The SNES port of the original Final Fight may have successfully translated the gameplay from arcade to home console, but it was missing some key elements: the third character Guy, an entire level and — most important of all — the vital two-player co-op mode. Capcom sought to rectify these shortcomings in the SNES-exclusive sequel, but sadly the end result is rather less appealing than its forerunner.
As before, the enemy you're facing is the sinister Mad Gear gang, which has somehow survived the death of its leader in the original game and has expanded its network beyond Metro City. Final Fight 2 takes place all over the globe, in locations such as Hong Kong and Holland — which, according to Capcom, has plenty of hills and is so battle-worn it resembles the Somme, 1916. Impressively moustached wrestler-turned-mayor Mike Haggar makes a return, but Cody and Guy clearly have more pressing engagements, as their places are taken by South American swordsman Carlos and female ninja Maki, respectively.
Despite the new cast members, the gameplay is almost identical. You have one button for punch and one for jump, and pressing both simultaneously triggers a 360-degree special attack that drains a little of your vitality bar. You can grab enemies and throw them into other characters, and it's also possible to grapple and administer damage. Finally, Mike can grab enemies, leap into the air and pile-drive them into the ground, while Maki has inherited Guy's wall-jump move. There's not a massive amount of variety in your attacks, and if you got bored of the limitations of the original game then there's little here to revive your interest.
The most significant addition to the sequel is the reinstatement of the two-player mode. Playing with a friend enriches the overall experience, but the repetitive nature of the game — combined with its disappointingly low difficultly level — means that when two players are involved, it actually becomes less challenging. This isn't helped by the lacklustre enemy designs and uninspiring levels. We don't know quite how they did it, but Capcom's designers have managed to make all of the different international locations look more boring than the single city which Final Fight inhabited.
So keen was Capcom to make up for the shortcomings of the SNES original that it even went as far as to include Rolento, the boss missing from the first title due to the fact that his level — the industrial zone — was cut due to memory constraints. Rolento — or "Rolent" as he is called in this particular game — looks a little goofy when compared to his original design, and his appearance is something of a let down. The fact that he looks cooler than the other bosses in Final Fight 2 should tell you everything you need to know about the overall character design in this title.
Final Fight 2 makes perfect sense on paper — take the original game, put in what was missing and roll it out for massive critical acclaim and bumper sales. Sadly, while this sequel does indeed add another character and boast a two-player mode, it's a pale imitation of its predecessor. It lacks the endearing visuals, the catchy music and the memorable bosses of Final Fight, and to add insult to injury is insultingly easy to complete on the default difficulty level.
Devoid of the spirit which made the first title so engaging — and lacking any fresh ideas of its own — Final Fight 2 is a wasted opportunity. The vapid gameplay renders the two-player mode almost irrelevant, which in turn means you're better off downloading the original, even if it is missing some vital ingredients.