I’m not a huge video game nerd. I’ve played video games, no doubt — I can probably beat Sonic 2 with my eyes closed at this point, but I’m content to watch the Angry Video Game Nerd rather than seek out old games myself. And new games? Forget about it. Even if I had the time to play (I don’t), joystick-heavy character movement leads to me shooting a cop 1 second into playing Grand Theft Auto 4 and being unable to move. But when I was a wee young’n in the early 90s, X-Men The Arcade Game was my jam. Any Friday night I could convince my parents, I’d go into Dream Machine, plop down a dollar or two in quarters, and play what I referred to (and still refer to) as “the purple X-Men game”. Mash buttons, blow up Sentinels, use mutant powers. “Nothing can move DA BLO-OB!” “Welcome TO DIE!” It’s symphonic. Whether it was the epic 6 player cabinet or the four player I remember seeing elsewhere, I couldn’t get enough of the game.
Each character had their own power, and here are all six characters ranked in arbitrary scale of awesomeness:
- Nightcrawler – I used to think his power was to run purple at people.
- Colossus – Sure, he’s never the “coolest” in the comics, but his inexplicable energy forcefield power made him a strong character in the game
- Wolverine – The claws, man. The claws.
- Cyclops – Only because 6-9 year old me was a little sexist and didn’t like girl heroes.
- Storm – Whipping up a frenzy with her stormclouds, but never one I wanted to play.
- Dazzler – Not bad in the game, but, c’mon, who wanders up to a video game and says “Hope I can play as Dazzler! She turns sound into light, you know?”
Sadly, the world moves on — Dream Machine closed and the cabinets disappeared from the arcade landscape. Yet there was a glimmer of hope: Palace Playland, an arcade/small scale amusement park in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I thought I remembered seeing a purple X-Men game there once, and when I returned, lo and behold, there it was. Of course, it turns out I sucked at the game now and couldn’t make it past the first level without exhausting my supply of quarters. Still, the game was back! Or so I thought. Sadly, the next year when I returned it was nowhere to be found. Broken or sold off, another X-Men had bitten the dust. Thankfully, the internets have brought us MAME emulators and the X-Men Arcade Game ROM, where quarters only cost the press of a button, so the dream lives on.