GD Star Rating
The X-Men. From comic books to the big screen, these larger than life heroes have been a part of our popular culture for nearly 40 years. A band of mutants led by the pacifistic Charles Xavier (Professor X), the X-Men fight against anti-mutant hysteria and all other forms of racial prejudice.
Mutants, the next evolution of humanity, are appearing everywhere, as human beings express their latent genetic potential. These gifted beings have unique abilities, essentially superpowers, that allow them to perform astounding feats.
Although the X-Men fight prejudice and the trouble it causes, they are not alone among mutantkind. There is another team, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who seek to raise mutants above humans and usher in a new age of mutant supremacy. The Brotherhood is led by the evil Magneto, a former associate of Professor X. Like all good comic book heroes, the X-Men oppose the Brotherhood and seek to integrate mutantkind and humanity, and prevent a war between them.
Thus is the story set for X-Men: Mutant Academy, where you can play many different heroes and villains from the X-Men comic series. From Cyclops, a mutant that can project energy beams from his eyes, to Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, there are twelve different characters to play. Graduate from the Academy and you might prove your skills as an X-Man. Defeat the Brotherhood and you’ll prove your skills as a hero.
X-Men is an arcade style fighting game, straight up. The characters use a combination of keypad presses and button combinations to perform a dizzying amount of combat maneuvers. As is tradition in fighting games, each character has different ‘super’ moves they can perform, as well as three different mutant abilities.
Slow and unresponsive is the best way to describe the X-Men: MA engine. I’m used to a fighting game being flashy, neat looking, and most of all, responsive. Normally, responsiveness defines the ease of moves, performing combos, and launching special attacks. In X-Men: MA, each of these three categories are relatively difficult to learn and even harder to master. Although it isn’t the worst example I’ve seen, it still has along way to go.
On the other hand, with very few game options to worry about and a well detailed training program, X-Men: MA does have some redeeming qualities. Professor Xavier’s Academy is a detailed tutorial designed to walk you through the entire move list each character has at their disposal. While the moves themselves are challenging to perform, they are very fun to watch and some of the specials the characters use are mind-bogglingly funny.
Although the graphics for some of the characters, like Gambit, are very well done, others suffer terribly. For some reason, characters like Beast and Toad don’t translate well into the 3D engine on a PSX and look even worse in the in-game cutscenes. Combined with rough and simple looking backgrounds, X-Men suffers another hit for its video.
Audio in X-Men is faithful to the original design of each of the character and is sharply done with a very professional cut. The only problem I discovered is that the in-game speech is much more prone to skip and cut out from a dirty CD than other PSX titles, making for a minor annoyance.
If you are a hardcore X-Men fan, then Mutant Academy won’t let you down. Although it isn’t topnotch in the gameplay department, it is faithful to the design of the X-Men and is definitely a collector’s treat. For those of you who are looking for a quality fighting game that gives as good as it gets, rent this one and look elsewhere for a better one to buy.
X-Men: Mutant Academy by Activision,