Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 09/25/01 | Genre: Action
Beginning in my NES days, I loved side-scrollers. From Double Dragon to Final Fight, A good side scroller could entertain me for hours on end with one thing in mind: The ability to kick the crap out of anything that moves. Acclaim's X-Men: Reign of Apocalypse steps in to fill your urge for non-stop butt-kicking action.
On their return home from the Mojoverse, the X-Men find themselves sucked into a parallel dimension where Apocalypse is king. Now Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, and Rogue must battle their way deep into sentinel territory to topple Apocalypse and find their way back home. As a side-scrolling beat-'em-up, Activision's X-Men: Reign of Apocalypse isn't just an excuse to pit the X-Men against some of their closest friends.
How does Reign of Apocalypse stack up against the genre defining Final Fight One? Pretty well actually. The large X-Men characters are colorfully drawn and well animated, while the many, many sentinels and Alpha Flight members (Vindicator & Guardian mostly) provide abundant opposition. Thrown into the mix, 16 ultrabutch bosses stand in the X-Men's way, including such notables as The Juggernaut, Cable, Magneto, Bishop and Colossus. In addition to the comic-inspired speech bubbles, each of the game's 12 locations, be it Xavier's mansion, the Golden Gate Bridge, or a hidden moon base, contains plenty of ambience ripped straight out of a number of Marvel Comics comic books.
X-Men: Reign of Apocalypse also scores major points for supporting two-player simultaneous gameplay and for having a battery-backed character upgrade system. As you walk through each level pummeling Apocalypse's armies, you'll earn points (2 pts per level) to enhance your character's strength, vitality, and mutant power capabilities. I suggest building your strength first, as enemies will be easier to dispatch. Attacks are limited to the standard array of punches, jump kicks, throws, and special attacks common to the beat-'em-up genre--albeit with an X-Men twist. A constantly growing power meter lets you perform a vicious mutant attack once or twice per round that can clear multiple opponents. In later stages, there are usually five or six enemies onscreen at a time, but an abundance of health and mutant power items more than tips the scales--especially with two players.
My major complaint is what will surely have gamers weary of this title: The enemy cheap hit factor. If you jump over an enemy blast, you take the hit. If an enemy dashes at you and punches the air while you are jumping, you take the hit. If you are punching an enemy, they can punch you too. The enemy's objective is to crowd you and hit you from all sides (mutant muggings).
Also, the Bosses are totally cheap. Phoenix has a large blast attack, Nightcrawler has a multiple punch attack, The Blob shakes his belly, Juggernaut punches the ground, Bishop & Cable shoot guns, and all of these hits are unavoidable. Making a game tough is one thing, making a game cheap is another. This really takes away from the replay value of the game.
Overall, X-Men faithful, beat-'em-up lovers and casual gamers will enjoy the easy fisticuffs that X-Men: Reign of Apocalypse has to offer. However, for those who want a bit of depth to their fighting, it's a rental at best.