An Ode to an Age

“Oh cool,” I said. “A jacket.”

It was a blue and white windbreaker, to be specific and it was cool, just not what a newly-minted 11 year old was hoping for as his final birthday  present. I tried to hide my disappointment.

“Thanks Mom and Dad.”

“You’re welcome,” said my mom, smiling. “Isn’t it cool how it has so many pockets?”

“Yeah, I guess,” I replied, shoving my hands into the side pockets, trying to match her enthusiasm.

My fingers brushed against some crumpled paper and I pulled it out, thinking it was that white packing paper they use to fluff out display clothing. But it wasn’t that at all. It was $50.

“Whoa, fifty bucks?!”

My parents laughed.

“What do you want to get?”

Of course they knew the answer before they asked the question, so the next day we headed towards the Mission Viejo mall to scope out the now-defunct Babbages. Approximately twenty minutes later we walked out with a game that looked awesome but that I had never played before: Final Fight.

The late 80s and early 90s are home to a bevy of now-classic action tropes, and while the idea of a smart-aleck loose-cannon cop or a crime-fighter who plays by his own rules weren’t invented in that time period, it can be argued that that’s when they were perfected.

Final Fight is right at home with the media of the age and I ate it up.

Who are the heroes? Haggar, a lumbering, shirtless, super-ripped wrestler-turned-mayor and Cody, an agile martial artist who also happens to be dating Haggar’s daughter.

Who’s the villain? Belger, a bald, crooked businessman/gang leader who zips around in a golden chair and shoots crossbow bolts at you.

What stands between them? A veritable gang army that is the Mad Gears, a motley collection of punks, thugs, and deplorables hell-bent on stopping you.

What are the stakes? Haggar’s daughter, Jessica, has been kidnapped, so like every good action hero, Cody and Haggar decide to negotiate her return with their fists, feet, and the occasional stray katana.
I have no idea how many times, solo or with friends, I cleaned up the mean streets of Metro City, but I’ll never forget how satisfying it was to upper-cut that weasel Belger straight out of his penthouse’s ceiling-to-floor window.

Hasta la vista, baldy.

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