|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 14, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
It's undeniable that 1989's Final Fight is an arcade classic, and that every gamer should at least experience it at some point. After 20 years, it's still remarkably fun to walk the streets of Mad Gear Gang-infested Metro City, punching everything in your path, picking up knives and lead pipes to make the job easier, letting off the occasional special move, and saving your girlfriend (or daughter, or friend's girlfriend, depending on which character you pick) in the end. Final Fight still captures the feel of old Street Fighter games (it was originally called Street Fighter '89) in a beat-'em-up context.
It's especially nice not to have to reach for a quarter every time the bad guys get the best of you. Today, there's no need to spend half your paycheck helping the bulky, former wrestler Mayor Haggar, along with the quick Guy and the well-balanced Cody, rescue Jessica from the nefarious Mad Gear gangsters.
In today's retro-friendly world, though, fans have plenty of different options. Final Fight has been showing up on various compilations for years, and the Super Nintendo port is available on the Wii Virtual Console for $8. Is the $10 Final Fight: Double Impact, the new XBLA/PSN release from Capcom, the best way to go? And does Final Fight hold up so well that gamers have to own it instead of just playing the demo?
There's a whole lot to say in this version's favor. The original arcade game is recreated perfectly (unlike in the Super Nintendo version, which leaves off multiplayer, includes some alterations to the levels, and excludes Guy as a playable character), and players can tweak countless settings to make the experience as faithful or as comfortable as they'd like. They can choose between the original aspect ratio (surrounded by an arcade cabinet, if desired) and widescreen, between the original music and well-done remixed tracks, and between original and HD-filtered visuals. It saves after each level, which is nice, even though the game isn't that long. There are various unlockables, such as concept art, that hardcore Final Fight fans will love.
Friends can play together, locally or online, drop-in/drop-out, and that's a huge plus. These button-mashers have always been a lot more fun (and manageable in terms of difficulty) with a friend, and everything about the multiplayer experience runs smoothly.
Perhaps the biggest reason to buy this version of Final Fight, though, is that it includes Magic Sword, a respected but underappreciated 2-D platformer/beat-'em-up from the same era. This is an incredibly detailed and relatively long arcade game with some great jumping puzzles, sword combat, and bosses. Players have to work their way through 50 floors, jumping over hazards, carefully taking out enemies, waging war against fearsome bosses, finding magical powers that increase their strength, and releasing prisoners (who in return help them fight). A sparse fantasy story pulls all the elements together, and after beating the final boss, you make a decision that leads to one of two endings.
Our biggest complaint is one we have with most ported arcade games: you're given unlimited continues, and without the punishment of having to spend another quarter, there's really no reason not to die. Capcom added specific challenges for you to meet in each level, such as beating certain enemies without using more than a certain number of continues, and both games have achievements and leaderboards, but the basic gameplay is drained of its tension. Even ramping up the difficulty doesn't help; you just use more continues.