RELEASED: December 1994
AVAILABLE ON: SNES
Capcom snatched the X-Men video game license in 1994. Their first X-Men game was the arcade beat 'em up X-Men: Children of the Atom, which was much later released on 32-bit home consoles; since the game was so heavily influenced by Capcom's very own Street Fighter franchise, and since it was so well-received among Street Fighter fans, the game is often considered the first game in the popular Marvel vs. Capcom franchise. Another game that's not quite as well known today, but also immensely popular in its time, is X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, which was released on the SNES around the same time Children of the Atom debuted in arcade halls. This game, in turn, was heavily influenced by Capcom's side-scrolling beat 'em up franchise Final Fight, and included elements from their biggest platformers as well. Could this be it? Could this be the X-Men game I've been waiting for nearly a year? ...No, still not it. But a fine tool for self-torture if you're into that kinda stuff. X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse is not a bad game by any measure - but it is one hard motherfucker.
Annihilation by humiliation
A group of mutants are captured and forced to labor on the island of Genosha. Worse yet, the villainous Apocalypse seems to have something special planned for the hostages. Cyclops, Wolverine, Psylocke, Beast and Gambit each have their own individual task to enable the group's infiltration into the Genosha stronghold.
As my current project is taking longer than I expected - and maybe a bit longer than I was prepared to bear - I played a few of my favourite SNES games to ease the tension and lift up my mood. Then I noted that the next title in the Marvel marathon was also a SNES game, and judging by what I've heard of it, it can't be all that bad. It was made by Capcom, after all - in their prime, I might add. And, if this game had been an utter failure, we probably wouldn't have Marvel vs. Capcom - which is THE most difficult and frustrating fighting game of the modern age, but there's just some strange appeal to it. Amusingly, the same can be said for X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. It is most definitely the best game under the X-Men banner reviewed thus far. It's just not a very friendly game.
|Let's go, tin can.|
Gameplay-wise, this is what happens when Mega Man, Street Fighter and Final Fight have a threesome one night stand. The short levels are almost straight out of Mega Man X, very familiar-looking industrial settings, yet not blatant copies. The game starts by having you choose between five levels, which you can beat in any order you wish. Perhaps in a conscious move by the developers who are well aware of everyone's favourite mutant, who everyone wants to play as (first), Wolverine's level is clearly - yet arguably - the easiest. And man, did I enjoy it. First of all, Logan's claws are out all the time; there's no punishment for using them, and you cannot retract them even by accident. That's all it takes. Perhaps due to the system's limitations which are tempted all the time, that's all there is as well; no regeneration ability for Wolverine, it's one specialty per character, which in Logan's case is a very efficient dash attack. The special attacks are executed exactly like special moves in Street Fighter; most of them follow the "ha-dou-ken" code, such as Cyclops' laser. Might sound too difficult for a hectic side-scroller, but let me tell you that these attacks pack a LOT of punch and would tip the scales for your benefit a lot more than the developers were ready to allow. Which isn't much, as you will see.
|Lock 'em on the murder train.|
After all the yelling and cursing, it's time to reflect on the game's strengths again. Many game developers have made ultra-difficult games their business, kind of a sales point even - who made Ghosts 'n Goblins again? Oh yeah, Capcom. Who made Mega Man? Capcom again. The Magical Quest? Mmm. We have a load of ultra-difficult games with good gameplay and nice face values that have Capcom's name on the cover, and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse is once again one of those games there's very little actually wrong with, it's just 1,000 miles of virtual cock right up your ass, tempting you with an appealing name from your childhood.
Besides the inexplicable absence of the ability to either block or dodge, and somewhat rough controls in general, it's a decent game - and definitely the closest to an entertaining X-Men video game experience I've had during this whole long-ass marathon. At this point of time, I think the best word to describe X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse is "refreshing".
+ Looks like X-Men, and greatly so
+ Sounds awesome
+ Good boss fights
+ A simple, yet clever mix of different Capcom concepts
- ...Extremely and unfairly so
- Imperfect controls and limited movement; possible solutions are ignored perhaps to raise the stakes even higher
- That health meter don't mean shit
< 7.5 >