X-Men returns to arcade

Among the rush of new game titles released this holiday season, sporting cutting-edge graphics, intense gameplay and mass marketing, there seems to be a counterpoint in the release of older, retro games that harken back to a simpler time where kids flocked to an arcade to make use of their spare change. For those unfamiliar with this particular title, X-Men is a side-scrolling beat ’em up game released back in 1992, featuring the titular cast of superheroes sporting their ‘classic’ look. What distinguished this title back then was that the monstrous arcade cabinet allowed up to six players to join in on the fun, along with plenty of action and a memorably hilarious script. After eighteen years, does the revamped X-Men still hold up in an age of twitch-fests and cinematic quality games?

Yes and no. It’s certainly unfair to compare X-Men to new games, as most of the basic qualities of the arcade version remain very much the same on the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. While the initial pricing is abit steep at around $10 for roughly an hour of gameplay, there are some interesting new features that keep this port from being a straight-up copy of the arcade. The game includes both the American and Japanese versions of the game, both of which have slightly different gameplay elements from one another and carry their respective voice track, and allows six players to drop into the game locally or online. Difficulty settings and matchmaking options are also available, along with the choice to start from any stage.

The playable characters are Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Dazzler, making a comeback here to stop the villain mutant Magneto from generally causing havoc on the world. The stages proceed as one might expect, with the players battling through masses of hostile cyborgs, mutant beasts and critters before facing off with a boss at the end of the level. The gameplay remains entirely the same, with players basically hitting, jumping or using their special powers to defeat the enemies, and cosmetically it’s pretty much the same. An exception here is that the voicework has been re-recorded, though the amusing script translation remains intact.

In spite of the repetitive and basic gameplay, it’s still incredibly fun to load up four to six players at once and relive the classic title. There’s no special gimmicks or mechanics to take into account besides a life bar, and somehow that works if you’re looking just to enjoy a game with some friends without thinking too hard. One feature that might put off some classic gamers however is the lack of a ‘true’ arcade mode, since all modes give the players unlimited opportunities to continue no matter how often their character bites the dust. It’s entirely possible for players to use up their mutant powers and life bar without consequence, now that a pocketful of quarters isn’t required to finish the game from start to end.

While it is disappointing at how little bang you get for your buck, this game would certainly be worth snatching up once the price drops. Ports of retro games like X-Men are certainly becoming more popular with players from an older era and even new players should try the experience at some point.


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