Platform(s): Playstation One. Genre: Fighting. Developer: Paradox. Release date: 2001. Featured X-Men artwork by Russell Dauterman.
The second outing in the Mutant Academy game series is probably one of the most under looked fighters in gaming, although it reached enough people to become a worthy contender for the best fighting game on the Playstation. X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 expands on everything its predecessor offered: better graphics, more arenas, more characters, more combos and more modes.
The game doesn’t follow a story. You simply fight until you win. Completion of each characters’ arcade mode provides a further look into that mutant’s personality or history, and many of these CG rendered endings are humorous and enjoyable. Gameplay wise, I still consider Mutant Academy 2 to have one of the most effective yet, even after twelve years of playing it. Each character reacts quickly to your commands, and the crunch sound delivered when an attack connects is unforgettable. String these moves into a combo – of which there are many – and you get an explosive melody alongside your assault.
You start the game with fourteen mutants and four unlockables. In addition to this there are a wealth of other goodies such as costumes, arenas and concept art. These are made available by completing certain modes with various characters. Some of these requirements are difficult to meet, but it’s enough to keep players coming back. Especially since all of the unlocked content, and more, can be viewed in the rightly named Cerebro Mode. The Musical score of the game is strong and cinematic (which isn’t surprising as some of it is taken directly from the X-Men 2001 movie, as are many of the costumes). The voice acting is done by the cast responsible for the voicing in the 90s X-Men animated series, and they handle the work well. A highlight of this is during the academy training mode where Professor X, voiced by Cedric Smith, provides motivational dialogue as you try to complete various combos.
The game’s main downside is its glitches. Although these aren’t often, they’re beyond irritating. At worst the game freezes instantly leaving just the music playing, but there are occasions where you’ll attempt to do a special move, and the usual slow down effect that occurs to ensure the opponent can’t get away from it so easily fails to happen. Or, the special fails to materialise all together. Some of the characters stances are bizarre, and weirdly, this seems to make their combos less effective. Jean Grey/Phoenix is affected by this the most, and she undoubtedly has the least interesting character move set. She is still playable, but it’s unfortunate that she isn’t very exciting to use.
All in all, the developers at Paradox created a marvellous game better than its predecessor, and arguably more rounded than its sequel.
- Reasons to play: great graphics that push PSone to its limits, strong gameplay, good voice acting, an excellent musical score and hours can be easily spent in Versus mode. The game also acts as the official soundtrack, and you can play it by putting the disc in any equipment that plays CDs.
- Reasons not to: annoying glitches and some characters are less nimble than others.
- Length and replay value: there’s enough content to have you coming back for a couple weeks.
- Where to get: electronic retailers like Amazon may have this although I doubt many physical ones will.
- Favourite quote: “I sense your frustration.”
Have you played X-Men Mutant Academy 2? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments