Guess which one of these fine gentlemen is mayor of Metro City.
Do you like walking from left to right? Do you feel the need to beat up groups of random strangers on the street? Do you think former pro wrestlers should be the mayor of a city? Most importantly, did you spend countless quarters at dimly lit arcades during the ’90s? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Final Fight: Double Impact. If you were born too late to experience 16-bit gaming or shoving quarters into arcade machines, then it’ll likely be a mixed bag. Still, you do get accurate arcade ports of Capcom classics Final Fight and Magic Sword for one low price and there’s all sorts of multiplayer fun involved, so you’re bound to at least enjoy it a little bit.
Both Final Fight and Magic Sword have pretty simple controls — move around with the analog stick, use one button to attack and one button to jump. To use a special attack (a knock-everyone-down move in Final Fight and a magic attack in Magic Sword), you hit both buttons together. Final Fight’s movement responses are a little clunkier than Magic Sword, mostly because Final Fight’s large characters move around on a isometric view while Magic Sword’s action is based on a 2-D platform model.
Navigating the menu system is a bit of a pain in the ass, as the jump-in online functionality for multi-player means that there’s no true pause. While this accurately replicates the arcade experience of the game continuing while you frantically search for more quarters, it’s pretty irritating. Also, playing a simple online co-op game with your buddy is more complicated than it needs to be; rather than simply see what friends are available to join, you have to go through a series of menu prompts to get to an invitation.
As with other classic arcade/console ports, the graphics for both games are faithfully reproduced sprite for sprite. Capcom adds a nice bit of nostalgia as you can view a digitally recreated arcade cabinet while you play (make sure you dim the lights and spill an ICEE on your controller). Both the music and sound effects play out in all their digitized/MIDI glory, but Capcom also includes the option for a remixed soundtrack. This takes the original music, but plays it through modern synthesizers rather than a 16-bit engine for an experience far greater than the original.
Final Fight’s gameplay is pretty self-explanatory: pick one of three guys, walk from left to right and beat up anything that moves with your fists, your feet, swords, knives, pipes, and other weapons. Beat ’em up games usually come with a simple tale of an abducted woman and the brawny dudes who must kill several hundred thugs to save her. While this may have been compelling for a pre-teen circa 1991, the single player mode gets pretty old when there’s not the pressure of making your quarter last as long as possible. However, two player co-op (online and local) can still be a blast. There’s something viscerally enjoyable about hanging out with a buddy and beating up every random thug in sight — especially when you decide to attack each other.
Magic Sword is more of a sleeper treasure in this collection. While it paled in comparison to Final Fight in terms of arcade popularity back in the day, Magic Sword was far more inventive. On the surface, it looks like side-scrolling Gauntlet: epic co-op heroes fight through 50 levels to kill some evil warlock guy. Magic Sword succeeds by giving you a CPU-controlled buddy, making it co-op even when you’re doing single player mode (or four heroes when you’re playing with two players). Eight different classes of allies are available, and it’s a roll of the dice as you change one out by freeing them from cages — but you can only use one at a time, so whoever appears from the cage immediately replaces the old one. From ninjas to mages, each ally comes with a different skill set, giving the game a greater depth and variety than Final Fight does.
As a special bonus, Capcom kept all of Magic Sword’s bad Engrish. While caged prisoners simply want to say “Help me!,” something was lost in translation so you get awesome phrases like “Get rid of me!” and “Get me escape!”
Both Final Fight and Magic Sword are enjoyable ports of arcade classics, but their single-player campaigns wear thin pretty quickly. However, add in a friend and it becomes much more enjoyable. Grab a buddy and you’ll surely rescue the kidnapped mayor’s daughter in Final Fight, but make sure you get at least a six pack of beer before you try to tackle Magic Sword’s 50 occasionally repetitive levels.
It’s commonplace for companies to rush out ports of old games, which makes the ones that clearly put a lot of effort into the process stand out. Final Fight: Double Impact is definitely one of those. For a measly US$10 (800 MS points) you get two fun beat ‘em ups that have been lovingly handled and packaged with a boatload of extras.
Each game has trophies/achievements to earn as well as challenges that unlock things like concept art and even old comic book pages in “the Vault.” Both are absolutely seamless during online co-op, even if things can get a little hectic with four heroes on the screen simultaneously in Magic Sword. There’s even a nod to old school arcades where your game can be joined at any time by another player – all that’s missing is someone putting a quarter on your console to claim the next turn.
Despite some simplistic gameplay, both titles hold up quite well and are enough fun that most should still be playing them even after the initial nostalgia wears off. Even after all these years there’s still some good times to be had here with friends and strangers alike, making Final Fight: Double Impact well worth the asking price.