The movie X-Men: First Class is quickly approaching, and thankfully Activision (who owns the publishing rights to X-Men video games) has not wasted any time or money with a crappy rushed and under budgeted movie tie-in game. Instead, Activision is hard at work on X-Men: Destiny, which has potential to be awesome, but it’s left me with an awkward mutant itch. An itch that can only be scratched by an X-Men classic like the simply titled X-Men for the SEGA Genesis!
Developer: Western Technologies Inc.
Platforms: SEGA Genesis
X-Men video games were still in their infancy in 1993, and by that year X-Men was the second best X-Men game released (the first being arcade game: X-Men); it still remains one of the top mutant games today. Like almost every other game from that era it was a side-scroller, but was by no means a simple game.
Your playable mutant roster for this game is made up of Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Gambit, with Jean Grey, Arcangel, Rogue, Storm, and Icemen appearing as support characters. The playable X-Men all retain their signature abilities, but by far the most annoying feature of the whole game is that each characters’ mutant power is limited by a blue energy bar under your yellow health bar in the HUD. Yes, you can blast Cyclops’s optic beams to your heart’s content…until the little blue meter runs out. And you have to be careful using Wolverine’s claws, because every second they’re popped your blue meter runs down. How stupid is that?
Yes, it’s dumb that the X-Men’s natural mutant abilities have been reduced to a limited use gimmick, but the game is still fun…but only if you play it right. If you’re an experienced side-scrolling action gamer then you could seriously run through the entire game in less than 10 minuets, but you would be missing out on the fun.
The game’s story begins as a few simple Danger Room exercises, the first level taking place in the jungle with several jungle warriors to battle, ending in a boss battle with Juggernaut. This level is essentially identical to how each level in the game plays. There are several depths and platforms to explore in each level, and even some switches and levers to be flipped, but they’re not always essential to making it through the stage. For example, you can seriously hop along the tops of the first level, hitch a ride on a pterodactyl, and even completely skip the fight with Juggernaut to make your way to stage 2. But where’s the fun in that? As an X-Men fan I get excited about the prospect of taking on supervillains like Juggernaut. I don’t want to ride a pterodactyl to the end of the stage and miss out on all the action.
The second most frustrating aspect of the game (or second most challenging aspect, depending on your perspective) is navigating each level. You can travel high or travel low, flip switches or not flip switches, but your first play through of the game has you exploring each depth to determine exactly where your destination lies.
Eventually you discover a typical 90s Magneto plot of evil, and move from the Danger Room to Asteroid M. But don’t get too excited, because Asteroid M still plays like every other level in the game, but like every level, it has its own unique and pretty design.
Alongside Juggernaut and Magneto, making up your rogues gallery are Apocalypse, Sentinels, and Mojo. A very interesting moment in the game is defeating Mojo and having the game call for you to “reset the computer.” The fourth wall is broken in this portion of the game, as “resetting the computer” is meant to be taken literally. You actually have to press the Reset button on your SEGA Genesis for the game to continue, but be careful not to hold the button down too long or the entire game will be reset.
Thankfully this game is 2-player, and going on this adventure with a friend is so much more fun. As X-Men games go it’s probably the sixth best X-Men game ever (my top 10 X-Men games list will be reserved for another day). An old school X-Men game like this is exactly what I like to get me in the mood for X-Men: First Class, instead of another bad superhero movie game like X-Men: The Official Game (what a great title…) which is the video game tie-in to the movie X-Men: The Last Stand. So once again, thank you Activision for devoting your energy to a game we can look forward to in X-Men: Destiny! I can’t wait until the fall when it releases!
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