X-Men Arcade Review
The release of an HD update for the classic X-Men arcade game was guaranteed to get a certain segment of the gaming press in a tizzy. Those of us born around the year 1985 have fond memories of the Konami cabinet, a staple at Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties and mini-golf lounges across the country. My friends and I still occasionally amuse ourselves by shouting the various Engrish catch-phrases, and I have a distinct memory of beating the game thanks to my Aunt Julia and her unlimited supply of quarters, which at the time seemed to me the most appealing aspect of being an adult. Now that I am (hypothetically) an adult and have access to large, but not unlimited amount of quarters, the question presents itself: is X-Men Arcade worth $9.99?
X-Men Arcade (PS3 [Reviewed], IPad, XBox360)
Developer: Backbone Entertainment / Konami
Release Date: December 14, 2010
Short answer: no. The game is exactly the kind of nostalgia cash-in you’d expect, offering an HD graphics update of the original and little else. Sure, being able to play through the game in one sitting with unlimited continues is fun for about an hour, but then what? If you think about it, having to pony up for another three lives was pretty foundational to the gameplay.
Konami made only a half-hearted attempt at offering bang for your buck. You can opt for the four-player mode, which fills less of the screen and constrains participation — for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone would want to do this. You also have the option of choosing between the Japanese and American ROM’s of the game, which at least provides a gameplay tweak: the former includes power-ups that can be snagged to replenish your health and mutant powers. These may well have been the only extras that were able to cobble together, despite a valiant effort, but that doesn’t excuse the exorbitant price point. Am I really expected to believe that this game is one-sixth as valuable as Mass Effect 2?
What little replay value the title has will likely lie in the drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, a tidy piece of game design that offers a number of easy-to-use filters for selecting the right game. Between that and automatic matchmaking, getting online and kicking Sentinel butt is nearly as easy as it was in the arcade. Initial reports of server overload seem to be exaggerated, though the framerate lags a fair amount anytime someone decides to spam their mutant power, which is often.
For aficionados, there is a robust, sortable leaderboard system which I suppose will act as the main attraction for anyone who is not either A) playing the game very soon after release or B) sober. For all its quirks, the X-Men Arcade is exactly the kind of repeatable, perfectible challenge that score-burnishers love to sink their callused thumbs into. For the rest of us, it’s an evening of retro bliss that will be quickly forgotten.
- Oodles of mid-nineties nostalgia, hilarious voice acting, shouts of “Ecksmin!”
- Decent party-gaming potential.
- Short running time
- High price
- Little value added in its new incarnation