keskiviikko 7. toukokuuta 2014

REVIEW - X-Men | GEN | 1993

GENRE(S): Action / Platformer
DEVELOPER(S): Western Technologies

X-Men for the Sega Genesis was chronologically the first X-Men console game LJN had absolutely nothing to do with, not by a long shot. This, as well as positive reception from many retro critics immediately breaks some barriers between me and the game, and so I am finally ready to continue on with the Marvel marathon, with expectations of some decent 16-bit action. However, just recently I watched the game being included in AVGN's X-Men montage, in which he clamped the game together with The Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine on the NES. Looks good, looks bad, looks good again. Which is it? Let's find out.

Relax, it's just a simulation

Bad ass.
Magneto uses a satellite to upload a virus to the main computer of Professor X's training facility, which results in a very bad day for Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit and Nightcrawler. The four mutants must make their way through randomly loaded, exceptionally dangerous simulations of their past adventures and neutralize the virus.

So as I said, I recently watched AVGN's trip through some hand-picked X-Men games from yesteryear, as it was one of the AVGN videos I missed when it came out and I thought I'd watch it for inspiration to continue on with the Marvel marathon. The Marvel marathon has been going on for more than a year now, with varying speed and consistency, and let's face it, most of the games I've played have sucked, royally. There have been these small glints of hope here and there, as in a few truly good Spider-Man games, but not much else. I know I'm in for more good games, but the X-Men franchise in particular has been a buzzkiller, as proven by The Uncanny X-Men being "crowned" the worst game I've ever played. AVGN does not review games lightly - if he sees it worthy to "highlight" a game, that usually means something. So, X-Men does not promise much, but I must review it to carry on. So, how is it? Well, it's not good. But in a bit of good news, it's not totally hopeless. It's a game I even might've enjoyed when I was a kid - if I was an X-Men fan back then to begin with, I mean.

I've grown accustomed to graphics and sound usually being extremely close to each other. If a game looks good, it usually sounds good, and vice versa. Here, that rule does not apply. The game looks pretty good with its very detailed sprites - of just the right size - and nice effects. The level design is quite boring, not to mention confusing - I've also grown accustomed to the trend that Marvel games have either horrible controls or lackluster level design, or both. Luckily this game suffers only from one of these problems, which makes it more playable than most Marvel games of the era. That, and the fact that it was made by and for someone else than you know who. So, while I don't have much complaints about the game's look, I have to say I can't stand the sound. The music's stock and sometimes really high pitched, badly sequenced drivel, and the sudden sound effects are pure slaughter. I usually mute the monitor whenever there's a really hard platforming part - it usually helps me to get through it a lot quicker.

So, this incarnation of X-Men lets you choose between four characters: Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Gambit. Whenever one character gets it, you go back to the beginning of the level - regardless how far along the level you are - and get to choose another one, and another one, until they are all gone, which means game over. No passwords. This is one of those games. Not to worry, though. The game isn't too hard; it's just very, very boring. The levels are just paste upon paste, and whenever you're taken back to the character select screen, you have to wait for something like 30 seconds for the level to load. You're free to move in the training room while the level loads, which leaves you kinda aped about what's happening, if you've just started to play the game. Must you do something, are you missing something, is that it? No. Just wait.

Nope, can't do shit to Incan architecture.
You can also switch characters on the go at any time, which doesn't really have much purpose besides the fact that you get full meters (Health and Power) this way - it might help out if you're having a hard time. If Wolverine's claws are out, his Power meter drains all the time, while everyone else's meter is tied to how much they use their abilities. Everyone also has a special attack that drains a bulk of the meter at a time. No one's really better or worse than the other here, both Nightcrawler's character and ability are just a tad hard to learn to control. In addition, you can summon four other X-Men (Iceman, Rogue, Storm, Arch-Angel) once per level. While all the others are designed to kill all enemies on screen and do heavy damage to bosses, Iceman makes bridges in mid-air.

The game is a simple action-platformer with mild puzzle elements. It's not exceptional in its general nuisance, and though it's far from a thoroughly entertaining game, it's playable. This far into the marathon, there's really not much to say about it besides simply telling what it's basically like, and what sucks about it, and while there are plenty of small things that do suck about it, it's the ultra-boring level design that really gets shoved in your face. And the sound. After all the crap I've endured so far, what I just said is letting the game go easy. It's worth a try, really. That's more than I can say about any X-Men game I've reviewed so far.

+ Looks pretty good
+ Feels pretty good, from a comic book fan's perspective
+ Decent controls

- Lethally boring level design
- The waiting around part in each beginning, after each death and between levels
- Music and sound effects

< 6.5 >

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