X-Men ’97’s tribute to Konami’s X-Men arcade game is 16-bit joy

X-Men ’97 doesn’t have to limit itself just to nostalgia for X-Men: The Animated Series. That’s the lesson from this week’s episode, featuring a big tribute to Konami’s X-Men arcade game, a staple side-scroller of any great ’90s arcade.

It’s not clear why Roberto Da Costa and Jubilee have been zapped inside a video game in this clip, premiering exclusively on Polygon courtesy of Marvel Animation, but guessing by the title of the episode “Motendo/Lifedeath — Part 1” and the cheeky little “© Motendo 1997” on the game’s opening screen, it seems likely that this is somewhere in the the Mojoverse, a weird dimension where viewership is everything and ratings equal power.

You might think that mashing up X-Men: The Animated Series and the X-Men arcade game is barely a mashup at all, but there’s some fun irony here. Though they came out in the same year, the Konami game wasn’t based on the Fox cartoon show at all — but on X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men, a 1989 animated series that never made it past the pilot episode.

With a couple years distance, Fox took another swing at bringing the X-Men to the small screen with X-Men: The Animated Series. But Konami was already hard at work on its own X-Men arcade game, based on the character designs of Pryde of the X-Men and that show’s core cast: Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Dazzler.

Jubilee, who wasn’t even created until 1989, did not appear in Konami’s game. But the Jubilee of the ’90s cartoon spent so much time at the arcade in her local mall that she accidentally discovered her powers there — so it makes perfect sense that getting zapped into a video game wouldn’t faze her at all.

You can check out the rest of the episode that this clip comes from on Disney Plus, when “Motendo/Lifedeath — Part 1” premieres on Wednesday, April 3.

This post was originally published on Polygon

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