RETRO REBOOT - X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (SNES)

The X-Men games have been documented here on Retro Reboot, and based on most superhero video games, Marvel's Mutants have seen much better success than, say, Superman's Escapades Of LEGO Bridge Construction on the Atari 2600 (or just Super. There's the abysmal and nearly unplayable Uncanny X-Men for the NES, Wolverine's solo and self-titled NES game (that will have its day), up to the 16-bit offerings, where the quality much improves. While Sega had some pretty dope X-Men games to call its own, Capcom takes a swing at giving the metahumans a shot on the Super Nintendo to help people not drink bleach in order to forget about Arcade's Revenge in the form of X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse.

Released in 1994, reaching the peak of the system's white hot run, Mutant Apocalypse action platforming with some pretty meaty brawling. Xavier has sent the team to Genosha to rescue the kidnapped mutants who are held by Apocalypse. You can select between five members. Cyclops, Wolverine, Gambit, Psylocke, and Beast. Each character has their stage specific layouts, hazards, and several enemies and boss fights that are unique to their abilities. Cycclops' levels are pretty straightforward. Because Beast and Wolverine can climb, their respective stages scale more vertically. After clearing each set of levels, which can be played in any order (ala Mega Man), the final three stages become linear boss battles, then two boss fights in the Danger Room against Omega Red and Juggernaut. The final stage, you can only select one character, but they each have a different end stage.

As far as formatting goes, it's a pretty well thought out game that does a decent job at accommodating the approach of giving each route its own unique flavor. This was tried with the aforementioned Spider-Man/X-Men in Arcade's Revenge, and it felt too rough around the edges, on top of having a stubborn difficulty and wasn't fun enough to indulge, unless you were the hardest of the hardcore. Mutant Apocalypse plays and looks significantly better.

Speaking of looks, the graphics don't disappoint. The sprites are HUGE and lively, there's a lot of frames of animation in this game. You can tell the crew had a lot of fun with Psylocke, she has a large array of attacks and has the most detailed sprites.

If you had any friends come over who had even a mild amount of video game knowledge and saw you playing this, they'd likely say, "this is made by the people who did Mega Man X, isn't it?". Just moving ANY character around for mere seconds and looking the visuals, Mutant Apocalypse has a look that I can describe as vintage Capcom. It runs on the same engine they used for Mega Man X, the exploding debris would almost make me feel like Armor Armadillo is going to ambush me at any given moment. There's also some Street Fighter resources used for attacks lifted right from the fighting game, maybe not intentionally as Easter Eggs, but a trained eye can spot them. Not the first time Capcom has done this, and as the decades have proven, far from the last. 

The controls are very responsive and seldom does the game get bogged down. Each X-Men member has standard attacks and variations, along with several neutral and airborne specials that can be done by command inputs, ala the aforementioned Street Fighter (Cyclops' optic blast is done by quarter-circle motion down to forward, for instance). It's always unique to see a brawler game implement special attack motions, borrowing elements from its genre cousin. There's even start-up and recovery frames that leave you vulnerable, so they can free you up from danger, but can also leave you...well, free.

There is something very repetitive about the nature of this game's play style, and that's common with your typical brawler. With how much platform jumping is required, it does leave a little to be desired, compared to similar action games like Ninja Warriors, which is even more straightforward and arcadey, but feels a little more satisfying. This doesn't take anything away from Mutant Apocalypse. It's certainly entertaining and does have a pretty staunch challenge. If there's anything that bugs me, knockdowns. Getting knocked down and waiting for myself or enemies to pick themselves back up to continue their assault grinds a little more to a halt for my liking. Yeah, it's only a shade over a second, but it weighs on the patience just enough to feel like a slog. Beyond that tiny axe to grind, the action packs enough stimulating appeal to stay invested. 

This is a game that's worth ending up on a digital storefront, though at this point, the rights are so mangled (I don't think Disney and Capcom are talking to each other after Marvel vs Capcom Infinite). It's got some great music and sound effects, the X-Men and the source material (it borrows the lore of the Fox Kids Saturday morning cartoon) are well represented, has a bit of a meaty story to it, and the difficulty is no slouch. Copies still float around used resellers for reasonable prices, if you're looking for just the cart. I'd say it's just as good as the Genesis X-Men titles. Give this one a try, it's not likely to disappoint.

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