Monday, August 19, 2013

X-men on the Sega Genesis

Like most children in the early 90's, my brothers and I were completely caught up in X-men mania. (Something had to take the place of Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtle mania which we had just been cured of) The cartoon was on TV, the comics were getting a major push, and the giant two screen arcade game was eating our quarters.

Naturally we had most of the games for the Sega Genesis. This was one of the few times where we could all agree to pool our allowance for a common cause. Although the games had many flaws (music and sound effects, terrible level design, difficulty, plot, etc) the X-men games hold a special place in my family's collective heart.

The 1993 X-men game was the first one we purchased. We had no idea it existed until one faithful trip to the video game aisles at Toys R Us where we found X-men on sale for $20. I pulled one of those pieces of paper off the display and wandered up to customer service to claim my prize.

It was actually a pretty solid action platformer.

This game reminded me much of the first Ninja Turtles' game on the NES because you could switch between one of four characters, (Cyclopes, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Gambit) and each one had special abilities or weapons that were better suited for certain parts of the game.

There was one level, Mojo's Super Crunch, that I was rarely able to beat. There was a platformer part, early on in the level where I never figured out how to get passed it.

I had to rely on Nightcrawler teleporting through a wall. Nightcrawler's teleporting ability was random, sometimes he would slide right to the other side of the wall for me and other times he would teleport backwards, essentially forcing me to start the game over again.

My favorite game was X-men 2: The Clone Wars. This took the controller sharing / bickering over who got to play out of mix because it had co-op. Not only did it have co-op, but it did it right. You didn't share lives, started with plenty of lives, and when one player fell off the screen, they would teleport up to the other character.

This had a weird cast of characters available, just like the first game. You could pick between Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Psylocke (who was getting a big comic book push at the time) and Magneto. My brother and I loved the amount of choice, but with the cartoon being on the air, I wondered why we didn't see Storm, Rogue, Jubilee, or even Bishop?

In a way, I guess I have to give them props for including Nightcrawler and Beast, who had limited time in the cartoon, and Psylocke who had joined team Cyclops in the comic series, but never felt like a major player.

The big issue with this game is how large some of the levels are and the backtracking required. This gets especially confusing since so much of the maps have similar backgrounds. My brother and I stopped bickering over who got to play, and started arguing over which way we were supposed to go.

Finally, late in our Sega Genesis days, my brother traded Maximum Carnage for Wolverine: Adamantium Rage which turned out to be one of the biggest trade downs ever accomplished in my house.

Listen to those gorgeous opening credits. They hit that 90's extreme-ness so well.

It's a shame that the level design is so atrocious, the enemy design so uninspired, and the plot just about non-existent. I remember something about Wolverine having a photograph and wanting revenge, but I don't think it went much deeper than that.

The difficulty in Adamantium Rage was incredible as well. The only real way to beat the game was with a Game Genie or by doing what the guy in the YouTube video does and run through most of it.

I think most people can agree that X-men games have never been great. Some of the early beat-em-ups scratch that nostalgia itch, but most of the games have been digital piles of garbage. (I'm looking at you current generation Marvel games.)

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