And now, Scary-Crayon reviews...
X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants
by: Wes

Admittedly, it's been quite a while since I was able to play a recent computer game. Given that my PII 400 mhz hasn't been capable of playing the latest games since roughly 2000, I've been forced to sit on the sidelines as people immersed themselves in City of Heroes and sold their souls to the World of Warcraft, all the while listening to their high praises and waiting for the day that I might be able to join them in this new era of video gaming. So now that I've become more comfortable with the environment on my secondary system I've been seeking out game demos to check out some of what I've been missin' -- and given my longstanding interest in those Marvel Superheroes known as the X-Men (despite my hatred of the films), one of the downloads that I was most looking forward to was the demo version of X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse.

X-Men Legends II: Rise of ApocalypseThe Brotherhood and the X-Men unite!

Despite what I'm about to say in the successive paragraphs, I'll give the game this -- it looks and sounds bloody fantastic. Following an introduction that depicts the best-looking Magneto that I've ever seen wreak havoc on a bunch of armed guards and infiltrate a military installment, I found myself breaking out of the compound and later infiltrating a bug-infested wasteland to retrieve an unconscious girl, all the while with a team of four mutants and a host of impressive combat maneuvers at my command.

Still, considering that the 336 MB demo took roughly four hours to download, the half hour of gameplay that the demo provided seemed painfully short by comparison. Now, I realize that "demo" is short for "demonstration" and that, accordingly, these incomplete versions need not provide much more than an introduction to the mechanics of the games -- which this adventure with the X-Men did quite well -- but playing the game made me long for a day when PC games were... well, simpler. Hell, I remember when game demos and even entire games could fit on a single 3.5" floppy and offer hours upon hours of gameplay, whereas the installed demo of X-Men Legends II currently occupies 484 MB on my hard drive. And yes, I understand that newfangled games with their fancy 3D graphics often require multiple gigs of space and insane memory requirements, but unless this is one of those demos of old that actually includes the full game and only requires a patch or registration code to unlock the additional levels, something about that just strikes me as being bloody wrong.

Better graphics, yes......but ultimately not so different.

Moreover, as I played through the X-Men Legends II demo, I couldn't help thinking that it was quite similar to a game that I used to play back on our old IBM PS/1 computer -- back in the days before Windows 3.1 even arrived on the scene. Yes, the graphics are far better than they were fifteen years ago, but the game still essentially comes down to exploring foreign environments with a team of mutants while avoiding traps on the map and beating the crap out of any enemies that happen to cross your team's path. Oddly enough, that game was also an X-Men sequel: X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants. Sadly, Apocalypse was nowhere to be found.

The Fall of the Mutants

Loosely based on "The Fall of the Mutants" storyline from issues 225-227 of The Uncanny X-Men, the game required players to select a team of five X-Men from a roster of fifteen -- imagine the combinations! -- and traverse a number of strange locales in order to rescue fellow team members Forge and Storm from the clutches of a terrible demon known as the Adversary. In order to locate the path to his magic citadel in outer space, however, they had to beat the requisite information out of the government-sponsored Freedom Force, a team of mutants comprised largely of members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. And along the way, they found themselves pitted against Tyrannosaurs, Indians, and shotgun-wielding rednecks. Seriously.

Select your heroes!Rogue challenges dinosaur.

Quite a selection, isn't it? Besides Storm (who isn't on active duty because she's playing the role of the damsel in distress), it's pretty wild to see that not only does X-Men II include the five other X-Men from Konami's acade game, but ten other heroes ranging from favorites like Iceman, Beast, and Rogue to lesser-known characters like Longshot (upper-right corner) and the Phoenix incarnation of Rachel Summers, Cyclops and Jean Grey's punked-out daughter from an alternate future (dead center). And much like X-Men Legends II, once you've picked your team, you head out onto a top-down RPG map and walk around confronting enemies and such. They may have moved into 3D and begun to take more after their Ultimate X-Men and film counterparts in appearance, but apparently the X-Men's modus operandi hasn't changed all that much since 1991.

X marks the spot.Nightfall on Day One, Week One.

The X-Men do have various powers, however, and it does matter -- to a point -- which ones you choose to carry out your mission, as certain characters have strengths that others lack. We'll get to their combat abilities in a bit, but even outside of battle there are advantages to choosing certain characters over others. For example, in addition to various traps and powerups that can only be disabled and used by certain mutants, the maps are littered with obstacles like trees, trucks, rocks, giant bicycles, and lava pits -- and while you cannot be damaged by these obstructions, finding ways around them can become annoying. Unless your team leader can fly, that is, in which case you can move over them unimpeded. Additionally, time passes in the game -- and at night, to simulate the darkness, the visibility window is limited such that you can only see one step ahead of your team leader in any direction. However, depending upon whom you choose to lead the team, you can see a little better. Phoenix's inherent glow lets you see two steps ahead, whereas Dazzler has the power to illuminate the entire map even in the darkest hours of night. And given that it is entirely possible to wander into scenes like this, the ability to see what lies ahead makes these characters invaluable contributors to any team.

And Wolverine. Goodness, Wolverine. This is the only X-Men game I know of in which his healing factor actually works the way it should -- and while he can't heal himself in combat, the dude is constantly on the mend as the team wanders about the map. He's almost always at full power. He's Wolverine. Pick him.

Using all mutant abilities.They're coming to get you, Raven!

But these are "natural" abilities, and, as such, do not require mutant power energy to use. Pressing the Enter key, however, will switch on the characters' mutant abilities, thereby enabling them to accomplish additional character-specific feats. Colossus and Wolverine can now break through walls with their respective strength and claws, Shadowcat can phase through solid matter, and so forth. Some characters can do nothing, but usually you'll have at least one character on your team whose powers are of use in this capacity. And whether you use Nightcrawler's teleport or simply blast through barriers with Cyclops's optic beams, mutant powers on the map are all used for the same purpose: to pass through or break down the walls of the map in an effort to get somewhere else. While most of these areas can be reached without the use of mutant powers -- for example, in the above-right image, I might simply have walked all the way around to Mystique -- there are areas of the map that can only be reached via the use of mutant abilities. Most of the time these sections contain powerups or, in later levels, traps that look just like powerups (yes, the game is nasty like that), but sometimes a boss will hole up in one of these areas, requiring you to go in and get the fucker. Speaking of going into things, there are actually two different areas to each map -- an upper level and a lower level that can be accessed from the other via the use of stairwells and portals. And given that maps and enemy/item placement are random (although one can choose to replay old maps), mutant explorers have their work cut out for them.

Enter Orders:Get 'im, Psylocke!

Did I mention that the enemies also include Viet Cong soldiers? And demons. And the Blob! Nothing moves him. Anyway, after you collide with enemies on the map, there are two ways in which you can engage them (pressing the action button allows you to switch between these modes): round combat and side combat. The latter is the default setting -- and the more preferable one, in my opinion -- but if you're a fan of the turn-based, grid battles of the old school, you may prefer to take on your enemies in the round manner. Depending upon the selected formation of your team (see the lower-right corner of the map screens), you start off in various alignments and maneuver around the grid, attacking, moving, and guarding as necessary to defeat your opponents. Again, the mode isn't all that interesting, especially given that the grid combat doesn't allow you to take full advantage of your characters' mutant powers, but it certainly imbues the game with even more nostalgic qualities.

Dazzler vs BarbarianPhoenix vs Minor Demon

In side combat, however, your mutants get much more of a chance to show what they can do against the armies of cavemen and rednecks that stand in their way. Many of the characters, like Dazzler above, have projectile attacks that they can utilize to keep enemies at bay. Characters with the power of flight can take to the skies in order to skirt obstacles on the battlefield and avoid enemy fire, 'cause those shotguns and bows that rednecks and Indians carry aren't just for show! Additionally, Phoenix and Psylocke sport psionic attacks that allow them to dispatch enemies without ever throwing a single punch. Not that characters need have these abilities in order to get by, though, as the game does take the mutants' strength into account as well during these battles. So while poor little Kitty Pryde won't fare too well against a Tyrannosaurus Rex in one-on-one action, bruisers like Wolverine and Colossus can beat the snot out of these monsters while taking minimal damage.

Rogue (and Wolverine) vs DinosaurMarvel Girl (and Arch Angel) vs Barbarian

Also, because folks like Shadowcat and Nightcrawler are terrible in side combat -- and because it's kinda neat, I guess -- side combat also allows characters to double-team their foes, thereby introducing even more strategy into the battles. Whereas even in the one-on-one battles, characters with projectiles can position themselves opposite obstacles and fire at their blocked foes, these two-on-one battles enable the heroes to surround enemies and attack from both sides. Moreover, because enemies will tend to focus on one character, a flying mutant can sometimes draw the attention of the enemy while the other attacks from behind. And, of course, characters who are low on energy or lack projectiles can always benefit from the assistance of a more able teammate. Not that one needs a spectacular reason for joining characters, mind you. It's just cool to do.

This is a one-player game, however, so it's important to note that while you control the "home" character, the CPU assumes command of the joining X-Man -- and interestingly enough, it does an excellent job as an ally. Unlike modern games, in which CPU-controlled teammates are likely to run around spastically or do absolutely nothing to help, your fellow X-Man will aggressively attack the enemy until it is dead. Granted, it's not clever enough to wage a projectile war with the enemy while strafing up and down the screen to avoid getting hit as well, but it'll draw the fire of the enemy as best it can and slug away at the back of your foe if it insists upon pursuing you. Like the Incredible Hulk in his rockin' music CD, your X-Men II partner will be a friend to you.

Locate Speedy Gonzales and Stonewall Jackson!OMG, BOSSES!!!

So far, so good, right? But I'm not kidding you when I say that despite my "fond" memories of The Fall of the Mutants in my youth, I dreaded playing this game again. In fact, before I began, I spent roughly two hours searching my basement for the disk on which I used to keep my saved games. And hell, when I couldn't find it, I actually considered firing up the old IBM PS/1 to see if I'd left any of the saves on the hard drive. And while I didn't have nearly as tough a time with the game as I remembered having back in the day, I still experienced some of the same frustrations that plagued my experience back then. Now, I didn't play a whole lot of RPGs back in the day, so I'm not sure how common a technique for extending gameplay this is, but things weren't quite as simple as seeking out the members of Freedom Force in a maze with your fearless team of five. Well, they were, except for one thing: for each of the four stages that preceded the final battle with the Adversary, two Freedom Force members were to be found in one and only one of three different mazes -- so given that each one had two different levels, players could potentially end up traversing six different maps in search of their mutant foes. And if they picked the wrong maze? Well, they just wasted however long it took to comb the maze looking for those bastards! Nothing left to do but return to the area selection screen and pick another one.

But wait! you say -- how was a player to know that he/she didn't just miss them? EXACTLY. You know that feeling that you get when you're looking for something and you can't find it, and you think that it's probably somewhere else, but then you start thinking no, it probably is where you first began looking, and you'll find it there for sure if you just keep looking there a little longer -- and you don't want to stop looking there because then you'll be way off base and likely never find it? I do, because it's the same damned feeling I got while scouring the basement for those fucking disks. That feeling defines the gameplay of X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants. Because bosses can move too, it is theoretically possible to traverse every area on a map that they inhabit and still fail to spot them, provided that they keep moving and make use of the night in order to remain hidden. Granted, they're rarely that clever (although they usually attack on sight, I have seen them turn tail and flee into doorways on several occasions), but the simple fact that they could is enough to make a mutant even more anxious. Making matters worse, the game's clock wasn't just for pissing players off by restricting the visuals -- there was actually a limit to how long one could spend searching for Freedom Force. I don't think I ever actually ran out of time, though; my patience always gave out long before the clock did. But I've gotta tell you, few things are more exciting than entering a door and spotting characters that look like members of your team... but aren't!

Dazzler vs AvalancheArch Angel vs Mystique

The good thing is that once you find a boss, your worries are over -- at least for the current level -- as both of the targeted Freedom Force members always lurk on the same map. And it's a shame that these encounters are so few and far between, because while the bulk of the game is spent fighting generic enemies like dinosaurs and cavemen, it's actually quite engaging to battle characters one recognizes from the comics, even if they are tiny, 8-color representations of themselves. Even cooler is that they actually have their powers! Just as she does in Capcom's X-Men: Children of the Atom, Spiral throws knives. Pyro shoots fire. Avalanche throws rocks. Blob is fat and strong. And Mystique can't morph into other characters, but she does have a little gun that she can use to shoot at the X-Men. Depending upon the battle techniques you use, boss fights are rarely more difficult than battles against normal enemies -- and in round combat, they often fall more quickly than dinosaurs -- but they're still (mostly) ex-members of the Brotherhood. YOU KNOW THEM! And it's damned cool to see them again.

Dazzler (and Arch Angel) vs SpiralDazzler

Hell, you can also double-team them for even more mutant fun! Is Spiral too much woman for Dazzler to handle on her own? Bring in Archangel to even the score! Anxious to reprise your first battle in Konami's X-Men arcade game when you and your buddy picked Dazzler and Cyclops and took on Pyro at the end of the first level? Go to it! I make no secret of the fact that two-on-one fights in this game make me giddy, and familiar bosses just make them even better. However, because only one of the bosses holds the key to the next level -- the other is just kind of there to let you know that you're in the right place -- it's entirely possible to get through the game without ever engaging half of them in battle. This isn't too disappointing when you're dealing with virtual nobodies like Crimson Commando, Super Sabre, and Stonewall (or are low on health), but it can be pretty upsetting to go through the whole game without getting your daily dose of Evil Mutants. I <3 the Brotherhood.

At last... the team enters the Starlight CitadelStorm and Forge are free!

I wasn't kidding about the citadel thing. After you've defeated the requisite members of Freedom Force, you take to the skies to battle the Adversary, a giant black demon thing that enjoys kidnapping mutants, creating rifts in time and space, and, apparently, playing chess and checkers in his spare time. Beat him and you've won the game! It may sound like a fairly simplistic title -- and it is, random maps and enemy placement notwithstanding -- but X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants can be a while lot more fun than you might expect. But don't take my word for it; thanks to sites like Home of the Underdogs, you can find out for yourself, as they've got the game available for download! Given the unpredictable nature of X-Men II, it's somewhat understandable that there isn't a faq or a strategy guide for it on the web. No, wait -- everything has a faq! Except, apparently, this game. To help you out should you choose to play, though (and I totally recommend giving the old girl a whirl, especially if you're a fan of the X-Men), I've assembled a short list of tips to give you a hand. If you're not interested in playing, however, or would rather start from relative scratch, you can click here to skip to the remainder of the review.


(I do not claim to be an expert at the game, but I wanted to use an "X"-word. :P)

Yes, that's a dead cop on the ground.Marvel Girl vs Dinosaur

Tip: It's pretty cheap, but characters who can fly are pretty much invincible against all normal enemies. To utilize this combat trick, fly to the maximum height as soon as the battle begins, then position yourself against the left or right edge of the screen. Once the enemy follows you there, he/she will freeze directly beneath you. Once the enemy has ceased moving (if he/she stays at a slight distance, simply move to the other side of the screen), you can descend and kill your foe without repercussions. With the exception of the Adversary, even the game's bosses fall prey to this technique. Excelsior!

Tip: Use the environments to your advantage! While mutants with long-range attacks can usually kill enemies at a distance before they even reach them, certain backgrounds will provide your characters with even more insurance in this department. If you end up on a screen with an obstruction at the bottom of the screen, immediately move down such that your opponent is blocked by it. Then fire away at your leisure: it will never occur to your enemy to simply walk around! Similarly, if you levitate characters just a bit and position them overtop of obstructions -- and within striking distance of enemies -- you can attack safely. Provided that they lack projectile attacks, this technique also works well against the bosses (except, of course, for the Adversary, whose stage has no such obstacles).

Tip: The members of Freedom Force (that is, the bosses) are pretty strong, so I recommend utilizing one of the above techniques to defeat them whenever possible. Or, at the very least, call upon a teammate to help you out! However, because these enemy mutants eventually team up with you, if they kill your leader they will nevertheless relent and allow you to advance to the next level. Call it a consolation prize.

I hate the Adversary.He eats mutants for breakfast. :(

Tip: While I have encountered several unreliable glitches that have enabled my characters to walk right up to the Adversary without taking any damage, as far as I have been able to discern, there is no real strategy for defeating him. You can't fight him in round combat. You can't double-team him. He's too tall to fly above, his stage has no obstacles, and he's incredibly fast and powerful, though sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, his hits will take almost no power whatsoever. Other times, he'll kill your people in five chomps -- and you start the battle at full power! In fact, unless you have a strong team and/or all five of your combatants are still living, there is a very good chance that the Adversary will kill every last one of your mutants. Seriously. He is an asshole and I do not like him at all.

The trick to beating him -- if you can call it a trick -- is simply to start slugging away and praying. If you have a character that can fire projectiles, you may be able to get in a shot or two before he's on you, but it's still going to be a tough battle. Keep hitting him and watch your energy -- when it's roughly 3/5ths depleted, switch to a character with full power (luckily, your health is refilled before this final battle). You'll be standing in the same place, so just keep on swinging. If he's able to wear down your entire team, switch back to the strongest one and keep fighting to the last mutant. Hey, maybe you'll win.

Tip: Powerups are color-coded. Not every character can use them, and certain characters lack the ability to use any of these items (with the exception of the standard blue ones, from which all characters can benefit). Given that I've attempted to use all of the variously colored powerups with all of the characters, the list below should be complete -- but if you find any errors, shoot me an e-mail.

Rogue can use the red item, but not the green ones.BLUE: All characters can receive energy from blue powerups.

LIGHT BLUE: Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Psylocke, Rogue

GREEN: Archangel, Beast, Longshot

RED: Colossus, Cyclops, Havok, Rogue

YELLOW: Nightcrawler, Shadowcat

NONE: Dazzler, Iceman, Wolverine

Tip: Whereas items are the only way to replenish your characters' health, mutant power energy can be refilled via camping on the map. To do so, press 'C' and stand still. Given that camping requires your team to remain stationary, I recommend camping at night, as doing so in the daylight wastes valuable time during which you can actually see stuff (that is, if you don't have Dazzler, who can see ahead 24/7). While it's not that important in side combat -- unless your character uses psionic attacks -- mutant power energy is crucial for round combat, as your characters will not be able to attack enemies without it. Additionally, exiting confrontations (by pressing the 'Escape' key in battle, or 'R' in round combat) drains your mutant power energy -- and once it is wholly depleted, you will NOT be able to retreat from battles (except in round combat, because otherwise that would be totally unfair).

I heard a maid sing in the valley below...The party attempts to escape

Tip: While the repercussions are far greater for round combat than for side combat, you can change the formation of your team by pressing the '+' key. In round combat, this changes your team's starting position on the map, thereby enabling you to employ different attack patterns. In side combat, the only major difference is the order in which your teammates are attacked. Whereas with a single file formation your fourth and fifth members will rarely get a chance to fight, with the X formation the outside members of your team will fight before your team leader. This can be useful, for example, if you wish to lead with Dazzler (say, at night) but would rather leave the fighting to the stronger heroes.

WTF? Sometimes dead enemies will attack your party. They'll engage you on the map, the game will switch to the side combat view... and your opponent will already be dead. Don't puzzle over it, though -- just switch the view to one of your other heroes. Living enemies will be ready to engage them.

Character Recommendations: You'll likely want to explore the characters' various mutant powers yourself, and I certainly encourage you to do so. Despite my experience with the game, I have very little idea which traps the characters are capable of disarming, and the varied nature of trap appearances -- not only do many of them look alike, but what appear to be powerups and even enemies can actually be disguised traps -- makes it inconducive to address them with anything less than a full visual guide. (Maybe someday.) As such, the following suggestions are based upon my success with the game. Given the tips noted above, characters with projectiles are good to have, though some projectiles (e.g., Marvel Girl's) are less powerful than others. Characters who can fly, however, are a necessity, as they can defeat almost every enemy flawlessly and skirt obstacles that other characters require mutant power energy to pass. (Note that, like flying characters, Iceman can rise above obstalces on the map without using mutant powers. However, he lacks the combat advantages of actual flight.)

Psylocke (and Wolverine) vs DinosaurNightcrawler sucks.

For these reasons, Archangel is probably my favorite character to pick, as he can fly, fire projectiles, and generally hold out for a while in the final battle against the Adversary. In fact, on a number of occasions, I've been able to take down the Adversary without having to switch to anyone else. Next, while he cannot fly or shoot stuff, Wolverine is a good guy to have, given that he can heal himself while doing absolutely nothing and, in team combat, can serve as an invaluable ally (and shield) for weaker characters. Also, while he lacks the ability to use most of the game's powerups, he can see three paces ahead of himself at night. Dazzler can rout the darkness entirely, thereby enabling your group to travel with full visibility at any given hour. However, given that she also can't use any of the nonstandard powerups and lacks the ability to heal herself, she can become a liability in the later levels of the game.

And you may discover some use for them that I haven't, but I've found Shadowcat and Nightcrawler to be fucking worthless. They can't fly, they don't have projectiles, and they're painfully weak in combat. Yes, they can phase and teleport, respectively, but given that phasing drains mutant energy really quickly and then starts eating away at Kitty's life (and, after she's gone, the life of the rest of your team until you get out of the solid object), it's only useful for crossing walls that most of the characters can smash through anyway. Similarly, while Nightcrawler can cross fairly lengthy distances with his teleport, you generally want to explore the ground. Enemies can be anywhere, after all, and missed ground can make things very confusing when you're trying to figure out whether you've overlooked the bosses or whether they're in another level altogether. Nightcrawler may have been great in the arcade game, but he's terrible here.

Finally, here are some lists denoting which characters are capable of certain side combat abilities. Note that none of these powers have any particular bearing for round combat, as mutants have to be adjacent to enemies on the grid in order to attack them. Most of the mutant powers on the map are pretty intuitive -- and I've pretty much noted the useful (and not-so-useful) ones in the text of the review and the above gameplay tips -- but I'll leave the rest for you to discover on your own. ;)

Stonewall cannot harm Rogue when she flies.X-Men who can fly: Archangel, Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Rogue

X-Men with projectile attacks: Archangel, Cyclops, Dazzler, Havok, Iceman, Longshot, Marvel Girl

X-Men with psionic attacks: Phoenix, Psylocke

Bosses with projectile attacks: Avalanche, Mystique, Pyro, Spiral

And if the game starts to piss the hell out of you and you just wanna see the ending (although I've pretty much included all of the relevant screens in this review), unzip the contents of this file into your X-Men II directory in order to play one of my saved games on the last level before the Adversary. (To load the save, either select 'Yes' when the game initially asks you or press 'R' during play.) To get to him, all you've gotta do is brave the swarming enemies to find and defeat Mystique. You can do it! :D

With a fierce war cry the star is thrown''In this dimension Earths mightiest champions succeed...''

Anyway, following the defeat of the Adversary, a scantily-clad Forge will banish his demon booty with a fierce war cry and Uatu the Watcher, who presides over the events of the game, will read off the names of your surviving characters as they do a happy victory dash across the screen. After that, depending upon how many members of your team bit the big one, he'll either praise you for achieving "an amazing victory without cost" or scold you for letting your peeps die. Similarly, should all of your team members perish at any point in the game, you'll get this screen, where a mournful Watcher reminds you that this is only one reality -- and, by extension, that there are nevertheless a number of other realities in which the X-Men might, in fact, succeed in their heroic mission. And if you think about it, that's pretty damned deep for a game that makes you fight dinosaurs and cavemen with glam rockers and men covered in ice. When you read the latest tallies of soldiers' deaths, take heart, because in an alternate reality Gore was elected President in 2000 and the United States never went to war with Iraq. In an alternate reality, clouds are pink, unwashed armpits smell like lilacs and popcorn, and elephants sing opera. In an alternate reality, there are live action X-Men films that are actually good.

Arch Angel vs Crimson Commando? Blah!Arch Angel vs MAGNETO!

But to tie the review back to the opening sentiments, it's kind of amazing to think about the changes that have taken place with video games over the years. As noted, the X-Men Legends II demo took up 584 MB of space, whereas the contents of my X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants directory, at 773 KB, could fit on a 3.5" floppy. Hell when I bought the original game way back when, the box contained two game disks -- a 3.5" version of the game and a 5.25" version. Remember those? And whereas nowadays games have credits lists as long as and even longer than those of blockbuster films, the X-Men II credits require two screens. It took only four people to make this game. One guy alone handled the programming! One guy did the music! Hell, I could've made this game. You could've made this game. We could've made this game.

And admittedly, that thought crossed my mind a number of times back then. See, while I never actually got around to sending away for it, Paragon Software actually did release a scenario editor for the game. I think one of the reasons that I never mailed in the offer -- besides the possible fact that by the time I bought the game for $9.99 at Software Etc., it had already expired -- was that there was no way it could ever live up to my dreams concerning it. Even fifteen years later, I vividly remember drawing crappy X-Men sprites in my graphics program and envisioning an editor that would enable me to transform Crimson Commando into Magneto, or at least recolor Avalanche and rename him Juggernaut. Will the games of today inspire children like that, creating lasting memories that prompt them to paint purple capes on lesser-known mutants even at the age of 24? I wonder.


So given that our friends at the Underdogs have the X-Men II Scenario Editor available for download as well, I finally got the chance to check it out after all these years... and while there is no sprite editor, I still imagine that I would've had a blast with it, once I figured out how to use it. Can today's youth create their own scenarios in X-Men Legends II? Would they even want to? Again, I don't know. In any case, they probably wouldn't even want to waste a second on a game that looks as dated as X-Men II: The Fall of the Mutants. But really, are graphics all that important? Granted, if you can't tell what's going on, there's a problem -- but while obstructive camera angles are an issue in far too many modern games, I never had difficulty seeing my characters or fighting enemies in this game. So the scenario editor doesn't have Juggernaut or Apocalypse or fancy cel-shaded characters! I know Magneto when I see him, damnit, and I don't have to fool with my right analog stick to get him in my sights and line up my attacks. And you know what? That is enough for me.

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