Unless you are completely new to videogames or just can’t stand retro gaming, it’s a near certainty that you’ve played Final Fight and/or Magic Sword in one form or another at some point in your life. Both games have appeared on many different platforms over the years, beginning in the late 80’s and early 90’s in the arcades and on the SNES and more recently in Capcom’s cavalcade of classics compilations spanning the PS2, PSP and Xbox (even the GBA Mini Mix had Mighty Final Fight), so you’d almost have to go out of your way to avoid them.
If by some chance you have missed out on these classics, you are now out of excuses. Capcom’s retro twin-pack Final Fight: Double Impact has punched, kicked, hacked and slashed its way onto the PSN Store and Xbox Live Arcade this week, and for a fraction of what it used to cost pumping quarters into the arcade versions you can relive the coin-op glory days on your console of choice.
For $10, Final Fight: Double Impact comes with arcade-accurate ports of Final Fight and Magic Sword, landing a mighty wallop of nostalgia that’ll knock you flat on your ass. Final Fight is the consummate arcade brawler with its simplistic controls (two buttons and an analog stick is all you need), smooth beat-‘em-up combat and instantly identifiable characters, all complimented by just the right amount of 80’s-era cheese. Magic Sword, a side-scrolling hack-‘n-slash platformer, is a little more obscure than Final Fight in terms of name recognition, but a classic it remains nonetheless.
These games have been around the block quite a few times, so I shouldn’t need to explain them much further – therefore I won’t. But what you do need to know is that Capcom spared no expense porting both titles into the HD era with the utmost authenticity. Certain design elements are obviously outdated at this point and may become a source of frustration for the impatient – such as cheap enemies standing over your fallen character pummeling him back to the ground as soon as you stand him back up – but all in all I’m amazed by how well both games have aged.
The new co-op system is absolutely fantastic as well. While you can play locally with a friend, online play is really where it’s at. By default, other players can jump in and out of your game at any time to lend a hand, helping to recreate the experience of having another arcade-goer walk by, pop in a quarter and play alongside you for a while like in the old days.
Not content to repackage the two games into one and call it a day, Capcom also went the extra mile to augment the retro experience with slick presentation options and replay incentives you’d never get from an arcade game. Graphical smoothing filters and aspect ratios for full screen and wide screen display are provided for those who need them, but for me the only way Double Impact should be played is in “Cabinet Mode” with the “Arcade Monitor” upscaler turned on. With this settings active, the game looks like its running on an old CRT arcade machine, complete with scanlines, phosphorous glow and a simulated cabinet — control decals and everything — surrounding the center screen.
In addition to the customary selection of Trophies/Achievements, Double Impact further incentives multiple replays with bonus Vault challenges that, when completed, unlock special goodies like concept art, comic pages and even video content — one of the unlockables is a full-length episode of the old Street Fighter cartoon (the episode starring the Final Fight crew, of course). The only problem is the obstructive challenge indicators, which pop up on screen and block your view far too often. Case in point, when I finished Magic Sword I wasn’t able to enter my high score initials because challenge notification graphics covered up the entry line. Pissed me off!
Annoying as the notifications may be, these challenges, which mostly involve beating levels within a certain number of continues or breaking a specified high score, really are necessary, because in both games you are afforded unlimited continues. In all likelihood this was a move to appeal to a broader audience of gamers who would be turned off by a high level of difficulty, and I understand that. But turning on a limited number of continues should have at least been an option. As is, the old-school hardcore challenge is somewhat diminished when you know you can play recklessly without incurring much of a penalty.
Still, though, Final Fight: Double Impact is everything a retro re-release should be. It brings back two classic arcade games, updates them with modern features like online co-op, leaderboards, Trophies/Achievements and novel graphics filters while maintaining the integrity of the original coin-op versions, and packs on unlockable extras that are sure to stoke the flames of nostalgia inside the hearts of every old-school gamer. What more could you possibly ask for?
+ Two arcade classics in one
+ Authentic port quality
+ Simulated arcade cabinet view is pure brilliance
+ Drop-in/drop-out co-op
+ Fun Vault challenges and unlockable goodies
– Annoying Vault challenge notifications
– Unlimited continues take away the hardcore challenge
Platform: Reviewed on PS3 via PSN; also on Xbox 360 via XBLA
Developer: Proper Games
Release Date: PSN – 4/15/2010, XBLA – 4/14/2010
Genre: Arcade – Beat-’em-up/Hack-‘n-slash
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-2 (local and online co-op)
Source: Review code provided by publisher