Most arcade ports to home consoles are lazy and X-Men Arcade is no exception. There are no sweeping changes – the original 1992 arcade version of the game is presented in full glory. The gameplay remains unchanged and there was no graphical overhaul. Even with the inclusion the Japanese version and adjustable difficulty levels, X-Men Arcade is just the same as it was back in the day, sans quarters and credits. And you know what? I’m fine with that.
It certainly would have been nice to have seen an updated mode that featured crisper graphics, modern character designs, hell, maybe even a block button. But I’ve spent hours playing this game both online and off to be too disappointed with what wasn’t included. X-Men Arcade is a perfect port of the classic arcade game. Players once again take control of Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Dazzler (complete in her sexy blue leotard) as they attempt to stop another of Magneto’s sinister plots.
Players smash on Sentinels, dinosaurs and robotic bees across eight short-but-sweet levels as they work their way toward the final confrontation. Along the way, you’ll do battle against nemeses like Mystique and Juggernaut, as well as others that might not roll of the tongue of more recent arrivals to the X-Men franchise. The whole affair can be finished in 20 minutes, but multiple playthroughs with all of the characters are definitely worth your time (and good for your gamer score).
Without the limitation of quarters in your pocket, the game quickly devolves into mashing on the attack buttons and spamming superpowers with little consideration of vitality. I worried at first that I was alone in employing this strategy, but this seemed to be the tactic of choice when I joined five others online. It’s kind of empowering, really: after years of having our quarters sapped from us, we have finally have gained the ultimate advantage over the Sentinels.
The online play is really where the game shines and the value comes out. Though not quite as awesome as sitting on a six-stick arcade unit and mashing it out with your friends, it’s about the closest you can get and it’s probably cheaper. The game runs nearly flawlessly, though with all of the power spamming that goes on, I found it difficult at times to keep track of where I was in the fracas. A patch could easily address this.
Without a death penalty, X-Men Arcade is a very different game than it was when originally released. That said, it’s also very true to its roots, maintaining, perhaps with fault, the look and feel of the original. Even still, X-Men Arcade is an enjoyable diversion that you’ll likely play for hours, particularly if you have Xbox Live or a couple of extra controllers for your friends to join in.