The 90s are long gone, and sure there were some trends that are long dead and should stay that way, like cassette tapes. The 90s did also mark a time of arcades in their prime, with classic brawlers such as Final Fight. For those looking for that bit of nostalgia, there's Final Fight: Double impact, an arcade double pack for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network featuring both the Final Fight and Magic Sword arcade games bundled into one package.
The main game of this package is, of course, Final Fight. Final Fight is a brawler all about button mashing and running rampant on waves of bad guys. Players can pick from one of three characters to smash their way through each stage. Each character has only two base moves, but also different special moves ranging from high kicks to grapples. This creates a little variety in moves available between characters, but most of the moves in essence are very similar.
The main difficulty with Final Fight is that there is no blocking in the game, and single player mode can get very overwhelming when there are enemies attacking in droves from both sides with nowhere to go. Getting knocked down over and over again without being able to get up can become incredibly frustrating and aggravating. Thankfully, there is a multiplayer mode that works both offline with two players, or online with friends or strangers in an open game server.
The multiplayer offerings of these arcade titles are probably one of the most shining parts of this arcade port. There is the option to go in single player, but having an extra player helping out, especially in Final Fight, is almost essential to really enjoy the game. It certainly helps having that second set of fists to knock back the seemingly endless swarms.
Beyond Final Fight, there is also Magic Sword, another port of a classic 90s cabinet game. Magic Sword is probably the most fun as a single player game when comparing the two, since the pace is a little easier to keep up with even if there is just one person playing. Not to say the multiplayer is bad, it's just as good, it's just more manageable to deal with enemies when playing alone compared to Final Fight.
Magic Sword does have similar stage by stage progression, with the exception that the levels are a little shorter. Magic Sword is also has a little mix of brawler and platformer, since there are spikes and pits the character will have to jump over. Thankfully, being on a 2D plane makes managing enemies and levels much easier.
There is also an upgrade and partner system in Magic Sword as opposed to the general disposable pick-ups such as pipes and knives given to players in Final Fight. Swords are upgradeable as the player advances every couple of stages, giving ranged power to weapons as well as different magic, hence the title. Magic Sword also has an AI buddy system that lets players free different characters with their own special abilities to use in unison with the main player's weapon.
The nice thing about Double Impact is that there is a balance between the two games that allows players to choose what they feel like playing, whether it be fast mashing brawler, or precision timed jumping and swordplay. Each game is almost equally as good in their own way, and depending on play style, the opinion of which game is better will probably vary from person to person.
There are a few things that both games share for better or worse though. For example, one of the most frustrating parts of playing in an open server game is not having the ability to properly pause the game. Yes, a menu does come up when hitting the start button, giving options and settings, but the game keeps playing in the background. If left unattended long enough, the game will be over. Pausing does work if playing in a private game, but if players want to play with others, they'll have to put up with playing with no breaks as well.
There is also equally great audio in the games. Sure they are compressed midi songs and sound files, but they sound just as if they were coming out of the original arcade cabinets, with all the hissing and squeals of character voices and music that's expected from the time period. Sure, this doesn't sound at all like a compliment, but it all fits the game just fine. After all, these games are around twenty years old.
An achievement system is incorporated into both of the games, and it's essentially a two function system. There still are the standard achievements and trophies for the system, but there are also micro-achievements that unlock posters and art from the games to view. These micro-achievements are more geared toward hardcore achievement junkies though, since most of the challenges are really difficult, like completing a stage without taking damage or dying. This system is sure to drive completionists mad, but then again it's that kind of torture that most enjoy anyway.
The achievements also affect the overall length of each game. Chances are most players can probably beat each game within two hours, depending on skill level. The big time investment really comes from getting achievements like beating Final Fight with each of the three main characters, or completing both the good and bad endings of Magic Sword. Plus it's not really a hassle playing either game over and over with friends. Double Impact really lasts as long as the player still feels like playing, which can be quite a while in a lot of cases.
The only turn off is that it is very heavy on button mashing, which could bother some. There is also the coin system that is just a matter of pressing start to insert more 'coins'. This makes the games feel like there isn't really any punishment for losing. Sure it makes sense to have this system, but it would also be nice to have the option of limited coins for those who want to get a little more tense experience of when they lose a life.
There are definitely a few issues within the interface, but being incredibly well ported from their arcade counterparts, Final Fight: Double Impact does shine through with its true-to-roots brawling and arcade action that drove so many crazy in the 90s. Fans of the series won't have to think twice about picking this one up. For those looking for a brawler this is a great throwback as well, but for those used to more modern titles, it may be a little bit much.