Let me tell you one thing, and I’m being completely honest.
X-Men, the 1992 arcade game, is incredible. Despite what I may say in the rest of this post, the game is fucking incredible – and I try not to drop the f-bomb around here unless I’m really serious about something. It’s my favorite X-Men game ever and I hope to one day own a copy of the 6-man cabinet.
There. Now that we’re clear on that point – this game is a crazy hot load of mess. But it’s the quirky kind of arcade mess that you likely never noticed in your youth, or simply didn’t care about. Like where Shredder banished the Ninja Turtles into prehistoric times in Turtles in Time, yet still sent Foot Soldiers after them.
X-Men is an entire game of sending Foot Soldiers into the prehistoric past to defeat your enemies whom you’ve already defeated.
But let’s not dwell on the negative. There’s a lot of positive to this game.’
The game is based on the 1989 cartoon “Pryde of the X-Men” which was intended to be a pilot for an X-Men animated series. When the X-Men were at the forefront of the comics boom in the early 90’s, an arcade game was to be created and that was the available source. Had they just waited a little longer, perhaps this game could have been starring the 1992 animated series cast, with Rogue in place of Colossus, Gambit in place of Dazzler and Beast in place of Nightcrawler.
In fact, modders out there, GET ON THAT.
And the game stays very close to its source. The cartoon’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Magneto, Pyro, Blob, Emma Frost, and Juggernaut) with only Toad missing. In his place are the additions of Mystique, Master Mold and Wendigo. Well, at least one of those makes sense. In fact, this game might be the first team-up of Magneto and Mystique, which has become THE thing ever since the first X-Men movie put them together in 2000.
Rounding out the cast are Professor X and Kitty Pryde, who themselves spend the entire game as damsels in distress waiting to be rescued.
As the game’s opening sequence explains, in the “21st century” Magneto and his Brotherhood, using an army of easily-destroyable Sentinels, unleashes an attack on humanity, and only the X-Men can stop them. You, the players, are the X-Men, so you better get to work. The first two stages are an attack on the Sentinel processing plant, with only Pyro and the Blob left guarding.
Now I’ll stop for a second. Why, you ask, is Magneto using Sentinels when they themselves are mutant-hunting robots? Well, as we’ve seen by the likes of Onslaught and Ultimate Magneto, Sentinels are easily reprogrammed, so I’m going to allow this not as a design flaw, but rather a clever plot point demonstrating Magneto’s might.
It’s my blog. Shut up.
So bam, boom, into the factory, and suddenly a song so awful starts playing, it must be heard to be believed.
So you beat Blob, wreck up the Sentinel factory, and suddenly you get a telepathic “X-Men, X-Men!” from Professor X telling you that he and Kitty have been kidnapped by Magneto. And you have to hand it to Mags on this one. He used himself and Juggernaut, both wearing telepathic-proof helmets, to get the cripple and the little girl.
That’s good thinking. Professor X tells the X-Men that they’ve been taken to Magneto’s hilariously named ‘Island M’ which I am assuming stands for Island Magneto.
Sure, laugh, but you wish YOU had an evil island lair complete with skulls that shoot bees.
Not long into the X-Men’s jungle foray, they come across Magneto himself, who utters quite possibly my favorite line in all of video games.
And then he makes you fight Wendigo. Why Wendigo, you ask? On this one I have absolutely no clue whatsoever. Wendigo is an obscure Hulk villain whom he happened to be fighting when a little guy named Wolverine made his first appearance. In the X-Men books, Wendigo only made one appearance in a Claremont/Byrne story in which Wolverine returned to Alpha Flight to settle his status with the Canadian government. But at least the game designers had the good sense to limit Wendigo’s dialogue to screaming “WENDIGO!” which is the only thing the character ever said.
Monster defeated, Professor X pops up and instructs you to go rescue Kitty from the cave. Because the cave is where Kitty is. Onward!
It is within this cave that the X-Men come upon Magneto’s most diabolical construction yet: the giant bat robot that spits out smaller bats!
And do you know why this is Magneto’s most diabolical creation? Because bats are freakin’ scary, especially in caves. Don’t believe me?
But the X-Men can persevere and thus make it through the metallic cave of Island M just in time to find Kitty Pryde in a holding thingy, being guarded by Master Mold.
Master Mold’s appearance as a member of Magneto’s crew is pretty bad, since his entire existence is based upon wiping out mutants, but we’re going to let it go back to the whole “reprogram” thing and agree that if Magneto has an army of Sentinels, chances are that he has a Master Mold. The real question is why is he so small here?
Actually, it doesn’t really matter. The X-Men blow him up and save Kitty, who helpfully instructs them to go save the Professor.
So further around the island you go, this time stumbling upon the White Queen, Emma Frost. This is a prime example of lumping every available villain into one “Legion of Doom” villain team, but in fairness, she was in the cartoon. But Emma doesn’t even fill the role of actual boss here, but rather mini boss that is easily dispatched.
The stage continues past Emma’s less-than-graceful defeat onto a giant Sentinel that spits out randomly colored versions of Bonebreaker from the Reavers.
As far as forgettable villains go, the Reavers are definitely up there, but for those of us who have a strangely strong memory of all things X, we recall Bonebreaker as the one who had tank treads instead of legs. I’m pretty sure they even made a toy of him for whatever reason. The giant sentinel simply lumbers away once it has regurgitated the entire armada, but he’ll be back when the X-Men need a means to find Asteroid M. Oh, SPOILER ALERT. My bad.
The stage ends with Juggernaut, complete with giant bazooka. Seriously. The unstoppable Juggernaut is, for whatever reason, carrying a giant gun.
But despite the ridiculous artillery, the fight is actually pretty true to the comics. Juggs still charges shoulder-first into his enemies and once enough damage is done his helmet flies off revealing his Cain Marko mug within. It’s a nice touch. But finally, Juggernaut is defeated and the X-Men win and Professor X is saved.
And then he stands up.
The X-Men fall for a gotcha moment and get tossed down into the depths of Island M, care of Mystique. And oh, how she laughs at your foolishness.
So more punching Sentinels and even some Pyro clones before finally you come to the final bosses of Island M, three Egyptian statues.
Now I have no idea why these three Egyptian statues are boss fights in this game. Maybe it’s an Apocalypse thing? Maybe I’m grasping for straws here? Whatever. Beat them up, win, Professor X gives another “X-Men! X-Men!” shout. This time he’s been taken to Magneto’s orbiting asteroid base and he needs the X-Men to save him. So they fly their apparently space-worthy Blackbird into space, following the giant Sentinel for the final battle.
And thus we have the final level in which the X-Men walk on the surface of an asteroid to save their mentor.
The entire Brotherhood shows back up for another round, save for Pyro who was cloned about eight times in the previous stage. Once all the bosses are once again defeated, the X-Men find Professor X stored in a little tube and fight Magneto. But strangely enough, Magneto is not using his powers in the fight! Once defeated, Magneto is revealed to be Mystique, which Professor X explains, even using the word “Alas” in an arcade game, which just has to be applauded.
So finally, the X-Men walk into the next room and there is Magneto, Master of Magnet.
No, seriously. He says “I am Magneto, master of magnet!” before he starts fighting. I’m not kidding. Here, I’ll give you a video clip of the fight.
During the fight, Magneto also gives helpful tidbits like “Kill you!”, “You are dead!”, “X-Chicken!”, and even “Shield!” when he tosses up his magnetic bubble. But determination leads to victory and the X-Men defeat Magneto, blow up Asteroid M, and save the world. The credits roll and then the game starts again.
This is a game that is stupid awesome. It’s ridiculous, silly and just dumb fun. It has a ton of neat little quirks – like Nightcrawler jumping on a downed foe – for fans to marvel at while they’re jamming buttons and demolishing baddies. This game is the perfect example of an arcade brawler – fun, balanced, and large enough to let six people play.
X-Men the Arcade Game is a fantastic game, and quite possibly the best X-Men game ever. If you have a PlayStation 3 or X-Box 360, you need to go online and download the game right now. It will be the best ten bucks you ever spent.