This week, I’m really going back with X-Men 2: Clone Wars!
A Lesson In Mutation
X-Men 2: Clone Wars is, obviously, the sequel to X-Men for the Sega Genesis (that’s Megadrive for anyone not in the US). It was developed by Headgames and released in 1995. It held some pretty significant advances over its predecessor like mutant powers not running on a power gauge, but being spammable and, in some cases, charged, better graphics, and a bigger roster.
One welcome return is the two player co-op, which I haven’t tried in years, so I won’t really be talking about it as I went at it alone this time.
Protectors Of A World That Fears And Hates Them
One of the most noticeable changes in Clone Wars is the larger roster which consists of Beast, Gambit, Cyclops, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, and, after unlocking him, Magneto. The roster selection is due to the story wherein the Phalanx have decided to try and take over Earth by taking mutants and cloning them to use in their conquest. Only a few have managed to escape capture, namely the folks previously mentioned.
After you complete level three, you’ll unlock ol’ buckethead himself.
Each character feels fairly different to the others thanks to differing basic attacks, double jumping, and of course, their own mutant powers. Beast smashes the ground, sending out a shock wave, Wolverine will do was he does best and stick bad guys with his claws. Even Nightcrawler’s teleport can be used to attack, but you have to be very careful about placement or you might end up getting your little blue elf ass kicked.
It’s also a nice touch that certain characters can cling to walls for added exploration. Oddly enough, Beast is left out of this. That surprised me a bit, even as a kid, because he’s supposed to be able to dig his toes and fingers into the tiniest cracks and climb walls.
Like most old school games, this one is tough as nails, so you need to be quick on the trigger and bring your A game if you want to get anywhere without showing up at the end looking like a sack of mashed potatoes.
You, literally, get a crash course in how unforgiving this game is when you’re met with a cold start (that’s an instant start, you’re tossed right into what’s going on without any idea as to why) and find rockets, robots, and ninjas flying at your face before you have a chance to figure out what’s going on. You either hit the ground running or you just hit the ground.
Thankfully, throughout the levels you’ll find DNA helices that can restore chunks of health, which makes exploration more useful than usual. Make no mistake, you’ll need to hunt down extra health. I admit, I spoofed it a bit and rolled with a Game Genie. You would too if you hadn’t played a game in nearly 20 years and needed to do a review in less than a week! Yea, so don’t look at me like that.
In case I wasn’t clear enough – this game is fucking hard. Stupidly so in some levels like the Aztec Temple where rocks rain from the sky whilst you climb to the top to take on the fool tossing them. In all honesty, though, that’s pretty par for the course with old school platformers. It just happens to be more frustrating these days than it was when I was younger.
“I’m The Best There Is At What I Do…”
For my complaining about how hard the game is, it’s a lot more manageable if you’ve got a good handle on the controls. They’re very responsive and do their job very, very well.
Being able to aim in six directions with characters who have the gain a benefit from it is awesome. Got some annoying flying enemy that you just can’t be bothered to jump after? Hold A, aim up left/right, and blast away. I think that Cyke, Gambit, Magneto, and Nightcrawler probably get the most use out of the multi-directional aiming. Nightcrawler certainly has the most mobility with his double jump and teleport combined with the ability to aim it wherever you please.
All in all, the controls do what you want them to, when you want them to.
“…and what I do ain’t ugly”
The animation and graphics of Clone Wars are absolutely awesome. From Magneto’s magnetic static to Nightcrawler’s tail twitching, they went all out making the game look beautiful. Hell, Nightcrawler’s tail even adheres to gravity when he’s upside down on a wall.
The scale of some of the levels is incredible and really gives you a sense of being tiny. Like the screenshot above with Earth in the back and the shot below showing off a Sentinel’s boot.
As much as I enjoy the game over all, the music leaves a lot to be desired. The only track I really enjoyed was the one from the title screen. I couldn’t really recall any other tracks as they were very minimal and felt ambiguous as to what was going on. In some cases, this actually works. The very first level you’re tossed into when you turn on the game is a barren snow wasteland, so the downplayed music fits there.
Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with the soundtrack.
The sound effects, on the other hand, serve their purpose masterfully. I’m especially fond of Nightcrawler’s bamf sound as I imagine that that’s about what it’d sound like. The punches, kicks, exploding cards, optic blasts, metallic bombs all sound awesome.
You Can’t Clone Perfection
So, in the end, how does X-Men 2: Clone Wars really fair? Pretty damn good, actually.
I had a hard time reviewing this one as it’s pretty basic. It’s a good looking, nice sounding platformer with spot on controls. I don’t really know what else to say about it. It’s definitely worth your time if you’ve still got an old Genesis/Megadrive sitting around and want to kick some Phalanx butt.
The game does a fantastic job including classic X-Men locals like the Savage Land and villains like Apocalypse, Sentinels, and Exodus.
Right now, on Amazon the game is ranging from about $4.50USD for a used copy to $79.99 for a new copy. If you really, really, really want to go all out, go for it, but the $4.50 price tag is well worth the price of admission for what you get in return. This game is a classic and deserves a spot on any gamer’s shelf as a testament to how great platformers and licensed games can be.
That’s all for now.
You folks have fun, take care, and I’ll see you next time.