Moving the joystick around will move your character in a direction. The arcade version of Final Fight has two buttons -one for attacking, the other for jumping. Most of the console versions allow you to set an extra button on the controller for a special attack.
This game is a scrolling beat 'em up. The objective is simple: enemies will come onto the screen and you need to defeat them. Clearing one wave of enemies lets you move on through a level where you'll encounter more thugs. At the end of each level there is a boss who must be beaten to move on. Use every move at your disposal (see the characters page for how to do them) and every weapon you can find to win. You can tell how much health an enemy has as when you start attacking them their life bar appears beneath yours.
There are three different weapons in Final Fight: knives, pipes and swords. To pick up a weapon, move over it and press the attack button. Any character can use any weapon, but each of the three characters has a preferred weapon. Cody is best with the knife, Haggar is best with the pipe and Guy's weapon of choice is the katana. Guy and Haggar will always throw the knife when the attack button is pressed, but Cody will keep a hold of it, letting him stab enemies.
If you take a hit whilst holding a weapon, you'll drop it. Sometimes you can pick the weapon back up, but other times it will vanish. The Mad Gear gang don't use weapons that much -the El Gados will use knives, and Sodom is armed with two katanas, but that's it.
If you are surrounded by enemies, press the attack and jump buttons together to perform a special attack. Special attacks will hit enemies either side of you, but at a price: you will lose a little bit of health whenever you use one.
Throughout the game you'll come across objects to break open, such as trash cans. Doing this will reveal items, such as food (which will refill your health gauge when collected) and points items. Move over an item and press the attack button to collect it.
If you are knocked down, your character will eventually get up. However, if you mash the attack and jump buttons, your character will get up much faster. You will sometimes need to do this, as the Andores have an attack they can use on you when you are knocked down.
In the arcade version, the default settings give you 2 lives per credit. If you run out of lives, the continue screen will be shown and you have a few seconds to continue. For the arcade version, you can continue so long as you've got the quarters. The console versions vary in how many continues they give you, and the more recent releases, such as Final Fight Double Impact, have infinite continues.