X-Men: Mutant Academy Review

By: John Doe

The team that brought you Wu-Tang and almost brought you Thrill Kill, presents X-Men Mutant Academy. And they didn't do a bad job. X-Men may not be all that deep, but it looks like a million bucks, plays well and will surely delight fans of the X-Men. It may not impress Tekken or Virtua Fighter disciples, but this game doesn't pretend to be that. The biggest problem as I see it? 10 characters are not enough by any standards!


Like the X-Men movie, mutant lovers will be watching this game very closely to see it if does the characters justice. Now I haven't seen the movie, but I can tell you that if this game would have come out when I was a teenager or younger, I would have been out of my mind with pleasure overload. First off, the game looks great. The 3D modeled heroes and villains look magnificent. Each character has 3 costumes to choose from (comic book, movie and altered comic book - which have to be unlocked in Academy Mode) and as you would guess, they all fight using their selective powers. Wolverine has his Norse Hammer, Cyclops uses his Batarangs, Gambit changes in phone booths - Ummm, I think I screwed that all up. Anyway, you get the idea.

At the outset only 6 characters are available: Cyclops, Wolverine, Gambit, Beast, Phoenix and Storm. Four boss characters, Toad, Mystique, Sabretooth and Magneto must be unlocked by beating Arcade mode a number of 4 times (once per boss). The manual tells you jacksquat, which means each character has to visit the Danger Room in Academy Mode to learn their powers. There are a total of 6 lessons that each character (even the villains) must complete for them to graduate from Mutant Academy. Now, I've read the comics and I can tell you that these video game mutants are getting off really easy. Doing the Academy Mode lessons are extremely boring until you get to the meat: learning your Super Moves. It's a little confusing at first, especially learning to manage your Super Meters (you can transfer power between 3 power cells). It's a little awkward during battle, but can be extremely rewarding and it adds a little depth to an otherwise fairly shallow concept. Not only will you learn each characters moves in Academy Mode, but as mentioned, graduating with A's will earn you a third costume, selectable with the O button (the movie costume is activated with the Square).

As you'd guess, the usual modes are here: Arcade, Versus, Survival, the already discussed Academy Mode (which houses a training facility as well) and Cerebro Mode which manages your secrets that you've unlocked. And there is quite a bit of that. Movie bits, FMV's and new costumes can be unlocked by completing various game objectives. The only "boo hiss" is that there doesn't seem to be any hidden characters or extra stages to unlock.

Fighting game fanatics will definitely find the challenge a little watered down, thanks especially to the sheer number of throws per character. A Counter button is available and it actually works too well, once you learn the timing. Along with the Super Moves are Damage Multipliers which can be used on your second level Super. Once you activate your second level Super, directional arrows will appear on screen. If you press the corresponding directions you'll be able to cause up to 4 times damage and really chock up the hits if your opponent is defenseless at the time. The moves themselves are based on the tried and true fireball motions for the most part. There isn't any move in this game that is truly difficult to pull off, which makes it perfect for anyone to get into. Of course, don't expect Grandma to be pulling off Fireball movements right off the bat, be reasonable.

If you look at X-Men: Mutant Academy as just pure entertainment rather than the next Tekken, you'll be just fine. It's not super deep, but it plays well and looks great, plus it has all of your favorite characters in glorious 3D. I imagine the movie could be summed up a lot like that too. Enjoy!






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