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X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES) artwork

X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES) review

"As true believers may be aware of already, the story of X-Men takes place in a world where certain individuals are prone to genetic mutations which grant them superhuman abilities, i.e. mutants. Naturally, this results in their becoming pariahs, which in turn leads to the more disgruntled ones occasionally deciding to take out their resentment on ordinary humanity. "

As true believers may be aware of already, the story of X-Men takes place in a world where certain individuals are prone to genetic mutations which grant them superhuman abilities, i.e. mutants. Naturally, this results in their becoming pariahs, which in turn leads to the more disgruntled ones occasionally deciding to take out their resentment on ordinary humanity.

This sets the stage for X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, where an evil mutant named Apocalypse wants to be starting something. Namely, something along the lines of gathering the strongest mutants together under his command to wage war against mankind. Not the most appealing prospect for the world, but fortunately, in times like these weíve got much friendlier mutants like the X-Men ready at a momentís notice to stop people like him.

There are five selectable characters available in Mutant Apocalypse, including four of whom youíd ever wish to control in a videogame setting: Cyclops, who blows up things with eye beams; Wolverine, the man with claws sharp enough to cut anything that gets in his way; Gambit, a guy so hot every playing card he touches will explode; Psylocke, a ninja woman with a psychic dagger and a scanty battle outfit; and Beast, whoís blue. The other X-Men are absent from this mission without explanation. Clearly, the choice of these five was based on what the programmers thought they could create believably with limited resources, rather than any sense of favoritism toward those particular characters. Yet, they perform the task of attaching the correct abilities to their respective characters well enough that players would almost forget to stop and wish that they were flying, instead. Wolverine doesnít just cut things with his adamantium claws; he can actually use to scale walls. Psylocke can literally leap into the air and break ten necks before she ever returns to the ground.

(Seriously, Beast? He ranks right above Jubilee on the list of who to send to a one-on-one battle with Apocalypse.)

Mutant Apocalypse is the type of game where you make your way across the screen, overcoming any sort of obstacle that might get in the way. Each level is constructed in a fashion to seem entirely reasonable within the confines of 16 bits, yet would signal the mark of a madman architect if translated into reality. (Standard SNES fare, really Ė the days when nobody ever worried about realistic level design.) However, all of the in-game objects and such are detailed enough that a player can easily take the abundance of bottomless pits and moving platforms in stride, even without too heavy a suspension of disbelief. None of the levels contain any inappropriately placed puzzles or demand much thinking to complete, which maintains a degree of simplicity in the gameplay. Itís somewhat refreshing, in some ways, when all thatís required of you to progress is competent handling of your player character. The gameís not exactly a cakewalk, but thereíll never be a moment where you spend hours worrying about what to do with whatís in front of you.

The game really isnít that long, but Mutant Apocalypse offers a level password system for the sake of convenience. You can use it to pick up where you left off, or select a level youíd like to revisit at a later time. The system is an appreciated effort, but the process could stand to be less cumbersome; youíll have eight slots, and to enter a password you have to select the proper portrait of a major character in the game for each of these slots. It would require maybe minute or two to record a single password if you donít have any way to abbreviate these, and thatís time better spent blasting things.

Perhaps the most admirable quality of Mutant Apocalypse would be the consistency in its desire to be nothing more than ďreally awesome.Ē The story may not incredibly epic or oozing with depth, and really only amounts to another day at the office in the lives of our heroes, but still thereís plenty of action to go around. The chance to take on bug-eyed aliens, giant robots, evil mutants, and people who just plain donít like your kind can be immensely rewarding. And the game handles superpowers perfectly; itís only slightly more difficult than the press of a button, the same way actual superpowers would be slightly more difficult to utilize than the ability to walk down the street. More importantly, they donít suffer any ill effects as a result of attempts to balance the gameplay, like suddenly becoming ineffectual in a boss battle, costing health to use, or being powered down to the point where itís practically easier to punch instead. When Cyclops uses an optic blast, odds are heíll be clearing the screen.

If Mutant Apocalypse has any one great failing, it would most likely be in the way boss battles are conducted. The bosses in this game more often than not fall into utterly predictable patterns of attack, and then itís a matter of time the boss falls with nearly pathetic ease. While itís entirely possible to ignore these patterns in order to create a more exciting battle, such a tactic would usually require an extremely high level of skill in order not to result in instant death. This phenomenon doesnít occur with every single boss battle of the game, but itís enough to dull the entertainment value of repeated playthroughs somewhat.

Mutant Apocalypse may not be remembered as one of the greater videogames in X-Men history, considering the bigger, more ambitious titles they have these days. But, if nothing else, itís just the thing for anyone out there thinking, ďHmm, I want to blast something with optic eye beams.Ē And besides, none of those hearken back to an age where superheroes wore yellow like it was cool.

disco1960's avatar
Community review by disco1960 (January 14, 2005)

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