Review: X-Men Arcade

It’s no secret that we here at iFanboy have a soft spot in our hearts for the old X-Men arcade game. Huddling around the six player cabinet with friends and random strangers ranks as one of the greatest arcade experiences of all time, and earned X-Men the #1 spot in my “Top Five Marvel Arcade Games” post from earlier this year. And finally, after 18 years, Konami releases a home version of the classic beat-em-up with all the modern trimmings. Does the game still hold up after all these years, or is the enjoyment simply a result of wearing retro-tinted glasses?

The gameplay is exactly how you remember it. Players can choose from six classic X-Men from the late 80s: Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and the infamous Dazzler. Each hero has their own unique mutant ability that will destroy most opponents, but with either consume your life energy or a mutant power capsule. Over the course of the game the X-Men will fight hundreds of human-sized sentinels (what’s Magneto doing with sentinels anyway?), Lizard Men, and a cabal of Evil Mutants. You’ll be “welcome to die” by the White Queen, smash the Blob, and be fooled by Mystique, all exactly like you remember from the arcade.  Most of the audio has been remastered, but you’ll be happy to know that all of the dialogue has been recorded verbatim from the arcade release.

X-Men Arcade Title Screen

There are several new features in this release to add a bit of replay value to the game. You can choose to play either the Japanese or USA ROM of the game, each with their own minor differences. In the Japanese version of X-Men Arcade enemies will sometimes drop health or mutant power power-ups, allowing you to recharge during gameplay.  The US version is absent of any power-ups, and using you mutant power will consume health before your reserve power. The most impressive and invaluable feature is the addition of online play. Players may drop in or out of a game at any time, so you’re never at a loss to find a full six-player game. During my playthrough, there were a few noticeable instances of lag but the majority of the time the gameplay was smooth.

 X-Men Arcade Sentinel 

It was during this online play, however, that I had to take off those aforementioned retro-tinted glasses. It’s awesome that we live in an age where we can play a pixel-perfect translation of an 18 year old arcade game online, with no quarters required, but it takes away some of the magic that made the original experience so great. The human element is totally missing when playing with anonymous strangers online. No one talks, there’s no hootin’ and hollerin’ at the screen, or fights over who gets to be Wolverine… it feels like you’ve just playing with random computer controlled characters sometime. Grab some friends and huddle around the Xbox (or PS3) together if you want to get close to the true arcade experience.

There’s also something amiss about the challenge of X-Men Arcade. Arcade games are designed to be difficult to suck as many quarters into its belly as possible. You were careful about how you attacked an enemy or used your mutant powers because you needed to stretch out your allowance as long as possible. In this home release you have unlimited continues, regardless of difficulty, with no penalty for dying. It’s entirely too easy to just walk through the game spamming your mutant ability with no regard or worries about running out of funds, and totally sucks the challenge out of the game.


Despite showing it’s age in the game design department, it’s still the X-Men Arcade game. I’ve been dying to give Konami some money for this game since the days of the SNES, and the addition of online support means I’m never more than a few button presses away from reliving the full six-player experience. If you’ve got a mad nostalgia itch, this is the perfect game to scratch it, but younger players may want to wait until it’s on sale down the road or check out the demo before buying. 

   X-Men Arcade Professor X Trap   

Gameplay: 3 Stars | Graphics: 4 Stars | Overall: 3 1/2 Stars

Review Statistics: Completed the game on Normal, Hard, and Expert difficulties. Played several full six-player online matches. Earned 85/200 Achievements. Saved $23.75 in quarters.  A copy of the game was purchased by the writer for review. 


  1. yesss just played this over the weekend. I didn’t really get colossus’s power burst, but it was fun nonetheless.

  2. I loved Nightcrawler in this.  When he knocks down a bad guy, he hops on him.


  4. I got the demo to see how it ported to the console. I liked it. I don’t know if I want to buy this or the new pac-man.

  5. I just noticed it was up today, I may have to get it. Now they just need to get Avengers in there.

  6. @flakbait  Dibs on Hawkeye!      

  7. Oddly enough , I spent $100’s of dollars and never beat the game when I was younger.  I just spent 10 bucks when I got older and beat the game in 30 mins?   

  8. @JesTr   Pac Man Championship edition is one of the best games of the year.  Please buy that game.

  9. @jestr @cisterns – PacMan Championship DX is awesome. Total must.

  10. Great review, when the game goes into the cheap bin I’ll be ready to buy…

  11. I have not stopped playing this game since I downloaded it. When you get 4 local players and 2 on live it is the best 6 player experiance you will find. Plus it takes me back to my childhood. Spending hours and tons of quarters in front of this cabinet.

  12. We need a review of Marvel Pinball for Pinball FX2!