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How X-Men Legends Changed Superhero Games

Gamers Pays Homage to the 2004 Blockbuster X-Men Game

(Graphic property of Activision, Barking Lizards, Marvel, and Raven Software)

13 years ago, video game publisher Activision and developers Raven Software and Barking Lizards teamed up to bring one of Marvel's signature superhero franchises to life. The result of their work was one of the 2000s best role-playing video games.

X-Men: Legends followed the adventures of a mutant girl named Alison, who can control volcanic activity. Alison’s powers catch the attention of the menacing Genetic Research and Security Organization (GRSO), who captures the fiery teenager. However, help comes in the forms of both the Brotherhood of Mutants’ Mystique and Blob and the X-Men’s Cyclops and Wolverine. Both offer Alison salvation, but she chooses to follow the X-Men back to the Xavier Mansion. At the mansion, Alison meets several of Cyclops and Wolverine’s iconic teammates along with Professor Charles Xavier, who offers her the chance to harness her powers for good.

As the game progresses, Alison, now nicknamed Magma, is dragged into the conflict between both mutant camps. Magneto, the villainous Brotherhood of Mutants leader, wants to make mutants dominant and plans to wipe out all of humanity through a missile attack from Asteroid M. In addition to shutting down Magneto’s homicidal plans, the X-Men must also save Colossus’s sister, Magik, from the Shadow King and stop the GRSO from unleashing Sentinels, whose primary objective is to wipe out mutantkind.

X-Men: Legends changed the role-playing superhero genre forever with several features. Unlike predecessors Marvel vs. Capcom or X-Men: Next Dimension which allowed their players to control one character throughout the game, X-Men Legends offered the ability for single players to interact with the computer (CPU) controlled players. This ability allowed fans to build their four-person team from 15 of the X-Men’s greatest members. Teams could have been well-balanced (Wolverine-Storm-Colossus-Jean Grey) or specialize in a particular type such as flight or teleportation (Jean Grey-Nightcrawler-Rogue-Storm). Also, players could switch between characters in massive fights.

Another feature that made players enjoy the game more was giving players the choice to exit the main game and go onto to improve their abilities any time they wanted. Players can access the Danger Room’s computer to tackle challenges such as unlocking characters and powers that the X-Men can access later on in the game. Also, the developers have sprinkled comic book covers and screen art that players can attain throughout their game. Finally, if you want to test your knowledge on the franchise, they can play X-Men trivia. With each correct answer, the player will receive valuable experience points which can level up their favorite mutants.

X-Men: Legends was available to be played on the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, the original Xbox, and Nokia’s N-Gage consoles. The game received high marks from various publications including GamePro, GameSpot, and IGN. Also, X-Men: Legends was well received by players of the big three (GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox) consoles that it was named to all three of their greatest hits lines.

Enter Apocalypse

(Graphic property of Activision, Barking Lizards, Marvel, and Raven Software)

In September 2005, the franchise’s sequel, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, was released. The game picked up after the events of X-Men: Legends, but offered a twist to incite both returning players and newcomers. The player would be able to play with not only the X-Men, but Magneto and several members of his Brotherhood of Mutants such as Juggernaut, Toad, and the Scarlet Witch, as well. The warring factions were forced to collaborate when Apocalypse reared his ugly head.

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse also opened up for players to unlock certain characters. Several characters such as Deadpool and Professor X could be unlocked on all platforms, but if players wanted to add Dark Phoenix, Sabretooth, or Beast to their roster, they would have to play the game on the PSP (PlayStation Portable), PC, or N-Gage respectively. However, the inclusion of one additional character caught everyone off guard.

When fans realized that they could have Iron Man join the fight against Apocalypse, every True Believer wanted to have the chance to have classic heroes such as Captain America, Doctor Strange, Elektra, Spider-Man, and Thor on their team. Without the success of both X-Men: Legends and X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance video game would not have existed.

Jacob Elyachar
Jacob Elyachar

Jacob Elyachar is an award-winning journalist, pop culture fanatic, and social media lover. He writes for both and Vocal. When he is not writing, Elyachar does CrossFit, listens to music, and volunteers in his community.

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