Double Dragon may have kicked off the beat 'em up craze, but Capcom's Final Fight was the game that came out of nowhere and quickly became the measuring stick for the genre. So when Capcom had to cut the beloved cooperative play mode from the Super NES home version of the game, Japanese developer Jaleco decided that it would find a way to release a brawler that boasted that coveted gameplay mode and soak up some sales. While the co-op mode was a bit selling point for Rival Turfback in the early '90s, every other facet of the game ended up suffering greatly. Is the highly-touted co-op mode of this classic brawler still worth a look on the Wii U Virtual Console? That's what we're about to find out.
For anyone that's ever played a brawler title, it won't take you long to jump in head first into this title. You'll be able to select from two characters (one of which we're pretty sure is a distant cousin of M. Bison) and then into the fray you'll be tossed. You're only goal is to beat your way through a bevy of enemies until you reach an end boss that must be dispatched. To say that they game borrows heavy from earlier beat 'em up titles would be a gross understatement.
You have your main attack button that will automatically mix up your gameplay moves for you. Of course, getting in close will allow you to throw an opponent. If you're feeling particularly brave, you can even perform a nice jump kick if you find yourself in a pinch. One unique feature is the dash move which can be executed with a quick press of a shoulder button. While not overly effective as an offensive move, it can get you out of a pinch if the need arises. Also not to be overlooked is the special attack, which can be effective when you find yourself overwhelmed by enemies.
The single player mode of the game can feel very redundant - especially when you take the repetitive nature of the action into account - but at least the game does include that thoroughly marketed co-op mode. You can tackle the game with another player, even going so far as being able to beat up your partner if the mood so strikes. There's also a VS. mode that will let the two of you go at it without any outside interference from other enemies and characters. It's certainly nowhere near on par with a true one-on-one fighting game like Street Fighter II, but can be good fun, if only to see who can push the action button the fastest.
The hit detection is probably the game's biggest flaw as it sometimes feels like there's no sweet spot for attacking any one opponent. It can also be difficult to assess who is doing the grabbing when you're up close to an enemy - we lost count of the number of times we assumed we'd engaged the grapple but it actually turned out to be our opponent. It's little nuances like this that can make playing the game feel more like a chore than a source of enjoyment; Final Fight is notably free of such imperfections.
Rival Turf blatantly attempts to clone the visual makeup of Final Fight. In all honesty it would be impossible to count the similarities. It might have been nice if the animation drawing and animation quality were the same, but Jaleco clearly had to make cuts in order to keep the game running on the Super NES with two characters playing at the same time - and the majority of those cuts were made in the graphical presentation. Characters are not only over-the-top silly looking, but they often feature only a few frames of animation in their various movements. The same can pretty much be said of the audio package; the music is forgettable and the sound effects don't have the same punch (pun not intended) as those in Final Fight.
Rival Turf attempted to fill the gap left with the lack of co-op play in Capcom's Super Nintendo Final Fight release with its initial release, but it ended up sacrificing so many other facets of the game to do so that it left the overall experience feeling extremely flawed and unappealing. It would seem that sometimes you can become so obsessed with one feature that you forget that there are a lot of other areas of the game that have to be up to par in order to make the whole thing worthwhile. Rival Turf, sadly, wasn't able to do this in its heyday and certainly can't hold up on the Wii U Virtual Console - especially when you take into account all of the progress that has been made after its initial release.