X-Men is an example of an arcade port done right. While the original 1994 brawler is completely intact, Konami has added customizable controls, a high-res heads-up display, and a menu page that lets you choose your difficulty and starting level. The result is an arcade classic that feels like a natural fit for the iPhone.
In this game, you play as one of six members of the X-Men, a team of superhero mutants who fight on the side of good. As you try to rescue teammates and stop a robot invasion, you’ll face some evil mutants, including the Juggernaut and Magneto.
The most appealing thing about X-Men are the amazing graphics, which were great in 1994 and hold up just as well today. The look of the game perfectly matches the old animated TV show, and the game is filled with clear voice samples. Some of the dialogue is even laugh-out-loud silly, like Magneto’s line, “Welcome to Die!”
We can’t emphasize enough how much customizable controls and other bonus features (like local four-person multiplayer) add to the experience. As much as we enjoy Sega’s Streets of Rage series, the iPhone versions of those games have none of X-Men’s user-friendly additions. We wish every console or arcade port on iOS was this well thought-out.
Colossus arms himself.
Our main complaint isn’t with the way this arcade classic is handled– it’s the game itself, which can’t be changed without raising the ire of purists. The combat system in X-Men is very simplistic, and spamming the attack button is the best way to advance. In addition, throws and jumping attacks are imprecise. Streets of Rage 2 has a much better combat system, but X-Men does have gorgeous, cartoon-quality visuals.
X-Men is also an easy game to beat with unlimited continues. Your character will use up part of their health to unleash screen-clearing mutant attacks, but if you’ve always got another life, there’s no real reason to conserve them. And instead of a proper high score, the game has a kill counter that can be shared online.
X-Men is an excellent treatment of a classic arcade game, but the game itself is more of a flashy quarter-muncher than a deep adventure. It’s worth playing again, especially if you enjoyed the original in the arcades, and we’re hoping Konami continues to give these old games a quality restoration.