When it comes to the beat 'em up genre, there are few games as revered as Final Fight. Capcom's arcade brawler, which originally came out in the arcades back in 1989, was a jewel in the SNES's crown, never making the trip over to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. As a result, Sega fans had to wait an additional four years to experience the game at home, which is when it was finally released for the Mega-CD.
Thirty years have passed since then, and a group of Sega fans has got together to correct this mistake with an incredible, new homebrew project called Final Fight Ultimate.
This is the passion project of the Brazilian developer Mauro Xavier who is hoping to provide players with the definitive 16-bit console experience on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis.
"How this came about is Master Linkuei saw my port to Color Maximite 2 and asked me if I could port it to Mega Drive," says Xavier. "So I accepted the challenge and we got together to do it. Edmo Caldas also joined to recompose the music and so we formed the software house CFX.
"[The truth is] I've always liked Final Fight, in addition to enjoying a good challenge, so I think the biggest reason for us making this port was to develop a game I like and at the same time learn more about the Mega Drive and SGDK programming."
From the progress we've seen so far, on things like Twitter and on YouTube, it looks absolutely incredible. The new version not only boasts superior visuals to the SNES version, but also features a number of additional modes (like Ultimate, boss rush, survival, and time attack), grungy rearrangements of the original game's music, and two new fighters.
This is in addition to some brand-new moves and the ability to play with up to three friends. All of these changes haven't been without their challenges.
"I had no problems with the RAM, even with only 64Kb," says Xavier. "However, with VRAM, the situation is complicated, as it is where the sprites, tiles, and other graphic components are stored.
"The VRAM is also 64Kb but is easily filled when we are trying to display large sprites with very detailed scenarios, so this forces us to stream the sprites directly from ROM to VRAM, often using DMA (direct memory access)... It is a constant cyclical situation where everything has to be well planned to avoid risks of instability."
Early on, for instance, Xavier kept encountering errors and crashes, but after taking the time to learn more about the system architecture he was able to avoid these situations with careful planning and a lot of testing.
Despite these road bumps, Xavier tells us that development on the game is currently progressing well, with the engine now ready to go. There is still some work that needs to be done, which includes creating extra frames for some of the new moves in Ultimate mode, adding details to the additional characters, and implementing some improvements to the stage graphics. But now he's confident about its future.
As for how the game will be distributed, that's a little less sure at the minute. Xavier would love to release an official cartridge but that would involve speaking to Capcom to come to some arrangement. He has said on Twitter, however, that he does plan to release the non-profit fangame as a ROM no matter what. If you want to go support Xavier and the team, you can do so over on his Twitter.