When compared to every other element of this current gaming generation, things that, historically, will likely set it apart from those before it is the online integration, and rise of the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and WiiWare services. With this new form of distribution, there are a number of different ways to handle it. Some developers treat it as a platform for smaller titles, others make it their main focus, while others yet use it as an outlet to revamp and remake previous games for new audiences. When it comes to Capcom's latest releases on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, Final Fight: Double Impact, the publisher opted to go with the third option, porting over Final Fight and Magic Sword as a bundle. While this might immediately seem to be a strong package, not every game ages well, and there have been a number of times where similar transitions have suffered from strange issues, ranging from graphical glitches to framerate problems. Luckily, in Double Impact's case, everything went smoothly, and the games are worth playing for more than a nostalgic trip to the late 1980s.
Upon booting up Double Impact, everything looks strikingly different than what most people likely expect from such a title. Instead of choosing between two options in a menu or two blown up images of the games' box art, two arcade cabinets sit on opposite sides of a crumbling brick wall. On the Final Fight side, everything is decorated to match the in-game setting, with spraypaint covering the red bricks, a lead pipe leaning against the machine, and the game's logo resting on a barb-wired fence to the side. On the flip side, ivy covers the large, stone bricks, a sword sits besides the arcade cabinet, and the game's logo is affixed to an iron gate amidst a stone wall.
This aesthetic extends into the games as well, using the original art from the arcade cabinets to border the gameplay, since the actual in-game graphics haven't been bumped to high-definition. Instead, Capcom opted to apply a number of filters to the game in order to make it look more appropriate, a shortcut which pays off. While there are options to blur, sharpen, or play the games as they originally looked, it's the "arcade" filter that steals the show, blurring the screen and adding fake scan lines to make it feel authentic. It's a bit silly (and, of course, optional), but it does a good job at making everything feel distinctly arcade. Also adding to this is the game's default game mode, which puts everything online to allow anyone to jump in at any time. Both games are capable of online and offline multiplayer, and just as a second player can pick up a controller and hit start, someone on the internet can jump into a game in progress as well. While it's optional, it's hard to find a reason to disable it, besides the strange limitation of not being able to pause an online-enabled game.
Presentation and capabilities out of the way, the last element in Double Impact is, of course, the games themselves. Both classics hold up remarkable well, standing on their own without the nostalgic blinders sometimes necessary to enjoy retro games. Final Fight provides some great beat-em-up thrills, while Magic Sword's dungeon crawl is a treat, to say the least. There are issues with the difficulty curve, since old arcade games were created to be overly difficult in order to draw more coins into the machine, but the unlimited retries make it a non-issue. Of course, some will undoubtedly complain about the choice, waving their hardcore gamer flag angrily and shouting into a well about the lack of punishment for death a deterrent to play. However, for the rest of us, it's really not a problem, and anyone who is too upset can simply toss a quarter out the window upon every death.
That said, there's even something for such completionists. Beyond typical trophies and achievements, there are challenges for just about every element of play. Completing such challenges unlock rewards, such as fan art, concept art, and other promotional goodies. While this sort of thing isn't entirely uncommon in games, it's something that's usually left out of retro ports, and works to make this package even better.
There haven't been too many times this generation where a remake or re-release was actually surprisingly good. Final Fight: Double Impact is such an occasion. Both games are tremendously fun for different reasons, despite looking fairly similar. Even if only one of the games sounds interesting, it's worth picking up for anyone who considers themselves a fan of arcade action. There are plenty of games on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network that feel like quick ports. Double Impact goes far beyond that, and features an awesome amount of content for only $10.