By Stryctnin, HSM team writer
I’m a slight fan of X-Men.
I’ve collected well over 300 issues of Uncanny X-Men and various spin off titles, plus action figures, statues and other memorabilia. So, needless to say…I’m a comic book geek.
On my Facebook account I have PlayStation, PSN and Home liked so that I receive daily updates. Last Monday, I received an update listing the games coming to the PSN store. I was especially excited over one title – X-Men Arcade. Now, I had played this when it came out to the arcades in 1992 (at your typical Putt-Putt Golf and Games). A few friends and I popped quarters into the machine and clustered around the viewscreen, shoulder to shoulder, while we fought numerous villains. How I miss the old arcades; the warm glow of many neon lights flashing, the loud dings, buzzes, bells of all the machines, the smell of hot dogs and nachos.
On the day of the update, while waiting to download the game, I went into Home and talked with a friend. We discussed the game and whether or not he would buy it. He said that he wasn’t going to, because he was tired of them (Sony) releasing old games. He wanted new games. And I agree: there do seem to be a lot of older games being released into the PSN Store lately. I think it’s for the older gamers who reminisce about their teens and remember playing these games. A “simpler” time for gaming.
My friend wondered how much it would be and tried to dissuade me from buying it, saying that it would probably be $15 or $20.
“I hope not; I doubt I’d purchase it for that much,” I replied.
Luckily for me, it was only $9.99. So, I eagerly purchased it and clicked on “Download.”
The download was fast — only took about five minutes (you forget how much smaller these old game files are!). Once it was complete, I jumped right into the game. When you start, you can pick from six characters – Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler or Dazzler. I chose Colossus. I just think that Wolverine gets too much exposure and is overrated. Shush.
The game play is simple, and the controls basic. Push square or circle to punch, push X to jump and push triangle to use your special mutant power (which will come in handy once you get surrounded by a bunch of baddies or while going up against a boss).
X-Men-Arcade is a 2D brawler, much like Final Fight, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage or Double Dragon. Like I said, it’s very basic: walk a couple of steps and enemies break holes in walls or come from the outer edge of the screen and punch or shoot you. You just punch them but try not to get surrounded by too many. The best strategy is to corral them into a group and punch them all at one time.
The first level looks like a Sentinel manufacturing plant, and that’s the type of enemies you get – human-sized Sentinels. Eventually, you’ll come to the end, and the boss of the level comes out. Pyro is the first boss you’ll encounter. Others you’ll encounter are Blob, Mystique, Wendigo, Nimrod, the White Queen, Juggernaut, and — of course — Magneto. I give the developers at Backbone Entertainment credit for having lesser-known and unpopular characters featured in this game.
After running around in the Sentinel factory for a couple of levels, Professor Xavier invades your mind and tells you that he and Kitty Pryde have been kidnapped by Magneto and that you must rescue them. This storyline is based on a 1989 X-Men cartoon called Pryde of the X-Men.
(Okay, I’m really dating myself now. You kids. Hmph.)
The second level looks like the Savage Land, an island inhabited by dinosaurs. The X-Men frequent this place a lot in the comics. And, yes, right on cue, here comes the horde of lizard men, sprinkled with an occasional Sentinel.
The graphics are slightly touched-up, but not much. If you like X-Men, old-school arcades or old-school 2D action, then this game is a must-buy. If you like to trophy hunt, the game does have 12 trophies, which are fairly easy to acquire. At the time of this writing I hadn’t finished my play-through, and really wasn’t trying to collect trophies, yet I’ve already received five from it.
If none of this applies to you, I’d say skip it. It gets boring really fast, unless you’re like me and you get excited just by seeing the different characters. One more thing: it is multiplayer. Up to six people can play online and locally. So I can still have my friends play it with me, just not shoulder to shoulder anymore — and, unless I’m cooking them with a mutant power, I don’t smell hot dogs or nachos. Mmmmm. Nachos.
I’m giving this 5 mutagens out of 10, mostly for the memorabilia and because it doesn’t have Rogue or Gambit. I demand a decent-looking Rogue in a game!