A while back, I wrote up some impressions of Final Fight: Double Impact. Now, I'm back with the review. In the meantime, my opinions haven't changed much, nor have these two games since they were first released many years ago -- and that's a good thing...
Final Fight - Welcome Back, Friend
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Final Fight, the premise is simple, yet timeless. In Metro City, the Mad Gear Gang has struck again. This time, they've captured the mayor's daughter. Haggar, the mayor, is a former wrestler and he's going after the gang, fists swinging. Cody, the boyfriend of his daughter, and Guy, Cody's good friend, are eager to take the fight to the Gang and turn the tide of evil that is growing in Metro City. Over the course of six levels, one or two players can take control of these characters as they fight from the Slums to Uptown to square off against the leader of the Gang.
Game modes include single player, local play with a friend, and online play. You can use Invites to play online, or just allow anyone to drop in/out of your game, just like how the arcades used to be. Players can save their progress at anytime, and high scores are uploaded to Leaderboards for bragging rights. There are also three difficulty settings although I didn't notice much difference between Medium and Hard. No matter how you play, you can romp through the game within an hour, but Proper Games also included some Challenges to go after for the hardcore. Challenges and the fact that this game has a lot of replay value due to its fun co-op nature and short length will keep you coming back. This is the type of game you'll play through several times right away, and then you might not play it again for weeks or months before getting back into it. Truthfully I've been playing Final Fight off and on since the early 90s.
Playing with different friends, using different characters, trying to beat a high score and move up the Leaderboards if that's your thing -- are all options to you. More interesting than that are the Challenges. Most Challenges include tasks like completing a level under a certain amount of time, dying so few times, using only so many Continues, defeating the Boss, beating the level with a certain character, and so forth. These Challenges are organized into Tiers so that say you beat a level in five minutes, that might be good enough for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Challenge, but not enough for the Tier 3 Challenge. All told, there are 51 unlockable items, mostly artwork. I was able to get 30 of these in one play through.
Controls and gameplay mechanics are about as basic as they come. Players move with the analog stick, jump with Circle, and attack with either X or Square, and execute a 360 degree special attack by pressing Jump and Attack at the same time. If it connects with an opponent, it does damage, but you also lose a little bit of your own health. This is of course to keep players from abusing this powerful attack.
Other gameplay aspects include throwing enemies, which is great fun when you toss one into a crowd of other bad guys, knocking them all down. Throwing enemies is easy enough, but getting them in throwing position isn't a matter of pressing buttons, it's about approaching them correctly. You need to move down or up the screen, parallel to the front of their bodies; done right, and your player will put the enemy in a standing submission, ready for you to pound them with knees to the gut or throw them over your should (with Cody that is).
Keep an eye out (and believe me they're not hard to spot) for destructible objects, too. These include trash cans, telephone booths, barrels, and signs. Breaking these will reveal weapons including knives, pipes, and samurai swords, as well as health pickups like hamburgers, chicken, soda, or even jewelry to boost your points. There are also two bonus stages, including busting up a car Street Fighter II style and breaking a bunch of glass windows. These bonus stages are tough, but will net you a lot of points if completed.
Finally, all six levels ends with a boss fight including the likes of Eddie the bad cop and Rolento the commando. Each of the three playable characters are well rendered and have some unique attributes of their own like Haggar's brute strength and Guy's speed. Cody, my favorite, might be considered the compromise between the two. I personally find Haggar a bit slow, and Guy's range a little short, so Cody fits the bill just right. You know I used to wonder why this game didn't support three simultaneous players. Including that would have been cool to see with this re-make, although they would have had to ramp up the amount of enemies or increase their toughness too to make that feasible.
Still, playing with just a single friend is great, or even by yourself if a local or online partner isn't an option. Similar to Street Fighter IV, players have the option to enable random online player drop-in/drop-out. In other words, you can allow anyone to join your game and come and go as they please or you can keep your games private for just your friends to play. Furthermore, you can disable online functionality completely by selecting that option from the Main Menu.
In terms of presentation, Proper Games and Capcom did some cool things with Final Fight: Double Impact. The original music score is intact, but a fresher, remastered version of each track is presented by default and sounds much better. The soundtrack won't blow you away, but some tracks, especially the first level, are classic. Display options are more interesting and give the player the ability to use 'Cabinet Mode," which attempts to replicate the look of the arcade. This includes visual details right down to the original artwork on the sides of the screen, which looks great. They've even put in scanlines to replicate the old arcade look and it's darn nice -- best rendition I've seen since the Sega CD version. That's the coolest display mode I think, but you can also enable Zoom or Widescreen to stretch the image, as well as enable Upscaling options to smooth out edges. Sound and visual options can be changed at anytime from the Pause Menu.
Magic Sword - Not Bad, But Not As Good
If you get tired of Final Fight, what do you do? Well, like in the old days, you'd walk away from the cabinet and hunt down the next game. In Double Impact, from the Main Menu, just press Square and you'll be taken from the Final Fight screen to the Magic Sword one in a short, seamless, and slick visual transition. Magic Sword is a two player beat'em up that takes on a much faster pace than Final Fight. There are fifty-one floors of a tower you must ascend, all the while battling off goblins, sorcerers, skeleton warriors, mummies, scorpions, and about a half dozen boss battles. After the boss battles, players get a weapon upgrade but I can't say I really noticed a big difference in how my weapon appeared or functioned. Players can unlock doors that will either be a trap and harm them, or reveal pickups that go towards your point total. Additionally, a lot, if not most doors that you unlock will give you an ally for a short period of time. These allies include wizards and the like that help you fight off the continuous swarm of enemies coming at you from all sides.
The control scheme is a lot like that of Final Fight, with a jump and attack button. Players have both melee and magic (ranged) abilities. The presentation, fun factor, and replay value aren't on par with Final Fight, but Magic Sword is still enjoyable to run through, especially with a friend. On your lonesome, fifty-one levels gets quite monotonous, but fortunately you can save and restart your quest at any time. It's no wonder that a 'sore thumb' Trophy is unlocked after game completion with the hundreds upon hundreds of enemies that get thrown at you.
There aren't as many Challenges or unlockables for Magic Sword, and those that are included have you chasing after a point total or not taking damage on a level. I didn't find the experience compelling enough to try very hard to complete these Challenges. Ultimately, I don't see myself playing this one too many times over, but I'm happy it's included.
With that, let's get to the summary...