The mutants get one of the best licensed games ever in this arcade favourite.
Who made it?: Konami (Developer/Publisher).
Genre: Beat ‘em up.
Platforms: Arcade, PlayStation, Xbox, iOS, Android.
Format: Arcade, Digital Download.
Released: February 12, 1992.
There’s probably not a single comic book fan in the world unaware of who the X-Men are. Since these characters began their adventures in 1963, they would become one of the most popular publications going, with their fame reaching far beyond the paper. From this success stems a very successful series of films, and what concerns us in this case, a catalogue of video games that surpasses thirty different releases. Even companies you would think have nothing to do with comics, like online gaming sites such as Slots Heaven, have released their X-Men online slot game, adding to the impressive amount of entertainment options coming from this franchise.
Although titles from all kind of genres have been released, perhaps the most popular gaming rendition of the mutants was this 1992 arcade classic, the preferred format for spin-offs based on comic book superheroes. Later in 1994, there would even be a sequel under the title X-Men: Children of the Atom.
It’s also nice to remmber that, during the golden age of arcades, Konami made quite a few contributions to the field of beat ‘em ups, rivalling hard with Capcom. There are many examples of this. In 1989, you could arrive at your favorite amusement arcade and choose between shaking your fists with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Konami) or with the mayor of Metro City in Final Fight (Capcom). Or two years later, the dilemma was between choosing to play as the most famous family of Springfield in The Simpsons (Konami) or immersing yourself in the fantasy world of sword and sorcery with King of Dragons (Capcom). A fierce battle whose outcome left a very prominent winner: The player himself.
X-Men was developed and produced by the aforementioned Japanese company Konami (known from sagas as successful as Silent Hill, Castlevania or Pro Evolution Soccer) under a license from Marvel Comics itself. Both the characters from this adventure and the animation style are based on a pilot episode called Pryde of the X-Men, an animated TV series broadcast in 1989. The objective of the game is to foil the intentions of Magneto and stop him from imposing terror on the human race; the X-Men team have to face countless supervillains from the Marvel factory such as Pyro, Blob, Wendigo, Master Mold, The White Queen, or Juggernaut.
X-Men is a classic beat ‘em up; a two-dimensional action video game with a side-scrolling view in which you have to beat up all the enemies on the screen, reminiscent of Final Fight, Cadillac & Dinosaurs, or even The Punisher. The controls are the usual you all know and love: one button to jump, another to punch and a third assigned to deliver a specially-powerful blow, which will drain your energy in exchange for killing a few enemies in one fell swoop. Obviously, the special blow shows a distinctive character move, like Storm’s tornado or Cyclops’ optic blast.
The game also had some then-new features like the ability to hit enemies when they were down to prevent them from rising. But perhaps the most prominent feature was the mutant special powers. Depending on the specific arcade machine, the game allowed to play up to two, four or even six players simultaneously, letting you choose from the following heroes: Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Dazzler.
The game was a great success in the arcades as well as being truly addictive and dynamic. It also had outstanding graphical work and still looks very good to this day. The designs of the characters are really faithful to the acclaimed TV series and the game even included high-quality introductory illustrations. Unfortunately, the sound effects remain a bit poor and the soundtrack is forgettable, but such qualms don’t prevent it from being one of the most remarkable games based on the X-Men to date.
- An HD port of the game was released by Konami on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade on December 14, 2010 and December 15, 2010 respectively, followed by mobile versions for iOS and Android devices. But it’s no longer available since 2014.
- IGN gave the HD port of the game a score of 7.5, saying “The game is incredibly simple and repetitive… And yet it works. It’s simply a blast to play with friends.”