|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: BackBone Entertainment/Konami|
|Release: December 14, 2010|
|Players: 1-4 (local) 2-6 (online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Fantasy Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
X-Men: The Arcade Game isn't exactly on the shortlist of the greatest coin-op arcade games of all time. However, it was definitely a staple in most modern arcades during the mid-nineties, and most people I know who frequented arcades during this period have some recollection of this game. With plenty of fun co-op levels, a ridiculously simple story (even by X-Men standards), and bright pixel-based visuals, X-Men was certainly one of the games that epitomized the arcade experience in its waning years.
Though the game was certainly fun (and I wasted more than a few quarters on it when I was a young arcade-going girl), I never really thought about X-Men after all the arcades vanished. The game was just one of those titles that, while fun, wasn't all that memorable. And for better or for worse, that's pretty much how I feel about the re-release of X-Men Arcade. Though there is plenty of fun to be had with this title, if you are looking for something other than a quick hit of nostalgia, you'll likely be disappointed.
The preserved arcade format is certainly fun, but the biggest complaint I have with X-Men Arcade is its lack of new content. Though the original material from the arcade game is itself enough for retro fans, it would have been nice if some bonus levels or unlockable characters were included (a la Castlevania: Harmony of Despair) to keep players engrossed in the game for more than thirty minutes at a time. As it is, those who only have a passing interesting in either the X-Men franchise or old-school arcade games will probably only play this game through once or twice, as there is nothing to really "do" in the game if you don't like beating the same old bosses over and over again.
This issue is exacerbated by the game's extremely short playtime. Playing the game co-op with friends is fun, but you can expect to blast through the entire game in an hour or less. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if you like the arcade format, but if you are expecting some deep or great adventure, you'll be disappointed with this title's offerings. The game's playtime is a little longer if you decide to go for it solo, but the game doesn't really give you any incentive to do so.
Visually, the game doesn't impress either. The game's look has remained essentially unchanged since the 1990's, which is good if you can't get enough of simple pixel-based animations, but it would have been nice if they could have given the game a bit of an HD makeover and given characters and environments an extra splash of detail. The only component of the visuals that has been changed is the character boxes, which now have a nice silvery shine to them. Oh, and there are also some new menu screens, but those are hardly of any consequence.
Much like the visuals, the audio hasn't changed since the game's original arcade days, which means you'll be getting a ton of repetitive arcade-style music and some really horrible voiceovers. Of course, if you're like me, the awful voiceover does have a certain charm to it, but I'm assuming I'm probably in the minority with that one.
X-Men Arcade is a great game if you are looking to fill a nostalgic gap in your arcade library. It's a fun throwback to the days when co-op beat-em-ups brought friends together and drained pockets heavy with quarters. However, if you have never played it before, your mileage may vary quite considerably, as the game has not aged well. By today's standards, the design is archaic, the gameplay is repetitive, and the sound is terrible. However, X-Men Arcade does make for a fun online experience, and if you are willing to forgive some of its technical flaws in the name of retro glory, what you'll find is a worthwhile, if ultimately too brief, experience.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer