Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the beat-up genre of video games was incredibly popular. Ranging from games on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) like the Double Dragon series to arcade games like Final Fight, simple side scrolling beat-em up games were all the rage. The genre wasn’t terribly innovative-players walked sideways through seedy urban environments beating up an endless stream of bad guys-but the genre was popular for its excitement.
Beat-em up games were a dime a dozen back in this period, and many of the video games haven’t held up very well. For every classic video game like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, there were clones such as Rival Turf (for the Super Nintendo) that few people seem to remember. Of these beat-em up games, one of the best was the original Final Fight. When it came on the scene in the late 1980s, it featured amazing graphics (at the time anyway), responsive controls, and addictive game play. It was one of my favorites in the genre, and many would consider it a classic video game, both for the arcades and in its numerous ports for 16-bit video game consoles.
Consequently, I was excited to learn that Final Fight would be released via the PlayStation Network. For fans like myself, this is exciting news as Final Fight is now finally available in all of its arcade glory as part of the Final Fight: Double Impact video game. Final Fight: Double Impact presents a near perfect release of Final Fight along side a similarly good translation of another 1990s beat-em up called Magic Sword.
For beat-em up games, the plots typically don’t matter much. This is certainly true of Final Fight, as the plot is largely a superfluous detail. Similarly for Magic Sword, the plot can largely be ignored, despite being a little more complex. At their core, both of the games are about beating up all the bad guys on the screen before the next wave comes. Of the two titles included in the Final Fight: Double Impact video game, I was most excited-and impressed-by Final Fight. The classic arcade game is presented in its original form without any censoring (previous ports to consoles had some of the game’s rougher edges removed), giving it a gritty, big city feel. The graphics-despite being over twenty years old-hold up rather well. For fans of the original Final Fight video game, you can play it in a visual mode that emulates the classic arcade cabinet complete with CRT scan lines, a curved screen, and the cabinet graphics. You can also play via multiplayer with opponents on the Internet, while a series of challenges keep the game fresh through multiple plays.
Similarly, Magic Sword is also presented in its original glory as part of Final Fight: Double Impact. The game is also a side scrolling beat-em up, but set in a fantasy world rather than in the urban grit of Final Fight. The game play is a tad more complex, with the ability to attract computer-controlled characters to aid in your quest through the game’s fifty levels. There are various secret paths and the visual variety of the computer-controlled characters adds some excitement to the game. However, I’m guessing that most people will buy this for Final Fight and it would have been nice if Capcom had paired Final Fight with a more similar title, such as one of the Final Fight sequels. Still, Magic Sword is an interesting game if you enjoy the beat-em up genre.
Overall, Final Fight: Double Impact is a great video game that should set a new standard for how classic arcade games are released. Moreover, with a large vault of classic titles at its disposal, hopefully Capcom continues releasing its archives in such fun packages.