Yesterday, I was quite excited to see Konami release an iOS version of their classic arcade beat ‘em up X-Men [$2.99], and I quickly downloaded the title as soon as it hit the US App Store. The good news is that this is a totally competent port of X-Men that’s just how your remember it from 1992, and it plays just fine using virtual controls. The bad news is that once the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia wear off, X-Men is a simplistic and repetitive game at its core compared to modern offerings.That doesn’t mean it isn’t any fun though, and it’s still a total blast to kick the snot out of legions of Magneto’s henchmen using your favorite X-man or woman.

X-Men was always at its best played cooperatively with friends, with the pinnacle being the dual-screen arcade cabinet that allowed for all 6 players to play together simultaneously. This feature has been faithfully retained in the iOS version thanks to local WiFi cooperative play. I don’t have enough devices to confirm whether you can play with all 6 players at once or not, but I did play through a 3 player game using an iPad 2, iPhone 4, and iPod touch. The connection was both easy to set up and reliable throughout the game, and cooperative multiplayer in X-Men is just as much fun as I remember it being.

Unfortunately, the solo gameplay doesn’t hold up quite as well. Since continuing from exactly where you end up dying is both unlimited and doesn’t cost any quarters, almost all of the risk or challenge is taken out of the game. It’s easy to just mindlessly mash through the game, continuing as much as you need until it’s all over. Sure, you can challenge yourself by restricting your own use of the continue option, but a more structured set of rules or goals would have been a nice addition. The inclusion of Game Center achievements and a leaderboard mitigates this somewhat.

Besides unlimited continues taking some of the fun out of the game, the actual brawler-style gameplay hasn’t aged so well either. Your offensive move set is extremely shallow, and X-Men doesn’t strive to be anything more than a mindless button-masher. The problem is that the visceral feel of physically mashing away at buttons on an arcade cabinet doesn’t translate so well to the flat surface of a touch screen.

One nice addition to the iOS version of X-Men is the ability to move the onscreen virtual controls wherever you like, though I wish I could adjust the opacity of them as well. It’s a universal game, and plays well on both the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. There is the option to play the game in a cropped window that retains the original 4:3 aspect ratio of the arcade game, or a “16:9” option that fills out the entire screen of whichever device you’re using. I tend to go with the smaller window option as it retains the crispness of the pixel graphics, but it’s nice to have the option of full screen too.

If you were a fan of the X-Men game in arcades nearly two decades ago, then you should easily get your three dollars-worth out of the iOS version just on the nostalgia factor alone. If you aren’t familiar with the original game but enjoy a good arcade beat ‘em up, then X-Men should still do the trick, it’s just not the best the genre has to offer. The gameplay feels quite dated by today’s standards, though it’s not without its charms. If you have one or more iOS device-toting buddies with you, the experience improves dramatically in cooperative play.

I’m really happy that Konami decided to bring one of its classic arcade titles to the App Store, as are a ton of players in our forums, and I really hope that we continue to see more down the line. While the gameplay hasn’t aged so well and there isn’t an excessive amount of bells and whistles, the iOS X-Men is a totally decent conversion and an easy recommendation for fans of the original.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Klouud

    A nice feature would be online co-op.  I think a problem that many of us iOS gamers have is the lack of friends/family that also game on their iOS devices.  An online co-op option via Wifi and/or 3G would make this game a grand slam!

    • Royce

      I would pay way more than this game's price for an online multiplayer version, but despite the nostalgia and cheap price, I'm not getting this. Coop is what made this a great arcade game, and without that, it's just a fairly bland beat em up.

    • Wat

      really? you dont have friends with ipods?

  • Anonymous

    "Since continuing from exactly where you end up dying is both unlimited and doesn’t cost any quarters, almost all of the risk or challenge is taken out of the game."

    An in-app-purchase of $0.25 to continue would have been a riot. ;-D

    Funny and ironic how we jammed those boxes full of quarters so many years ago and today the same people will quibble a finger's pinch of those quarters now to own some games.

    • Klouud

      Personally, I like that there are infinite continues... games like this are HARD if you play alone.

    • Mike

      It's the classic arcade experience, really. The elaborate cabinets and the machines warrant a quarter per play. It's really not ironic at all if you really think about it, these developers port arcade games on the cheap with outsourced labor, and then distribute for free. I ain't payin' any more than the effort deserves.

      • Anonymous

        Bah! Nostalgia's for suckahs.

    • Adams Immersive

      And those quarters used to be worth more! 5 quarters in 1992 was the same as 2 bucks today.

  • Anonymous

    This NEEDS iCade support!!!

    • Royce

      Wouldn't that require a new iCade that could fit an iPad in landscape orientation?

      • Anonymous

        no, the ipad fits in the iCade in landscape. *someone* didn't read the review! 😉

      • Royce

        Oh I see that now. Coulda sworn I read it didn't work (probably on some less reliable site 😉 )... Anyway, it really would have been cool if they had made it wider so that the device would actually fit inside the iCade in landcape rather than leaning against the front of it.

      • Anonymous

        I agree - how it works now it does feel like it was a bit of an afterthought. Oh well, it's not that big of a deal actually in practice.

      • Tino

        Actually, the iCade would have to fit 3 ipads all in landscape sitting next to each other to really emulate that arcade feel.

  • Day Man

    I like! 

    Simpsons & Avengers next, please.

  • Janko

    So sad, its gone in the German Store....

    • BulkSlash

      Yeah it seems to have been pulled, although I don't know why. I can only assume Konami thought they had the rights to distribute an X-Men game and then someone's lawyers stepped in. I was lucky and grabbed it before it was taken down.

      It's a shame for Konami because they were probably hoping to coincide with the release of X-Men First Class.

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  • omalone1

    G Wiz. glad to see this one existed but a shame we missed it over here

  • rhinofinger

    Shame to see that it's apparently been taken down from the App Store. Read online somewhere that it's apparently because Konami allowed their licenses to expire.

X-Men Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 3.5