Final Fight 2, an SNES-exclusive sequel, was Capcom's attempt to rectify the mistakes of the SNES port of their hit arcade game, Final Fight. It includes the sorely missed third character, sixth stage, and simultaneous co-op.
The plot of Final Fight 2 rehashes the original: the vicious Mad Gear gang have committed a kidnapping, and it's up to Mayor Mike Haggar and two associates to save the day. The plot is so uninspired that, when Haggar asks how the defeated gang has returned, someone replies, "That doesn't matter."
Truly it doesn't matter because we don't play beat-'em-ups for the story. Like the original, Final Fight 2 is about little more than a couple friends button mashing their way through a motley and wretched crew of thugs and street toughs. The worst thing you can say about Final Fight 2 is that it's a total redo of the original, offering almost nothing new, except the elements that were regrettably stripped from the SNES port in the first place.
The main difference between the two games is that Cody and Guy have been swapped out for Maki and Carlos. Maki, according to her in-game profile, is a petite and attractive blonde street fighter and Guy's best friend. Her sprite makes her look a lot taller than 5'4", though. Carlos, meanwhile, carries a katana that he never uses; this tracks because, according to his profile, he's a sword collector. Mike, Carlos, and Maki have different moves, but they don't substantially affect gameplay because there's still only one attack button. This is not a game about strategy and combos: it's pure button-mashing. As in the original, pushing jump and attack at the same time executes a special move that hits all surrounding enemies at the cost of some of your character's health. You can also now map this move to an unused button.
The other new element is that, instead of taking place in a big city, the setting has been internationalized: the six stages are six countries. Unfortunately, it's a minimalistic re-skinning. The backgrounds, while somewhat evoking the given country, such as having British flags on buses for England, are uninspired and barely noticeable. The main problem, which is inexcusable, is that the violent gang-bangers are the same in every stage! It doesn't matter whether you're in Honk Kong, Italy, or France, the enemies are the same. Not only does this make no sense, it makes the game very repetitive. It feels like you're playing the same level six times, just with a different boss at the end. The enemies are different from the first game except for the rip-off Andre the Giant called "Andore."
The fifth boss, Rolent, throws grenades in his final form, which makes him harder than the final boss. Rolent was the boss of the stage missing from the first Final Fight. The final fight (see what I did there?) with Retu, meanwhile, is easy and repetitive, but in that sense it's perfect for this game. As with almost every enemy, it's best to do a jump attack, back away for safety, then repeat as needed. Have I mentioned that I don't like beat-'em-ups?
One upside is that each half of each of the six stages has its own music track. I enjoyed these different songs more than the game itself. Also, the graphics look better than the original. It's an aesthetically-pleasing game by 1993 standards.
Final Fight 2 has three difficulty levels. The lowest is so easy that I beat the game on my first try. You get six continues in the form of arcade credits. You also earn extra lives every few hundred thousand points you earn. A timer at the top of the screen counts down so slowly that it's meaningless. If you beat the game on the hard difficulty, you get an extended final cut-scene. On easy, there's practically no ending at all! The idea, no doubt, was to encourage you to play again on a harder difficulty. For me it was more like: "That's it. You've played the game, and now it's over. Move on!"
If I could make one improvement to this game it would be to give each stage a unique set of themed enemies. I think that would enhance the game's appeal and enjoyment. As it stands, it's a lackluster sequel to a lackluster port. That said, this is the superior SNES game, since it has simultaneous co-op, three playable characters (instead of two), and six stages (instead of five). And maybe that's all that was needed from Final Fight 2.
"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."
— Damien McFerran, Nintendo Life, 5/10
"The graphics are well realized, joined by audio that delivers a satisfying 'crunch' with its constant fisticuffs. Better still, co-op play is now available."
— Daniel Anderson, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library, 3/5