The title for Final Fight Double Impact is a misleading one which actually disguises the wealth of content included within. While Final Fight is rightfully the headlining act, there is also the inclusion of Magic Sword to contend with.
For those who don’t know, Final Fight is set in the fictional Metro City where it’s an acceptable practice to beat hot-pant clad females around the head with a pipe, while health replenishing food is found by smashing barrels and phone boxes. The side-scrolling beat-’em-up sees Mayor Mike Haggar looking to rescue his daughter Jessica from the Mad Gear gang and clearly inspired by 1980`s New York, whilst no doubt owing a great debt to films such as The Warriors, the game is gloriously over the top and choc-full of references that have become part of gaming history. In a nice twist the car smashing bonus stage in this edition doesn’t feature the censorship of the original home release, retaining the “oh my god!�? exclamation instead of the fan favourite “oh my car!�?.
Magic Sword is definitely the more unusual of the two titles included and it’ll doubtless cause many people to scratch their heads trying to remember it from the first time around. Essentially taking the template of Final Fight, but setting the action in a fantasy world, the player is cast as the ubiquitous hero attempting to save the land from evil. The twist here is that by finding keys to their dungeons and smashing chests dotted around the fifty one levels, you can add a companion to help you fight the hoards. It’s an extensive list with everything from Wizards to Ogres, or this reviewer’s particular favourite, Ninjas throwing Shurikens. It`s just a pity you can`t have more than one at a time, although it still adds to the enjoyment of the game.
Of course without the need to feed money into an arcade cabinet to continue, some might find the desire to keep playing has diminished. Perhaps pre-empting this, the developers have included a series of meta-achievements which help flesh out the game. By meeting certain requirements you unlock a veritable cornucopia of additional content, all providing an extra incentive beyond just reaching the end of the games.
Both Final Fight and Magic Sword come intact in their original forms with no compromises, but are complimented by an extensive list of customisation options. Whether it’s remixed or original music, or for those of a certain age who fancy a twinge of nostalgia, the option to set the screen to arcade cabinet and luxuriate in the faux scanlines. There’s even a curve to the screen, replicating the feel of being in an arcade – minus some surly teenagers hanging around the cabinet or stubbing their cigarettes out on the instruction set. There’s also the addition of drop-in co-op, both online and locally, which makes for a very welcome addition. It’s the perfect title for both after hours sessions on the couch, or with a buddy online.
Ultimately your enjoyment of Final Fight Double Impact will boil down to whether you love arcade brawlers and the indelible mark they’ve left on gaming culture. Even those who scratch their head and wonder what all the fuss is about with this type of game will find a much-loved favourite and possibly a new acquaintance with which to, quite literally, get to grips with.