The X-Men games that are actually good

It’s a good time to be an X-Men fan. The great first season of X Men ’97 Just wrapped, Insomniac Games is working on a Wolverine game for PlayStation 5, and the mutants are coming to the MCU (someday).

But it’s been a while since there were any good options for X-Men fans looking to game in that universe. Gone are the days of multiple X-Men arcade games and fighting games to choose from, or movie tie-ins. There have been a lot of disappointing X-Men games (looking at you, X-Men: Fate), but what about the good ones?

The Polygon staff has been collecting the X-Men games since the beginning that are really good the mutant era gaming to even a few recent releases that revived X-Men gaming. Most of them are no longer available to play, but they still live on in our hearts.

X Men (1992)

Ideally, you play X Men on an original arcade cabinet next to three strangers, the four of you together in a makeshift family as you step into the shoes of Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Colossus, Nightcrawler or Dazzler. It won’t take long to beat – maybe 30-45 minutes, like a great television episode – and you’ll walk away victorious, having destroyed Sentinels and other classic baddies until you reach Magneto, who will save Xavier for some reason. kidnapped for another reason (although if you’ve seen it X Men ’97(maybe you can imagine some good reasons).

This game is an all-time classic for a reason; each character has different special abilities, just like the characters they’re based on, and as simplistic as the beat-em-up mechanics may be, it’s still one of the most precise and fun customizations the X-Men have ever had had. Computer Games. Oddly enough, this version of the team was actually based on the failed 1989 cartoon X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men which got one pilot episode and no more, but the X-Men have such distinctive visual designs that this part never really mattered. —Maddy Myers

X-Men 2: Clone Wars

Image: HeadGames, Inc./Sony

This may shock you, but there are few better-looking Genesis games than this X-Men 2: Clone Wars. It’s shocking how detailed the 16-bit graphics are, and how refined the action feels. Headgames’ side-scrolling platformer has a number of features that were unusual in licensed games at the time, from a cold opening that drops you into the game as a random character as soon as you start it, to a surprisingly involved story that’s been lifted from the recently wrapped version cracked. Phalanx Covenant” comics. Moreover, Clone wars defeat X2 until one of the big twists: halfway through the game, Magneto joins the team and he looks incredibly sick. —Joshua Rivera

X-Men Legends and X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

Character selection screen in X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, featuring Wolverine, Magneto, Storm and Bishop.

Image: Raven Software/Activision

Both X-Men Legends games were squad-based action role-playing games that fully adhered to the team nature of the X-Men, allowing you to take four of the mutants into missions at once. The combat in both games was simple yet evocative, successfully leaning on the varied skills of the various X-Men. The roster was also quite extensive: the first game had 14 playable characters (plus Professor X for specific missions), and the sequel also added some from Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants.

The main reason why these games feel so appropriate to the X-Men franchise to me is the team-based nature, an essential part of the whole X-Men deal. And they were even more fun in co-op – I have many fond memories of playing and replaying these games (or even just the Danger Room missions) while my brother was growing up.

Extra shoutout to the also quite fun Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, the successor to these games from Raven Software and Activision, which expands the scope to the broader Marvel universe. —Piet Volk

X-Men Origin: Wolverine

In the video game version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Wolverine jumps onto a helicopter with his claws extended

Image: Raven Software/Activision

For most of the short history of video games, a licensed game based on a good movie was rarely very good. A licensed game based on a terrible game? A foolish job. As the children say, X-Men Origin: Wolverine there was no point in going so fast. In an unusual move, Raven Software’s PS3 and Xbox 360 version of Wolverine was an M-rated game that was significantly more violent than the film it was based on, resulting in a God of war-inspired bloody hack-and-slash adventure, combining the film’s storyline with an extensive original plot. The result was a brutally satisfying video game, and sadly the end of Raven’s excellent tenure with Marvel titles that began X-Men Legends. Within a few years, the studio would be done developing its own games altogether, and would transition into a new role as a Call of Duty support studio. —JR

Marvel vs Capcom 2

Hulk attacks in Marvel vs Capcom 2

Image: Capcom

Starting with X-Men vs. Street Fighter (1996) and landed with a thud Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite (2017), the X-Men/Capcom crossover fighting game series has had its ups and downs, and even as I write this blurb, I’m questioning my own attempt to select the best of the entire series. Several entries have strong points in their favor (we don’t need to talk about those). Unending). But that is impossible not vote for Rogue’s iconic divekick, in which she makes her first appearance X-Men vs. Street Fighter and in which his final appearance takes place Marvel vs Capcom 2. It’s a move so beloved that it got a nod X Men ’97. If you want to not only see, but also are Rogue when she puts people’s lights out – and who doesn’t? – you can’t do better than Marvel vs Capcom 2. —MM

X-Men: Children of the Atom

Wolverine takes on Juggernaut in the fighting game X-Men: Children of the Atom

Image: Capcom

Easy said: Children of the Atom walked like this Marvel vs. Capcom could run. The developer’s first entry into what would be a wildly popular series of Marvel fighting games is barebones compared to the 3v3 spectacle that later games would be known for, but those bones are solid: it’s basically a maximalist version of street fighter circa 1994, featuring longer combos, super jumps, and new movesets that would become increasingly refined as the characters appeared in subsequent Marvel fighting games. But perhaps the most important achievement lies in the character design: loyal yet quirky, the X-Men as depicted in Children of the Atom are unmistakably Capcom designs, with just a hint Street Fighter: Alphas anime inflections, but also perfect tributes to X Men artist Jim Lee. The proof was in the pudding: Arcade players could fight Street Fighter villain Akuma as a secret character, and console players could play as him themselves – and he fit right in.JR

Marvel’s Midnight Suns

The Hunter, flanked by Wolvering, Iron Man, Blade and others, enters the frame.  Behind them what looks like some kind of stargate.

Image: Firaxis Games/Marvel Comics

I know what you’re thinking: “Is this an X-Men game?” Wolverine, Magik, and Storm are in there – plus Deadpool, who at least works with the X-Men often enough, and Scarlet Witch, who is sometimes a mutant depending on canon – so we’ll leave these in. Perhaps more importantly, Marvel’s Midnight Suns has the mood of the best X-Men stories. This is a team strategy game, with super-powered characters all unknowingly thrown together in a strange mansion. In battle they trade barbs and one-liners; at home they will romance and bicker with each other. If that’s not typical X-Men, what is? —MM

X-Men cartoonist

X-Men Cartoon Maker, consisting of a series of X-Men cartoon tiles

Image: Knowledge Adventure/Vivendi Universal Interactive via /u 1auc377

X-Men cartoonist isn’t so much a game as it is a sandbox where you can create your own episodes X-Men: The Animated Series using character models, sound effects and background art from the original show, plus a sound library of funky ’90s instrumentals that seem especially suited as backing tracks for fight scenes and dramatic standoffs (which the show was known for, of course). Composing scenes and using the rudimentary cartooning tools feels clumsy, but the end results can be uniquely hilarious. Check out this work of art that was painstakingly uploaded to YouTube by an avid X-Men Cartoon Maker fan for an example of what you can do. —MM

X Men (1993)

Gambit and Rogue join forces to fight Juggernaut in a jungle in X-Men (1993) for Sega Genesis

Image: Western Technologies Inc/Sega

Some may dispute that I included this 1993 Sega Genesis exclusive because of its grueling difficulty, but I would make my case based on the attention to detail for each of the four playable characters and the truly infamous endgame stunt. Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Gambit are all present, and each has unique, character-appropriate powers. Cyclops does his laser blasts, Nightcrawler teleports, Wolverine chuckles, and Gambit throws playing cards (I’m sorry Gambit fans, it’s always been weird).

You play as these four X-Men, trapped in the Danger Room, and your ‘lives’ are simply the four playable characters. Because each of them has unique abilities, successfully completing this action platformer meant carefully budgeting your approach to each level and boss. That makes the late-game stunt all the wilder: to end the Danger Room simulation, you have to “reset your computer” which you’d think would be accomplished by pressing a button on the controller, presumably in the style of “press F to pay respects”, right?

No! You tap the actual ‘Reset’ button on the Sega Genesis! And if you press it for too long, the Genesis will essentially reset and you’ll lose all your progress. This was 1993! I applaud the absolute sickies who made this game schoolyard history, and I apologize to anyone who has been re-traumatized by this memory. —Chris Grant

Marvel United: X Men

Box, cards and figurines for the Marvel United: X-Men board game

Image: CMON

While many will know CMON for its action-packed cooperative board game, ZombicideThe tabletop publisher has a much newer series called Marvel United. The original game made over $2.8 million on Kickstarter in 2020, but was followed by Marvel United: X Men of nearly $6 million in funding.

In this card-driven action game, players take on the role of X-Men mutants such as Wolverine, Jean Grey, Storm and Cyclops as they battle Magneto, Juggernaut and more. The big draw here is the cute chibi-style miniature characters. The big-headed heroes are an absolute joy to paint, and at $34.99 the game is extremely affordable. —Charlie Hall