The Uncanny X-Men
Release Date: December 1989
Developer: Bothtec or Pixel
I remember getting the Uncanny X-Men as a child. I didn’t get it until after the arcade game and cartoon had debuted, so a few years after release. I was excited to rip apart bad guys with Wolverine’s claws and blast them to pieces with Cyclops eye beam. What I got was something so awful, it soured me on comic book games for quite some time. Magneto and his team of henchmen are looking to wipe the Earth of the human race, so mutants can rule.
The Uncanny X-Men are the only ones who can stand in Magneto’s way and fight back. You choose from Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Iceman, Colossus, and Storm. Each character is rated on power, endurance, speed, and willpower, and none of it makes much difference. Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus all have a short-range punch attack, while Cyclops, Iceman, and Storm shoot beams. All attacks are made with the A Button. The B Button allows you to jump, which has limited usefulness, though Iceman and Storm can fly if you hold the B Button down. Press the Start Button if you want to check your current health.
There is a practice level and four missions to choose from to begin with. The practice level will get you attuned to fighting enemies, which is the vast majority of the game. The four missions task you with going through primitive mazes in order to fight a boss and collect a floppy disk. In order to get to the boss, you may have to find keys hidden in the level. At the beginning of each level, you choose which two X-Men you’ll take into battle. The instruction manual tells you that some X-Men will be useless in some levels and helpful in others. I pretty much found Wolverine and Colossus to be useless, because their mutant powers aren’t implemented. Nightcrawler is the only one with a real mutant power that affects gameplay, because he can walk through walls. Be careful as you do, though, he takes damage constantly while phasing.
The gameplay is both bad and boring. The computer controls your second character and there are two modes. Dumb and dumber. You switch between characters with the Select Button. For about five seconds after you switch, they move left and right rapidly while attacking. You really want to keep them in this mode as much as possible, because once they switch out, they’re going to try to commit suicide by running in damaging terrain and getting stun locked by enemies. This is especially true at moving barriers. And when they die, they’re dead forever. In order to beat these, you need to kill enemies until an invincibility power up appears. Then you run through without dying immediately. Then you switch to your other character and kill guys until another invincibility shows up and you’re through. This is the bulk of the game. Killing enemies to get Energy to drop is the rest.
The end of the first level tells you to listen to Professor X if you’re unable to make it to the final level. This is supposed to be a hint to look at the cartridge label that says “+ B + UP together with Start” to reach the special final fifth level. This in conjunction with red font at the end of each level clues you in to also be pressing the Select Button in order to get to the final battle against Magneto. Kill him, escape, and get your conglaturations.
The level art design is bad. I can tell which mutant I’m controlling, but they don’t look good.
The song isn’t terrible, but the beam weapon sounds are super annoying.
Having to switch between mutants constantly to keep them from seppuku is annoying. Having to go to the pause menu to see their health is also stupid.
Hope you don’t get caught on enemies while trying to get an invincibility to get past a barricade!
Fun Factor: 0.0
This game is the epitome of frustration and doesn’t bring any feelings of happiness when you finally succeed.
Overall Grade: 0.6
The Uncanny X-Men earns a D-. I feel like docking more points out of spite, but I never have to play this trash again.