Review by IAmNotThePope
FINALLY, an X-Men home game that's worth playing... if only for a little while
X-Men 2: Clone Wars is a fairly standard side-scrolling beat 'em up, featuring the Marvel superheroes at the height of the cartoon's popularity in the mid-90's. Compared to the previous X-Men title on Genesis, it's a huge improvement in nearly every way. In fact, it's worlds better than every previous X-Men title, with the exception of the fantastic 6-player arcade game.
The six characters you have available to you in this game (as well as the seventh that you get later) are all beautifully detailed for a 16-bit game. Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, and Beast look exactly like they did in the cartoon. Nightcrawler and Psylocke I don't remember from the cartoon, but they look just as good. All the details are there, right down to the muscles, and the characters even breathe!
The rest of the game's graphics, including the environment and the enemies, are still good, but definitely a step down from the character models. The enemies are somewhat less detailed (except for the bosses), and the levels range from pretty good looking (the Sentinel factory) to pretty bland (the snowy first level). On the whole, the graphics are at least on par with the norm for 1995. The only thing that keeps it from getting a higher score in this department is the relative blandness of the explosions.
Meh. The sound effects are okay, in that you can always tell what's what. But the sounds of gunfire, explosions, and the grunts your characters make when they get hit are all pretty bland.
As for music, it's there, and it's not really out of place. That's about all I can say for it, because it's not at all memorable. I found the title screen music very bland, and the level songs aren't much better. But honestly, who's playing X-Men for the music?
When you turn on the console, you're immediately dropped into the first level with a randomly selected character. No title screen, not even a Sega logo first. And to make things worse, you're being shot at. The game loses a point right there. You can hit reset if you get hit or if you want a different character, but you can forget about trying to please two players. If you've got a friend who wants to play, they're better off waiting until the next level to join in, unless they really don't care who they play as.
Once you get through that first level, you have your choice of Wolverine, Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Beast and Psylocke. A few levels into the game you'll get a seventh character, but if you want to know who it is you'll have to play the game (or check the FAQs). Each of your seven mutants' powers are faithfully reproduced in this game; Wolverine even heals damage when he's badly wounded, although only up to a point.
Your controls are pretty simple: Jump with C, regular attacks with B, and mutant powers with A. Not very deep, but it gets the job done. And more importantly, unlike the first X-Men game on this system, you don't have any limit on your mutant power use. Who wants to play Cyclops so they can PUNCH people? Not me.
For the most part, the controls work just fine. Jumping from platform to platform isn't that hard. Neither is hitting the enemies. Psylocke's psychic knife is the only one that's a bit tricky, and that's mostly because of its extremely limited range (except when you get powered up at full health). Also, why can't Nightcrawler's teleport take him through doors and thin walls? Pretty lame.
If you're looking for something as well-written as the Phoenix Saga or the Age of Apocalypse, you're in for some disappointment. But the story is enough reason to explain why you're doing what you do, and it provides a good excuse to see a lot of the major X-Men villains in one game. And at least the whole thing doesn't take place in the Danger Room like in the last game.
I don't mean to say the game is especially hard. It gets pretty hard later on, but nothing unusual for a Genesis game. The first level is extremely easy (only fair, since you don't get to choose who you're playing). The next few levels aren't that hard either, but the difficulty starts to climb rapidly in the middle of the game. And the lack of adjustable difficulty settings or continues makes it harder as well.
While it's not one of the greatest beat 'em ups of all time, it IS the first good X-Men game that you could play without having to go to the arcade. The game suffers from a few problems (mediocre sound, difficult later levels, and the inability to choose your character in the first level), it's really not bad. While the game doesn't have a lot of depth, it's reasonably fun, and worth checking out at least once for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the X-Men.
P.S.: This was my first review, and I hope that it's helpful to you.
Product Release: X-Men 2: Clone Wars (US, 12/31/95)
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