Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remember the X-Men arcade game?

There are those who would have you believe that Pacman or Mortal Kombat or NFL Blitz or Ms. Pacman is the greatest arcade game of all-time, but these people are crackheads, liars and fools. The one and only true claimant to that prestigious throne is the legendary X-Men arcade game of 1992.

Those who experienced the magic in their youth know what I'm talkin bout (I'd include you kids with your emulators, but seriously, this was something you needed to do live and in color). The truly fortunate knew the X-Men game as that massive construct over in the corner that spread its action across two full-size screens in such a manner that characters went dark if they ran across the middle too fast. You recall getting to one of the six joystick arrays as fast as you could and being sure to have plenty of quarters in tow, lest you lose your spot or have to leave to refill and then come back with only Dazzler available to play as (crammed up in the corner spot where it was nigh impossible to see the action no less). You remember not caring that Sentinels were the same size as you as you dispatched them by the dozen and not asking why the Juggernaut needed some sort of bazooka.

The X-Men arcade game followed Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Dazzler--provided you had at least five friends--as they battled through the streets of (maybe) New York, the Savage Land, multiple high tech bases and elsewhere trying to save Professor X and Kitty Pryde, who had been kidnapped by Magneto. In addition to being able to punch, slash and kick, each character got a special mutant power that you stored and saved for the bosses (or when you were fighting too many lizard dudes and got frustrated). Of course since Wolverine just being able to pop his claws wouldn't be too visually impressive and you didn't want Colossus to be flesh-toned the bulk of the game, Wolvie got "adamantium laser claws" that shot big ass beams while Pete flexed his metal muscles to release a huge energy spark and yell like a constipated grizzly bear.

It was awesome.

Another thing that was awesome was the graphics. It was 1992 and we had just barely gotten our minds wrapped around Super Nintendo, so even for an arcade game, X-Men had and incredibly slick, vibrant look plus wicked G.I. Joe-quality animation sequences. But as killer as the graphics were, the sound was even better, as the boom of this game echoed through the arcade, which rocked since it was ridiculously quotable, whether the Blob was insisting "Nothing stops...the Blob!" or Wendigo was screeching his name time and again as you beat the white fur off him.

I've got two very vivid memories of the X-Men arcade game. The first occured one summer somewhere in the neighborhood of 1993 when I was like 11 and at Camp Frank A. Day. At the end of every July, we would take a trip to the Riverside amusement park (today Six Flags New England) for a day of rides, games and bad food. However, what I would get most excited about, being averse to heights and shitty at getting rings around milk bottles, would be holing up in the big ass arcade and stretching out the $15 they'd give us for the day at the X-Men arcade game. This particular year, I had to have been at the game for hours, alternating characters as I ran to get quarters, but teaming with the same group of seven or eight kids to get all the way to the end. It took us hours, and we barely noticed that a massive thunderstorm had formed around the park, shutting most everything down (that we were in an open air structure and failed to note the massive quantities of rain and huge lightning crashes I like to think speaks to our dedication and nothing else). I was mindful of the time and that I was going to miss the bus back to camp if we didn't clear Asteroid M pretty soon, but as we were on the precipice, the storm surged and knocked out the power of every machine in the arcade. When it rebooted, there we were, crestfallen and back at the opening screen.

I believe it was the next year that my family took a vacation to Disney World and nestled in the tiny game room of our Polynesian-themed resort hotel I located a more modest version of the X-Men arcade game with only one screen and four players. It was rare that there was anybody else around the game outside of occasionally my little sister, so for the most part, I wound up playing the game myself, which I had never really done before. On the smaller screen and able to select your player as opposed to the characters being married to a particular location, I developed a new appreciation for Cyclops, who I had previously stayed away from by virtue of him being the upper left-hand corner guy. His optic blasts were way easier to control than just about any other mutant power and the guy had a mean jumping spin kick for a lanky white dude. All on my own I never made it to far into the deep levels, but I did rack up killer high scores as Cyclops that got erased each night when the place shut down.

It wasn't until college that I made the miraculous discovery that the X-Men arcade game was actually based on an aborted 1989 animated pilot called Pryde of the X-Men. Neelless to say I hopped right on eBay and made that sucker mine; it has been a prized possession for several years now. A whole other post would be required to expound on the virtues of Australian Wolverine calling Toad a "bloody dingo" and creepy child molester Nightcrawler hitting on Kitty Pryde, but some day soon I will find the strength.

Bottom line: my wedding is coming up in about a month and a half and if you can find one of those coin-op suckers, it would not be an inappropriate gift.

18 comments:

JimmyGlenn711 said...

I LOVE THIS GAME!

My friends and I have an ongoing search for one of these on eBay, or other places (is there an arcade game black market?). Our plan is to split it 6 ways, essentially each buying one character. This plan was hatched in High School and unfortunately has yet to come to fruition.

Ben Morse said...

Apparently they're going on craigslist for upwards of 1k.

Jim Gibbons! said...

I was actually just chatting with a buddy of mine from college about this arcade. Turns out our high score was beat the year before they tore down the student union.

Also, I feel like anyone who played that game growing up (90% of men in their early and mid twenties) would instantly recognize the noise Colossus made when he powered up. That ridiculous yell was so iconic and epic in my childhood and has stuck with me ever since.

Ben Morse said...

My jealousy of the fact you had access to this game during college knows no bounds.

And yeah, Colossus' yell is the voice of a generation.

KP said...

I had to have my grandma special order a copy of the Pryde of the X-Men VHS from the insanely over-priced video store at the mall. Not Suncoast, but one of those kind of deals. It had the Art Adams cover that was a cut down of his cover for Classic X-Men #1 – art which I now rock on the back of that X-Men soccer jacket thingy that McCann also has.

This game was bar none #1 arcade game ever, though I've got to say that the very similar TMNT arcade game also holds a very special place in my heart. Too bad they never ported X-Men to the NES like they did with the Turtles, though the Turtles game wasn't nearly as cool at home.

Ben Morse said...

That Turtles game was indeed great, but the X-Men game was better by virtue of being the the X-Men (and Blob's sweet mace).

JimmyGlenn711 said...

I still have that Pryde of the X-Men VHS and and I have a VHS episode of Spider-man and His Amazing Friends episode too.

In Pryde of the X-Men did anyone notice that Wolverine is Australian? He calls Toad a Dingo and has an Australian accent. That was an amazing show... er pilot? Straight to VHS? Idk. I just remember that Pre-90's Cartoon, the Pryde of the X-Men was pretty much the best cartoon I had ever seen. It even had this great intro by Stan Lee!

To this day I still quote "Ees good little one, Colossus like rain."

No one really ever picks up on that one...

Ben get THAT on Marvel.com!

Ben Morse said...

I would love to get Pryde of the X-Men on Marvel.com. Fuck, I'd interview Stan Lee and do a commentary track.

This bears investgation.

Matt said...

They had it at my college, it was free and mega crappy. It was just a stupid button-masher, why have this pseudo-nostalgia for it?

Ben Morse said...

I have nothing in my heart but pity for you, Matt.

Luke said...

Last year, a local pizza parlor/arcade went out of business, and had an auction to sell off all the stuff. The prize draw were the video games, most of which were still the same since the last time I was there, in 1992. There was some great stuff, though--the Simpsons game, Turtles in Time, Gauntlet Legends...and yes, the six-player X-Men cabinet. Best of all, all the machines were unlocked, so that you could play them for free while they sold off all the pizza cutters and spoons. You can bet your boots that we saved the world from the forces of Magneto that day. (When we played, some of us actually had to run multiple characters--only three players, but five spots had been activated. Everyone was in use except Dazzler, because (a) the side with her joystick and buttons was pinned against the wall, and (b) Dazzler sucks.

Sadly, the X-Cabinet went out of our price range pretty quickly--600 bucks, as I recall. Not bad, but a little steep to split between me and one of my college buddies. Besides, we never would have been able to move that thing anyway. The good news is, we came away with a damn fine consolation prize: WWF Wrestlefest, for 450.

Anonymous said...

In college, this was THE game at the arcade. We played it so much we literally wore it out. We almost always had enough people to fill ever slot and together we could beat it on a quarter easily. I became a Dazzler player because a) it meant I always had a spot to play, and b) she had a cool throw where she cartwheeled into enemies which often caused a domino effect (and helped me win a few throwing contests our group had). Of course, this was back when arcades made video games a social activity which to me made it more fun. Ah.. memories....

C.H.U.D. said...

We had the 2-screen version in our Student Center @ SUNY Purchase. In fact, WE STILL DO. Too bad it's been broken for the last two years...

;____;

Online Casinos said...

Man, I miss playing X-Men arcades. I remember being fooling around and bond with my brother in playing their games.

Anonymous said...

I just aquired this game and am in the process of fixing it. One of the screens doesn't come on, buti've got a guy coming to fix it. I'm in Indiana and am very motivated to sell (cheap) like i said it powers up and one screen works, so if you handy and can fix yourself, I'll sell it as is really cheap!! My email is htarlton@hotmail.com (no spam please)

stephen said...

I have one for sale it is in Michigan, good condition if anyone is interested email me at stephomyte@aim.com.

Anonymous said...

HUUURRRAAAARRRGGGGH!!!!

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