Newest Review: ... the Atom. A conversion of the arcade beat-em-up by Capcom, Children of the Atom lets you play as one of ten mutant super-heroes or super-vi... more
Children of the kicking - since when have comic book characters needed a reason to fight?
X-Men - Children of the Atom (PS)
Member Name: Hannard
X-Men - Children of the Atom (PS)
Advantages: It's a great fighting game.
Disadvantages: The graphics do look slightly dated by today's standards.
(review written by me and originally posted on GamesDomain)
There's a certain unintentional comedy element in most comics. I'm not talking about the Dandy or the Beano here, but the ones that are stuffed with superheroes and cackling villains, such as DC's Batman and Marvel's X-Men. But what's funny about them? Well, for a start, there's the sheer number of superheroes contained in your average title. Take X-Men, with its ranks of mutant superheroes (and supervillains) - there's got be at least one mutant superhero for every normal member of the populace. Talk about overkill! Imagine what it must be like going down to the shops.. 'Oh, hello Mr Wolverine, Mrs Storm.' And the burgers at the local fast-food chain are probably cooked using some odd super-power. Doesn't bear thinking about, does it? Then there's the whole narrow escape thing - just when you think a character has been killed off for good, they come back with some daft explanation as to their survival. 'Why, Straining Lycra Girl! I thought you'd been killed in that twenty megaton explosion!' 'No, I actually fell into a disused mineshaft, temporarily losing my memory, but emerging otherwise unharmed.' 'Phew.. that's all right, then.' Eh?
Still, comics are all about suspension of belief - they (and indeed pretty much all fiction) would be pretty dull if the writers stuck to the conventional. Thank goodness for imagination.. and hallucinogenic compounds. Now Probe and Acclaim have decided to bring a healthy dose of comic violence to the PC in the shape of X-Men: Children of the Atom. A conversion of the arcade beat-em-up by Capcom, Children of the Atom lets you play as one of ten mutant super-heroes or super-villains as you wander around the world, giving the other heroes and two bosses a good kicking. Yes, it is a bit like Street Fighter 2. A lot like Street Fighter 2 in fact - but Children of the Atom is an excellent game in its own right and not just a straight clone of SF2.
Each of the characters comes with a range of kicks and punches, as well as various special moves, or 'X Powers', each of which you'll need to master if you want to have a chance of making it to the end of the game. The special moves vary between character, and it'd take too long to list them all. But they include transferring your opponent's energy to your own character, becoming invisible, flying, hurling laser beams, and more typically exaggerated superhero powers. About half of the special moves are listed in the manual, but I still can't see the logic behind not including them all. I mean, would you buy a video and expect the instructions to be incomplete. Well, depends where you shop I suppose, but I don't. Still, after your character is defeated, Children of the Atom helpfully tells you a special move or attack pattern that you could have used in the previous match. Oh, thanks a lot for that. Why didn't you tell me that before, eh?
On top of the regular special moves, there's also various super special moves that you can pull off. Each character has a power-meter, a la Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, which slowly fills up with each special move or hit you manage to pull off. When the meter's at Level 1, there's not a lot you can do with it. But when it reaches Level 2, you can use various new X-Moves, which are more powerful than your other special moves, but drain your X-Meter. And when it reaches Level 3, your opponents had better watch out because you can now pull off a super powerful Hyper-X move, such as Storm's Ice Attack. These attacks tend to do major damage even if blocked, and can wipe out your opponent if they're not careful. They can be avoided or neutralised in most cases, but you have to be on your guard.
There are ten X-Characters to play as - Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine, Omega Red, Psylocke, Iceman, Sentinel, Spiral, Colossus and the Silver Samurai - not to mention a certain hidden character from Super SF2 Turbo who puts in an appearance. Each character has a differing set of abilities, which makes them each play differently. The Sentinel is a huge giant mutant-hunting robot who can fire missiles and laser beams from his mouth, but he's pretty slow. Psylocke on the other hand is fast but weaker. It's up to you to work out the strengths and weaknesses of each character. But what this does mean is that after you've managed to master a character, you can pick a new character and start all over again, using a completely different set of tactics. And to top it all off, there are two (supposedly) unplayable boss characters, Juggernaut and Magneto. Juggernaut, despite his name, can be beaten without too many problems. Magneto on the other hand is an absolute git - this bloke could kick SF2's M. Bison's head in without working up a sweat. Far from just being able to shuffle paperclips around and pick up iron filings, this bloke is hard. He even has a move that produces a shield making him completely invulnerable to damage. Well, that's fair..
Accompanying the grand violence is a CD soundtrack and a barrage of bone crunching SFX, ported over from the arcade. The graphics are well drawn and animated too - and not only are the characters animated, so are the backgrounds. Lose to the Sentinel, in Genosha, and you'll see a huge Sentinel character, the Master Mold (who?) fly skywards, presumably to go off and stomp some mutants. Such is the price of failure. There are little details like this scattered all around the game. And rather than just being background detail, some of the backgrounds are 'interactive', as Acclaim calls them on the box blurb. In certain locations, if you toss your opponent around enough, the floor will break, sending you tumbling down to the next level.. also giving you the opportunity to get a few hits in while you're falling. Sneaky, but necessary.
On top of all the one player action, there's a two player mode, which for once doesn't require an IPX network.. just two people and a Playstation will do. There's definitely something about stomping a human opponent into the ground. It's just a shame that Acclaim didn't include any multi-player tournaments. Still, two player mode does add to the game's longetivity. Not that it needs extending.. Children of the Atom will keep you busy for ages, just in one player mode. With buckets of moves, characters and playablility, X-Men is definitely worth a place in the collection of any beat-em-up fan. Now get out there and kick costume-clad arse.
Summary: A great retro beat-em-up.
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