maanantai 11. elokuuta 2014

REVIEW - X-Men: Mutant Wars | GBC | 2000

GENRE(S): Action / Fighting
RELEASED: November 7, 2000
PUBLISHER(S): Activision

Kind of like to pick up where I left off last time, the capitalization on the success of the first X-Men film continued in the video game business all the way to the premiere of X2 in 2003, which was when the circle began anew; however, none of the games had anything to do with the movie! Even so, a game called X-Men: Mutant Wars was released exclusively on the Game Boy Color to coincide with the first DVD release of X-Men, and could therefore be perceived as official merchandise for the movie. Even though the game was made by a once-prolific company such as HAL and published by Activision, it was a failure, destroyed in the media and all but forgotten by gamers and X-Men fans alike. Sounds like perfect dinner.

From Japan comes a mutant

Some time after their last struggle with Magneto, the X-Men set their sights on a cyborg army, who they believe to be controlled by their arch nemesis.

OK, I don't know where to start when it comes to how this game looks, so I'll just blurt it out: either the game is a genuine X-Men product with a different angle, a different story and different perspective, with true purpose behind it all. Maybe Marvel thought it would be interesting if the Japanese offered a completely unique, free take on the X-Men series. Maybe they really thought that fans would jump and down with that graveyard full of zombies serving as one of the settings to this exciting, umpteenth X-Men experience of theirs and by experiencing gameplay out of any old - I mean ANY, and I mean OLD - Japanese side-scroller. Or maybe - and this is how I really see it - this wasn't meant to be an X-Men game at all. Just some game, perhaps just an idea of a game, that ended up an X-Men game just because the time was right. I can honestly tell you it's a lot better than the ridiculous X-Men: Mutant Academy - and just because this one scrolls to the side. But it's not good. Though it has its amusing moments.

Mutant Academy might've been a shit stain, but it looked relatively good. Mutant Wars looks like an NES game. The mostly beat 'em up-oriented gameplay inevitably reminds of me of Double Dragon, but other games that come to mind are The Battle of Olympus and some backgrounds remind me of a more refined Zelda II. (All of these games were released well over ten years before this one, by the way.) Basically, any old NES side-scroller - and when I say that, it hits me like a brick: Friday the 13th. Uggggh... now I can't get that image out of my head. The character design's bulky and rough, I have no doubt in my mind they could've made this game with the exact same quality of sprites the last game had. After all, it can't take up much capacity - the levels are copy upon paste upon copy. The music's pretty good, but there are just a couple of different tunes to accompany you on this "adventure".

Dudes, E.T.'s not here.
OK, here's the deal. The game plays out like any side-scrolling beat 'em up, but there are a few fundamental differences. Each level has a few paths with a different key item in the end, and one with a boss. The funny thing is you can go straight for the boss and duke it out with 'em until they're defeated, but you won't be able to finish the level until you've found each key item, and go back to the boss - still down on the ground just waiting for your return - for a short bit of dialogue. Enemies respawn crazier than in any game I've seen in a while, and there are these pesky flying bastards in each level who respawn immediately after death or destruction, so there's no point going after them. You just have to dodge their projectiles all the time - they're the real challenge here, besides them there's pretty much none to be had, especially if you're using Wolverine who can dropkick the shit out of every enemy on the screen at a time.

You can switch between the available X-Men - Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Gambit, Iceman - at will, but should one of them die, you automatically switch to the next one, and the dead ones are unavailable until you get your hands on a rare green orb. If they all go, there's not much need for guessing what happens next. There's a password, though, and you get one after each level - all of which last for five minutes if you're quick about it - so don't worry. There is a catch, though - Wolverine is the only really useful character in the bunch. Ironic as it is, his melee attacks work on most enemies much better than the projectiles used by every other character, just like his special attack works better than those of the others - not good, though.

I mentioned an amusing moment in this boring pile of dung, and out of respect for the franchise - which is almost gone by now - here it is. The zombies in the graveyard - again, what the hell? - have a tendency to grab your character. Usually it's by the shoulders, but since Storm is tall and hovering, they grab her boobs instead, clear as day, and that sound effect of the zombies grabbing and squeezing your character sounds like they're honking a rubber duck as it is. There, I'm amused. For the wrong reasons, but at least there's some reason.

The biggest problems with Mutant Wars are the sluggish controls and boring level design, the usual ones, plus how shoddy it looks. The idea's really not all that bad and could work for a game of a larger scale... and one that remotely felt like an X-Men game.

+ Decent music
+ Decent idea...

- ...Poor execution by ways of boring level design
- Muddy controls
- Only one useful character
- Crappy special attacks
- Doesn't feel like X-Men at all

< 4.9 >

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