Fighting the past


Final Fight Double Impact



PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

In their time, Final Fight and Magic Sword were the arcade equivalent of high-priced call girls: You waited too long to spend time with them and always went broke before you were done. Similarly, 21 years later both arcade games are cheaper and worse for wear, but no less fun. Developer Capcom has packaged both games in a downloadable collection, Final Fight Double Impact, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. For 800 Microsoft points or $9.99, players can relive the quarter-crunching days of old.

Of the two, the game you’re most likely to remember is Final Fight (1989). You pick from three badasses, one a Schwarzenegger-like mayor, and kick the digital shit out of a local gang. Magic Sword (1990) isn’t so different. You’re a fantasy hero who cuts through 51 levels of enemy hordes while bagging loot. Death is frequent and frequently unfair in both games because they were designed to take all your quarters. But both feature unlimited continues, online cooperative multiplayer, several visual modes, and a wealth of other geekgasmic game options.

Most impressive is how both games have held up despite themselves. If a publisher were to release a game with a comparably dickish difficulty today, they’d be run out of town quicker than Roger Ebert at E3, but when you mix Final Fight Double Impact with friends, alcohol, and nostalgia, you always get a happy ending.

Super Street Fighter IV



PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Once upon the ’90s, Capcom milked Street Fighter II with excessively named, marginally improved yearly sequels. Capcom’s con job led to a fallout by decade’s end. But in 2009, Capcom resurrected the brand with Street Fighter IV, earning positive reception and sales. A year later, Capcom hints at being up to their old tricks again with Super SFIV for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But this time, Capcom offers it up for a budget-friendly $40 and packs plenty of incentive to buy.

SFIV’s conventional character roster, grounded in the original SFII cast, has been beefed up with more daring fighters from Super SF II, SF: Alpha, and SF III: Third Strike, plus two new pugilists. The additional 10 fighters unlock myriad challenges for players who spent 2009 learning SFIV’s nuances. Also, the online component now features easier match-ups, group battles, and a sublime ranking system to keep novices from being Peter North-ed by the pros. Still coming up short is SSFIV’s challenge mode, an in-game strategy guide for newbies. Capcom provides explicit directions for some of the game’s most complex attacks, but no explanation of timing. This burdens SF vets with the responsibility of putting how-to videos online for the benefit of novices.

Despite the minor flaws and familiarity, SSFIV still warrants purchase by simply being an SF game. SSFIV features the easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master game play and canonical characters whose absence would make life an incomplete experience. If you own Soul Calibur, Guilty Gear, or any other game that parades down the road SF built, and not Capcom’s latest addition, you’re wrong. •

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