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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Final Fight: Double Impact

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Do fighting combos like <-+X, X, X, B, X+Y, ->+Y get you down? Do complicated level designs leave you frustrated? Do you want to be a Mayor with a pro wrestling background? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions then Capcom’s newly released Final Fight: Double Impact is the game for you. This Xbox Live release brings not one but two of Capcom’s classic arcade beat em’ ups to your Xbox 360 as your $9.99 gets you the 1989 classic Final Fight as well as the relatively unknown in comparison, 1990 release, Magic Sword.

In Final Fight you take control of one of three characters: former pro wrestler and current Mayor of Metro City, Mike Haggar; Cody, a martial arts master; and Guy, another martial arts master as you attempt to save Haggar’s daughter Jessica from the evil Mad Gear gang. It’s a simple premise which isn’t going to win any awards in today’s world, but that’s not the appeal of Final Fight. The appeal comes from the simple yet addictive and fun gameplay that has you beating up countless enemies with a simple, repeated push of the X button. Occasionally you’ll throw in a jump or a special attack but this an old school button masher, the likes of which we just don’t see any more.

One of the brilliant things about Final Fight, which you don’t see all that often, is the ability for enemy attacks to actually hurt enemies as well. For instance there is an enemy who throws flaming, exploding knives onto the ground. Anyone caught in the blast radius, enemy or friend, will take damage. It’s a simple mechanism that really makes the game more enjoyable. Overall, there is a pretty big range of enemies, with names like Axl and Hollywood, who stand in your way and present an increasingly more difficult challenge as you progress through the games six levels. You must defeat these enemies to advance and finally reach the boss, no complicated level designs here.

The combat is augmented by your ability to occasionally pick up weapons as well as food to replenish your health and other items to increase your point score. The weapons are a great help when you are surrounded by a large groups of enemies but the controls can sometimes be a pain. The attack button and the item button are the same so you’ll often find that you’ve stopped attacking and instead are try to pick up something that’s on the ground. This can be really frustrating and could have been avoided by assigning the item button to another button on the 360 controller.

Sticking with the picking up of items, the game has multiple planes which allows for a greater depth of field on the screen. This means your character can move forwards, backwards, and up and down on the screen. While it gives the game a better look, it can make picking up items difficult. Sometimes you can be standing just above the item, to the left of it, or right on top of it and pick it up. That all sounds good, but the problem is that what works one time might not work the next so you’ll be pressing the pick up button and won’t be picking anything up much to your frustration.

Your character has no block ability, something that is sorely missed, so you’ll take a fair bit of damage and die quite often.  The health-replenishing food however isn’t placed evenly throughout the map, instead it’s located in clusters where there might be five items and one of those five pretty much fills your health bar. I know that in some cases the food is placed for two people (the game offers both local and the newly added online co-op) but it’s annoying to see it sitting around when you don’t need it and when you really do have it nowhere to be found.

Finally, while you do die a lot there are times when, funnily enough, dying can be useful. Even though you only have two lives, you have unlimited continues and you respawn right where you died. When you respawn you also have the added bonus of knocking down majority of the enemies around you. This can be crucial when you face one of the six bosses. As you’d expect, they get harder and harder to defeat as they receive better weaponry each time.  With your only method of blocking — performing your special attack — taking away your life as well as your enemies, the stunning effect of your respawn can be crucial to defeating the bosses.

As the opening paragraph states, you receive two games with Double Impact. The second game is Magic Sword and it would be interesting to know why it was chosen to accompany Final Fight. It’s true they are both side scrolling beat em’ ups but they have a different focus, style, and feel which makes them seem like an odd pair.

Magic Sword sees you playing as a Conan/He-Man-esque looking character known as ‘The Brave One’ who must battle through a 50 story tower to defeat the evil Drokmar who is trying to destroy the world. You battle through a chaotic amount of enemies using your shield, sword, and one of eight different allies. That’s right, in Magic Sword you can get help even when you are playing alone. You bash chests to find keys which open doors that contain your allies. In fact you do a lot of bashing chests to find stuff, whether it’s because you need to or just because they take up so much of the screen. The game also benefits from the same type of respawn attack that Final Fight so the two titles have at least that much in common.

In terms of design, Magic Sword lacks the depth of field that Final Fight contains. You can only move forwards or backwards on a single plane and this feels like a step backwards after playing Final Fight, although it does present quite a few more environmental obstacles you need to jump over than the other game.

While Magic Sword’s 50 floor tower sounds like it offers far more gameplay than Final Fight’s six districts, playing through them it doesn’t feel like much more. Some floors are quite long and challenging in terms of the amount of enemies, while some floors literally take 10 seconds. It also helps that you have a buddy with you most of the time.

Also, there is something about Magic Sword makes it feel like it is on steroids. Whether it is from playing the somewhat slower paced Final Fight beforehand or not everything seemed faster in Magic Sword. The Brave One swings his sword like there is no tomorrow and he zips along the screen quite a bit faster than the Final Fight characters. He even does this weird super sprint when he reaches a boss area.

Together, the games have benefited from the usual Live Arcade treatment. Capcom has created a rather snazzy menu screen where Final Fight and Magic Sword arcade machines stand back-to-back and they’ve also given the in-game graphics the HD treatment and remixed the original soundtrack. It’s fun to be able to flick between the original and the remixed soundtrack in the game as well as the original and HD graphics. You get that real sense of nostalgia, being able to see the game in its former glory. You can also play the game in widescreen, without any noticeable change in picture quality, or in a cool cabinet mode which adds arcade machine borders on the left and right hand side of the screen.

Overall, Final Fight: Double Impact is an absolute blast. Whether you are a fan of the originals looking to relive a former favorite or a gaming fan in general, you can’t go wrong picking up Double Impact. Its fun, simple, addictive, and well presented with that retro charm. And hell if that doesn’t draw you in its two games for $9.99!

Final Fight: Double Impact is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on: PS3.

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