Review by Zork86

Reviewed: 11/25/13

I've finally done it...this game is not as good as I remembered.

Have you ever played a game once before thought it was great or horrible or whatever and actually kept it afterward for some unexplainable reason? Then, have you ever played said game again after a certain amount of time has passed and found that your opinion of the game has changed? It could be for the better or worse, it doesn't matter. But you still kept this after playing through it again. Finally, did you try playing the game again and discovered some things about it you didn't realize before, changing your overall opinion once more?

I think some might know what I'm talking about. This doesn't even have to necessarily apply to video games, you could apply this to movies, tv shows, books, comics, anything really. I think some of us may have been there. X-Men 2: Clone Wars for Sega Genesis is one of these things for me, and it's been a monkey on my back for a long time. Every time I think about this game, I always have very conflicted feelings about it.

I remember buying this game a long time ago, probably in 1996 or 1997 at a Toys R' Us when Genesis games were going on clearance. I didn't know that Sega ever made a sequel to the original X-Men for the Genesis, a game that I do enjoy today even if it's hard and has some obtuse design. So I asked my dad if I could grab it and we checked out and I played it at home and was blown away. Everything just seemed to be better overall to me. Better gameplay, better graphics, better sound and music, more characters, lives instead of characters having permadeath. This sounds better than what was offered in the first X-Men doesn't it?

Of course I finished the game back in the day and loved it. I remember thinking very fondly of it, even becoming one of my favorite Genesis titles. After time went on and I obtained new consoles and games X-Men 2 was one of the games that were lost to me due to a chaotic household with two siblings much younger than me. Time marched on, I got older and still thought of this game when discussing older ones with my friends over the years. Eventually I scrounged some cash up during High School (this was 2005 if I have to date myself) and bought a new Sega Genesis with a new copy of X-Men 2. I was prepared to relive a game from my childhood that I hadn't played for nearly 10 years.

I still enjoyed it somewhat, but the magic from before wasn't present. I even played it with a few of my friends and they didn't think very highly of it. More time passed and I put the game away for a while until a few years ago when I got more interested in writing out game reviews. I decided that I'd try to write some out with my experiences with some new games while also relaying my experiences with older games that I grew up on and decided to revisit to see if they still hold up.

When I revisited X-Men 2 on my own once again in 2009, I hated it. I felt like the game became ridiculously difficult after the third stage reminding me a lot of the original X-Men, but this was worse. I was prepared to write a review that completely blasted what is generally accepted as a pretty good comic book based Genesis Action/Platformer. For whatever reason though, I wrote the review and didn't release it. I actually still have it on my computer.

I was disgusted but I still kept my copy of X-Men 2. Then earlier this year (2013) I decided to try and play it again. This time I wasn't as adamantly angry about playing it and I seemed to do better than before, maybe I was just having a bad day or something? All I know is, this game and the review I intended to write for it had become my white whale. Finally I'm going to try and slay the beast and put this game behind me for good.

When I got more interested in writing reviews for games I played, my motivation consisted of usually two reasons. One being that I felt the need to voice my opinion on a game, with whatever reasons there may be for me feeling that way, be it under-representation, misrepresentation, or just because why not? The other reason was pretty much just for fun. I find the whole process of deconstructing a game and talking about it in great detail to be pretty fun.

My writing style, opinions, and general tastes have changed a lot over the years and it's not gone unnoticed by me. So since I finally built up enough gumption to slay this beast of reviewing burden (Hahaha! First world problems!) I decided that I wanted to do something a little different for this one. I want to review this one in three perspectives. The perspective of myself as a kid, what I thought of it in 2009, and what I think of it today. My current thoughts will be presented in italics. It's a chimera of a game review. Hopefully this won't be a total bust and you'll enjoy it.

This game will be cool wo-HOLY CRAP I'M IN ALREADY?!

Kid me:Where's the title screen? I guess it's cool that I don't have to press start. I don't like how I can't pick who I wanna be, like Gambit or something. Is Cable in this game?

So far this is pretty cool. You can use your mutant powers normally with no limits! Now Wolverine ALWAYS has his claws out!! I already like this better than the first one!

Holy crap you can play as Magneto!! YES!!!#E@3da

I did it. I saved the world from the Phlanex...Phoenix? I killed clones of the X-Men as the final bosses and won. That was pretty fun.

Ahh, the innocence of youth. I truly did enjoy this game as a kid, and that's pretty much how I remember my experience then. Things were so much easier.

Me four years ago:This game is a fair bit lighter on the story than the first game. Every now and then after you finish a level Professor X and Cerebro will chat about the ongoing situation with the clones, that’s right. In this game there is an ominous alien race that wants to clone everyone and take over the world. If there were a few more talking sections it would made the storyline seem more interesting and less tacked on. One thing that is kind of annoying just like the last game is that there is no options menu to adjust anything. It’s just kind of inconsiderate.

One thing that the old game does have over this one is that at least you can change the difficulty on it, unlike this one. There is one fixed difficulty, again, somewhat inconsiderate on the Devs part.

I'm not sure if was trying to sound sarcastic or witty when writing about this game's storyline but now I think I was sounding like a pretentious dick. Especially when complaining about the options. Though I do think it's still kind of odd how some games during this console generation didn't have options or menus, that seems like something more normal during the Atari days. Moving on...

The way this game plays compared to the older one is still somewhat similar but overall the formula has been simplified. There is no power bar for your mutant powers anymore because actually there aren’t special powers, they’re more like special attacks now and if someone has powers it’s either the special attack or it’s a passive ability. Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Magneto (Yes Magneto is playable) and Psylocke all have their powers linked to special attacks, and the special attacks can become more powerful when your life bar is high. Beast and Wolverine have special attacks as well and they also are more effective at max life but their special abilities are more passive. Beast does the most damage out of anybody in the game and Wolverine can regenerate health of course, but it’s limited to the last three notches of life on the life bar.

This game is two players as well but that point will become somewhat moot in the later levels because as the game gets harder, more of the other characters become less useful due to various reasons. The only one that seems to really remain useful no matter what is Wolverine because of his regenerative abilities, it really helps in the later levels and nobody else can do that, they have to rely on power ups which become harder to find and more scarce. Actually most of them will be up in high to reach places and some characters just can’t reach them. It’s just really lame that after a while in the game that characters like Gambit or Psylocke become almost useless and Magneto is only useful in certain spots. How could they do that to us? Everyone loves Magneto and would jump at the chance to play as him and he becomes nearly obsolete and really is only useful in three instances in the game that I can think of, otherwise you’re just asking to die.

Besides…Magneto was right, remember?

Another thing that is kind of messed up but is still an improvement on the old game is that you have seven lives, but there are no continues which makes you very angry when you mess up and die…especially since there are no checkpoints at any parts of any level in this game. In the old game it was like this except there were no lives, you had four characters and when one of them died they were out of the game permanently, so really you had four lives and no continues. One other thing I do kind of miss that the old game did have is the helper characters, you could bring up a menu and call down Storm, Rogue or Archangel to kill everyone on screen or help you do damage to a boss, it was very helpful and you could find icons throughout the game that would help you replenish them so they weren’t just for once time use.

In the end, the gameplay is pretty good but it could’ve been a lot better and less frustrating. I chalk this up to poor design decisions.

First of all, it's true that this game is still fairly similar in structure and level design to the original. You go around in a level and look for the exit, sometimes there might be switches you have to hit or something to activate doors, platforms, or reverse some traps. The powers thing is also true, but I feel like it takes away the layer of strategy that the first game had. You couldn't go all out and blow through your power bar, you had to show some restraint if you wanted to get through levels at peak efficiency. It just made using your powers more meaningful and rewarding. So now I'm kind of against that change.

I'm also embarrassed at my Magneto fanboyism. My original points about the game becoming much harder later and characters becoming obsolete is true. Later on, playing somebody like Beast or...anybody who isn't Wolverine is almost asking for death. You can complete levels as these other characters, but it becomes exponentially harder. Because some characters can't climb up walls and ceilings and stuff, it's also true that many power ups will be out of their reach.

Having no continues is in fact, not messed up but the game does still feel like kind of a hard ass about lives and continues. Sure, there's no character permadeaths but later in the game you'll start losing lives like crazy, especially if you don't learn that Wolverine is your best friend or you get brave and try to play someone else. The helper characters I could take or leave nowadays. They didn't really play that huge of a roll in the original game, they were just extra damage for the most part. The thing about two players is also true, whoever isn't Wolverine is gonna have a rough time.

One thing I'll comment on that I notice I didn't four years ago is how the level design is not very good. At first it's fairly bland and uninspired stuff, you're trudging through a snow level you're immediately dropped into when you turn the game on, it's just a bunch of random platforms and the structuring and backdrop make no sense. I mean that as in you have no idea where you are or what you're doing. It looks like you're jumping through a construction site in Siberia while being attacked by ninjas wearing red and mechs with guns. Then you're at a Sentinel factory that's very straightforward to navigate and fight through and the only time it's ever interesting is when you're on Avalon, which is Magneto's asteroid base in space or whatever. Avalon is kind of neat because there's a lot of wide open spaces and obstacles you need to try and avoid such as deadly space mines, gun turrets and his Magneto's own men. You're pretty much trying to descend into the base and it makes sense.

After Avalon though it all goes downhill. Suddenly you're trying to find Apocalypse somewhere and you're going up this pyramid or something, and you're being attacked by hairy midgets and random rocks that fall out of the sky that you literally have no chance to react to properly. That's pretty a pretty unfair and artificial way to make your level more difficult, take damage that you have no chance of avoiding. It gets worse when you to the Savage Land though, all of these levels are just you wading your way through a ton of plant traps, and guys with axes...whoever put this together went pretty overboard with the stupid plants that shoot bullets at you, the ones the explode and the ones that have spikes. The Phalanx ship is just a bunch of enemies that take multiple hits along with traps, making it nearly impossible to complete with anybody other than Wolverine.

They really should've reconsidered the balancing of their characters and their level design.

This looks like a good Genesis game, but sounds like a bad one...

Kid me:Wow man, these graphics are so good. I've never seen an X-Men game that looks like this! It's almost like the cartoon! The music is so cool too. Magneto's theme is awesome! DA-CHICKA-DA-CHICKA-DA-CHICKA-DA!!!

Me four years ago:The graphics are at least pretty good. A lot of the levels and backgrounds in the game are very detailed and colorful. There are also a lot of graphical effects and tricks going on with the enemies in the game. I have seen better on the Genesis but this game is also a lot better than a sea of other technically inferior Genesis games. My only complaint is at the end everything seems to just turn yellow and brown, a very boring color palette that we’re all much too used to with today’s current games.

This is pretty much correct. The tricks and effects I'm referring to mostly has to do with these sprites that morph into other characters or shapes. A lot of games actually do this and I think I was giving the game a little too much credit. Also way to repeat myself by saying I've seen better, but it's still better than a lot of others...

The sound is another area that makes you wonder what the devs were thinking. There are few decent tunes on this game but it also suffers from the Genesis’ weak sound chip. None of the music in this game is memorable at all for the most part and really you won’t end up paying any attention to it, it’ll just become white noise because you’re too busy trying to concentrate on not dying. The sound effects on the other hand are pretty good and really there isn’t much to complain about other than the fact that sometimes the sound effects will get drowned out by a lame soundtrack that makes too much noise, trying to overcompensate for the tune being uninspired.

Whooo boy! Where to start? I'd like to clarify that while technically speaking, the Genesis' sound chip is not as good as the SNES', I think that it is capable of doing some great soundtracks, some that even the SNES isn't that capable of pulling off. For instance, I'm of the opinion that the SNES chip has weak drum and bass. I'm fairly certain that's correct and some people will agree with me, because sometimes when a SNES game tries to do a rock or techno kind of track, it'll fall flat. There's only a handful of games I can think of that do tracks like these well on the SNES such as Maximum Carnage, Rock and Roll Racing and X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse of all things.

It's fine though, the SNES is really good at pulling off that faux orchestral kind of music and has really good synth capabilities. The Genesis isn't so good at that orchestral stuff and it's synth isn't that great, however the bass and drums really's totally capable of some great rock, or techno or a techno rock fusion tracks. Games such as Sonic Spinball, Outlander, or any of the Streets of Rage games have great soundtracks that showcase this, Sonic games included. Really, this sums up how I feel about both systems. They're both good at something the other one isn't. So they're both worth having.

Now that the elephant in the room has been addressed, the music and sound in this game isn't good. At all, period. This would be an example people would point to if they wanted to take a dig at the Genesis' sound capabilities. The soundtrack has this very annoyingly loud volume level of crunchy grindy sounding synth stuff and it's very bass driven. Normally I like bass driven music but here it's annoying.

It's so loud most of the time and sometimes it will drown out the sound effects. A lot of the arrangements just seem like a chaotic mess of 16-Bit Blast Processing sounds. Imagine taking all the worst sounds and parts of Genesis games you've heard and trying to design an entire soundtrack around that. At best, it's forgettable which isn't good for game music at all. At worst, it just sounds horrible. If you don't believe me, go take a listen on Youtube.

Even if this game were cloned (pirated) for me, I doubt I'd play it again.

Kid me:This is one of the best games I've ever played! I need to get some of my friends over to play it with me!

I did play through it several other times. Even with a few friends. I must confess something though, I'm not sure I could've legitimately beaten this game without the help of my copy of Blockbuster: Secret Codes '98 by Brady Games.

Me four years ago:Now this game is two players and that should help right? Well, not really…at least not in my opinion. Really it’s because of the problems I’ve listed above talking about the gameplay. Someone has to play Wolverine or you won’t get anywhere later on, but the other guy is just going to suffer because he can’t reach any health power ups and will more than likely die before the Wolverine player will. Combine that with how frustrating the game is later on and more than likely you’ll only be able to bring yourself to play this game once.

No need for repetition, but I did that anyway. This is pretty much correct, though I think I was having a bad day when I originally wrote this review.

The funny thing is, believe it or not. I used to really like this game as a kid, and I did have fond memories of it. But I like to think it was because I used cheat codes with my friends and it didn’t matter who we played so we were actually able to have fun with the game. It’s just a very disappointing sequel and really it should’ve been better than the first game with all the flaws it had, but it turns out. This game really isn’t that bad but it ends up being not good either. It’s just frustrating that it couldn’t meet the potential it had.

The original actually ended up being better, despite the Developers’ and Designers’ intentions.

Developers and Designers should be a game studio. That'd be the best name ever. That aside, I couldn't put it any better than myself from four years ago. Bravo me! With all that being said, I think this game is still a disappointment.

It does not improve very well on the issues the original X-Men had if at all. About the only thing that showed any improvement was the graphics in comparison. We all know graphics don't make games right? Except that...they actually kind of do. You get what I'm saying. I don't recommend this game, and I'm not entirely sure how it's so well received, nostalgia blinders perhaps? I've said it before but if you want to play some genuinely good X-Men games, go play Mutant Apocalypse on SNES and Children of the Atom on Sega Saturn.

As an added bonus, I'll show you what I scored the game in 2009 as well.

2009 Scores
Presentation: 6 What? I don't even...
Gameplay: 6 Huh?
Graphics: 8 Ok. This is fine.
Sound: 6 What?!
Replay: 4 Meh.

Overall Score: 6.3 – Decent This score is indecent!

Modern Scores!
Gameplay: 3
Graphics: 8
Sound: 3
Replay: 2

+The graphics are pretty good, marked improvement over the original game.
+You can play as Magneto!
+Wolverine is by far the best character in the game.

-Not as much story, and it's not as interesting either.
-Level design starts out as uninspired, and nosedives into bad.
-There's another extreme difficulty spike like the first one, but this time it's due to design incompetence.
-The rest of the X-Men will more than likely get benched after you beat Apocalypse which is the halfway point of the game. All of these characters are wasted, including Magneto.
-This game probably has the worst soundtrack I've ever heard on a Genesis aside from Dark Castle.

Overall Score: 3.5 – Heavily Flawed

Score modified to 3/10 for Gamefaqs.

Rating: 3

Product Release: X-Men 2: Clone Wars (US, 12/31/95)

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