For fans of comics and video games, the classic Konami X-Men arcade game is most likely a source of fond memories. Now that it is available to download on Xbox Live Arcade ,I couldn’t wait to download the game and see how it stacked up to my childhood remembrances.
In the journey to Xbox, the original arcade game has remained exactly the same; no additional content, no retouching of the graphics or game play. For those who never played this game, it is an old school side-scrolling, beat-em up. The game features six different X-Men characters to choose from: Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Dazzler, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. As the game begins, you pick which mutant you will use to wage war, and you can have as many as six players at once controlling the various characters. Once assembled, your mutant posse must hurry to rescue Professor X and the world from Magneto and his band of evil mutants. It makes you wonder what good telepathy is if Professor X can’t see these plots coming.
X-Men is an extremely simple game. It originally consisted of three buttons and a joystick, and hasn’t changed now that it has entered the modern era. In the game, you are able to use jump, attack, or use your mutant powers; that is the entire extent of action through the entire game. While the levels and enemies change, you remain limited to this simple fighting scheme.
One nice feature that the game has added is the ability to play either the American or Japanese version of the game. The only real difference is that the Japanese version offers in-game power-ups, and the American version allows you to play the story mode repeatedly without stopping, allowing for higher scores. While the differences seem minimal, the Japanese version is drastically superior due to the power-ups.
In the game, these power-ups allow you to use your mutant powers more frequently. Mutant powers are super attacks that you can use when being overwhelmed by enemies. Rather than wrecking your thumb slamming the A-button, this attack will save the day. In the American version, you get very limited use of these attacks, eventually having to use your life points to use the attack. The Japanese game offers an abundance of opportunities to use these abilities that speed up the game play considerably.
Like the game itself, the achievements are overly easy. In fact, I completed every achievement in one sitting. The way the game was made was perfect for pumping quarters into a machine, but lacks difficulty in the digital world when nothing is on the line. This is where adding some challenging achievements could have given this game much more replay value.
As it is presented, the game allows players to have unlimited continues. Die as much as you want, it is impossible to lose short of quitting. This leads most players to simply use their mutant powers constantly (and subsequently life points) until they die. When that happens, they simply respawn and repeat. It is the fastest way to complete the game, but takes away all the fun. Since the achievements are mostly completion-based tasks, no one online seems to care.
X-Men was one of my all time favorite games, until I downloaded it on Xbox. As a child, the game was challenging enough, and the fact that actual money was on the line, based on your performance, raised the stakes even higher. You had to think twice before overusing your mutant power when quarters were on the line, and had to resort to skill.
The Xbox version lacks any real obstacles. After the few moments of nostalgia wear off, you will find your brain shutting down as you slam one button repeatedly for the entire campaign, and the meaningless pursuit of achievement points. At 800 Points, the game is not too expensive, but lacks any replay value. To really enjoy this game, you should go find an actual arcade. If this isn’t an option, simply allow your childhood memories to remain untarnished – they will provide more fun than playing this game.