The problem with nostalgia – be it for movies, places, video games, or whatever – is that we tend to remember only the great things about the past while totally neglecting the bad or mundane aspects. For instance, when we think back to how great old, coin-gobbling arcade games used to be, images of intense gameplay and amazing graphics and sound are conjured while, for some reason, the repetition and lack of variety in those games is erased. What’s my point? Simply that Capcom’s release of Final Fight and Magic Sword for the arcade seems a lot cooler in theory than in actual practice.
The price for this package of games is pretty affordable at just 800 Microsoft points $9.99, and coupled with the fact that I can get a tax deduction for the purchase, I figured I’d give it a whirl. I remember loving Final Fight back when I used to frequent arcades and $5.00 seemed like a fortune. Nothing beat playing as Haggar and smashing punks with pipes and crushing their skulls into the ground via a pile driver, all while sporting a mustache that even Magnum P.I. would envy. And his grunts and yells…oh, those grunts and yells. Yerrruppp!!!! As for Magic Sword, it certainly wasn’t one of my favorite arcade games, but it didn’t hurt that it came along with Final Fight in this new “Double Impact” package.
Maybe it’s my own fault for assuming that games of my childhood were as sophisticated for the ones I play today, but I had totally forgotten how linear Final Fight and Magic Sword are. And being linear isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I love the Ninja Gaiden series – but when a linear style of gameplay is saturated with repetition, it can get old real fast. If you’ve played one stage in Final Fight, you’ve pretty much played them all. Magic Sword has a tad bit more variety but at the end if the day, it, too, is simply an exercise in getting from point A to B.
So is my major complaint that Final Fight and Magic Sword are too linear? Of course not. It’s simply that despite what our collective memories tell us, the games haven’t aged well. There’s a reason nobody plays Pong anymore. I’m not saying old games aren’t worth replaying anymore – quite the contrary, in fact – it’s just that maybe Final Fight and Magic Sword weren’t that great to begin with.
Final Fight is essentially just punching and kicking your way through enemies that don’t seem to change much in terms of appearance or strategy. There’s a few types of punks, some slim dudes that throw knives, a guy who tries to headbutt you a la Bald Bull, some punk rocker chicks, and big wrestlers. Maybe some of the punks’ names of “Axl” and “Slash” were cool over a decade ago, but now, not so much. You’re limited to a certain number of offensive moves, too, as there are only two buttons that are used during gameplay. For the life of me, I don’t remember Final Fight being this boring.
Magic Sword was a bit more interesting since it was mostly new to me, but I don’t know that I’d want to play it again anytime soon.
Fortunately, Double Impact offers some pretty cool features to make gameplay a bit more tolerable exciting. For one, you can choose to play the game with your screen bordered by what looks like an old arcade cabinet, complete with vintage instruction stickers plastered all over it. If you’re into achievements (or trophies), those can be won for tasks like completing the game(s) while using fewer than 18 continues. There’s also in-game achievements that won’t go to your gamerscore but will be memorialized by the game itself. And, I suppose most attractive of all, is the “jump-in, jump-out” feature for cooperative online play. Just like in the arcades, you can jump in either game at any point and play alongside someone else.
Ultimately, I was pretty disappointed by my purchase of the Final Fight Double Impact package. I don’t remember Final Fight being this mundane. I guess it could function as a pretty good time killer if you’re sitting around with nothing to do, but the novelty of these games are long gone. I’d say skip it and download Afterburner: Climax tomorrow. I think.