Monday, July 30, 2012

Blasts From The Past: X-Men Mutant Apocalypse

A non fighting Marvel game made by Capcom?! What devilry is this!?

I must confess, I'm really not that much of an X-Men fan. In fact I downright despise several of the characters since most of them in the comics are hypocritical jerks (Cyclops) or overhyped, and immortalized by people who don't even read the comics (Wolverine). Plus there are WAY too many monthly titles involving them; to name a few we have X-Men, X-Men Legacy, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, and the list goes on! There are just too many for a comic book reader on a budget who is also already reading 11+ different titles. But I did like the X-Men Animated series back in the 90s since it was a rather well-done take on the characters (even if the voice-acting was lackluster), and I also loved most games put out by Capcom at that time, so naturally when I spotted an X-Men game made by Capcom in my local Blockbuster I just had to play it. And thankfully unlike recent X-Men games this one did not disappoint me!

Professor Xavier has learned of an island called Genosha in which captured mutants are taken to. He then sends in a team of X-Men consisting of Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Gambit, and Psylocke to liberate their captured brethren and defeat the evil metamorph Apocalypse. Like most early non-RPG SNES titles the story is fairly limited to just setting the tone for the game and doing nothing more, however this does feel like a plot from the X-Men Animated series (minus the presence of Psylocke since she was not in the series).

Art Design
The graphics are great with each background looking incredibly detailed for an SNES. The backgrounds are also decently varied, but mostly consist of factory/prison levels with the occasional outside level. The X-Men character models all look great as well, looking exactly as they did in the Animated series (except Psylocke). The boss characters also look pretty good and the game offers a nice variety of enemies consisting of turrets, various prison guards, the Brood, and even Magneto's Acolytes. Music and sound effects are decent, but rather forgettable when compared to other Capcom games;

At its base X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse is a side-scrolling beat-em-up, and if that already has you running in fear of tediousness then think again! The game offers five completely different characters to play as each taking a different approach to many levels in the game, in fact with the exception of two or three (excluding boss fight levels), the levels are different depending on which mutant you have chosen; although in the begining the game makes you play as each mutant in a multi-tiered mission, but I applaud this as it allows you to find out who your favorite character is.

As stated before each character plays very differently from one another, Cyclops is a balanced fighter, Psylocke relies on her many ninja techniques, Gambit has his card throwing, Wolverine is a fast brawler, and Beast is a powerhouse. Each character in addition to a basic combo attack has a list of special moves to be used such as Cyclops' optic blasts, Psylocke's psychic knife attack, Gambit's kinetically charaged cards, etc; all of which done with the basic Street Fighter special move commands.

Speaking of Street Fighter I do have to nitpick one thing, it seems that a lot of moves in this game were lifted from Street Fighter some in fact using the exact same animations, for example Gambit has M. Bison's scissor kick, Beast has E Honda's hip drop, Psylocke has Guile's flash-kick, etc. While this may be a homage to the series since this game is a Capcom creation as well, it just strikes me as a bit lazy in some places.

Lives in this game are divided among the different characters and are gained seperately. In the begining if one character loses all of their lives it is game-over, but after the first mission when a character loses all their lives they become unavailable for selection unless you find an extra life icon for them (which are very rare by the way). You can gain lives by finding three X icons with a single character, or by finding one of the before mentioned extra life icons which depending on the X-Man depicted on it will grant a life to that particular X-Man even if they are not the one the player is in control of at the moment.

The game supports a password system that will provide you with a sequence of characters after each stage used to skip ahead a few levels in the event of game-over or being unable to finish a playthrough. You'll probably be using this frequently since the bosses in this game are pretty nasty (especially Omega Red). While it does follow traditional attack movement recognition, it can be pretty hard to read these attacks since they don't follow a particular pattern, and often times you will take several cheap shots.

This game is definitely one of the better beat-em-ups available for the SNES due to its sheer character variety in a time when most games like it only had one or two characters. Its challenging, but relatively beatable, and has decent replay value due to the slightly different endings available for each character. Its a little hard to find though, and I wouldn't pay more that 7$ for it, but if you can find it for that price, get it! Especially if you're an X-Men fan.

A little bit cheap and difficult in some places, but a great game otherwise.

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