It’s X-Men week here at BagoGames in honor of the new film X-Men: Apocalypse, which opened this past weekend to the tune of $80M. On Wednesday, we aired the Film Fallout Podcast episode on the new film, which you can listen to HERE. Yesterday, we posted Dylan’s review of X-Men: Apocalypse, which you can read HERE. And today we give you a special sneak peek at our upcoming Retro Review Friday series with a look back at X-Men on the Sega Genesis. Thanks for joining us this week for all of our X-Men coverage, and be sure to watch for the official start of Retro Review Fridays in July!
The ’90s were a great time to be a comic book fan, and they were an even better time to be an X-Men fan. Marvel was smart enough to start up a whole new X-Men series just to showcase the amazing writing of Chris Claremont and the stunning artwork of Jim Lee. I’ve been collecting since 1988, so sometimes I don’t remember certain things until I see an old comic, an old picture or, in this case, Jim Lee’s Magneto digitized on the Sega Genesis. Seeing that opening graphic really opened the floodgates for me. I remember being able to wait in line at my comic book store in California and having Jim Lee sign all of the variant covers that the first issue had. I actually had to put my controller down for a minute just to absorb all that I remembered from that one image. It is truly amazing what can be triggered when we see something favorable from our past.
Let’s talk about the game.
Unlike the new movie which just released nationwide this past week, the baddie in this game is the X-Men’s old arch-nemesis Magneto and he plans on taking care of those pesky, good-natured Mutants this time around. Magneto infects the Danger Room with a virus that disables the controls and safety limits of the room. The X-Men must battle their way through various Danger Room scenarios until they find a way to quell the virus and fight Magneto. I was able to visit the Savage Land with Wolverine, Gambit, Cyclops and Nightcrawler, all of which are drawn in Jim Lee’s style. The most glaring indicator of Lee’s work is Cyclops’ new headgear that Jim Lee introduced in the early 90’s.
The controls are simple, but surprisingly complex for a Sega Genesis game. Let us start with the simple controls first. A is mutant power — when you press it while playing as Wolverine, his claws pop out. While punching and jumping with Wolverine, your mutant meter slowly diminishes. This is the same for the other three mutants as well: Gambit throws his playing card, Cyclops uses his eye beams, and Nightcrawler uses his teleportation to set off a sulfur bomb to damage enemies. Keep an eye on your Mutant meter though — Jean Grey swoops in and saves you when you fall, but she won’t if you are out of Mutant juice. B is punch and C is jump. Pretty basic controls. What makes the controls interesting is that when you hit the “start” button, you are sent to a menu where you can change you primary X-Man or you can call in a secondary X-Man for a special move. Storm, Angel, Ice-man and Rogue are your backup X-Men that have special moves so you can defeat the bosses easier. Use them wisely though, as sometimes you don’t get to call in all four on certain levels.
The game is pretty short, which saddens me. I miss these old beat-em up side-scrollers; we just don’t get as many as we use to. Sega really nailed the character models for this game. You never have to guess which X-Man you are or which evil Mutant you are fighting, unless you’ve never read the comic books. Level design is a little lacking as you have to hunt in the level to push a switch or pull a lever to open the path to boss. Sega made some of the levels difficult to navigate. There were caves in the Savage Land that I passed over due to the fact that I thought it was just part of the background. The music is okay. There’s nothing really all that great coming out of this cartridge music-wise. I actually played the game with the volume turned down a bit just due to how screechy the music was. I wish they had included the X-Men Animated Series theme song into this game, but then this game would have been a bit much to handle.
Solid X-Men and comic book fans should pick up this title. It is a solid brawler that you can play with a friend if you have one. I never got to play it when I younger just due to the fact I had no Genesis, and I wouldn’t have played it at all had my buddy not given me his copy. This game is worth having on your shelf. I regret not adding it to my collection sooner, but I’m glad it is there now. Any time I need a flash back to the early ’90s, all I have to do is pop this into my Genesis and wax nostalgic.
This review is part of the Retro Review Friday series, where we take a look back at a different classic game every week. This series officially begins in July.