Wednesday, May 18, 2011

X-men Marathon: X-men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES)

This is the second of the two X-men games that were made for the SNES. It was made by Capcom rather than LJN, but don't let that fool you into thinking that means this one will be much better. The opening titles look promising, as they give us a quick, accurate introduction into who the X-men are before explaining that there is an island called Genosha on which mutants are enslaved. They also hint that Apocalypse has some secret plans for the mutants enslaved there.

While we rented this game a few times as a kid, I have very few memories of it. So playing this game again for this review I may as well be going into it blind.

There are two modes to choose from - Mission Mode and Training Mode. Mission Mode contains the story, and each character is given two lives each. For training mode the story is omitted, but each character now has three lives. Now, you might think these multiple lives mean you get to try at least twice with each character before game over. You would be wrong. Once any character runs out of lives, you face the game over screen.

The characters in this game are Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, Beast and Psylocke. They are each given missions that are logical for their talents - Wolverine is sent to destroy sentinels, Beast is hacking into the island's computer systems, Gambit is sneaking into a military base, etc. I chose Wolverine's level first, since it was the first the Professor mentioned. Despite the fact that I'm supposed to be destroying robots, I was faced with a large number of human henchmen that I began to tear through with my claws (without any blood being visible). His claws are not retractable in this game. From what I can tell of the controls, there is an attack button and a jump button, and if you use the L or R buttons you can climb walls. The controls are very sensitive and the stage is essentially a really unfair beat em up with occasional wall scaling.

Next up I tried Gambit. It starts off pretty neat, as we see a charged card float to the ground and knock out two soldiers before Gambit arrives on the scene. After that, it's very similar to Wolverine's stage. Gambit mostly fights with his bo staff, though he did occasionally throw out a card as I mashed the buttons. The strangest thing about Gambit is that when he is at rest, he stands facing the camera looking off to the right, and his chest literally heaves.

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I remember from back when we used to rent this game that I dubbed Psylocke "thunder thighs." That's not entirely fair. but she is built like a very muscular man with boobs. She fights using her ninja skills apparently, as I never saw any evidence of a psychic knife.

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You would think Cyclops would definitely get to use his optic blasts, but no, once again, I was punch and kicking. This time it seemed exceptionally bad, as he's a bit taller than the others (except for maybe Gambit) and has virtually no reach at all. Beast has the ability to walk on the ceiling. Otherwise, it's basically the same old thing. So despite their claims that each X-man has a unique mission, it's all just side scrolling beat em up action. The platforming here is really weak and the AI of the enemies is just unfair.

After my initial attempt to play, I consulted gamefaqs.com, and discovered that apparently each character can do special moves, like a fighting game. As much as I love fighting games, I am pretty terrible at pulling off complex special moves. Most of the moves in this game seem to be variants of the Street Fighter haduken (rolling from down to front or vice versa, then hitting attack) or tapping a direction twice then hitting attack. With this knowledge I was able to beat Gambit's stage since he's of the tap twice variety. I could not get Cyclops to shoot beams at all, and the same goes for Psylocke's psychic knife attack. Both Wolverine and Beast have the same special move as Gambit, but I didn't have the same success with them. Capcom has made quite a few fighting games featuring X-men characters, so they were using a similar idea here in terms of the controls. I imagine it will not shock you to find out I am terrible at those games too.

There are six more stages after these initial five. Now you get to choose between whichever X-man you want to play. In the Genoshan Forest you fight the brood while heading down, down, down until you reach the queen, who is practically impossible. I got pissed off before I managed to beat her. I looked at a walkthrough for the next stage and here's what it said for the final boss: "To beat Tusk, stick to one side of the screen and just use whatever attack you're most comfortable with. You'll end up getting hit a few times and there's not really anything you can do about it, but the elevator in the middle of the screen is frustrating and you don't want to have to constantly worry about it." So basically, even someone who knows how to beat this game thinks it is ridiculously unfair.

The next stage is similar to the Gambit stage in Spider-man and the X-men in that there is lava chasing after you at all times. At the end of it you fight Apocalypse, making you think you've reached the end, but then Magneto decides he wants to get revenge on the Genoshan government for their treatment to mutants. From there, according to the walkthrough, you basically just fight one boss after another until you get to Magneto. The bosses include Omega Red, Juggernaut, and Exodus. Obviously, I did not attempt to play any of this. My tolerance of bad games with horrible controls only lasts so long.

I think after the difficulty of Spider-man and the X-men, I had the sense to not outright purchase this one when it came out. Looking back now, that was a very good decision. This game is pretty terrible. Maybe someone who is very good at side scrolling beat em ups and fighting game special moves could get some enjoyment out of it, but for the rest of us, just let it rest in peace.

Fortunately, not every X-men game ever made is a clunker. Tomorrow I will talk about one of the good ones.

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