Final Fight: Double Impact Review
Take a pointless nostalgic trip with Final Fight, then take an interesting, nostalgic... acid trip with Magic Sword
Final Fight: Double Impact is an 800-Microsoft Point trip to the past of two side-scrolling action games whose charm is in need of some serious polishing and dusting. With the resurrection of the side-scroller thanks to services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, we are reminded all over again that better games in this genre came along after both Final Fight and Magic Sword and are even available for download. It amazes me that Final Fight is still as beloved as it is today, but I believe that is mostly due to its three iconic characters. While I shared in the memories of Final Fight over the years, Magic Sword is completely new to me and I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons. The highest compliment that can be paid to these games now is that they are playable at the most and you would have to have one heck of a pair of rose-colored shades to call me out on that.
Final Fight is the story of a crime syndicate who kidnaps Mayor Mike Haggar's daughter either because they can or because they decide they can get the man to do their bidding while she is their hostage. Haggar decides to put balancing the city budget on hold and take matters into his own hands. He enlists the help of her boyfriend Cody and his buddy Guy, as they travel the streets, stage by stage, and beat the living daylights out of each gang member.
Two players can simultaneously run through the game, enhanced for high definition against a Final Fight arcade cabinet border, which is cool if not a bit distracting. There isn't a lot to explain about the beat-'em-up: you fight the bad guys, try not to get hurt, and along the way argue over who gets to pick up the juicy chicken to refill your health bar and that nice diamond ring for about 9,000 points. The advantageous aspect of playing Final Fight on Xbox Live over an actual cabinet is, of course, you have an infinite supply of "quarters" at your disposal. The game is as difficult as it can be remembered, but even with the number of times you lose a life, you can run through the game in about 20 to 45 minutes.
Final Fight is definitely fun with another person, and one thought I had in mind was how better it played than Double Dragon, even the version emulated for Xbox Live. Double Dragon, despite it being on a system with mammoth-sized data compared to its original cabinet, managed to slow down when many enemies appeared on screen. That can be reasonably called ridiculous. It almost feels worthless to say Final Fight doesn't hold up to anything today, as I cannot remember the last genuinely new game of this genre. If anything, should you be in the mood for a beat-'em-up on Xbox Live, Streets of Rage 2 is your best bet for a solid game at 400 Microsoft Points. It has more moves to pull off, no less. However, this 800-point package comes with another game: Magic Sword.
I have absolutely no history with Magic Sword. In the Final Fight: Double Impact main menu, you can hit the X button and swap from Final Fight to this little gem. There are no words to describe Magic Sword. Better games where you shoot projectiles while pushing a directional stick to the right have come along, but Magic Sword is a strange, strange experience. It can simply be referred to as Cadash on drugs.
Magic Sword is the story of two men, right out of Conan the Barbarian, who use magic weapons and battle their way up 50 flights of stairs in a giant tower in order to stop an evil dark lord named Drokmar from ruling the world with a magic orb. Zero strategy was applied during my game, and I happened to jump into someone else's game and they did a lot of the work. Enemies were killed with the press of a button, platforms were jumped on, spikes impaled, fire burned, bosses were defeated. Enemies swarm you every which way, and if you collect keys throughout the adventure, you can free allies from their prison cells that will travel with you and double the damage done to enemies.
The constant "explosions," screen-shaking, whatever, along with the colorful projectiles and various enemy designs made the entire experience loony and sometimes I had a hard time trying to comprehend what was going on in my screen. Every time I wanted to stop because it felt so repetitive, I would see an animation of the heroes going up the stairs, and it would make me laugh and give me a strange sense of reward and progression. In about half an hour, you can reach the final boss and kill him all you like as, again, you have infinite "quarters" at your disposal at the cost of your current high score. You and your partner then decide whether to take the orb and rule the world, or destroy it and bring serenity to the land and let the little children sleep with their kittens and puppies peacefully tonight.
In all honesty, Magic Sword is the gem of this little bundle. It really is a crazy but familiar game, and it's very easy to play. Nevertheless, at 800 points, you would have to be quite a fan to invest any serious time in the matter. Wait for an Xbox Live Deal of the Week, I say, where you may see it for 400 or even 200 points. If you're that bored, you can unlock some extra artwork and achievements meeting certain obnoxious requirements. Come for the Final Fight, stay for the Magic Sword. Capcom, if you want us to hop in your time machine, how about you give us some Saturday Night Slam Masters?