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The sounds of quarters dropping, buzzers and lights flashing, sweaty strangers huddled around arcade machines. That was the arcade scene of the early 90’s. For those of you too young to remember, arcades were once a place where complete strangers would have to stand uncomfortably close to each other to play games. Not only that, but we had to pay per play of a game. If you died, it would cost you another quarter and if you didn’t have one, another guy would totally steal your spot while you dug in your pockets. This was when X-men Arcade hit the scene and became an instant classic.
X-men Arcade has been brought to modern consoles for one reason and one reason only, nostalgia. If you played this game back in the day you will be pleased to know that the entire game is presented in original condition, original aspect ratio and all. Konami was prohibited from adding any content and was only able to publish the game as a straight port, so don’t expect some 21st century graphics or sound here. This is old school.
Since Konami was prevented from adding much of anything to the title, you should not expect secret characters or anything out of the ordinary in this romp. Konami did manage to sneak in the Japanese version of the game though. In the Japanese version, enemies will occasionally drop energy power ups, and characters will use mutant tokens before using energy which is the opposite of how the American game functions. This makes the Japanese version much easier and more forgiving. For quarter munching, it was not a surprise that they made it that way for American audiences.
You have the choice of playing as one of six X-men: Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Colossus, and Dazzler. Simply put, you should only need three buttons to progress as this is a beat-em up of the simplest style. You move to the right hitting enemies as you go, occasionally throwing some special attacks into the mix. This formula is not that fun alone but when you get a team of 6 people together this becomes utter mayhem as there are bodies flying all over the screen. The more people you have, the better it gets.
The game is ridiculous, but in a great way. The voice acting definitely falls into the category of so bad its good and will literally make you burst out in laughter from the ridiculousness of it all. You will hear all manner of weird insults thrown your way. If you enjoy being welcomed to die or being called an “X-chicken” it does not get any better than this. The soundtrack is generic 90’s electronic with a few instances of the word “X-men” being thrown in for good measure.
For the full 6 person experience you will need head online and find a couple of extras to compliment the 4 person group. You can switch to a 4 person match, but to do that is nothing less than a disgrace to the game’s history. There is no excuse to not play with 5 other people when the online matchmaking is so fluid and easy. Joining a quick match is, well quick and custom matchmaking allows you to set up all the options and even get dibs on which character you want to play. If you buy this game, you must play with other people to get the full experience. Playing with yourself is a sad, sad endeavor.
X-men Arcade is miles different from newer X-men titles and the entire game was based on the comic and the first episode of the 90’s animated series. If you have never heard of a few of these enemies, don’t know who Dazzer is, and wonder why Juggernaut is sporting a rocket launcher you are not alone. While a good history lesson, there is also a lot of nostalgic charm for fans of the old X-men comics.
The one drawback is that this game is short, really short. At a price of 800 MS points that could turn a lot of gamers off, but if you played this title in the past you would be crazy to not buy this. The game just is not going to appeal to those gamers who have never played this game or have never been to an arcade. To judge this game on its own accord is unfair, as it is a symbol of the height of the American arcade industry. It appeals to the arcade dweller in all of us and is a great reminder that we were justified in asking for this title to make a return. If you ever played this game, you owe it to yourself to pick it up. Just try not to get stuck with Dazzler. Seriously, she sucks.