Sometimes revisiting the past can be detrimental towards one's most endearing and nostalgic memories. Time has a way of distorting the past and make things seem much more positive than they actually were. This is something that I became more painfully aware of while playing Final Fight One. I come from the same generation of gamers—who cut their teeth on quarters and joysticks rather than consoles and gamepads—that Mike hails from. Most of my memories of Final Fight were ecstatic, so when it came time to play the Game Boy Advance (GBA) revival I was more than eager.
Sadly, taking Final Fight One out for another spin proved to be a disaster and I took little joy in reenacting the old. The game is repetitive as Mike mentions, but that isn't what threw me for a loop. Even today, most contemporary games aren't as diverse as most people seem to think and repetition isn't necessarily the antithesis to engaging play. What immediately jolted my happy endorphins was an absolutely brutal difficulty level. Even on the easiest setting, the challenge proved overwhelming and I struggled to crawl out of the earliest stages. Was the difficulty level jacked up or did my gaming skills diminish?
Enemies bounce out of attack reach with inhuman agility and attack with a robotic-like efficiency. Punches from the player seem to only pack featherweight damage while computer opponents, no matter the size or gender, throw down like super heavyweights. To compensate for the imbalance in strength, I looked for weaknesses in the scripted movements of my enemies to exploit and matched mechanical behavior with equally mechanical behavior. This results in the frequent and ridiculous visuals like the one of me rapid-fire punching towards the outside edge of the screen that won't scroll until the enemies have been cleared or an open door way in anticipation of an incoming enemy will hopefully step into my left jab.
The emotion and drama of hand-to-hand combat becomes lost in the overly calculated gameplay that bares little semblance to fighting and appears more like some detached ritualistic dance. If I don't feel like I'm actually fighting, why am I playing a game called Final Fight? Why did I like playing this game in the first place?