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By Jamie Obeso 27th Apr 2010 | 1,286 views
Final Fight: Double Impact is everything players might expect from a game with such a title and more; that is, a port of Final Fight and another game that is completely unrelated. These blast-from-the-past Capcom coin-op games will allow players to relive their old memories of delivering epic beatdowns to hordes of gangsters and... shooting magic projectiles at monsters in a tower. Actually, I don't think I had that memory. I wonder how many people did?
"Games" like this are always the most awkward ones to review. What we have here is two direct ports of two separate games with some bells & whistles added on. Throw in some unlockables and solid netplay, and that's the whole experience. Does the game deserve a good score for doing exactly what it sets out to do, even if the goal isn't very high? Or, does it deserve to be criticized for not doing more with the source material, despite the fact that most gamers will know what they're getting into from the get-go? Do games like Final Fight: Double Impact even necessitate being reviewed? Instead of telling you what most other reviewers will probably tell you about this game, let me offer an alternative perspective.
For the uninitiated, Final Fight is one of the earliest Beat 'Em Up games, considered to be perhaps the best of the entire genre. You and a friend can choose one of three unique (but not THAT unique) characters, and run around the streets of Metro City, beating up the Mad Gear Gang to rescue the mayor's daughter and bring peace to the streets. Naturally, peace can only be obtained by punching, body slamming, pile driving, and shanking hundreds of gangsters; it might be hypocritical, but it's undoubtedly badass. Magic Sword, released a year later, is a platformer game wherein players climb the Dragon Tower to slay Drokmar and destroy the Black Orb which causes terror in the land for reasons undefined. You and your friend slash tons of evil-looking soldiers and beasts, while rescuing your buddies - who will assist you and even level up the longer you employ their help - and climbing up the tower.
There's not much to the games; after all, they are both about twenty years old. FF:DI compensates for the old tricks by giving us a variety of options for the graphics and sound. Both games can be played in widescreen, 4:3 aspect ratio, or even in an "arcade cabinet mode" which tries to emulate the look of playing the games on actual arcade machines. There are also some graphics filters to try and make the games look more up-to-date, and even remixed music.
The coolest part of Double Impact is definitely the implementation of the netplay. First off, it uses GGPO, a net code that delivers perhaps the smoothest online experience I've ever seen. Second, to further emulate the arcade experience, players can choose to have their game hosted online, so that a player can choose to join your game on the fly. The only downside to this is that players will need to restart their games if they want to switch to local multiplayer mode, which can be a bit obnoxious.
That's pretty much the nitty gritty of Final Fight: Double Impact. While I did enjoy my experience, the bottom line is that I'm still playing games that are two decades old. I enjoy retro games because of their simplicity in design; but old games have old, frustrating mechanics, too. When I fired up my first game of Final Fight, my nostalgia bone was shattered into pieces by some of the extremely antiquated aspects of the game. For example, the attack button is the same button used to pick an item or weapon up off the ground. When fighting a huge group of enemies in a frantic, adrenaline-fueled situation, it's pretty jarring to go for that crucial attack and get creamed because Haggar saw a shiny pipe on the ground and decided to take a break from the action to pick it up. Is a separate button for picking up items a little too much to ask?
Being the coin-op game that it is, Final Fight has a few crucial points where you're pretty much guaranteed to die unless you're a pro. There are a few parts on every level where it takes a miracle to escape death. This is especially true of almost every boss fight, all of which will wipe the floor with players as they attempt to move into attack range. This seemed somehow more appropriate in an actual arcade setting, where our continues were limited by the money we had and were willing to spend. Now, with unlimited continues and no option to limit them, it just seems like a needless obstacle. Not even the scores posted on the leaderboards reset when you have to use a continue, so there's virtually no incentive to play hard. Check the leaderboards to see what I'm saying; the top scores are people who spent an unbelievable amount of time and continues racking up points.
Magic Sword is a different matter entirely. Never mind that it's incredibly easy and far too long for its own good; why is this game even included? When I see the title "Final Fight: Double Impact", I assume that both 'impacts' are going to be Beat 'Em Up experiences. Instead, Magic Sword is a platformer which resembles a sort of Frankenstein combination of Mega Man and Gradius. Certainly, a different, more exciting and more appropriate game could have been chosen to balance out Final Fight. Knights of the Round was a wonderful Beat 'Em Up with a lot more variety than Final Fight. How about Captain Commando or the more obscure Battle Circuit? These seem like no-brainers to me, especially because they're four players.
Final Fight: Double Impact was pretty fun. However, I would implore players to think very hard about their purchase. It sounds cool to buy Final Fight on XBLA/PSN, play through it with your buddies, and even join some games online. But, how long will that really last? For me, it was only long enough to get the unlockable art and comic strips for Final Fight - a mere four playthroughs. I could only bear going through Magic Sword once. Think hard about whether the game you remember enjoying as a kid is really worth reliving - some memories are better off just being remembered.