Video games are among the best forms of entertainment for many people. It allows one to take direct control of the entertainment by actively controlling the action to move the story along. Games allow us to truly be some of our favorite characters.
The X-Men are one of the most iconic fictional groups of characters of all time. The women of the X-Men are among the very best of all American comics and other forms of media. These characters have helped shape and inspire countless fans. Even many casual fans with the most basic of knowledge, or even none at all, have seen characters like Storm, Wolverine, or Jean Grey even in passing. So why is it that so many X-Men games featured very little, one, or at times none of their iconic ladies?
Classic sexism or misogyny seems to be the obvious answer. Likely also the notion of a predominately male audience with a perceived preference to control male characters over female ones. Do they think younger boys or grown men would only want to play as men? And even in the case of the explicitly hetero male gamers: do they think they wouldn’t want to look at and play as sexy ladies kicking ass? Either way, let’s look at some of the history of X-Men and larger Marvel games featuring the X-Men and discuss why an X-Women game is necessary, and what it could look like.
As always, this opinion is subjective and your mileage may vary. This article will focus on X-Men-specific games as well as larger Marvel games. Wolverine games will be skipped because he is typically going to be the sole playable character in those titles. This article focuses on games in which X-Men characters are playable. Aside from one mobile game, which remains the final solo X-Men game to date, I will be leaving out all other mobile games from the article.
Why the X-Women Deserve Their Own Game
The women of the X-Men have been underrepresented in video games. They have been absent, vastly outnumbered by the men, or otherwise underutilized as a whole. There are X-Women who have never appeared in a video game, let alone been playable. Other times, depending on the game, a woman character might be very poorly handled (Emma Frost in the first X-Men Legends game comes to mind) or given very little to do (Psylocke is unlocked towards the end of the same game, and there was no new game plus, so this would always be the case no matter what).
The Women of the X-Men are not only iconic but their designs and powers are often very well suited for video games. The only main exceptions are Kitty Pryde (screw her anyway for her three uses of the n-word in the comics) and Mystique (whose shapeshifting does nothing for combat or offense in most games). But the X-Men as a whole have serious untapped potential for exciting new characters to be explored in games and other media, and their women are no exception.
X-Men Games and Playable X-Women
The Uncanny X-Men (1989) for the NES only had Storm playable of six playable characters.
X-Men: Madness in Murderworld (1989) for Commodore 64 (chile… what now..?) and PC had Storm and Dazzler playable of six characters.
X-Men: Fall of the Mutants (1990) for PC had Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Summers, Rogue, and Dazzler playable of fifteen characters (a good amount, but a lackluster ratio of women versus characters overall, this will be a recurring theme. Also why not Storm??? Supporting but not fully playable for some reason).
X-Men (1992) for Arcade, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, and Android had Dazzler and Storm of six characters.
Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge (1992) for Sega Genesis, Super NES, Game Boy, and Game Gear had Storm of four playable X-Men (as well as Spider-Man, obviously).
X-Men (1993) (they really came up with an interesting title for the next solo X-Men game just one year after the last…) for Sega Genesis had zero playable woman characters.
X-Men (1994) (lmao… am I being trolled right now?) for Game Gear had Storm, Rogue, and Psylocke of seven characters.
X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse (1994) for Super NES only had Psylocke of five characters.
X-Men: Children of the Atom (1994) for Arcade, PC, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn had Storm, Psylocke, and Spiral of thirteen characters.
X-Men 2: Game Master’s Legacy (1995) for Game Gear had Storm, Jean Grey, and Rogue out of seven characters.
X-Men 2: Clone Wars (1995) for Sega Genesis only had Psylocke of seven characters.
X-Men vs. Street Fighter (1996) for Arcade had Storm and Rogue of eight X-Men characters.
X-Men 3: Mojo World (1996) for Game Gear and Master System (who???) had Psylocke, Rogue, and Shard (hooray for Shard, but no Storm? Not even Shard’s more famous brother Bishop was playable).
X-Men: Ravages of Apocalypse (1997) for PC had no playable X-Men. Instead, you fight their clones, and some of them are X-Women.
X-Men: Mutant Academy (2000) for PlayStation and Game Boy Color had Storm in both versions and Phoenix was only playable as a secret character in the Gameboy Color version out of five characters in both versions (Beast was playable in PS1, absent in GBC).
X-Men: Mutant Wars (2000) for Game Boy Color only had Storm out of five characters.
X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 (2001) for PlayStation had Storm, Rogue, Phoenix, Psylocke, and Mystique out of eighteen characters.
X-Men: Reign of Apocalypse (2001) for Game Boy Advance had Storm and Rogue of four characters (and one of the very rare even splits).
X-Men: Next Dimension (2002) for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube had Storm, Rogue, Phoenix (with some of Jean’s pink psi powers), Dark Phoenix (with mostly fire-based powers), Betsy (telepathic, X-Treme X-Men Psylocke with classic psi-knife), Psylocke (X-Men 2000 telekinetic Psylocke with psi-katana), Mystique, Lady Deathstrike, and Sentinel B (which had a feminine design) out of 24 or 25 characters.
X-Men Legends (2004) for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and N-Gage (whatever that is… I heard about it back then, but never saw one) had Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, Psylocke, Jubilee, Emma Frost, and Magma out of fifteen characters.
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005) for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PSP, mobile phone, PC, and N-Gage had Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, and Scarlet Witch on the console versions. Dark Phoenix was a PSP exclusive. These characters were out of 18 characters across versions.
X-Men: The Official Game (2006) for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Xbox 360 had zero playable X-Women out of five playable dudes across versions.
X-Men: Destiny (2011) for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, and DS had no playable historical X-Men, only original characters. Of those three playable characters, one was a girl.
The Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) for iOS and Android had Storm, Kitty Pryde, Polaris, and Scarlet Witch out of eight characters.
Marvel Super Heroes (1995) for Arcade, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn had only Psylocke of four playable X-Men characters.
Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (1996) for Super NES had no playable X-Women and no playable women whatsoever.
Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter (1997) for Arcade, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn had no X-Women or any other Marvel women.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of the Super Heroes (1998) for Arcade, PlayStation, and Dreamcast had Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, and Jubilee of ten X-Men characters and twelve Marvel characters overall.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000) for Arcade, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 had Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Spiral, and Marrow of eighteen X-Men characters and 28 Marvel characters overall.
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005) for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PSP, and DS had Storm of two X-Men characters and twelve Marvel characters across versions.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance (2006) for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, GBA, and PC had Storm and Jean Grey (a striker character in GBA only) of 10 X-Men characters and thirty-eight Marve characters across versions.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009) for PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, GBA, and DS had Storm, Jean Grey, and Psylocke of 11 X-Men characters and thirty-four Marvel characters across versions.
Marvel Super Hero Squad (2009) for PlayStation 2, PC, DS, PSP, and Wii had only Storm of three X-Men characters and eighteen Marvel characters.
Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet (2010) for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, and 3DS had only Scarlet Witch of three X-Men characters and sixteen Marvel characters.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011) for PS3 and 360 had Storm, Phoenix, and X-23 of 7 X-Men characters and nineteen Marvel characters in total.
Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat (2011) for PS3, 360, and Wii had only Scarlet Witch of two X-Men characters and ten Marvel characters overall.
Marvel Heroes (2013) for PC had Storm, Rogue, Jean Grey, Psylocke, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, X-23, Magik, and Scarlet Witch out of twenty-one X-Men characters and many more characters overall.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013) for PS3, 360, Wii U, PS Vita, 3DS, PC, Xbox One, and PS4 had Storm, Jean Grey, Phoenix, Emma Frost, Psylocke, Polaris, Mystique, and Dark Phoenix of twenty-nine X-Men and many characters overall.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (2019) for Nintendo Switch had Storm, Phoenix, Psylocke, and Scarlet Witch of thirteen X-Men characters and fifty-two characters.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns (2022) for PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows has Magik, Scarlet Witch, and Storm (DLC) out of five X-Men characters (finally, the women outnumber the men) and seventeen characters overall.
What an X-Women Game Could Look Like
The game should be multi-platform and have absolutely no system exclusives. Storm should be the leader of the team and one of the focal characters, if not THE main character. An open-world, Marvel’s Spider-Man-type situation would be awesome, but a linear RPG wouldn’t be bad either. The key thing is that it must have excellent graphics, cutscenes, storytelling, dialogue, voice acting, and gameplay. Emphasis on replay value would also increase it’s appeal.
Just like in past games in which X-Women were assistants or supporting characters, the men can serve those functions here. We don’t need a reason for the men not to be playable like they were kidnapped or something. They can be there and play roles in the story and assist on the sidelines, but the women need to shine.
The ladies (and even the men, you just won’t play as them) should have several alternate costumes spanning their comics’ histories, other media versions, and their Hellfire Gala looks. The villains should also include famous women X-Men villains such as Mystique, Destiny, Madelyne Pryor, Selene, Malice, Lady Mastermind, Martinique Jason, Danger, and maybe Cassandra Nova and/or Moira MacTaggart as the big bads. The villains should also include male X-Men villains because beating up men as women is always a good time.
The possible roster should include Storm, Jean Grey (also as Marvel Girl, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, and the White Phoenix of the Crown), Rogue, Captain Britain (Betsy Braddock), Psylocke (Kwannon), Dazzler, Emma Frost, Jubilee, Monet St. Croix, Firestar, Polaris, Rachel Summers, Magik, X-23, Siryn, Wolfsbane, Karma, Magma, Mirage (dark-skinned, please and thank you), Frenzy, Dr. Cecilia Reyes (as the Afro Puerto Rican she is, thank you very much), Scarlet Witch, Blink, Nocturne, Sasquatch (Heather Hudson), Sunfire (Mariko Yashida), Namora (Exiles), Petra, Sway, Callisto, Marrow, Domino, etc.
And no Kitty Pryde. We don’t even need to mention her, sorry but not sorry.