X-Men: Days of Future Past hit cinemas in the last week, raking in the money and garnering great reviews here’s mine. Surprisingly, for a film this big with a massive hype machine behind it, there was no official videogame to try and part us from our hard-earned cash. So, if you’re in the need for a game to give you your mutant fix, we’ve got a top 5 to sort you out. The only rule is the game needs to have X-Men in the title, so Marvel Vs Capcom 2 is out, but our number five should make up for that…
X-Men Vs Street Fighter
The first official entry into the ‘Vs’ series (although its predecessor, X-Men: Children of the Atom, is Capcom’s first fighting game using Marvel characters) pits the Cyclops, Wolverine and co. against Street Fighter favourites like Zangief and Kylie Minogue (I mean, Cammy) because of… something to do with Apocalypse. The genesis of the legendary Vs games can be seen here, with colourful and crazy combat and tight controls. The tag mechanic was introduced here, allowing you to take two characters into battle for double the fun.
That is, on the arcade version anyway. The PSone port suffers from poor loading times, missing frames and the tag feature. If you can find the original arcade version somewhere, or have a way we’re not going to tell you to play the Japanese only Saturn port, then you are going to have a blast with this one. Or just play Marvel Vs Capcom. Or X-Men: Mutant Academy. Actually don’t do the last one, it was pretty lame.
X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse
Before the rivalries of iOS vs Android, Xbox vs PlayStation and Pokemon vs Digimon there was the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive if you live outside America). Each system has a competing side scrolling action platformer based on the merry Mutants and fans continue to debate which one was better.
Personally, I’ve already preferred the SNES and Mutant Apocalypse is part of that reason. Each of the five characters had their own mission to follow through as part of a bigger plan to sort out the problems in Genosha caused by Apocalypse. Except… Magneto is actually the final boss. I guess being called Mutant Mangeto doesn’t have that ring to it…
X- Men Arcade
Probably the most famous X-Men title out there, this game is all sorts of cheesy goodness. We were blessed by the game gods at Konami for giving us “Magneto, Master of Magnet” and “The White Queen welcomes you to die” in all their hammy glory. Of course, the game is (correctly) fondly remembered for its gameplay too. A recurring theme of this list is about the X-Men beating people up and for good reason: I can’t imagine a Farmville type game where Storm waters the plants and Wolverine trims the hedges would do very well.
Like the classic Turtles in Time, X-Men Arcade is about going from screen to screen clearing all your enemies out of the way with just your trusty jump and attack buttons, with the occasional (and costly) mutant power thrown in for good measure. The nineties were built on these kinds of games and X-Men is one of the standouts. The HD port for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade is well worth picking up, with drop in/out online and local multiplayer carnage. Avoid the smartphone version however, whilst it costs pennies, its tough to control and takes all the fun out of the most fun X-Men game.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Isn’t it ironic the worst X film by a mile gets the best movie tie-in by a mile? X2: Wolverine’s Revenge wasn’t bad, laying the foundations for this triumph by focusing just on the one character. Origins takes liberally (pinches everything) from God of War and to its credit, does it very, very well. This game is amusing gory, especially with the real-time healing factor system in which your skin patches itself up after being shot, sliced or burnt off. Wolverine may be a tragic character with a horrific past, but playing this game, you understand just how cool it is to cut people up with adamantium claws. Swings and roundabouts.7
So, this game loosely follows the dreadful movie plot (which means Hugh Jackman – woo!- and will.i.am -boo!- on voice duties) but throws a lot of other characters from the comics at you for good fanservice. The classic unlockable costumes are a plus too, its nice to see the movie franchise include easter eggs that link to the comics. This isn’t up there with the first two Arkham games when it comes to revolutionary solo-superhero games, but it is mighty satisfying to play through.
So, if Arcade nails the unbridled fun, and Origins gets the franchise’s most iconic character down to a T, what can top them to take the number one spot? It has to be something legendary…
It was pretty difficult choosing between this and the sequel, Rise of Apocalypse, but a few things swing it in the direction of the original. You get more characters to play in number two, but they took out my favourites, Emma Frost and Psylocke. The sequel has a lot more generic, repetitive environments, and the music is equally so. The original also has a much sleeker menu design, with a nice shade of blue and a pleasing font compared to the harsh red menus and EVERYTHING IN CAPS of the sequel. It’s a little thing, but it counts. If you’re looking for a good multiplayer experience, you should go with Rise of Apocalypse, because the hub sections are much shorter and there are no one player segments, meaning you aren’t far from jumping into action with your friends.
However, this is the main reason why I prefer the original over the second and every other X-Men game. You see, the story of X-Men Legends follows a young girl named Alison who discovers her mutant powers and gets thrown into the conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood, joining Xavier’s School for the Gifted and the superhero team as things progress. In-between missions you spend a lot of downtime in the mansion just… talking to the other X-Men and pupils. And I love that. Magma is a great audience perspective character and its fascinating to see her reactions to everything around her (it helps she’s voiced by the always excellent Cree Summer). Just being able to hang with the X-Men during down-time from world saving gives you a level of immersion into the world of these Mutant heroes not seen in any game before or since. The combat is fun but perhaps not quite as good as X-Men Arcade, and the action isn’t presented as cinematic or as well as Wolverine, but for bringing you into the world of Charles Xavier and his pupils, you can’t top this PS2/Xbox/Gamecube classic.
If you like what you’ve read and want even more of my ramblings about the X-Men, you can read my spirited defence of X-Men 3: The Last Stand right here. If you have a Top 5 to suggest, or agree/disagree with this list. Post in the comments below.
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