Some of the most enjoyable games are also the simplest ones. When Super Mario Bros. came out, it was unique that it didn’t take place just on a single screen, but the landscape scrolled as you moved to the right. Then there was Double Dragon that added punches, kicks and weapons to the mix. Double Dragon created a new genre that produced games like Streets of Rage, The Combatribes, and Rival Turf. One of the most popular games was Final Fight.
Final Fight was released to arcades in 1989. Originally planned to be a sequel for the original Street Fighter, they changed the name when the arcade was heading in the direction of one-on-one fighters. Since then Final Fight was released on the SNES, Sega CD, and GBA. It could be found on the Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 on the PS2 and Xbox and Capcom Classics Collection: Remixed on the PSP. Now Capcom has brought it out to XBLA with enhanced graphics, sound, and online play. For this review I actually took my copy of Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 and played through Final Fight so I could refresh my memory on the game and take a look at the XBLA offering with a new set of eyes and not just nostalgia.
In Final Fight the daughter of the mayor, Jessica, is kidnapped by the bad guys, the Mad Gear Gang. Mayor Mike Haggar was elected to clean up the city of crime, so he sets out to save his daughter and clean up the streets. Jessica’s boyfriend Cody and his friend Guy both decide to go out and save Jessica. These are the three players available to select from. Haggar is slow but strong, Guy is weak but fast, and Cody is the most well rounded. You walk to the right, beating up bad guys while picking up weapons and eating food to restore health.
The graphics have been enhanced from the original game. You can play the game in an arcade cabinet mode complete with a simulated curved screen. You are also able to play the game expanding the screen to keep the original aspect width, or you can expand it to widescreen. The characters look cleaner, but the difference isn’t as high as Super Street Fighter II HD Remix. The sprites for the characters are large and have a nice amount of detail, but you will see a lot of the same characters recycled or have a color palate swap.
The original game advertised Q-Sound Surround Sound. Considering the technology, it sounded good at the time, but the music still sounded like it came from a MIDI keyboard piped through tin cans. It had its own unique charm. Final Fight Double Impact has a much fuller soundtrack. At first it almost seems unrecognizable because of the richness coming from the speakers, but you can switch it to its original glory with a menu option.
Movement is handled the same way as the arcade. The analog stick moves you through the level, while two face buttons are used to jump and the other two are used to attack. Hitting jump and attack at the same time performs a super move that takes away a small portion of your health. Moving up and down to change the plane you are attacking on is important to move out of the way of attacks. The control scheme isn’t complicated, but it does its job.
Taking a look at some of the characters names is sometimes hilarious. There are Slash and Axl, which could have been named after some members of a band. Then there is the boss Abigail, and that’s not a girl. I can see why he’d be upset. Then there are the obese guys Bill Bull, G. Oriber, and Wong Who. They are basically all the same person with different colored overalls and hair styles. Then again you can’t forget Poison, the crossdresser. While you sometimes wish that you would see a wider assortment of enemies, there are enough to keep the levels fresh.
The gameplay is pretty basic. You move to the right, beating up enemies coming at you. Breaking items will sometimes reveal food or weapons. The foot revitalizes your health while the weapons can be used to dispatch enemies quicker. The SNES game was a single-player affair, while the Capcom Classics Collection version required you to have a buddy sitting next to you to play with. With Double Impact, you can play Final Fight on XBLA with a friend. You can also drop in and out of games. One problem I had while playing Double Impact was the fact that when I lost my Xbox Live connection, the game automatically kicked me out of the level. I could start at the beginning of the level I was at, but it was awfully frustrating to be close to the end of the level, getting kicked out, and having to start the level over again.
It doesn’t take too long to complete Final Fight, maybe a couple of hours at the most. However, it comes with some challenges to keep you interested. Some of these can be completed solo, but some bonuses require a buddy to help complete. Most of these are game art, but completing the game can yield you the episode of the Street Fighter anime that featured the characters from Final Fight.
Double Impact also includes a copy of Magic Sword. While it can be found on other consoles, bringing the two games together in one package is a nice touch. Magic Sword incorporates a lot of the same features included in Final Fight. After playing a bit of Magic Sword, it is easy to see why it was included. While Magic Sword is in a fantasy setting, you do have a lot of enemies that need to be defeated to move on to the next level.