December 16, 2010

Love Notes – X-Men Arcade

X Men Arcade
Konami’s 1992 side-scrolling beat ’em up is one of the few arcade games I hold a great deal of nostalgic love for. Buy me a coffee sometime and I’ll regall you with stories about loitering near any building that housed the game, from the last of the arcades in my area to the seedy poolhalls that later served as poor but functional substitutes.

Konami was able to turn anything into a beat ’em up back in the day, from the Ninja Turtles to The Simpsons, but only The X-Men had six glorious arcade sticks jutting out of an over sized cabinet that cried out for my quarters – so it’s safe to say that I’m pretty stoked to see the game hit XBLA and PSN this week.

X Men Arcade
Immediately jumping into an online co-op session for nearly an hour probably wasn’t the best way to get reacquainted with my old love, so I’ve since spent time running through the campaign on my own to better rediscover the allure – having six people play at once is the gravy mind you.

Admittedly the game is prehistoric at this point, and the stiffness of it is like hitting a wall at first, but I’ve pushed enough of those bricks out of the way to decide that this is one of the best early Christmas presents to date, even if I bought it for myself at ten dollars.

X Men Arcade

To recap, the game lets you choose (or with co-op sessions fight over) six X-Men – Wolverine, Storm, Dazzler, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Cyclops. Running to Wolverine and slipping on the claws out of instinct, I rediscovered a single primary attack to tap as quickly as possible, left to be interchanged only by jumping in the attempt to create something resembling a combo strategy. I was actually impressed by what I could pull from that though, namely two different aerial attacks to break up all the fists of fury gameplay driving the core of the game.

Not surprisingly the game also offers mutant powers, which will clear a good section of enemies if well aimed – though like any good drug the first one is free and then you’ll most often be sacrificing life points to use more, as was the standard in the day.

Taking a solitary route through the game offered plenty of small details I wasn’t catching in the chaos of multiplayer – using Wolverine’s attack to stab enemies before they get back on their feet, and even the sounds of exploding sentinels as pieces of them briefly litter the screen.

I’m not sure if the experience will bring in new disciples, but there’s a great history lesson at work remembering how to fight within the structure of the game – moving up and down to evade the path of fire proving an important tactic. The eight stages won’t last long, in fact the final fight with Magneto counts as one of them, but the trip from the city to Magento’s secret island to a final battle aboard his asteroid base may just surprise, or at least reacquaint you with many tricks from other Konami titles of that era like the Ninja Turtles.

Admittedly the game seemed longer when I was younger, so curse you once again nostalgia goggles!

X Men Arcade
At the end of the day, the game still offers something that I want from an X-Men game, which no other X-Men game ever really satisfied – namely The X-Men kicking Magneto’s ass without a lot of extra baggage. So I still consider it one of the best, if obviously also the most straightforward X-Men game ever, and if that makes me a bad person, I’m willing to live with that.

It’s worth mentioning that the online multiplayer features drop-in, which kept the party changing quite a bit on my first three online sessions so far. The game also allows players to select between the North American and Japanese versions, and offers 4-player offline on the 360 and 6-player on the PlayStation 3. In an odd twist I’ve been led to believe that the Japanese version goes easier on the player by offering the same experience, only with power-ups, but I haven’t discovered any yet.

Aside from that bit of confusion so far, this entire post constitutes me recommending the nostalgia trip. I’d still like to get my mitts on the actual cabinet in the future, but until such time there’s plenty of replay here going through the campaign with friends and strangers alike.

Now go and save the city!


  1. Had a blast with this game at the arcade back in the day. Not the best time to release for me since I’ve got a lot of games I need to take care of first but it’s always great news to have the option.

    Comment by EdEN — December 17, 2010 @ 1:07 am

  2. I was going to ask you who the heck the chick with the jacket and head band was… but I’m guessing it’s Dazzler based on the names you’ve listed… I don’t remember her at all. Seems an odd choice. Was she up and coming when this game was made?

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — December 17, 2010 @ 1:38 am

  3. haha, we’re having that exact same discussion here at the moment. As of yet no one has a good answer, Jean Grey would have been the more obvious choice today, but I want to say it’s because the game was based on something that featured that set of x-men including dazzler that came out earlier, but I’ll have to check.

    Comment by Jamie Love — December 17, 2010 @ 1:48 am

  4. Shazaam!

    Comment by Jamie Love — December 17, 2010 @ 1:52 am

  5. Dazzler was indeed “popular and part of the X-Men” when the game was made and since this is a direct port of it…

    Comment by EdEN — December 17, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

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