Final Fight: Double Impact is as close to the original arcade experience as you can get without creepy guys watching you from behind the Slushee counter or having to go beg your mom for more quarters.
And that's good, because that's pretty much all you're going to get. A downloadable game for PSN and XBLA, Double Impact includes two classic Capcom arcade titles - the original Final Fight and Magic Sword - as what are essentially direct ports. There's an "HD filter" over the graphics that makes them look not-horrible on modern TVs, the music has been remixed from the original chiptunes, but otherwise? We might as well be gaming like it's 1989.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. Final Fight was an intensely beloved arcade classic, and any attempt to modernize it might have simply made it worse, as was the case with last year's ill-fated remake of Teenage Mutant Turtles: Turtles in Time.
Neither of the two games in Double Impact are revolutionary - in both, you walk to the right, defeat whatever enemies are in your path and continue on. Final Fight is slower, with an emphasis on combos and proper spacing, while Magic Sword is much quicker, more platform-y, and gives you henchmen to fight (and die) alongside you. In Final Fight, you progress through different sections of the city; in Magic Sword you climb a magic tower. But both games are played with exactly two buttons - attack and jump - and victory is attained through the fevered mashing of said buttons.
It's not that they aren't fun, because they are in a very retro way. But the main draw in Final Fight: Double Impact is nostalgia, pure and simple. It may be cool to just jump right in to a game online like you were walking up to somebody at the machine and putting your quarter in, but these games are at their best when played with somebody next to you on the couch who you can yell at for stealing your health chicken and beating you with a lead pipe.
Along with the nostalgia - and there is a ton of nostalgia, from the way the entire game is presented like a virtual arcade cabinet - comes old-school difficulty. You will almost certainly die frequently if playing the game on your own, but the only thing you lose out on by using a Continue is some of the Challenges, which unlock art and the like. It's frustrating when it happens - "Augh, let me actually get up instead of hitting me over and over!" - but never a deal-breaker.
But if you played the original Final Fight, you were prepared for that. And if you loved the original Final Fight (and Magic Sword) you'll likely enjoy Double Impact enough to justify spending $10 on it for the nostalgia trip. It's a blast from the past, and that may be enough for some people.
Bottom Line: It's Final Fight (and Magic Sword). The games have HD-compatible (but still low-res) graphics and remixed tunes, but they're otherwise the exact same games you remember - typos and all. You fight lots of pallet-swapped enemies over and over again, rinse and repeat. Fun to play with a friend and a huge nostalgia rush, but not much to hold your interest for long.
Recommendation: If you liked the originals and have fond memories of them, the nostalgia rush alone might be worth your $10.
John Funk eats chicken from garbage cans, but it doesn't restore his health.