Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1-4 (2-6 online)|
This one’s for those old timers among us who, like myself, find themselves pining for bygone days of hanging out in dark, smoke filled arcades where there was a lot more going on than video games. While nothing can really bring those days back (for better or worse), Xbox Live Arcade is bringing a bit of a nostalgic treat our way. What, you breathlessly ask? Why, X-Men: Arcade, of course. This was one of those cheesy games that made it worth risking stepping into a seedy arcade filled with questionable clientele, day or night. For one thing, the game was huge! It took up two full sized screens, and six people could play at once.
Fast forward almost twenty years and X-Men: Arcade finally arrives for the home console. Why did it take so long, you wonder? Well, ignore the whole licensing thing, or even its unusual dual screen setup for a moment, because the simple fact is: there’s nothing to it! Without having to worry about fishing for quarters to revive the still-easily murdered titular characters every minute or so, you’ll find can beat the damn thing in 20 minutes or less, start to finish, title screens and in-game cutscenes inclusive. Seriously, we’ve played the thing several times in a row, using half the game’s available characters in the process, yet barely broke an hour…it’s that short.
The game is pretty much a straight port from the arcade cabinet (minus the nifty art they used to draw prospective victims in with). One of the few changes resides in how you can play either the US or Japanese ROM. While similar in most respects, my suggestion is to play the Japanese ROM. Not only do power-ups (in the form of both energy and mutant power pills) drop, but you actually get something of an ending. In the US version, you’re more on your own, and left hanging when the end credits roll, with the implication that there is more to do. It then, somewhat bizarrely, proceeds to drop you back into the first stage of the game so that you can play through all over again. The Japanese ROM more sensibly ends the game after the credits, returning you to the main menu instead. No idea what that little variation was about, but in both respects, you’re better off with the Japanese version. Unless you’re one of those obnoxious jingoist types who just can’t stand seeing that funny writing on the bottom of the screen every so often…in which case, I have nothing good to say to or about you anyway.
You can also choose which cabinet type you want to play under. This option allows either four or six players to play. Since the game was meant to be played with six people, the four player option just seems silly – particularly as the more squat, squared off screen doesn’t look anywhere as nice as the standard 6 player version. This brings us to a slight design flaw. The Xbox 360 only has four controllers! So to get a full six player game going, you need to get online to Xbox Live. Interestingly enough given the usual limitations of Xbox live (where 2 local players can’t play against an online player, unless ALL players have Gold accounts – an absurd scam nobody seems to be commenting on), X-Men: Arcade actually does provide you with the option to have two in person guests play alongside you and up to 3 further online gamers, with the local users piggybacking on your Gold account. Therefore, it’s possible to have six players spread across 2 machines.
That said, they’re still protecting their investment here, by playing on the anality of the geek community. Anyone without their own Gold account won’t be able to get the online achievement – only the host does. Piggybacking gamers get logged in as the host name with a number after it (i.e. “Logan’sHairyButt 2” and “3”). But for those of us not so obsessed with the inconsequentiality of getting every little piddly achievement and investing everything into our personal gamer score, this is a marked improvement over the status quo. X-Men: Arcade is one of the few (if not only) games on the Xbox 360 which allows several people to play on one console against one to 3 further players online. Similar “party” games such as You Don’t Know Jack should take notes here. Or better yet, Microsoft should just cut the crap and allow non-Gold members playing on the same console to play remote gamers online. Really, everyone in the same house needs their own damn account? Even cable TV gave that asinine money grubbing idea up back in the early 80’s…
Posted: 2012-01-15 12:22:59 PST