X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 (PSOne)
X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 is definitely an evolution in the Mutant Academy series. An evolution, not a revolution. Mutant Academy 2 adds six more fighters to the mix, one new special attack for each character, an air juggle system, and two secret characters. The more I play it, the more I think to myself that this is what MA1 could've and should've been.
The second game is graphically taxing for the PS1's hardware. MA2, though, isn't any more taxing than its predecessor, so why couldn't MA1 have had the more inspired backgrounds, and character models and designs of its offspring? The most obvious answer is that the game was rushed to market. It was forced to market whether Paradox was or wasn't finished with it in order to be a tie in with the X-Men movie. This second installment has to stand on its own, and does so like an infant just getting used to his crawling legs.
The new character designs, with the added functionality of this sequel, make the old, clumsy characters obsolete. A character like Nightcrawler will, nine out of ten times, be victorious over a now lobotomized Cyclops regardless of the skill level of the player. Cyclops, thanks to the removal of his optic blast attack and weak air combos, has been transformed from one of the best characters in the game to one of the worst. One tip, don't use the old characters unless you have to or you've been highly trained from the last game. All of the characters are coming back from the first game: Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Gambit, Beast, Phoenix, Mystique, Toad, Sabertooth, and Magneto. There are six new additions to the lineup: Rogue, Forge, Nightcrawler, Havok, Psylock, and Spiderman.
Most of the stages have been recycled, though there are about 4 new ones excluding the stages of the secret characters. These levels are pretty dull, with the exception of the bright fields of Muir Island, but all of the stages still lack any interactivity.
The fighting mechanics are, as ways the last game -- fast and wild. I say "wild" with a negative connotation. The new combo system complicates things even more than the first game. The combos are not only difficult to learn and remember, but they also give your computer opponents a one up on you. I've decided that since MA2 can recycle its content so can I, so following are some paragraphs from my MA1 review that fills just as well here.
Special moves are easy to use, and regular moves are relegated to the standard street fighter method: light kick, medium kick, fierce kick, light punch, medium punch, and fierce punch. A combination of these and the directional buttons, in conjunction with three different super power meters, allow you to do super moves. You could technically get through arcade mode with random button mashing, but the controls are so unresponsive at some points so its hard to tell whether you would get your hits off or not.
The addition of the stages, the confusing air and ground combos and, the characters make the sequel more interesting than the first. That still doesn't make X-Men: MA2 more than an average 2-D brawler. Buy Guilty Gear from Atlus or Marvel Vs. Capcom if you want a good fighting game for PSOne. These additions were long overdue, they should have been in the first game.
Sub-Total: 4.2/10 (+1.5 points extra credit for keeping its innovative training mode and introducing more creative lighting)