Final Fight: Double Impact Review
The story of Haggar, Guy, and Cody’s battle against the Mad Gear Gang has been retold so many times. Ports of this brawler masterpiece appear on new consoles every few years and range from arcade-perfect to total crap. Even if this were yet another 100 percent accurate arcade port, is that enough to warrant buying Final Fight for the fourth or fifth time? What’s this latest downloadable re-release going to offer for the hardcore fan? Quite a bit, actually.
The first thing that drew me in was the way the game makes you feel like you’re playing on an arcade machine. Seeing the scanlines on the screen and the curve of a simulated old CRT monitor framed by the classic cabinet art brought me right back to the good old days. There’s a certain something in this presentation that I didn’t even realize I was missing in the ports that had come before. One great decision is the addition of separate toggles for visual filter and screen size so that anyone can get things the way they prefer. Whether you’d like hard or smooth pixels or a flat, curved, or wide screen, everything is an option here.
But excellent presentation wasn’t going to sell me completely. What sealed the deal was the ease of access to online and local co-op, the complete lack of SNES-era censoring, and the multitude of new challenges and achievements. These challenges range from beating levels with a specific character to besting a certain time limit or reaching an established point total. A total of 51 unlocks for the Final Fight half of Double Impact includes fascinating concept art for the original arcade game, comic book pages, fan art, and an entire hilarious episode of the ‘90s Street Fighter cartoon loosely based on the Final Fight plot. Rewarding players for completing these skill challenges is a smart alternative to cutting off continues if they die too much. Absolutely everyone who starts this game can beat it as if they have an infinite supply of quarters, but only the dedicated can score all of the unlocks.
And then there’s Magic Sword. I vaguely remember the attract screen for this game, but I’m certain I never spent a quarter to try it out. That’s not to say it stinks. The closest comparison to Magic Sword’s gameplay is a less-inspired Castlevania. Here you climb a 50-floor tower to stop the evil Drokmar, freeing several AI-controlled allies along the way. Absolutely every one of these pals is cooler than your hero. They’ve got badass projectiles that get even better over time, while you’re stuck with a lame sword that only sometimes shoots things. Pulling in a co-op buddy makes the trek pass faster, but things can get a little crowded when there are two player characters and two bots running around. Thankfully, you can choose to start higher up in the tower to cut down on the stair climbing.
Apparently, Magic Sword was also on a couple of Capcom Classic Collections alongside Final Fight. It also shares the visual filters, remixed music, and challenge system. However, the unlocks are far fewer (only 18) and much less fun to shoot for -- forcing you to waste a bunch of time searching the entire tower for secret paths or pushing you to the Internet for answers.
Capcom should have either paired this with a game somewhat relative to Final Fight’s stature (I would have totally accepted Knights of the Round) or cut out Magic Sword to knock $5 off the $10 price tag. That said, any brawler fans that haven’t played Final Fight should still strongly consider downloading this. And despite the fact that I’ve beaten up literally thousands of Mad Gear gang members in my lifetime, I can’t wait to do it over and over again.