X-Men Arcade Review
Another arcade classic has arrived on the Xbox Live Arcade in the form of X-Men Arcade from Konami and Backbone Entertainment. Allowing up to six players to fight their way through short levels for an even shorter clash with a boss battle that is packed with corny one-liners, X-Men Arcade is a fun romp.
Priced at 800 Microsoft Points, X-Men Arcade is best played cooperatively with friends and/or strangers online. Offline multiplayer supports up to four players while online is maxed out at six, so you can see why online is more favorable. Packaged into the title are both the four-player and six-player cabinets, along with the Japanese iteration that provides power-ups for health and extra mutant powers. It’s optimal to play the Japanese version for the most entertainment as the American counterpart taxes player’s health if they use their mutant powers when there are no saved abilities to use.
As a 20-30 minutes affair, X-Men Arcade hasn’t aged well, but when comparing to side-scrolling brawlers of today, it still holds up well for the genre. The combat is limited to three buttons: jumping, melee attack and mutant power. Mashing the melee attack will, at times, permit throws, but what the game ultimately boils down to is a mutant power spam session since there are unlimited continues. Every match literally turns into players abusing their mutant powers to clear the screen of enemies to speed through the levels. The boss battles offer no challenge, even on the harder difficulty. It removes extra lives, but with no gamer overs, it doesn’t matter if players continuously die. Not much of a challenge, by any means.
Fans of the original will find that the voice acting has changed from its ancestor, but it doesn’t matter too much as the team has found even cheesier voice actors to keep up the hammy dialogue. The music and sound effects are forgettable, so don’t expect next-generation values applied to X-Men Arcade.
The online code runs relatively smooth, so long as the host has a stable connection. With a 16 megabit connection, I never had problems creating matches with players joining and quitting mid-match. On the flipside, when I was the one joining matches midway through, it would sputter at times but clear up soon after. This would happen from time to time with hosts that potentially didn’t have great connections to create matches. A few of the achievements have been buggy, including never receiving my achievement for beating the game with every X-Men character after completing the requirements.
As limited as it is, it’s fantastic to see that X-Men Arcade can still provide entertainment in today’s day and age. With the death of arcades in the United States, it’s great to virtually play classics to remember how exciting the 80’s arcade explosion was. Playing through the single-player with each character, whether it is the lame Dazzler or teleporting Nightcrawler (BAMF!), X-Men Arcade has a few references to the comics, but not nearly enough. The boss battles are weak and the character choices, such as the aforementioned Dazzler or D-lister Wendigo, only show how odd the ‘80s were for Marvel.
So while the replay value is limited to a few playthroughs and easy-to-earn achievements, X-Men Arcade is an excellent recommendation for a weekend diversion with friends. Oh, and if you can’t find a friend or stranger to play with, I suggest using Colossus for a single-player runthrough to earn the achievement to complete the game in under 25 minutes.