X-Men: The Arcade Game was released into Arcades in 1992. It was released on the Playstation 3 & X-BOX 360 in 2010. For me, it was available only at the local Putt-Putt Golf in the Arcade section. Nothing was as cool as playing with 6 friends, and even other strangers, all while fighting various marvel villains. I remember sometimes our group would wait for some players to play a bit, then continue where they left off once they quit so we didn’t have to always start at the beginning and spend so many quarters.
This review will cover the Playstation 3 version and it’s various special feature. First, there are 2 Cabinets you can play; 4 Player (Full Frame) and 6 Player (Wide Screen). The 6 Player is better in either game, as in the 4 Player game you will occasionally be shot by the armored men with guns before you can even see them, while the 6 Player version gives you more room to move. However, the 4 player allows you to get to enemies quicker.
When the game starts, you will see a strangely out-of-place screen with the Marvel villains. It looks out of place after watching the 1990’s graphics of the original opening before it.
You can chose 1 of 6 different X-Men from the comic books (however, all the designs for the characters are based off of the failed 1989 TV Pilot: X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men). You can chose from Cyclops, Wolverine, Dazzler, Nightcrawler, Colossus, & Storm.
Now, onto the controls. Your options are Punch (Circle), Kick (Up + Circle [but only while near an enemy]), Jump (X), and Mutant Power (Triangle). There are no weapons to pick up, but none would really match X-Men anyway unless you were playing as Cable or Bishop. Each character also has a sort-of screen clearing move (Cyclops uses a wide beam that destroys everything in front of him, but not behind him). That’s it. The controls are very basic. As such, it can get repetitive if you want to play through the game as every single character, but for a short 30 minute session with friends it’s a fun experience to beat up Sentinels and X-Men villains.
Your main goal is to stop the Sentinels (controlled by Magneto) from destroying the city; then it’s to save Kitty Pryde, then to save Professor Xavier. In the comics, Sentinels kill mutants, but you just assume that, being robots, they are Magnetic and Magneto can easily alter their body and/or processors.
You start out in the streets of an unknown city that has been devastated by Sentinel attacks, then go to a Factory, Island M (I assume this is Muir Island or the Savage Land), and then Asteroid M.
Along the way you will fight Pyro, Blob, Windigo (?), White Queen, Juggernaut, 2 unknown Super Sentinels, Mystique, & Magneto. Over the course of the actual levels, however, you mainly only fight 2 types of enemies; re-colored Sentinels and re-colored armored men with guns. There is the occasional addition of moving lasers, fire generators, Reavers (comic villains), and monsters that grow out of the ground.
Some of the enemies are severely underutilized, such as the mechanical bugs, the flying bat robot, killer plants, and the killer bees (though the bees are the most annoying). Why make so many villains if you’re only going to use them once in the whole game, but keep using the same two enemies over and over?
There are also 2 country versions; you can play the Japanese or the American version. The Japanese used the English audio, but has Japanese subtitles in cut-scenes. There are only 3 differences between them that I could tell.
1) In the American version, when you want to use your mutant power, you must use it from your own life energy first. You have a mutant power glob that you can get every time you start a new life, but you can only use it when you have 1 or 2 energy bars of life left. In the Japanese version, you use your orbs first, then once depleted, you start using your own life energy.
2) The Japanese version is also easier, as it removed the grated lasers on the ground that you have to avoid throughout the entire game. They are fun in the America version because you can also knock enemies into them.
3) Finally, the Japanese version has power-ups that give you more mutant powers, however, this is not present anytime you play with just a Single Player.
Story: 10 out of 10
The X-Men (Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Wolverine, Dazzler, Kitty Pryde, & Professor Xavier) must fight Magneto and his army (Pyro, White Queen, Juggernaut, Mystique, & Sentinels). You start out trying to stop sentinels, then the story actually does change as people get kidnapped, you fight people from the comic books, you play as people from the comic books (with appropriate power), and you even go to locations from the comics (Asteroid M).
Music: 7 out of 10
Most of the time, you would not hear the music in the Arcades. But now on your home console, you can hear the music, and it’s actually pretty enjoyable. It never gets repetitive or boring, and it’s just plain strange to me for some reason, but a strange I enjoy.
Challenge: 5 out of 10
Since this is an arcade game, I have to just give it an average score. X-Men gives you unlimited quarters to beat the game. Though this removes the challenge, it simply means it’s meant for a multi-player game to relive the entire game of your youth without having to spend tons of loose change.
Fun: 10 out of 20
X-Men is fun in short bursts, but when I tried playing 2 playthroughs in a row, it got boring. I usually went 2-3 weeks between picking it up again to play with another character.
Controls: 10 out of 10
The controls are simple to use; anyone could play this game. However, just because it’s really simple does not count against it.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
The graphics are really polished, and you can tell all the character and locations look as they are. The graphics and cut-scenes give it a comic-book / cartoon look (a serious one), and the character sprites and enemies actually match the cut-scenes (the openings and endings). It seems they only re-colored many Sentinels, but they designed a lot of extra enemies that appear very briefly, along with missiles, lasers, etc, so an effort for extra graphics was made.
Replay: 5 out of 10
It won’t be getting any single player usages for many years, but if any friends are over and we want to play a video game that supports 6 players, I can start X-Men for a quick gaming session.
Extras: 4 out of 10
The Trophies are pretty lame, and completely unnecessary, with one that says to Not Jump at all on Level 4. Three of them require all 6 Players playing throughout the entire game; if they leave for any reason, the trophy will not work. The choice of 3 difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, Hard), the Japanese and American versions of the game, plus the 4 or 6 player cabinet from each makes for a pretty good feature.
+5 for 6 Player Game
+ 5 for Cheesy Dialogue
Seriously, how many 6 player games did you know of back in 1992? How many do you know of in 2012 that don’t require internet only co-op?
The dialogue here is the most fun to listen to, just for its awfully cheesy dialogue, especially from Magneto. It’s not just the dialogue, but also the delivery.
Magneto surprises you in level 3 and says, “X-Men, Welcome…To Die.”
Magneto shouts at you randomly: “X-Men, you shall meet with my wrath.”
You die while fighting Magneto: “You Are/Dead.” The tone is abruptly cut as if it’s two different voice samples together without a space or pause
Sometimes when you are punched by Magneto: “X-Chicken”
Total Points: 69 out of 90
Overall, this is a fun game to play with friends, and it requires no long term commitment. Single player is fun, but only once or twice, and not worth a huge investment. If you enjoy the X-Men, you will enjoy this game with its representations of many characters from their world and it will make for a fun game session with friends.
This Review is also available
VideoGameGeek / RetrowareTV / GameFAQS