If you grew up in the early 90's and frequented arcades, there's a good chance you had a chance to play the monstrosity known as X-Men: The Arcade Game. I use that term in a loving way, however, as the game stood out among its contemporaries: not content to just offer the normal two-player experience, it boasted six sets of controls and two screens. Every time I've seen this cabinet in real life, it's stuck out like a store thumb.
Those joysticks were put to good use, as you were allowed a five other players on screen with you at once as you tried to thwart the nefarious activities of Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
This was relatively unheard of at the time, as prior cabinets offered two-four people at once; the dual screens' inclusion was quickly released after watching a run-through of six people playing, as the screen has to zoom out in order to accommodate all the sprites.
Regrettably, though, this arcade game took place before the X-Men: The Animated Series cartoon. As there was no established animated presence for Xavier's favourite mutants on-screen, the game developers would have to go back to the next best thing, X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men.== TEASER ==
You know the one: you probably picked it up from a video store rental place in your youth, popped it into a VCR and wondered why the heck Wolverine had an Australian accent. It also featured three X-Men that were omitted from the 90's cartoon, as well, with Colossus, Dazzler (in perhaps her only animated appearance) and Nightcrawler. Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine rounded out the rest of the playable characters.
In the game, you take control of one of those six X-Men and beat your way through a number of stages in an effort to stop Magneto. Your primary opponents were Sentinels, robots and, in later stages, Savage Land creatures, which you hastily dispatched by punching in the face. Mutant powers were also available as screen-clearing attacks, but these decreased your life meter and had to be used sparingly.
Arguably the greatest part of this game, however, is the horribly-translated text that accompanied most of the boss battles and cutscenes. Hearing Magneto greeting us with a hearty "Welcome to die!" or Pyro threatening to "Turn you to toast" warms the cockles of my stone cold heart.
Perhaps in response to X-Men: First Class' release, Konami (who holds the license to the game) has released multiple versions to a number of different consoles: I've had a chance to play the Android version (which is quite good), but there are iterations for iOS, the Playstation Network and Xbox Live, as well.
If you haven't had a chance to play this classic game, I heavily urge you to do so; it's campy, fun, and most importantly, functional. You will have a hard time finding something this entertaining for you and five of your (hopefully nerdy) friends to do when you're bored.
Marvel had a long line of similar arcade games around this time, including titles based on the Avengers and Spider-Man; these titles all worked on the same premise, and were heaven to play with friends. Hopefully if X-Men: The Arcade Game sells well, we could be seeing them in the future, too.
Matt Demers is a Toronto columnist and staff writer for ComicVine. He wishes he had enough quarters to beat this game in its cabinet. You challenge him to move the Blob (see the above video) on Twitter or Tumblr.