PSX Mania – 042 – X-Men: Children of the Atom (1998)

Completion time: 1:13:40

Back when I was a sophomore in high school, I used to play the hell out of X-Men: Children of the Atom at a bagel shop close to my school. A friend of mine (named Jason as well) would go almost every single lunch break and have a pizza bagel along with us splitting rounds, playing against the CPU and anyone shortsighted enough to put a quarter down to play us. Hell, I remember a few times we lost track of time and got back a half hour past when lunch was over.

CotA was the first Capcom Marvel brawler, and more or less the beginning of a fighting game franchise that swept through arcades, homes and fighting game tournaments. This was the first “complex” 2D brawler as well, and what I mean by that is unlike most other Capcom fighters, there’s a lot of brand new concepts that were introduced, such as the crude beginnings of the air combo system, flying characters, high combo counts, etc. It felt a bit more tactical than the 2D fighters preceding it.

The PlayStation port has a few issues. As with every 2D fighting game outside Street Fighter Alpha 3, there’s slowdown issues and/or missing frames of animation, due to the hardware limitations of the console. Playing Sentinel my entire run, his larger frame also lent to some bouts of slowdown. Silver Samurai’s level was slowdown city, and the battle with Juggernaut had plenty of moments of chugging. Nonetheless, it plays extremely well. Another issue, one I had with War Gods, was the lack of unlimited continues. Your default stock is set at five, and anyone that’s ever reached Magneto, knows that sob is one of the hardest Capcom bosses ever. We lost all our continues the first batch of continues, and squeaked out a victory in the second go-around, and for the first time in 25 years or so, I was able to defeat Magneto with Sentinel! But seriously, not having unlimited continues in a fighting game port is ridiculous; when you spend five rolls of quarters on a game to play at home, you should have unlimited continues at least as an option.

It’s still a beautiful game, from the character models, right on through to the imaginative stages. The audio was pretty damn good as well. I thought the quality would have suffered from it being compressed to hell, but with headphones on, it all sounded brilliant.

On my PSX Mania Google Doc, in the quick comments section for Marvel Superheroes, I had asked whether the aforementioned was the best the console had to offer. As it stands, I still feel the PS1 experience of Marvel Superheroes was a hair more delightful than the PS1 experience of X-Men: Children of the Atom. In the arcades though, CotA was a hair superior. If you have a Sega Saturn and a Sony PlayStation and enjoy a good fighting game, pick this up ASAP on the Saturn. If you only have a PS1, I still highly recommend it, although understand that the home console experience will be quite inferior (but still a damn fun time).

Rating: 9

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