Bring up the X-Men Arcade game to any gamer that used to hang around arcades back in the 90’s and you’re bound to get a fond reaction. Bring it up to any gamer this day and age and you’re probably going to be met with confusion. Thankfully Konami has brought this arcade classic back for generations of gamers to experience once again or for the first time. X-Men, the seminal quarter gobbling beat ‘em up is back in picture perfect HD and, for better or worse, it hasn’t changed a bit.
Magneto, master of magnetism, is at it again. Leading an army of robotic sentinels and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, it seems like nothing can stop his plot for world domination. It’s up to the X-Men to hit them where it counts and rescue the kidnapped Professor Xavier and Kitty Pryde. Making your choice between Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus or Dazzler, you and up to five friends have to clobber your way through Magneto’s goons in a last ditch effort to “Go and save the city!”
X-Men is one of the most famous titles in a genre that is practically nonexistent these days, the arcade beat ‘em up. While games like this were a dime a dozen during the arcade heyday, X-Men stood out for some brilliant reasons. Not only was it a great implementation of the X-Men license, but also up to six people could duke it out at the same time across the cabinet’s gigantic screen. It’s here where Konami has really outdone themselves in porting this game to the PS3 and X-Box 360. Walking from left to right hammering the punch button by yourself isn’t much fun, but with five friends it’s an absolute blast. The online interaction is perfect, with a drop in/drop out function that will have six strangers working together in no time. You can even mix it up with as many players as you have locally and have the available spots filled in with players from across the globe. It works great and only in a few minor instances did connection issues pause the flow of the game.
Purists will also be thrilled to know that the conversion is 100% accurate from the original arcade version, right down to the unintentionally hilarious dialogue that seemed to be everywhere in early games. You haven’t seen fear until you’ve heard the chilling voice of Magneto stating, “X-men! Welcome to die!” Terrifying stuff, really. Unfortunately, in their slavish devotion to preservation one could argue there’s a missed opportunity to polish particular areas. It would have been wonderful to see additional characters, enemies, or even levels added to pad out the game’s thirty minute duration. However, knowing that you’re getting the Arcade perfect experience, it is comforting to realize that no risks were taken by tampering with a proven formula. The only other point of contention may be with this download title’s price. While $9.99 is certainly reasonable, some may question its short length or lack of content. Especially since CAPCOM’s own classic beat ‘em up Final Fight is available for the same price online and is positively loaded with extra features.
X-Men knows its audience pretty well and caters perfectly to those who want a throwback to their glory days as an arcade hero. The vast majority of people interested in this title won’t care that there are no superfluous features tacked on; they’ll care about the experience and the online multiplayer, which Konami has proven X-Men handles with flying colors. Whether you’re an old school gamer with a nostalgic itch or a youngster just wanting to see what all the fuss is about, you can’t do much better then X-Men.