“Welcome to die!” The original X-Men arcade game did quite well for its run, mainly due to its oversized six player cabinets and its relentless, entertaining action. It was well worth plunking quarters into, back in the day. Now it’s enjoying a bit of a resurgence, between re-releases on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and now, the iPad and iPhone. Believe it or not, the mobile version of X-Men fares pretty well, despite a few limitations.
The game lets you choose from one of six playable characters—Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Wolverine, Dazzler (?), Storm and Colossus—as they set out to stop Magneto and fellow members of the Brotherhood from unleashing chaos across the world. The action consists of basic beat-em-up action, but it works fundamentally well, as you pound enemies with jump attacks, ground combos, throws, and when you’ve got the proper charge, super attacks. Our favorite of the bunch is Wolverine’s “laser claw”, which wipes out anyone in its path.
One thing you’ll need to get used to, however, is using touch controls. X-Men: The Arcade Game requires you to use an on-screen movement cursor and buttons to execute moves. It operates quite well, but every once in a while, it’s pretty easy to miss hitting a button when you’re trying to concentrate on what’s happening on-screen. We prefer a control knob and physical buttons to tap, but these are serviceable enough.
You can go through the game on your own, or join in with up to three of your friends in multiplayer. We were wondering why Konami didn’t up the count to six (like the arcade game and the downloadable versions on consoles), but then it was pretty easy to see—it runs slowly enough with just four players going at it. Still, it’s nice to have, especially if you’ve got some fellow arcade nuts with iPads and iPhones to play with.
X-Men: The Arcade Game retains a classic look and sound, just like the arcade game. You can view the action in either 4:3 ratio or widescreen. Both operate moderately, though we prefer the 4:3 so you can get a better look at enemies and the surrounding terrain. The animation is very good, even for a decade-plus old game—especially Wolverine, with his bulky, hairy arms and carefree, enemy-throwing style. As for the in-game music, it’s very good, typical arcade stuff that fits in with each stage. That being said, the villain comments are hilarious, especially “Nothing moves the Blob!” and the aforementioned Magneto line above.
X-Men won’t win any awards for iPad/iPhone innovation, and the game comes up short compared to the much more entertaining Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. However, for a mere $2.99, this arcade game is well worth owning, and the next best thing to hunting down a six-player cabinet in a local mom and pop shop. Just think, you can save your quarters for important things—like Cheetos!