The Sega CD (or the “Mega CD” to our friends across the pond) has very few triumphs to show for its handful of sputtering, 64-color years, and Final Fight CD is one of those triumphs. The original Final Fight bashed its way up to arcade fame in 1989, but it was the Sega CD release that finally let console gamers experience something close to an arcade-quality adaptation of the game.
Sure, it took four years for a complete version of Final Fight to come home at last, but the good things in life are worth waiting for, like true love. Isn’t that right, Cody? Jessica?…Oh, right, you two are—yeah, the jail thing—right, right, okay. Sorry. My mistake.
Ahem. It’s worth mentioning that Final Fight CD still smells faintly of the censorship that clung to the SNES adaptation of the original arcade game. Samurai-trucker hybrid Sodom is named “Katana,” Damnd (the boss of the first level and Mad Gear’s best candidate for jaw surgery—check out that underbite) is named “Thrasher,” and big boss Belger wheels up to you in an office chair at the end of the game because it’s not nice to attack a man in a wheelchair, even if he’s trying to pepper your guts with machine gun fire.
However, both Poison and Roxy were allowed to make a return to the Final Fight universe after being banished from the SNES adaptation, on the condition that they wear longer pants. Both fighters begrudgingly visited Wal-Mart, picked up some bicycle shorts, returned to Mad Gear, punched in, and then proceeded to kick Mayor Mike Haggar in the face.
Even though Final Fight CD features trace amounts of modification, it still has a lot to offer. The game’s cutscenes are animated, for starters, though in English-speaking territories they’re accompanied by voice acting terrible enough to make you want to squirm. But Final Fight CD also has a time trial mode that pits either Cody, Guy, or Mayor Haggar (your choice) against endless waves of enemies. How long will you last? That depends on your heart, son.
The nature of Final Fight CD’s time trial mode segues into an interesting story point about Cody. In the English version of the ending, he walks away from Jessica and tells her that they can’t be together while evil stalks the streets, or something. In the Japanese ending, however, Cody warns Jessica that he can’t live a normal life, and they can only be together if she accepts that.
It’s since been established that Cody is a hopeless adrenaline junkie who fights for the thrill of it, an undesirable character trait that caused a painful breakup between himself and his girl. Nowadays, we’re used to seeing Cody dressed in prison stripes; it’s been ages since he put on his jeans and white T-shirt (and presumably rocked out to Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet). Had Capcom always intended for Cody to play the fallen angel? Either way, the Japanese ending for Final Fight CD offers up an intriguing bit of backstory for Cody. Why didn’t it make the cut outside Japan?
We’ll never know. Maybe there is a secret graveyard where the answers to these questions are entombed forever, like so many squashed piles of E.T. game cartridges.
Article by Nadia Oxford
GameSpite Journal 12: Final Fight CD