Only for the die-hard fans who have no other options.
Final Fight was a favorite of mine in the arcades. Where Double Dragon was often cited as starting the real beat-'em-up craze, Final Fight is now often used in its place. The large characters and special moves are fantastic at the time.
The SNES version, while obviously scaled down a bit, was graphically faithful to the arcade version. In the land of Nintendo, at least, it was one of the first games that truly made me feel as though I was going to be able to have arcade-quality games in my home.
The sound, while limited, does the job. At the very least, the important sound effects of the arcade, such as the hit sounds and Haggar's yells, are here and quite clear. Where the CPS1 hardware used for the arcade version had a Yamaha FM synthesis chip, the SNES relied on a midi-style setup that couldn't quite nail the same instrument sounds found in the original arcade soundtrack. However, the instrument choices made kept the soundtrack very recognizable, without really taking away from it. For the most part, if you liked the music of the arcade game, you probably won't be disappointed.
Gameplay is basic, but is responsive and handles just like the arcade. You have your basic punch/kick combos that come as you mash the punch button. Two methods of aerial attack are at your disposal. Jumping and hitting the attack gives you your standard aerial attack, while holding down on the D-Pad before hitting attack gives you your secondary. You can actually chain these two attacks together, which is helpful when attacking a crowd. Jump in with the secondary, which is weaker and won't knock anyone down, and then while still in the air, hit the attack button without holding down. When done correctly, you'll score up to two hits on an enemy. Smashing both attack and jump gives you your special attack, which results in massive damage to the enemy, but a little is taken from your own life bar.
It looks like Final Fight and it sounds like Final Fight, so it must be Final Fight, correct? In a manner of speaking. The SNES versions of the original Final Fight are notorious for their omissions.
The first thing any Final Fight fan will notice is that the two-player co-op that made the arcade original so fun is gone. As two people can't play, there was no need for two fast characters, hence Guy is now off somewhere training. So, you're down to Haggar and Cody. This in itself isn't entirely bad if you weren't a Guy player to begin with, but it's still a bit of a slap in the face to fans.
Another glaring cut was the removal of Roxy and Poison, the two female characters. They were instead replaced by Sid and Billy, a couple of skinny punks who retain the moves of Roxy and Poison. The issue of violence against women is often attributed to their replacement, though rumors of Poison being a transsexual are also cited. It's of note that in some versions of the arcade game, smacking either of them up into the air would reveal the bottom side of their breasts, which could also be another factor.
Two characters also received editing, but only in their names. Damnd, the first boss, has been rechristened as Thrasher, whereas Sodom, out of fear of a backlash to a reference to the biblical tale of Sodom and Gammorah, became Katana. The Sodom-to-Katana change made its way into the SNES port of Street Fighter Alpha 2 years later as well.
Two entire levels also went missing. The factory stage, which was full of flames shooting up from the steel grate floors, was cut. A larger cut was to be found in the stage that featured an elevating platform outside of a skyscraper, which lead to the battle with Rolento. As that stage is gone, so is Rolento. To those who only ever played Final Fight on SNES, Rolento's existence and ties to Final Fight probably came as a surprise when they first played Street Fighter Alpha 2. In fact, Rolento's stage in Street Fighter Alpha 2 takes place on the very level that was also cut.
One thing that should be noted is that as the game is missing a playable character, the ending itself was also changed. I won't spoil it with details though.
The Bottom Line
As the 16-bit era was truly heating up, Final Fight showed arcade gamers both promise and disappointment. While most of what made Final Fight what it was is intact, the cuts, lack of two-player co-op, and mostly needless censorship keep it from being what it should have been. Fans of the arcade game would be better served tracking down the Sega CD version or the SNES sequels, Final Fight 2 and 3.