Review by CasaDeJoey
"Classic portable gaming at its finest, or its worst?"
Playing X-Men, the 1994 Game Gear classic again, reminded me of a time when two portable gaming systems --from two big, first party developers-- existed. GameBoy was mostly the leader of the portable market, but games like X-Men are what made GG stand out from the rest. Because Sega made this game, and the only X-Men games on Super Nintendo and GameBoy were from third parties (if they even had any back then at all).
I remember when the Genisis version came out, I didn't have the system back then, I use to be a big Nintendo fan and still was up until 1997 (but ended up getting a Genisis that following Christmas, in '94), and my one of my friends had rented it. I rushed over to his house as soon as I could and got a chance to play what was one of the greatest comic-to-videogame translations of all time.
And while the GG version didn't quite capture the great experience, with a very arcade feel that the Genisis version did, it was very entertaining, and innovative for its time.
Choose Wolverine or Cyclops and battle through one of three starting levels. Every level you complete grants you another playable X-Men. There are seven X-Men in all, including Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Iceman and Nightcrawler (plus the two starting X-Men you have to choose from). When you die, you'll get a chance to pick another character, but if you die in the first stage entered, then you'll only have one character to choose from. Once you've died using all the X-Men you have the game is over.
The gameplay in X-Men consists of lots of slicing, shooting, blasting, jumping and when you're Mutant Power meter runs out, punching and kicking. An innovative feature, yes, the fact that you can't use Wolverine's claws all the time to shread every enemy to bits, and the fact that you can't just shoot as you please with Cyclops bring this game down a little. Then again, that gives it more challenge...
Like a simplistic action/RPG or as I usually call it, "Zelda 64," you must pay close attention to your Mutant Power meter. A cheat code for unlimited Mutant Powers would have been nice...
The controls are pretty good and even though the characters walk at a very slow pace, the game actually moves pretty fast.
Better than most Game Gear game music (is it me or do most of the game's music on this system sound EXACTLY the same?), some tunes were even kinda techno-ish (which isn't necessarily a good thing), but it at least sounded more like something I'd hear on the radio at two AM on a Friday night.
Oh, and the sounds. Wow! They were incredible. Ranging from the sound of a can of pop opening for Wolverine's razor-sharp adamantium claws, to the Centipede-type sounds for Cyclop's beam blasts. Don't forget to do a sound fx test for #12 and 13, my ears can't tell those two apart!
X-Men looked just about as good as it possibly could on the Game Gear. If you showed me a blurred picture of the game, I could still probably make out who each character was. You can't really see their faces, their costumes stand out and are easily spotted by anyone who's ever been a fan of the comic and/or TV series.
However, Wolverine's claws are nearly impossible to see (they're way too small), and Psylocke is a rather pointless character... why didn't they replace her with Beast? It would have made more sense; blue stands out more anyway on a smaller screen, and would have been easier to make I think.
I know it's hard to think of these graphics as being good now, but that's only because systems have moved so far ahead since then. It's been more than five years since this game was released... what do you expect?
All games have problems, and one of X-Men's problems is that you won't get much replay out of it. You'll probably beat it, maybe play through it one more time... and then let it sit and collect dust for weeks. A great game the first time around, it just isn't as fun doing it all over again.
Should I buy X-Men?: Maybe.
If you have a Game Gear, it's still working and you're still playing it frequently and looking for something new (or lack thereof) to play, you can't go wrong with X-Men. Very good for long and boring car trips, or anything else you might have to sit through but wish you could stay home and play videogames instead.
However, for those of you who got tired of the Game Gear back when it was still sold in stores in an undamaged package and didn't have dust on it an inch thick, then X-Men isn't for you. Any Marvel Comics fans could probably get into it but, why wouldn't they just go out and import a NeoGeo Pocket Color and SNK Vs. Capcom this fall?
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99
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