Final Fight 3 came along fairly late in the Super Nintendo's lifespan, but that certainly didn't bother fans of the series who were looking for one more heavy dose of beat-'em-up action. Capcom decided it was time to spice up the gameplay some and the end result was something that would appeal to classic fans of the series as well as draw in a few new ones as well. So is this rather rare 16-bit brawler still worth your time and hard-earned Wii Points?
While Final Fight doesn't completely re-invent itself in the gameplay department, it does bring quite a few new ideas to the table and adds a much heavier emphasis on attack variety. In fact, many have described Final Fight 3 as a cross between Final Fight 2 and Street Fighter 2; oddly enough, that assessment isn't too far off the mark.
You still have your standard set of beat-'em-up moves, but the game also introduces a few new twists. You can now perform a dash, not to mention a devastating dash attack. There's now also a Special Move gauge that will allow your character to pull of a Street Fighter 2-style attack complete with it's own special circular input on the D-pad. These might sound like rather superficial additions, but they add a nice layer of variety to the game.
There are three game modes to choose from. The standard single- and two-player modes are still intact, but this time the developers have tossed in a new mode of play called Automatic 2P. This allows you to play the game as a two-player experience, but having the CPU control the other player. While this is quite helpful in the game's later and more difficult levels, it does tend to cause quite a bit of slowdown when the screen becomes cluttered with characters and enemies. It's definitely something to consider when deciding how you want to play.
There's no denying that the new additions definitely make the game a bit more playable, but this also might prove to be a double-edged sword for long-time fans of the series expecting a more traditional button-mashing experience. The play control itself is as smooth as it's ever been throughout the series, and despite some annoying slowdown in the two-player modes, the overall presentation easily lives up to its reputation as one of the all-time great beat-'em-up series and yet another intense Final Fight experience.
Visually Final Fight 3 is fairly impressive, especially compared to previous entries. There's plenty of detail and variety in the various backdrops you'll fight your way through, and all four characters are drawn and animated well. Capcom always had a knack for knowing just how far to stretch the series from a graphical standpoint and this final fight is certainly no exception. Even the slowdown can't be fully blamed on Capcom given the Super Nintendo's pokey processor, but perhaps a few visual cuts here and there might have alleviated some of these instance. Given how well most other areas of the game are executed, it's difficult to complain over such a minor annoyance.
The rocking soundtrack has long been a staple of the series and Final Fight 3 keeps up the tradition quite well. There are plenty of up-tempo tracks to carry the intensity of the game and the sound effects are also pulled off impressively. Sure, there's still the bits of muffled voiced dialog fans of the series have come to know so well, but given that this was a mere 16-bit title, it's actually quite impressive how much audio goodness Capcom was able to squeeze into the game.
Final Fight 3 is a fitting end to one of the more popular arcade series from the 16-bit era. Sure some of the new additions might rub some gamers the wrong way, but it's difficult to fault Capcom for trying to liven things up a bit with an added layer of depth. The simple fact that Final Fight 3 is quite rare and commands a fairly high price tag on most auction sites makes its 800 Wii Point price tag quite a bargain for gamers who just can't get enough of Capcom's flagship beat-'em-up series. It might not be the massive leap forward that fans of the series had hoped for, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.