Final Fight: Double Impact has a bit of a deceptive title. If you didn’t know any better, you would think that it was another name for Final Fight 4. It may even lead you to believe that it is a compilation of Final Fight games (most likely the first two, hence the word “double”Â). Actually, it’s a port of the original arcade version of Final Fight, along with the medieval action title, Magic Sword. Do these games stand the test of time, or should they have died with the arcades?
In Final Fight, former professional wrestler Mike Haggar is the mayor of Metro City (wrestler gone politician, where have I seen that before?) A gang known simply as the Mad Gear attempts to bend Haggar to their will by kidnapping his only daughter Jessica. But as any wrestling mayor knows, you don’t give in to the demands of terrorists. No. You enlist the aid of your daughter’s boyfriend and his sparring partner to go beat the living crap out of this gang with whatever dangerous objects you find along the way.
Magic Sword has you playing as a character simply known as The Brave One. You are tasked with ascending a 51 floor tower in order to defeat Drokmar, who holds The Black Orb. This Black Orb can be used to control the world, and the only way to truly be safe is to dispose of it, lest you become an evil lord yourself. You also have the option of rescuing prisoners whom you can recruit to help you fend off the waves of enemies that you will encounter and even opt to have a second player take control. Neither story is an impressive affair, but then, that’s not why we are playing these games, are we?
The selection of modes in both games leave much to be desired, really only offering one option to play per game. But when you consider that you’re getting two games for the price of one, it’s not all that bad. Both titles have an assortment of unlockables that should keep you busy if the core experience isn’t enough for you.
Story/Modes Rating: Mediocre
Rather than just being straight ports of the original games, both titles offer an assortment of graphical filters and screen options in order to get the optimum visual experience. The key phrase here is options. Instead of just pleasing one individual crowd who might like things one way or another, Capcom went the extra mile to hand the reigns over to the player over how the game looks. You can play the games with the original graphics with all of their pixelated goodness, or you can apply different filters to smooth out the edges or even give it an arcade looking gloss. You can even change the size of the screen if you want to, and for those that don’t want to stretch the image you can opt to have the arcade cabinet of the game you’re playing be the border that goes around the outside. I never played the original arcade versions of either of these games, so I had no nostalgic ties to having the full arcade experience. It was widescreen mode for me.
Even with their original graphics, both games have aged incredibly well. Final Fight is the more visually impressive of the two, featuring large character sprites with an impressive amount of detail to the animation. And it was originally released in 1989! Magic Sword doesn’t look quite as good, but still not too shabby for 1990. It’s worth noting that there is a lot of chaos that happens onscreen, so you won’t get a moment to catch your breath, much less gawk at the scenery.
Graphics Rating: Great
Much like the graphics, both games’ soundtracks give you the option to listen to the original arcade versions. However, they also have redone versions that you can enable, which sound fantastic and made me want to buy a soundtrack. Final Fight has a perfect blend of music to kick ass to. And it’s not just one song per stage either. Sometimes the music changes multiple times throughout the level so you don’t ever get tired of the same song looping over and over again. And they are all damn good. There are also a few voiceovers in Final Fight, but they are the ones used in the original game. They tend to clash a little bit with the more modern soundtrack, but they aren’t used that often, so you will hardly notice. They are just a tad muffled sounding. The few lines that do exist, particularly when a thug comes out and says “Oh, my God!”Â after you smash his car, are pretty hilarious.
The music in Magic Sword didn’t impress me as much, but it was still fitting for the game. Part of the reason may be because the background music gets drowned out by the hacking, the explosions, and the item collection sounds. It’s typical fantasy affair though and serves its purpose well. Magic Sword also had a few voiceovers of its own, consisting of death cries and the occasional “Thank you!”Â from the comrades that you can free.
Sound Rating: Good
When you begin a game of Final Fight, you will be asked to choose one of three playable characters: Haggar, Cody, or Guy. There are six stages in the game and each one pits you up against dozens of punks, wrestlers, and transvestites. You have an attack as well as a jump button, and if you press both of them together, you will unleash a special move. Your special move drains a bit of your health, but it helps clear any enemies that gang up on you before they can do any serious hurt.
Since you only have one true attack button, your fighting arsenal is a bit limited, but there are a ton of weapons that you can pick up that will keep things interesting such as lead pipes, katanas, and knives. Also, each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own movesets, so playing all of them will prove to be a different experience. Haggar has strength, Guy has speed, and Cody is a nice balance of the two.
In addition to the six normal stages, there are two bonus stages that you can participate in as well. One of them involves thrashing a car with an optional lead pipe, and the other requires you to smash panes of glass. Neither of them requires success on the part of the player in order to proceed, but they are entertaining diversions and a chance to improve your score.
Final Fight can be played with one or two players, and the second player can join in at any time just by pressing start. You can also make yourself available to strangers to drop in and out of your games, and you can jump into other players’ games if you wish. Part of what makes beat-’em-up titles like this one so entertaining is the ability to play with your friends, so having the online component in place goes a long way in doing that if you can’t have them on the couch next to you.
The fact that Magic Sword was included in this little bundle made me think that it had a similar style in gameplay to Final Fight. I had never played it prior to this, so looking at screenshots to it, I thought perhaps it was another beat-’em-up game in the vein of Golden Axe. In reality, it was much more like Castlevania, or even Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It’s a side scrolling action game where you defeat monsters in your path as you try to make your way through the top level of a tower in order to destroy the Black Orb. There are 51 floors in the tower, and each floor has a door that you must locate in order to progress to the next. You don’t have to defeat every enemy in your way, as they will spawn indefinitely, though some floors will pit you up against a boss of some sort.
Magic Sword also supports up to two players, with player two taking control of a lance wielding Brave One. Both players can recruit one of many different character types that can be found locked in the tower. Each one has different throwing weapons, and you can choose between a ninja, a knight, a thief, and more. Otherwise, if you don’t have a friend available, you can opt for a random player to jump in, or just rely on your cpu controlled recruit. If the cpu dies, you will have to rescue another one to replace the one you lost, though you don’t know which kind you will get until you unlock their cell. In some cases, the cells are booby trapped and debris will fall on you if you try to rescue them. It’s an interesting risk vs. reward mechanic that makes you think twice before opening every door you run across.
Both games include leaderboards for comparing your high scores to those of people around the world, or even just people on your friends list. It also tracks how quickly you finished each game and how many continues it took you get there. Each difficulty level has its own leaderboard as well.
Control/Gameplay Rating: Incredible
Despite getting two games in one package, they are both disappointingly short. Magic Sword does have two different endings, depending on whether or not you decide to destroy the Black Orb at the end of the game, so you’ll get at least two playthroughs out of it. Actually, you may even get more considering that both games include three different difficulty settings. Each difficulty has its own leaderboard if you like competing for scores. There are also a slew of unlockables including concept art, comics, and an episode of the Street Fighter II cartoon that includes the characters from Final Fight. I personally couldn’t watch the cartoon despite unlocking it, because it was so horribly cheesy, I couldn’t stomach more than a few minutes. If you watched it as a child, you may want to shy away from it to keep your good memories intact. I lost my respect for The Legend of Zelda cartoon by trying to revisit it in adulthood and you probably will too.
All of the unlockables are kept in a menu option called the “Vault”Â and are earned by completing various challenges throughout the game. These may include getting through certain sections of the game by using only so many lives or continues, or they may require you to get through a stage as quickly as possible. A number of them are quite challenging to get, so even the most hardened veterans to these two titles may have to spend some time with them to collect them all. If challenges and high scores don’t interest you, you may want to pass these titles in favor of something more lengthy, such as Castle Crashers. Both Final Fight and Magic Sword can easily be completed in one sitting, so if the only thing you care about is the number of hours from beginning to end, this will not be a good value for you.
Replayability Rating: Mediocre
Final Fight and Magic Sword are both incredibly difficult, and despite that, I guarantee that you will get through them. You have unlimited continues in which to finish the game, and although using them may prevent you from obtaining achievements or unlockables, it means you are constantly moving forward. These games were designed to consume your quarters, and since you no longer need those, you can jump back into the game as many times as you want. Unlike the arcades, you can even save your progress and come back to it later if you wish.
When you do die in these games, and you will, it’s often by very cheap means. Final Fight has an enemy called Andore (who I’m guessing is a play on Andre the Giant, as he even looks like him) that can jump on top of you while you are sprawled on the ground and you appear to be defenseless to his attack. I have later learned that it is possible to button mash your way back to your feet before he can hit you, though the game didn’t tell me that I had this capability. Certain bosses will even play keep away with you as they fire guns to prevent you from getting within attacking distance. If I had played Final Fight in the arcade, I’m guessing I would have spent more money in quarters trying to finish than I would have downloading this title.
Magic Sword has a ton of cheap moments as well. Sometimes the screen will get so cluttered with enemies, that you will have no choice but to take the hit. And if you are so unlucky as to get nailed as you cross the few platforming sections in the game, you can kiss another continue goodbye. Many of the doors and treasure chests are booby trapped as well, so you constantly feel as though the game is out to get you.
Balance Rating: Poor
Beat-’em-up titles were all the rage in the 90’s and included such classics as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Double Dragon, and countless others. Nowadays, they don’t seem to get released as frequently. At least, not to the degree that they once were. That’s unfortunate, because despite how derivative a lot of them ended up being, they were a hell of a good time when you were playing with friends. Castle Crashers has been the only new title in this genre that I’ve played recently or can recall being released. Xbox Live Arcade is full beat-’em-ups, but most of them are ports and remakes. I know it’s easier to dress up an old game that’s already made then it is to have to put together a new one, but come on. I keep all of my games and consoles, so I can only buy the same games so many times before I have to say enough is enough.
While the name of the game is Final Fight: Double Impact, they may as well have called it Final Fight & Magic Sword HD because that’s exactly what it is. It is not a new Final Fight game. It’s just the original title dressed up with a new coat of paint. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they released it, but I would also like to see a sequel, like Capcom has been doing with their other retro franchises (Mega Man for example).
Originality Rating: Poor
For me, Final Fight is very reminiscent of Streets of Rage which I played religiously growing up. Back in those days, I played until I could complete it on the highest difficulty settings with relative ease. My gaming habits have changed drastically since then, as I’m now a gamer who plays through a game once before shelving it and moving onto the next. Final Fight is different. After I finished, I felt compelled to play through it again because of the winning gameplay formula. Despite the limitations in the gameplay, the game succeeds at making you feel like a badass… at least until you get continuously piledrived by Andore.
I had no knowledge of Magic Sword before downloading this bundle, but it makes a great companion to Final Fight. It doesn’t have the staying power that Final Fight does, but the gameplay is solid. I don’t have as much tolerance for platforming segments in games like I used to, with a few notable exceptions (like Uncharted or Mario). But there were very few of these and didn’t hinder my drive to complete the game. The fact that this game can be played co-op is icing on the cake.
Addictiveness Rating: Incredible
Final Fight: Double Impact is a title that fits in perfectly with the Xbox Live Arcade lineup and one that hardcore and casual gamers alike can get into. Despite both games’ sometimes intense difficulty, anyone who plays will see the end credits one way or another, so it’s truly a no stress experience. If you plan to play by yourself, Final Fight and Magic Sword are still enjoyable, but these titles were meant for couch co-op action. Just keep in mind that both games will end quickly unless you plan on trying to get the unlockables. It bears mentioning, as gamers who hadn’t grown up with either of these titles won’t have the nostalgic ties and may not see the value in two very short games.
Appeal Rating: Good
During my research on Final Fight‘s history, I found it interesting to learn that the game began as a Street Fighter sequel. Originally slated to be titled Street Fighter ’89, the name was changed when it was determined that, well, the game had absolutely nothing in common with Street Fighter. However, characters from Final Fight can still be found among the rosters of Street Fighter games, including the more recent Super Street Fighter IV.
I love the fact that the game tells you about an achievement or challenge right before the stage or a boss where you can achieve it. I wish more games would have a feature like this, so I don’t have to look up a list of unlockables that I could potentially miss out on the first time through a game. The only downside is the messages take up more space on the screen than they should and are very distracting if you don’t care or already know what to expect. And they stay up there for a long time too. The Xbox controller doesn’t use all of the buttons, there should be one to wipe the screen of that when I need to.
Final Fight: Double Impact will run you 800 points, which is the equivalent of about $10. This is actually quite reasonable when you consider that most new games in the marketplace go for about $15 or $20, and you’re actually getting two games for the price of one. It’s certainly more value for your dollar than a few maps.
Miscellaneous Rating: Good
Appeal Factor: Good
Final Score: Enjoyable Game!
Short Attention Span Summary
Final Fight: Double Impact is a combination of two Capcom arcade titles: the original Final Fight and Magic Sword. The two titles are a great time waster for you and a buddy, and they complement each other well. $10 for both isn’t too shabby of an asking price either. Just keep in mind that these are just prettied up versions of the arcade originals and not brand new games. Hopefully, Capcom will decide to make a sequel to Final Fight if this bundle does well. Just so long as it’s not called Final Fight: Streetwise 2.