This weekend not only brings Memorial Day in the U.S., but also introduces X-Men fans to a new film, Days of Future Past. Many critics have called the movie one of the best in the series, as it combines elements from older X-Men films (with Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X) with actors from the recent X-Men: First Class.
For good measure, the X-Men have also fared well in video games. Sure, some games were forgettable (like Uncanny X-Men on NES), but others shined, letting us control our favorite heroes.
Join us now as we unsheathe our claws and let loose with our favorite X-Men video games, bub!
X-Men The Arcade Game (Arcade, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network)
Back when Konami was known for making enjoyable multiplayer beat-em-ups, X-Men stood tall in the pack, thanks to its dual-monitor, six-player unit. That’s right, six friends could join together in the fight against Magneto and his evil army. The game earned such a cult following that Konami opted to re-release the game for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in 2010. It was since delisted, but avid fans didn’t hesitate to pick up this enjoyable brawler. Besides, how can you resist a game where Magneto yells, “WELCOME TO DIE!”?
X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (Super Nintendo)
Back in the 90s, Capcom was king of side-scrolling action games. Among the SNES offerings was X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, an entertaining adventure where you controlled Cyclops, Wolverine, Psylocke and other characters as they battled familiar villains from the X-Men universe. One neat aspect to the gameplay involved using Street Fighter moves to execute special attacks, such as rolling Ryu’s fireball-style down-down-forward-forward and attack technique for particular characters.
X-Men: Children of the Atom (Arcade, Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation)
Along with home releases, Capcom also flourished with various arcade fighters, following the success of Street Fighter II. X-Men: Children of the Atom broke away from the usual brawlers, with a diverse cast of characters stemming from the X-Men universe, both good and evil alike. In addition, the utilization of special moves (like Wolverine’s Berzerker Barrage) and swap-out partners became staples in later fighters, including the superb X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom series.
X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Sega Genesis)
Sega did a great job bringing the X-Men to side-scrolling territory on the Sega Genesis, but it’s with the sequel, Clone Wars, that the development team found its footing. Introducing an assortment of characters to choose from, including Beast and Gambit, the sequel offered much smoother gameplay, as well as better visuals and music.
X-Men Mutant Academy 2 (PlayStation)
Not content on letting Capcom have all the fighting fun with the characters, Activision and Paradox Entertainment developed its own X-Men series, which started with the original Mutant Academy. While that game wasn’t bad, the sequel improved upon the original with better gameplay, hidden characters to unlock and a mostly solid presentation (for PlayStation standards, anyway). The series would evolve with X-Men: Next Dimension on GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2 a year later.
X-Men Legends and X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 2)
Not content with just producing fighting games, Activision created a great series with the X-Men Legends games. Featuring top-down action where players worked together in a cooperative matter, both the original and Rise of Apocalypse involved deep comic lore, along with satisfying beat-em-up action that would continue to thrive with the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance franchise.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii)
Last but certainly not least, the video game edition of X-Men Origins: Wolverine earned better reviews than the movie it was based on. Granted, that’s because Raven Software took the main star and unleashed him in a God of War-like setting, letting him rip enemies to shreds using his adamantium claws. With sharp gameplay, challenging boss battles (the Sentinel is a beast) and a superb presentation, it still holds up by today’s standards – and makes 2013’s Wolverine movie look weak by comparison.