ok, now the truth about this game is that the Mad Gear is concentrated in various parts of the world, and to save Genryusai and rena, you have to visit many places all over the world to find them, so wouldn't it make sense to fight in stages of different countries of the world? GamePro's shitass editors didn't think so, but they failed to address that the stages play a key role in the plot of the game. Haggar, Maki, and Carlos are sent to various locales of the world to rescue Genryusai and Rena, including Hong Kong, Holland, France, England, Italy, and Japan. The game pits you against the Mad Gear in places like sewers, an airport, storage areas, on boats, trains, a railyard, a dojo, and other dirty rest areas and back rooms. The stages are nice; of all the stages, my favorite has to be England, which starts in a railyard then leads to fighting atop a moving train, with clear night's city view backdrop, a fairly concentrated group of enemies with good placement, and some down right chaos that erupts once many characters clutter the screen. Another noteworthy stage is probably the Japan stage, where the battle starts in a rainstorm, with land mines and a fairly concentrated group of strong enemies. Adding to the horizontal scrolling of the Final Fight name is the vertical scrolling of Final Fight 2, which adds an interesting twist, requiring the player to fight off enemies from above and below. A great stage in the history of Capcom's side-scrolling fighters has to be Italy; the stage puts you on the streets, then aboard a ship where you raise hell, and then on to the elevetor part of the stage. Locked in the elevator with no place to run, it can turn into cluttered mess really quick; sometimes you'll be graced with the gift of having a few Andores beating you senselessly into the corner. The great thing about the elevator stage, though, is that if you have a weapon, you can really plow through the enemies since they also have nowhere to seek refuge once it starts to rain death. Finally, the elevator stops, the door opens, and the grinding fight with Rolento starts. The best boss in the Final Fight series, Rolento is a chore to get rid of - shadows trail him as he runs and jumps around the screen, he has staff attacks, a mean throw, and he drowns you in grenade fire. Arguably one of the best bosses Capcom has ever created. Ever. Also revised in Final Fight 2 are the bonus stages that the first game had; the first new bonus stage lets you total an SUV, while the second puts you up against rows of flaming barrels with little time. By far, the greatest bonus stage in the Final Fight series has to be in Final Fight 2 - nothing is better than crushing one of those bullshit fucking SUVs that always take up too much space on the road.

The next aspect of the game to discuss: the fighting. The fighting of this game I think is more intense than the first installment, for many reasons. The first reason is mostly due to the fact of the amount of sheer chaos that can grace the screen at one time. Take three or four enemies, two players, weapons, and land mines, throw them all together, and watch it all burn, as bodies, fists, and weapons fly in a flaming mess. Now this is what side-scroller fighters are supposed to be like! Plowing through hordes of low-life thugs with a tonfu or 2 x 4 is loads of sadistic fun. The game's items consist of several types of food like lobster, soft drinks, bananas, and the known barbeque makes a return, while watches and money can also be found. The weapons in this game are great, consisting of a re-drawn knife, a tonfu, and a huge 2 x 4 board to mow enemies down with. This is a great game. Probably the second most notable aspect of the game is that the bosses are at least two or three times bigger than your character, and have attacks that cover most of the screen as opposed to the attacks of the bosses in Final Fight, which covered only corresponding spots on the screen. Capcom must have started their 'huge boss' attribute that graces so many of their later side-scrolling fighters like Dungeons & Dragons Tower Of Doom and Alien VS Predator, because the bosses in this game are oversized and easilly wipe the floor with you if you're not careful. With this comes the difference in attacking between this game and its predecessor; since the bosses are a lot bigger and wield some bigger attacks with greater attacking range, fighting the bosses is a completely different game in FF2. Final Fight 2's boss attacking methods are different for each, because some have attacks that are airborne or have high priority, which creates a more patient, precise form or attacking. There may not seems like much punishment for not succeeding in attacking successfully, but when you do get caught, it can really ruin your day; lets just say getting hit with the many cool boss attacks sound and look cool until you see your lifebar. Sometimes you can be ripping your way through a stage you know inside and out, but once one enemy catches you, the others are on you like hobos on a ham sandwich. The fighting in this game can go from a simple three-thug elimination to a landmine ridden field with charging Elicks and swinging Andores. There's beauty in simplicity, and this game fits the bill perfectly - the constant fighting, whether somewhat calm or chaotic at times, is classic. Hit collision is pretty much the same as the first game, but some of the enemy attacks now have slightly different priority, leaving your character flat on her/his back.
The last point of the game is the aesthetics - the presentation overall. The presentation of this game is fantastic, and though they changed some things, others remain the same; an example of this is how they retained the same font they used in Final Fight. The game looks a lot fresher than it's predecessor, but it's simplicity in design is comparable to that of the jump of the aesthetic evolution of Street Fighter II to Street Fighter II Turbo. The game even presents a world map (instead of a city map), Street Fighter style, to show your progress throughout your journey of the world; sure, this is small, and some may say it's insignificant, but these small things are nice to see. Instead of being tied to a bunch of dynamite after being floored by the Mad Gear, your character is now shown hands tied in a passage, with water inching slowly to drown your character... unless you continue. The game demo does a great job of explaining the game's premise (with a bit of deja vu when Mike Haggar picks up the phone) with great cinematic artwork, plot revealations between the stages, and a great ending with nice illustrating of the characters and those rescued. Final Fight 2 has some of my favorite cinematic scenes ever in any Capcom game ever made - just look at the beautiful shots below. When this game came out, these cinematic scenes were amazingly nice, and I think they still are even compared to the more powerful hardware Capcom designs their games on. The artwork in this game is just awesome; I love the presentation and illustration style of this game with an absolute form of concentrated passion.
Final Fight 2 is one of the best side-scrolling fighters capcom has made, and one of the best side-scrolling fighters period. This game doesn't try to create anything entirely new, but instead improves and gives players a unique sense of artistic variation and presentation selection. Fighting through legions and legions of Final Fight 2's many enemies and great bosses is a blast with the great methods of destruction the player is granted with the game's engine. Though many of the later CPS-2 side-scrolling fighters are very impressive, this CPS-based side-scrolling fighter has had a sincerely secure spot in my heart since the day I discovered it.