Genre: Action, Platformer
Year: 1993
Developed by: Western Technologies Inc.
Published by: Sega
Platforms: Genesis
Feeling Like: I’ve lost my Mojo!

My first unhealthy obsession was X-Men. I never missed a chance to watch the cartoon on Fox Saturday mornings, never hesitated to get my hands on any of the comics, or playing with the action figures, or impersonating them with vocal battle cries during random sporting events. It was my first foray into anything superhero. Wolverine, as far as I was concerned, was the epitome of toughness and being cool. He had Raphael’s attitude with adamantium claws, and was Canadian to boot!

It was a natural progression that one of the first video games I was entranced by was X-Men for the Sega Genesis and it existed it only one single spot – the corner in Sean Mc’s living room. Sean and I were fast friends in grade school and spent the majority of our summer days at each other’s houses watching movies, playing sports or indulging in video games. We played a lot of different games, but X-Men reigns supreme in terms of enjoyment and time played. Ice Hockey was a close second.

Playing co-operatively next to each other, huddled up against the brick fireplace was a delight. We tackled anything that had two player options, but we came back to this the most. Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Gambit and Wolverine (naturally) make up the main roster, and none of those are unappealing options. Not only were the levels fun to play through, we would often switch up which mutant we played as just because we could. Nightcrawler was an easy pick when we got lost – the ability to teleport both parties through walls was, in hindsight, ridiculously overpowered when part of the main challenge of each level was navigating through the maze-like corridors and pitfalls.

Aside from a few tough boss fights, there are two standouts for me, 27 years later.

Primarily, the music. It’s 100% Genesis, with reverberating twangs everywhere and melodies that fit perfectly with what they were going with. Weird / alien / futuristic/ bleep-bloop rock is the genre I’d call it. Have a listen.

The intro theme which also serves as the backdrop to the final encounter with Magneto

The character selection.

The Shi’ar Empire.

The amount of individual tracks is extremely limited, but they made it count. These three earworms have never left me, and I’ll often find myself tapping my fingers during a car ride and realize my body is drumming along to the character selection theme. None of them are as good as the legendary cartoon intro, but they’re pretty close.

As fond as I am of X-Men still, it’s home to one of the most notorious, awful puzzles in gaming history. I’ve been frustrated before. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve thrown a controller here and there in a fit of rage against an impossibly difficult foe, or in exasperation when I can’t login to my account, or my internet connection cuts out in a heated match. Outright flabbergast is pretty rare, until we finally discovered the solution to the Mojo level puzzle.

It’s a bizarre stage, with creepy music and a truly unsettling color palette. Upon defeating Mojo, you’re presented with a computer panel in the air. Destroy it, and you’re met with the message “Reset the computer now!” No problem, I’ll just…uh…where’s the computer, exactly? Didn’t I just destroy it? Frantically searching every inch of the final platform revealed nothing. There’s a timer, in the form of Mojo’s jaws on the side – once they close, you lose. Game over. We did absolutely everything we could, only to fail over and over again. This was well before the time of the internet being a viable option, and I suppose we weren’t resourceful enough to purchase a guide.

When Sean told me he found out how to do it, I was in disbelief. Totally exasperated. This was Kojimo-level of breaking the fourth wall. It’s nefarious, it’s sneaky and it’s kind of brilliant. You reset the computer all right, the CONSOLE ITSELF. THE GENESIS. The thing that NOBODY calls a computer. Oh, and you have to lightly tap the reset button – if you hold it down, it won’t work and the game will genuinely restart. Upon doing so correctly, the screen spits out some garbled green code and a confirmation that you’ve made it through the level.

Had the message said “Reset the Genesis!” I’m convinced it would be considered a great magic trick of gaming, long before Psycho Mantis read our memory cards and added a new element of immersion. But no, the developers decided to call the Genesis a “Computer” and confuse millions of kids for generations. What a crock.

It’s kind of funny in hindsight, and certainly memorable.

It’s also funny how Sean’s favorite was Gambit, and Sean grew up to be quite tall. My favorite was Wolverine, and I grew up to be short and hairy. Life imitates art about mutants, I guess!

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