With a brand-new X-Men film just reaching the cinema and with several critics saying or implying that it's the best superhero film in years, now seemed to be a good time to look back at some of the very best X-Men gaming experiences we've enjoyed over the years. And make no mistake, Nintendo has helped to roll out some excellent X-Men games, which in my opinion tend to be more engaging than most other superhero games, for whatever reason. At any rate, in the spirit of getting excited over the new film, here's my look back at some of the best X-Men gaming experiences from the past few decades.
I'll start with the most modern X-Men games I've enjoyed, because in this particular situation working backward through time (mostly) means getting to better and better games. The first game I'd include on my list is without a doubt X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which accompanied the film of the same name and came out for the Wii (and other consoles) in 2009. You'll find some pretty lousy reviews at metacritic.com for this one, and it's certainly not the most inventive superhero game I've ever played. However, the truth is it's by far the most advanced X-Men game out there from a pure graphics and visual standpoint. The game's a little limited in its scope (being more of a Wolverine game than a full-on X-Men game) and its action is slightly repetitive, but it's fun for a while and it looks beautiful, so it's worth a play.
As a sort of side note to modern X-Men gaming (because there really isn't much to speak of on Nintendo or any other console), I've had a bit of fun poking around of various low-key X-Men arcade experiences as well, and for any hardcore fans out there this is worth mentioning. Playtech has developed a pretty complex but oddly engaging X-Men slot machine game that operates via matching up iconic character cards (rather than traditional slot items). You can play the game with actual cash on the line (provided you're not in the U.S.) at casino.betfair.com, but it's also available for free elsewhere if that's more your style. I'd also point out that for the true comic fans, the newly updated X-Men: Battle Of The Atom card battling app game is pretty awesome, if only for its depth of content and characters.
I can do without the slew of mediocre X-Men and Wolverine games released in the early and mid-2000s, quite honestly, with the notable exception of the X-Men Legends franchise from Activision (including the 2004 original and the 2005 X-Men Legends II: Rise Of Apocalypse for Gamecube). The most iconic X-Men gaming experiences remain old-school arcade and side-scrolling options, but when you really think about it, superhero teams are perfect for action RPGs. And that is what these games delivered, in spectacular fashion. Nothing beats assembling a team of your favorite mutants to battle through storylines, and these games are more complex than so many arcade options that simply involve mashing your A and B buttons. Both were excellent games, though I have to say Legends II may be my favorite X-Men gaming experience of all time. And IGN seems to agree.
Finally, there are the older games that still come to mind first for a lot of gamers when they think about X-Men experiences. There were numerous arcade experiences involving X-Men characters that were a blast to play, but because these are harder to access and play again, I'm going to focus on X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, Capcom's legendary 1994 Super NES game. Yeah, I just kind of bashed side-scrolling combat in favor of RPGs, but this still ranks among my favorite X-Men experiences, because sometimes you just want light, mindless, beat-em-up action with your heroes. In this regard, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse delivers. It's right up there with the Legends franchise for best X-Men gaming experience.
That about rounds it up. There are literally dozens of other X-Men games that were released over the years, but most were fairly forgettable. If you're looking to get psyched up for the new film, these are the games I'd recommend you dig up and play!