As many of you may or may not (shame on you!) know, X-Men Arcade released today on Xbox Live. The game hasn’t lost a thing in its transition, either. From the minute the game opens, you feel like you’re standing in front of that giant cabinet once more, ready to waste what should have been your lunch money on about an hour of gameplay. Yes, sadly, the game is still as short as it used to be. It will probably even feel shorter than you remember since a simple press of the “A” button will let you continue. Makes you wonder exactly how much time was wasted fumbling with quarters alone, doesn’t it?
The startup screen is the first thing to really snap you back into the modern age. The main menu offers many options including which version of the game you’ll play (Japanese or American), the game’s difficulty, number of players, local or online, etc. After selecting your character, you’re immediately dropped into the action as enemies flood the screen from both sides. The controls are simple: jump, attack, and mutant ability… so it’s pretty straightforward as to what you’ll be doing with your time. (Pummel the “X” button, jump a bit, get really annoyed and unload your screen-clearing mutant ability, repeat) There aren’t many achievements to be earned, but what can you really be rewarded for in a game like this, aside from level progression? The addition of Avatar Awards would have been incredibly welcome, though.
All the horrible dialogue remains, and is as clear today as we thought it was way back when. Magneto and White Queen both welcome you to die, and Pyro threatens to turn you into toast. Anyone remember the final battle? If not, you will the second Magneto opens his mouth (You’re dead! X-Chicken! …really?). Patched-together lines, horrible insults… sometimes makes you wonder why we were ever able to take this game seriously in the first place. Perhaps it was the simple joy of being surrounded by video games, lost in a world that most of us had the fortune of running to after school or on the weekends, where we could forget pretty much everything else around and focus on being a super hero, clobbering nameless thugs, and blowing stuff up all afternoon. It was a much simpler time, where new and innovative villains consisted of a palate-swap and a new, most likely cheap an annoying ability to repeat over and over while we slammed the buttons in frustration. Hours were lost to those wonderful machines, and with titles like X-Men being released, the same is bound to happen in living rooms across the world.
This game does a wonderful job at bringing the nostalgia level to an all-time high. Controls are simple, the objective is obvious, the sound and design make a nice adjustment to HD consoles without losing or gaining too much, and it’s an actual challenge at times. A challenge full of cheap enemies that knock your character to the ground as he attempts to stand up, sure… but a challenge all the same. X-Men Arcade may not be the prettiest or most innovative game available, but it’s certainly worth its 800 points, and is definately a great way for you and a few friends to kill some time pretending you are all kids again. Althought, if you’re looking for more than just a trip down memory lane, perhaps your money’s better spent elsewhere.