It was back in 1987 when Double Dragon first emerged on to the bustling arcade scene. This was the first time that a side scrolling beat ’em up featured two-player coop and the use of weapons. Double Dragon became an instant hit and, eager to capitalise on this success, Tecnos Japan released Double Dragon II: The Revenge in 1988. It is Double Dragon II: The Revenge that inspired Yoshiki Okamoto to create Final Fight. Interestingly, Final Fight was initially marketed as Street Fighter 89 by Capcom, before its release, as they were eager to expand the Street Fighter franchise. Thankfully, Final Fight became its own franchise and Street Fighter would go on to have arguably the greatest sequel ever made in Street Fighter 2.
Metro City, 1990, the streets are riddled with crime and former pro wrestler, Mike Haggar, has been elected mayor to clean up the streets. With the crime levels decreasing, Haggar draws the unwanted attention of the Mad Gear Gang, who are hell-bent on reclaiming the streets and letting anarchy reign. The gang attempt to bribe Haggar, and when this ploy fails the gang kidnaps his daughter Jessica. An infuriated Haggar then decides to take the law into his own hands and teams up with Jessica’s martial arts trained boyfriend Cody and his friend, who happens to be a ninja, Guy. This is typical 80’s action schlock at its finest and provides a suitably glorious reason for the action that follows.
Final Fight is a side-scrolling beat ’em up. You can choose from one of the three main characters, and unlike similar games at the time, each has their own particular strengths and weaknesses. Haggar is slow and powerful, Guy is fast and agile and Cody has medium strength and good movement speed. Generally, single player is best suited to Cody and coop features Haggar and Guy teaming up. The balance of power and speed really compliment each other in cooperative play and demonstrates a level of refinement and balance not seen in many similar titles at the time. The action is controlled with two buttons, jump and attack, and pressing both at the same time will unleash a special move that clears enemies around you, but also depletes some health. Managing this system become vital to success and offers a nice added layer of strategy. Weapons are scattered around the levels which can be wielded at varying speeds depending on which character you are using, for example, Haggar can wield large pipes and swords much quicker than his lighter comrades can. The action is fast and frantic with some genuinely challenging bosses thrown into the mix. There is a timeless quality to the action and the amount of fun on offer here has not diminished, especially in coop.
Final Fight sports a gritty look inspired by many of the action films seen in the 80’s. The sprites are large and full of character. The animation is excellent and the sense of weight conveyed in every thudding blow is enough to make even the most hardened gamer wince. Haggar’s famous pile driver is a particular stand out and lays waste to general thugs and bosses alike. This is the quintessential arcade conversion and offers a myriad of screen sizes and settings to suite all tastes. However, the ultimate experience features CRT scan lines and the curved arcade screen nestled in the original grubby arcade cabinet! Alongside local coop, online play is included and runs well on PS3, Xbox 360 and via backwards compatibility on Xbox One. There is still an active online community and a game is not hard to find. I must point out that the Xbox versions do seem to run better online with less intermittent lag but this is not a deal breaker if playing on PS3.
The new remixed soundtrack, composed by Simon Viklund, is incredible. From the moment the main Final Fight theme powers in, featuring a new throttling baseline, you are well aware that this new soundtrack is going to be something special. The ominous hook and pumping base really set the scene for the carnage to come. Every familiar theme has been amped up to 11 and given a gritty, dirty edge that really enhances the action. The music really frames the action on-screen and the new soundtrack adds a level of intensity that was lacking in the original composition. The remixes of the Metro City Slums and Andore Wrestling Ring themes are particular standouts and really show how a classic soundtrack can be remixed and updated for a new audience.
Final Fight: Double Impact is an excellent way to revisit a classic game for both fans and new players alike. The excellent remixed soundtrack, online coop, and myriad of display options give this classic game a much-needed lick of paint. The action is fun and frantic whilst never outstaying its welcome. This classic side-scrolling beat ’em up is just as fun now as it was back in the heady days of 1989. This is a piece of gaming history that started numerous franchises such as the legendary Streets of Rage series and deserves a place in any gamer’s collection.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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