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16-Bit Brawl: X-Men vs. Mutant Apocalypse

16-Bit Brawl: X-Men vs. Mutant Apocalypse

Kris Randazzo
7 minute read

Welcome to 16-Bit Brawl, a series where we pit two Sega Genesis and Super NES games against one another to see which one comes out on top. Let's talk X-Men. 

With the X-Men seeing a bit of a resurgence in popularity thanks to the excellent X-Men ‘97 on Disney+, it seemed like a great time to see how Marvel’s mutants fared on the 16-bit platforms of the day. And apparently, I’m not alone! In fact, in one of the recent episodes of the show, there was an amalgamation cartridge of these very two games in a system called a Motendo!

But back to the point, let’s once again ask the age old question, did Nintendo or Sega’s systems get the better game? 

First up, we have X-Men for Sega Genesis. Now, there were two of these games on the Sega Genesis, and only one on Super NES, and the SENS one landed smack dab in the middle of the two Genesis ones. So we’re going to go with the first because one, it’s far more iconic, and two, because it’s the game I know better. I never spent much time with Clone Wars, so I’m not in a position to compare that one to anything. I did, however, play the heck out of the first game! And wow, what a game this is. 

I have to acknowledge right off the bat how incredibly flawed X-Men is. But it’s so darn cool it’s hard to complain too much! This came at a time when everyone wanted a home console port of the arcade game, and Konami absolutely refused to answer the call. So any game that wasn’t an LJN mediocrity-fest was a welcome addition to one’s game library. This is a side-scrolling action game where you find the team stuck in an out of control Danger Room. You’ll face off against the likes of Juggernaut, Magneto, and umm… Ahab? Yeah, there was a little barrel scraping going on here in terms of villains, but the playable heroes made up for it. You can choose to play as Gambit, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, and of course, Wolverine. It’s a very “Sega” Genesis game, if that makes sense, but anything it lacks in technical prowess is made up for in sheer coolness. 

Over on the Super NES, we have X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. This one's also a side scrolling action game, but much like the Aladdin situation this was handled by Capcom, and boy does it show. Not only does it feature killer graphics and music that uses the same instrument set as the Mega Man X titles, but your characters’ special moves are performed the same way as the ones in Street Fighter. The SNES game doesn’t have Nightcrawler, but in his place are Beast and Psylocke, in addition to Gambit, Cyclops, and Wolverine. Together, they’ll face off against the likes of Juggernaut, Magento, and umm… Tusk? They sure do love throwing D-tier villains into these games, don’t they?

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the combatants, let’s see how they fare. 

Graphics (1 point)

This isn’t even close. Even if Mutant Apocalypse wasn’t a gorgeous game in its own right, the Sega Genesis one is not a good-looking game. Sure, the art direction is okay, but nothing animates well, everything moves clunky and choppy, and even a lot of the still shots just look janky as heck. 

Mutant Apocalypse though, is Capcom working their magic. Special moves animate brilliantly, the characters are enormous and detailed, bosses look great like the huge Sentinel battle. It’s all great! It’s weird to even have to point this out, but it’s quite stable as well. This in comparison to the Genesis game that sometimes feels like it’s going to fall apart at any moment is a huge plus. 

Mutant Apocalypse mops the floor with the Genesis game in this category. 

X-Men - I

X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse - I

Sound (1 point)

Once again, this is an easy win for the Super NES game, but that’s not to say there isn’t anything good going on in the Genesis game.

When you think of the stereotypical Genesis “fart” noise, this game is THE example. The Genesis was capable of some truly incredible sound, but when used poorly, you wound up with this symphony of flatulence. The compositions themselves though are… pretty good? They aren’t amazing or anything, but I can still hum that title screen music. Catchy stuff! 

And then there’s the sound effects, none of which are effective and also sound like they were ripped straight out of someone’s butt. The sound in this game is flat out bad. 

Mutant Apocalypse though, is very good! The sound effects are awesome, and the music sounds solid. In terms of compositions, I might actually give the edge to the Genesis game as I can’t remember how a single tune in this game goes, but forgettable-yet-cool music is a pretty big step up from downright bad. Another easy win for the SNES.   


X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse - II

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YPbPr Component Cable for Super NES - HD Retrovision


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Gameplay (2 points)

Yeesh, it looks like this one’s going to be a shutout. Look, the Genesis game is very cool, and even has that fantastic reset button moment towards the end (seriously, if you don’t know, look it up), but this game is so out of control clunky to play it’s almost unbelievable. Nothing in X-Men feels good to actually do. Even summoning your fellow teammates like Storm and Rogue to help out doesn’t take the sting out of things. Wolverine has a Mutant Power meter that drains whenever he has his claws out. I’m sorry, but there should never be a penalty for Wolverine just having his claws out. 

Mutant Apocalypse isn’t perfect either, but it’s a heck of a lot more polished than this fart-fest. The character movement can be a bit stiff, but the feedback loop from clearing a group of enemies with Cycplos’s optic blasts or pouncing enemies as Beast is fantastic.

The SNES game is just more fun to play, in my opinion. 


X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse - III

And there you have it. By using my very scientific and not at all flawed system, I can determine that X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse is the superior X-Men game. I will always love that dumb Genesis game and its amazing box art, but when I think back to all the frustrating times I had playing that game at a friend’s house hoping to get just a little further each time, the only reason I played the game at all was because it was X-Men. Mutant Apocalypse though, that would have been a blast no matter what the characters were. No offense to the Genesis game, but the Super NES has it. 

X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse takes the win in a clean sweep.  

And that’s it for this edition of 16-Bit Brawl. If you have a pair of games you’d like to see us pit against one another, or just genuinely disagree with my assessment here, let us know. See you next time! 

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