|I wanted to like this game. I really, really wanted to like this
game. Being a GBC game my expectations werent all that high, and the sheer coolness
of having over a dozen mutants on the small screen was more than I could hope for. I
didnt need to be blown away; I just needed to be entertained. Fair graphics with
good gameplay was all I needed. Well...I guess I got my mutants, but thats all I
Try to picture yourself playing poker with a marked deck but refusing to look at the markings on the other players cards. You have to adopt that same mind set if you want to have any sort of challenge in playing this game. To win at any level you simply have to put your character into a crouch and just keep hitting the punch button until your opponent falls over. There is no incentive for learning special moves or combos; they become too much of a risk with too little payoff.
There are eleven characters with the option to unlock two more. Most of the characters were chosen based on the movie casting with the addition of Pyro, Gambit, and Apocalypse. All of the characters are easily recognizable and some of their special moves look alright on the GBC.
There are several modes of play. There is the standard story mode where you beat everyone on your team and then go about beating everybody on the opposing team. Winning all this in the Regular or Advanced mode opens up a couple of new characters to play as. There is a survival mode where you essentially play until you drop, and there is a practice mode fighting holograms in the Danger Room where you can hone what few moves your character can do. Finally there is a link mode to play any of your friends who got suckered into buying this too.
I really enjoy the 2-D fighter games; I still think Karate Champ is one of the great games of all time, but X-men was hastily put together with little or no innovation. This is another sad tale of what could have been. A lot in this game reminded me of Ready to Rumble on the Game Boy; it looked pretty, there were lots of options for configuring game play, but if you hit the buttons quickly enough you would win without much effort.
The only thing that recommends this game is the franchise. If you are a die hard fanboy and need to experience the X-men on the go then this game might placate you, but just barely. There is a link option which adds some color to the game if you can find another person willing to buy it. Essentially this game gets one star for the coolness of the X-men and another star for the link option. The graphics are passable, but without half decent gameplay you can only spend so much time oohing and aahing over the fact that the backgrounds have both day and night versions.
The GBC is a simple platform when compared to some of the consoles, but great games like Metal Gear Solid are out there. Programmers need to take the time to do things right and be willing to push back release dates. This could have been a good game notwithstanding the platforms limitations. But there was a movie coming out and a need to tie as many products as possible into that movies release. The game was rushed to coincide with the July 14th release of the movie, which makes X-Men Mutant Academy little more than a commercial: short, unsatisfying, and designed to sell product.