TBT - Mutant Mayhem on the SNES - X-Men Mutant Apocalypse
On January 26, 2017, we ran a piece wherein I praised the first X-men game for the Sega Genesis. I had just played it for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed the set-up, the character selection, and overall gameplay, even if it felt impossible to beat.
In that article I referenced another cartridge featuring the beloved brawling family from Xavier’s School for Gifted Youth, a Super Nintendo cartridge entitled X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. I loved this game. The 1994 Capcom release was the second outing for the X-Men on SNES, following Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge, a title released to the console in 1992 (and no, I won’t be covering that in one of these articles). It’s amazing how much gaming can advance in 2 years (and in the hands of other creative folks).
Like most Capcom titles, the game is inventive and wonderfully rendered. The colors are vibrant and reminiscent of the X-Men animated series of the era. In many ways, the game is a straightforward top-notch side-scroller with different enemies, obstacles, and, of course, hit combinations.
What is unique about the game is the structure. Like many games of its type, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse allows players to choose from multiple characters: Psylocke, Beast, Gambit, Wolverine, and my personal favorite X-man, Cyclops. Unlike most side-scrolling brawlers, however, (including the Sega game), Mutant Apocalypse begins with a story wherein each X-man has a specific mission at a specific location, meaning that the player was required to use each of the characters for at least a portion of the game——so even if you just couldn’t stand Gambit, you were forced to use him in order to complete his piece of the puzzle.
While this may be seen as a shortcoming, I always loved it. On a subconscious level, it felt as if the levels were specific “one-shots” (a term in comics for a single self-contained issue focused on a specific character rather than a full team), and the whole of these one-shots made for not only a versatile gaming experience but an epic story. In the cutscenes prior to play, Professor X actually takes the time to break down the plan, so that the player feels that each and every level is a vital part of an integrated whole and not just a beat ‘em romp with a beloved Super Hero (though it is that, also). Plus the levels can be played in any sequence the player chooses, so you get a sense that all 5 take place concurrently (another cool aspect that gives the game a unique feel). After this initial set of 5 stages, the game includes a linear sequence before entering a similar “mission specific” final phase that I won’t spoil. Overall, the game feels like a flesh-out story featuring some of the most popular mutants in the Marvel canon; it’s almost like a digital graphic novel.
Oh, and this cart also features a fantastic soundtrack, which you’ll practically memorize given just how difficult some of the levels are and how many attempts it will take to pass them. In fact, I am pretty sure that this took me as along as an RPG to finally beat (at least, I think I beat it; I definitely remember the end boss).
As I’ve said, this game is fantastic; and like any great graphic novel, I would love to experience this epic X-Men adventure again (but since the cartridge is long gone, looks like I am off to Youtube to find a lingual vid…of course, watching just isn’t the same is it? So, perhaps I’ll take a gander at Amazon instead.)