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X-Men Mutant Academy
"Obviously X-Men and fighting just go together hand in hand so it seems to be a natural to stick this license onto a console in a fighting game format."
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Developer  Paradox Game Type  Fighting
Distributor  Activision Preview Date  Jul 00
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      Ah, to be able to play a fighting game with the X-Men characters.sounds really good right? Well as with life, if you go into it without setting your expectations too high you will do just fine.same with this title.

At its core, X-Men: Mutant Academy is a strict 2D fighter.not even a side-stepping feature thrown in for good measure. At first glance most gamers may come away supremely disappointed with this game because besides the wonderful X-Men license the game appears to be a throw-back to the early days of Playstation fighters. Dismissing the game at this early stage though would be an injustice to the title. The battle system is actually quite deep once you spend some time with it and about the best analogy that I could give it would be to say that it reminds me of an onion. The game is many layers deep but still kinda stinky once you hit the core.

To begin with, there are really only three fighting modes to select from (not including the training mode). Ominously omitted is a Team Battle mode which at this point in time I consider a basic inclusion. Anyway, here are the modes:

Arcade Mode - Here we have the classic player vs. computer match-ups with six of the ten fighters available immediately.seems the bad guys are all locked up so you have to do some fighting to get them to come out. Even at that though, when all is said and done the game offers only 10 characters to choose which in this day and age seems rather paltry. Especially considering the fact that there are other X-Men out there dammit!! I was also hoping for maybe some cross-universe offering like maybe getting Spider-Man in there or Psylocke. Oh it stands we get 6 good guys and 4 baddies.

Running through the mode is pretty straight forward and done in the exact order regardless of whom you select. Pick a character and fight through 10 levels (including fighting against yourself). Win and you get to unlock the Toad.

Survival Mode is just that, fight a never ending onslaught of combatants and try to rack up as many victories as you can before your power bar is depleted. Strangely this mode is completely random and there where many times where I fought the same character over and over again without having first dispatched every other character. At one point I had racked up 20 wins, 7 of which were at the expense of knocking the crap out of Gambit.go figure. The nice part in this mode is that in between in fight we are treated to X-Men comic book covers from all points in time including the X-Men Return Iss #1 with Magneto on the cover. Tasty indeed. At any rate, participate here and you unlock Mystique.

Finally there is the Vs. mode where you and another friend get to battle it out amongst yourselves.

Other modes include Academy, which is your training facility. It is here that you will take instruction from Dr. X on how to execute moves from the simplest to the most devastating. Complete your training with any character and you unlock Sabretooth.

I liked the Academy mode as it really did manage to show off the depth of moves that each character possesses. I also liked the step by step process and grading that went along with this mode.

Cerebro Mode is basically a Theater mode. It is here that you can visit and view an incredible assortment of clips that you gather by participating in other parts of the game. There is an X-Men movie trailer, a behind the scenes look, comic book covers, costumes from the movie, FMV character endings.the list is quite substantial. This is an area that you will want to visit often as you play through the game to see what new items you have unlocked for view.

As I mentioned earlier, if you manage to stick with it there are a plethora of character moves to learn. Some are easy to pull off and some have to be timed when the power meter is maxed out (these are your hyper moves). For the most part there are at least 30 unique moves per character and an additional 3 throws. You are also able to pull off counters which go a long way into giving you the upper hand once you get your timing just right.

I thought the character movement, while animated nicely, felt a little stiff on the execution side. I wouldn't quite say that controller response was sluggish, but it just felt a little off. With practice though you should be able to pull off the majority of character moves and find yourself buzzing through the game in no time flat.which is where I will now wrap things up.

Overall this is an extremely average fighter with a brilliant license. If it weren't for the X-Men character I'm afraid this title wouldn't really see the light of day. With only 10 characters and 10 fighting locations there is really not very much to keep players coming back for more. Repetition sets in very quickly and besides jumping to the Cerebro Mode for some comic book history there was really nothing to hold my interest for very long. For a title that took this long to complete, it is really a shame that more was not done to make this puppy shine. As it stands, to me at least, it just felt totally incomplete.a shame really.

Game Options:
• Number of Disks: 1
• Number of blocks used on Memory card per save: 1
• Maximum number of Players (without a multi-tap): 2
• Multi-tap compatible (max players): No
• Link-cable compatible (max players): No
• Split screen multi-player option (max players): No
• Other accessories: None
• Dual Shock Pad Digital Button compatible: Yes
• Dual Shock Pad Analog Stick compatible: Yes
• Dual Shock Pad Vibration compatible: Yes

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Staff Opinions
Tom R   "Wow! A perfectly timed videogame/movie tie-in. With the release of the X-Men motion picture, Activision has managed to cash in with an X-Men videogame in which gamers can pit one mutant against another to see who will rein supreme.

Obviously X-Men and fighting just go together hand in hand so it seems to be a natural to stick this license onto a console in a fighting game format.the only question is "what the heck went wrong"?

The game features an almost medieval 2D fighting game engine and slightly above-average graphics. The game has depth (if you give it the proper time it needs to shine through), but there is very little to hold onto until this aspect of the game becomes apparent. I did give it some serious gameplay and while I can say that the game certainly has it rewards there was just not enough "beef" to keep me coming back for more after I hung up my controller for the evening. With only 10 fighters and locales to battle through, most gamers will have things locked up in a matter of days (if not hours)."
Graphics  15/20
Playability  38/50
Sound  5/10
Lastability  15/20
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