Final Fight Double Impact Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, Apr 15, 2010 10:10

Developers and publishers take note, Final Fight Double Impact is how you do a retrogame compilation the right way. Rather than shovel in a bunch of terrible games, the folks at Capcom and Proper instead chose two good ones and went to great lengths to make them worth their price. Your 800 Microsoft Points/$10 USD will buy Magic Sword and Final Fight, a pair of arcade co-op brawlers from the early 90s; back when the genre was at its height. While the games are both fairly basic, they’re still fun and their simplicity works to their favor; these are great ’pick up and play’ games. Combined with fantastic online play that even supports arcade style ’drop in’ co-op, Double Impact should appeal to both newcomers and those who grew up with these titles.

Since these games are roughly twenty years old, it’s likely some readers weren’t even alive during their original release so some explanation of the game play is in order. Final Fight lets you and a friend choose from three different characters and stroll through stages while beating up the gangs that get in your way. This is very 90s arcade style, letting you move in eight directions, jump, punch (do it repeatedly to perform a combo), use various weapons, and employ some grabbing/throwing attacks. The obvious comparisons would be River City Ransom and Double Dragon, but those are from the same era so "Dynasty Warriors on a 2D/quasi-3D field, minus the down-time and RPG-style grinding" might be a more modern way of describing it.

Magic Sword is similar, though it replaces the ’3D’ field with traditional 2D side-scrolling, platforming play as you explore a fantasy tower, fighting monsters as you go. While your character’s attacks are more limited in this game, you can rescue NPC allies throughout the tower who will join you and contribute their own unique attacks to give each player their own style of play. It adheres to the same "scroll to the right, beat up lots of generic enemies, beat up a boss, repeat the cycle" flow that Final Fight does, just with different controls and some 2D platforming elements. Like Final Fight, you’re just using your d-pad, an attack button, and a jump button, but the game works very well even with these simple controls.

While those descriptions are simplistic, they don’t convey just how fun these two games are when played with a friend. The basic controls mean that anyone with even a little video game experience can learn how to play Magic Sword or Final Fight in just a few minutes, and there is little real barrier to entry; nobody has to memorize long combos, difficult controls, or so on. The formula of you and a friend plowing through hordes of enemies worked back then, and it’s still enjoyable today.

With the basics explained, it’s time to cover what makes Double Impact so special. They probably could have just tossed these two games together, done the bare minimum of updates necessary to get them working on modern systems, and called it a day; it would have been easy money. To Capcom’s and Proper’s credit, they went far beyond that. Almost everything about how these games are implemented shows the developers loved their work and want you to enjoy it; the interface is great, the unlockable bonuses give you reasons to come back, and several visual options let you see the game exactly like you want to.

Starting with the interface, it is a simple menu that displays the arcade cabinet for the game you have currently selected (swapping games is easy, just press X at the main menu) and lets you pick whether to play online with anyone, online with friends only, or just play offline. Further down you can find the Vault, which lists various challenges you can fulfill such as beating one of the games in a certain time or using only a certain number of continues. Success nets you various bonus items, most commonly artwork from the games but one spectacular bonus is the Final Fight episode of the old Street Fighter cartoon; more on that near the end of the review.

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Our Rating for Final Fight Double Impact Review (XBLA)
8.0 Replay
Fantastic online (or local, if you want) co-op combined with each game being easy to learn and lasting about half an hour means you’ll find this is a great way to kill some time with friends. The unlockables should also give you incentive to improve.
8.0 Graphics
Technically primitive given their age, the visuals still look decent and a variety of options can either improve them to vaguely modern standards, or help further immerse you in arcade nostalgia.
8.5 Sound
It’s up to you whether to go with the original music, or some very well done remixes. Both are fun in their own way.
9.0 Gameplay
While simple to learn and play, both Final Fight and Magic Sword have just enough depth that they have aged fairly well and are still enjoyable today; even moreso with a friend.
9.5 Multiplayer/Online Content
GGPO network code keeps the co-op play running smoothly on even remotely decent connections, and the only problem worth noting is a few unlockables have poorly thought out conditions relating to the co-op play.
9.0 Overall
This is how retrogame packs should be done. By keeping the original game play but adding several useful updates from modern technology to improve the visuals and sound, while giving you a wider pool of people to play with, Double Impact is well worth your time.

Rating: 4.0, votes: 1

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