X-Men (1990) by LJN/Acclaim
System:NES
Game Type: Top-down shooter/action
Players: 1-2

Review by PrimeOp

I remember that I was just really getting into the X-Men around the time that this came out. It was still the first golden era of Chris Claremont writing and the X-Men still had twists and turns a-plenty 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 it was bought for me 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.

Magneto has gathered another Brotherhood of Evil to take over the world and only the X-Men can stop them again. The group of X-Men here includes Cyclops (in his classic remix of the school uniform), Wolverine (in the brown and orange outfit), Nightcrawler (in his original Dave Cockrum outfit), Colossus, Storm (in punk rock mode) and Iceman (who hadn't been an X-Man for quite a while, but it was great to see him back in the group here). What should've followed was 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 that the game's release was pushed back, so we may have been given an unfinished game. With some finishing touches, the programmers may have been able to salvage this game. Unfortunately, we got a game riddled with cheap hits. If you're one of those people who equate crappy gameplay as a challenge, then this game is for you!
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. Young X-fans: the ruin of the industry.
The first thing that you'll notice is that 1-player mode forces you to take a CPU-controlled 2nd player 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 usually keeps running against a wall, into enemies, takes your power-ups and eventually dies in a trap. In other words, you're not picking a partner but a sacrificial lamb. Some basic enemies emerge from the ground without warning and right in front of you, which causes you to take cheap, unavoidable damage. There's zero recovery time after each hit, so one charging enemy could kill you within seconds. Even worse, there are parts of the floor on many stages that cause damage to your character without looking any kind of hazard (like lava, acid, normal tap water, etc.). You'll figure out that these things can hurt you once your character is dead and you get the pleasure of playing that level all over again. Oh, and you have to pause the game to look at your life bar. That way, you can't fully appreciate how the cheap hits take their toll. Finally, the difficulty of the bosses is pretty much based on no pattern at all but how they shoot their randomly-aimed projectiles and their amount of hit points. More on that later in the review...
Withness 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.
Lets talk about the inaccuracies in the game, shall we? Alright. There are minor mistakes like how Wolverine has his uniform colors reversed. Minor thing, really. More distressing is how Storm has the same body shape as the male characters of the game. Then again, every playable character in this game has nearly the same body. Still, boo that, I sez. Then there are the certain characters who don't have any 'projectile' powers in the comics (like the Juggernaut) suddenly have the ability to throw... stuff. Juggernaut looks as if he's throwing fire, but that's Pyro's gig, man. C'mon, people. Basically, every boss just walks around random directions and shoots stuff in random directions. The strategy to beating them mostly involves dodging projectiles and trying not to think about how idiotic the game really is. Of course, the biggest offender of this the final boss Magneto, who shoots the fastest random projectiles and can easily trap you in a corner. In what is probably the most glaring mistake of the entire game, Nightcrawler has Kitty Pryde's power to walk through walls. Seriously. Nightcrawler's famous ability to teleport is gone and has been replaced by Kitty Pryde's ability to become intangible. The sad thing is that this game had it's release date pushed back, so there may have been some behind-the-scenes events that never allowed the team to fix all the mistakes here. I'm only guessing that since that's how several other games seem to go bad.
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.

This game stands as a shining example of how companies know comic fans will buy a game no matter how sucky it looks. Then again, you can say the same for the comic books. So, you know, we comic fans seem to be asking 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. Gameplay 2
Graphics 3
Sound 4
Control 3
Overall 3

the X-Men, Cyclops, Wolverine, Iceman, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Magneto, the Juggernaut and all other related characters © Marvel comics

Return to Reviews Return to Main Menu

Return to top of the top of the page