the Uncanny X-Men
Release year - USA:1989
Company: Capcom
System: nes
Genre: shooter?
Players: 1-2

Review by: PrimeOp

Magneto has gathered another Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to take over the world and it's time for Professor Xavier to send forth the Uncanny X-Men to save the day. I had just fully gotten into reading X-Men around the time this game hit. This was still that golden era of X-Men, full of twists and turns that were story-based rather than for the sake of shock value. I was looking forward to this game from the moment that I read about it in Nintendo Power and got it for a present almost right when it was released. For me, and many other video game players of this era, it was one of the first in a long line of incredibly disappointing comic-based video games.

The game's X-Men roster is Cyclops, Storm, Iceman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus. That would be a great line-up anywhere except for a top-down shoot 'em up, which is pretty much what this game is, except that the last three characters I listed can't shoot anything, forcing you to get nearly right on top of an enemy to attack it, all while enemy turrets fire bullets at you. Enemies spawn out of nowhere and respawn right after they're done exploding, even with no screen movement. There's zero recovery time after your character is hit, so a fast enemy could trap you against a wall and kill you in seconds. Even worse, some of the non-animated stage hazards won't be identifiable (like obvious lava or water) until you touch them and get the pleasure of starting that level all over again. The difficulty of the bosses is pretty much based on how rapidly they shoot their randomly aimed projectiles and their amount of hit points. Thankfully, any defeated X-Men can be recovered by fighting in the Danger Room stage. Too bad I'm not done listing what's wrong with this game.
This is probably the coolest thing in the entire game... dig the Dave Cockrum influence in the Iceman and Nightcrawler portraits! What, you don't know who Cockrum is? Sigh. TAKE YOUR FRISBEE AND GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN.

Witness the pulse-pounding excitement as the X-Men are locked in battle with... centipedes and toy tanks. Great. They've waged a war on old Atari 2600 games. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
You'll notice right away (unless you can con someone else to join in) that single-player mode forces you to take a CPU-controlled second character who just seems to have a completely random AI routine. I've seen spastic 8-year-olds wacked-out on Sugar Babies and Pixie Sticks with a better sense of battlefield tactics. It amounts to choosing a sacrificial lamb because the CPU partner usually runs against a wall, into enemies, gobbles all the power-ups right before walking right into every stage hazard and dying the death of an idiot. Not very uncanny. Meanwhile, every boss just seems to walk around in random directions and shoot projectiles in directions just as random, so difficulty only comes from a boss' rate of scattershot bullet diarrhea.

"At least my favorite characters are in it?" Well, not really. Minor mistakes, like the colors of Wolverine's uniform reversed, are probably due to limits in the single, shared sprite set for the X-Men's body (probably the only way to fit them all into RAM at once). Nightcrawler somehow has Kitty Pryde's power to walk through walls. Unfortunately, the power mix-ups continue to work against you as characters who don't normally have projectile attacks, because this game doesn't really like you very much, does it? The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is barely even that, as two of its members aren't even mutants. Juggernaut is enough of an X-Men foe to pass, but how did Boomerang get in? He's a gimmick weapon villain who fought nearly every Marvel hero except the X-Men. At least Magneto's boss fight is irritating enough to make him an actual a-hole, keeping him completely within character.
Since when did the Juggernaut have the power to throw fire at people? Man, that whole 'screw continuity' policy may have been inspired by this game.

Fans thought they'd be able to relive a classic confrontation in the Mighty Marvel Manner ... a senses-shattering chapter in the never-ending saga between the students of Xavier and the minions of Magneto where the very fate of the free world hangs in the balance!! Instead of that, we got a game chock full of short, chunky characters and shoddy gameplay. I remember reading (maybe in Nintendo Power) that the game's release was pushed back for improvements, so we may have been given an unfinished game. This game stands as a shining example of how companies knew comic fans would buy a game no matter how bad it looked as long as their favorite characters were in it. Then again, you can say the same for comic books themselves, so we comic fans prett much asked for it. This game taught me that and I thank LJN/Acclaim for this. Buy this game only if you're trying to collect every X-Men game ever.

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