I first heard about this game several years ago. Seeing that it was made by Capcom as well as having good reviews, I promised myself to get it someday. A few years ago, I came across this game at an independent game store. At the cheap price of $8, I did not hesitate a moment further.
Among the first Marvel games made by Capcom, Mutant Apocalypse is a rather uncommon blend of platforming and beat em’ up action. The game was released in late 1994 in North America and was also released in Japan on the Super Famicom. Mutant Apocalypse’s blend of platforming and beat em’ up action sounded very good, but a few flaws ultimately undermine the experience.
The story of Mutant Apocalypse is simple enough. There’s a rise of anti-mutant activity in the small island of Genosha. While using Cerebro to investigate, Professor Charles Xavier finds out that Apocalypse is residing on the island and that the island government is using him as a scapegoat to tighten the control of the mutants in the island. However, Apocalypse has his own plans and if they’re not stopped, the conflict between humans and mutants will exacerbate. Thus, he sends out a team of X-Men to foil Apocalypse’s plans. The team in this game consists of Cyclops, Wolverine, Psylocke, Gambit, and Beast.
The graphics for this game are what you would expect from Capcom, nice and detailed. A lot of the levels feel very similar to the ones from the first 3 Mega Man X games in terms of graphical design, which was nice. The environments feel varied, even when a lot of the stages in the game take place in various bases. The character sprites themselves are also finely detailed; Cyclops and Beast have clearly designed muscular builds while Wolverine and Psylocke look very agile. A lot of bosses in this game are HUGE and look like they were taken straight out of a comic book. You can tell that Capcom put out a lot of effort into the graphics. Although the game obviously looks nowhere near as good as Children of the Atom (which came out within the same time period), it’s still one of the better looking Super NES games. I have no complaints in this department.
Capcom also did a great job with the music as usual, making it so that there’s a good variety of music. Cyclops’s stage theme sounds like it was taken directly from the Mega Man X games and does a good job of making the player want to beat the tar out of everyone while Beast’s stage theme has a more jazzy and slow-paced feel to it. I also like Wolverine’s theme since it evokes a sense of urgency … if only there was a sound test option. Quite a few of the sound effects are the usual stuff that you hear in any beat em’ up game, but still, they make it feel like you’re really beating the tar out of somebody and that’s good enough. I found it a bit weird though that there doesn’t seem to be many voiceovers in the game. In fact, the playable characters don’t even say the name of their special moves when you perform them.
At the start of the game you can pick what stage you want to go to, which is similar to Mega Man’s stage select. However, you can only play as the character that the game gives you for a particular stage. For example, you can’t play as Wolverine in Cyclops’s stage. After you clear the first five stages however, you can pick any character you want for the remaining stages, but the order of the levels is fixed at that point. Each of the playable characters has a few unique special moves which can either be done simply by pressing a direction and a button or a Street Fighter-esque combination (stuff like quarter-circle forward, half-circle forward, etc.) Now, there are some flaws in this department, which really undermine the whole game. For starters, the game ISN’T too hard to the point where it’s frustrating, but it can be cheap at some points, particularly when you get cornered on both sides and enemies from both sides start beating the tar out of you. At that point, there’s nothing you can really do. Furthermore, at the start of the game, each character only has 2 lives. You lose both of them in any of the first 5 stages and it’s game over. Fortunately, a password system exists in the game that allows you to go straight to level 6 or farther. However, it really would have been nice if the password system would be extended to the preliminary stages of the game.
Flaws aside, this game is worthwhile for anyone who craves beat em’ up action with some difficulty on the side. For everyone else though, it’s best to try it out a little bit before buying. Fortunately, the game can be had for less than $10, so even if you didn’t like it, at least you didn’t waste a lot of money.
4 stars out of 5